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(Interim, up to 20th September)

(This in money, dated 20th September 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

The DVLA has had to step in on more than 360,000 times in the last six years to revoke licences from motorists deemed unfit to be behind the wheel.

Of these licence holders, 307,000 were motorcycle riders and car drivers and almost 56,000 of cases were lorry or bus drivers who were taken off the road due to medical conditions that made them potentially unsafe.

Figures released by the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency showed that more than 40,000 drivers have been taken off the road already this year.

However, this could be 'just the tip of the iceberg', according to the study, as there could be many more who haven't declared their conditions to the relevant authorities.

As of 2014, a total of 363,280 UK driving licences have been medically revoked, new research has revealed.

Figures released by the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency show there's been a significant rise in the number of motorists being taken off the road because of illnesses and condition since 2016.

These peaked in 2018, with 73,724 cases of motorists being deemed unfit for the road last year, according to online car sales site,

And already in 2019 - up until the end of July - a total of 42,467 licences have been medically rescinded, based on the government agency's records.

The result of a freedom of information request to the DVLA found that 86 per cent were car and motorcycle licences (Group 1) and 14 per cent were qualified lorry and bus drivers with Group 2 licences.

Of those who lost licences, almost two-thirds (65 per cent) were over the age of 50.

While that might not be all that surprising, given that many of the most common conditions impact older people, there were also plenty of cases of young motorists being rendered unfit to be behind the wheel.

Some 829 licences revoked so far in 2019 were taken from teenagers, the figures show.

Using the breakdown of figures for this year only, alcoholism is the single main reason why the DVLA had been forced to cancel driving licences.

Already this year there have been 5,450 licences voided because of alcohol dependency issues, the DLVA says.

A variety conditions that cause seizures or blackouts have also led to a combined 7,159 licences being taken away. 

Surprisingly, poor eyesight is only the third most common condition that has resulted in a licence being revoked this year, with 4,534 cases.

This figure could soon rise, though, following the news that drivers over the age of 70 might be required to have their eyes tested every three years if they want to keep their licence.

If a driver has their licence revoked on medical grounds, they can reapply for their licence once their doctor says they meet the medical standards for driving.

However, the rules are different if a driver voluntarily surrenders their licence.

Under these circumstances, you can drive while your licence is being renewed if; you have the support of your doctor, a valid licence, you only drive under the conditions of the previous licence, you're not disqualified, or your last licence wasn't revoked and your application is less than 12 months old.

Alex Buttle, director of car selling comparison website said the figures could be just the 'tip of the iceberg', as there could be many more people driving with medical conditions that impair their ability at the wheel that haven't been communicated with the relevant authorities.

Buttle said: 'You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don't tell the DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving, but is that really a strong enough deterrent?'

'With so many of us reliant on our cars for work and pleasure, there will be drivers on the road who think it's worth the risk to keep quiet because handing in their driving licence could mean losing their mobility, their job and not seeing their family and friends.'

According to, license holders 'need to tell DVLA about some medical conditions as they can affect your driving', with almost 200 separate issues listed on the government's website. We've listed them below:

Medical conditions that can stop you driving

Alzheimer’s disease
Anorexia nervosa
Aortic aneurysm
Asperger syndrome
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD)
Bipolar disorder
Blood clots
Blood pressure
Brain aneurysm
Brain angioma
Brain haemorrhage
Brain tumours
Caesarean section
Carotid artery stenosis
Cerebral palsy
Chronic aortic dissection
Cognitive problems
Congenital heart disease
Coronary artery bypass or disease
Coronary angioplasty
Cystic fibrosis
Diabetic retinopathy
Diplopia (double vision)
Drug misuse
Eating disorders
Fractured skull
Giddiness (recurring)
Global amnesia
Grand mal seizures
Heart attack
Heart arrhythmia
Heart failure
Heart murmurs
Heart palpitations
Heart valve disease or replacement valve
High blood pressure
Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Huntington’s disease
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
Intracerebral haemorrhage
Ischaemic heart disease
Kidney dialysis
Learning difficulties
Low blood sugar
Lung cancer
Malignant brain tumours
Malignant melanoma
Manic depressive psychosis
Memory problems (severe)
Motor neurone disease
Multiple sclerosis
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Obstructive sleep apnoea
Paranoid schizophrenia
Parkinson’s disease
Peripheral arterial disease
Petit mal seizures
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Psychotic depression
Renal dialysis
Sight in one eye only
Sleep apnoea
Spinal problems and injuries and driving
Temporal lobe epilepsy
Tourette’s syndrome
Tunnel vision
Valve disease or replacement valve
Ventricular defibrillator
Vision in one eye only
Visual acuity (reduced)
Visual field defects

Plus 80 more.......either see the original article or the DVLA website.

Most common conditions resulting in revoked licences (2019)

1. Alcohol - 5,450 cases (15% of all medically rescinded licences)
2. Seizures - 5,417 cases (14.9%)
3. Eyesight - 4,534 cases (12.5%)
4. Memory problems - 4,175 (11.5%)
5. Mental health - 3,268 cases (9.0%)
6. Neurological - 3,041 cases (8.4%)
7. Cardiac - 2,228 cases (6.1%)
8. Drugs - 1,770 cases (4.9%)
9. Blackouts - 1,742 cases (4.8%)
10. Diabetes - 1,176 cases (3.2%)

Source: DVLA stats provided to

Number of licences medically revoked each year

2014: 48,941
2015: 55,753
2016: 72,019
2017: 70,376
2018: 73,724
2019 (to end of July): 42,467

Source: DVLA stats provided to

(20th September 2019)

(New Scientst, dated 19th July 2019 author Adam Vaughan)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 90 per cent of pornography sites leak data on people browsing them to third party companies, including Google and Facebook.

Elena Maris at Microsoft Research and her colleagues analysed 22,500 pornography sites around the world found that tracking of users was “endemic” and posed “wide-scale privacy and security risks”. Tracking by advertising companies and other firms is widespread on many websites, but the team warn that the addresses of pornography sites could reveal uniquely compromising information about a user’s sexual preferences to companies without consent.

“The consequences of just the URLs you’ve visited being revealed without your consent could be dire,” says Maris. “Imagine the consequences for, perhaps, a conservative religious leader who regularly views gay porn having these interests revealed to his community.”

Almost 45 per cent of the addresses gave an idea of the site’s content, sexual orientation and preferences, the team found after analysing the URLs for 378 of the total 22,484 sites.

Pornography site pages on average leaked data to seven different domains, and in total 230 different companies and services. Most of those companies were non-pornography specific ones. Google tracked 74 per cent of sites, US tech giant Oracle 24 per cent and Facebook 10 per cent. The top pornography-specific tracker was Exoclick, which tracked people on 40 per cent of sites.

Less than a fifth of the sites had privacy policies that the team could extract. Of those with a policy, they listed only a tenth of the third parties tracking people, which the researchers say means users have no way to learn which firms have “troves of data” on their pornography use. “The big take home is tech companies know they are collecting this data and are responsible for gaining user consent,” says Tim Libert of Carnegie Mellon University.

(20th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 20th September 2019 author Haroon Siddique)

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An explosion in thefts of catalytic converters from hybrid cars has left hundreds of owners of the vehicles unable to drive them because of a shortage of replacement parts, the Guardian has learned.

Criminal gangs are believed to be targeting easily identifiable models such as the Toyota Prius and Lexus 400h, because hybrids contain more precious metals than other vehicles.

Toyota said it had experienced a 2,000% increase in demand for parts as a result of the crimewave. While theft of the emission-controlling devices is a nationwide problem, it is particularly acute in London and south-east England. One Lexus dealership alone in the capital told the Guardian it had 500 on order, although it is not expecting to receive them until December.

There were 2,900 catalytic converter thefts reported in the first six months of this year, compared with just under 1,700 in the whole of last year, according to Metropolitan police figures provided to the Guardian.

The surge in thefts is believed to be linked to the soaring value of two of the metals used in catalytic converters, rhodium and palladium, with gangs stripping the parts and selling them overseas. Rhodium is trading at double its price at the start of the year and more than eight times its 2016 value.

As well as hybrids having higher amounts of precious metals, their catalytic converters tend to be in better condition because they are not used when the vehicles run on electricity.

In response to inquiries on its website, a Toyota UK customer services agent wrote on Wednesday: “We have seen a 2,000% rise in demand for parts due to the recent crime wave for catalytic converters in certain areas of the UK. We, and our supply chain, are unable to keep up with demand for this essential part.”

The website says some Prius and Auris hybrid models “have been a particular target”.

Customers have posted about the difficulties in replacing the part, with some complaining there was insufficient warning about the risk of theft.

RobW wrote on Monday: “It’s been six weeks now without my car since the cat on my Auris Hybrid was stolen – just 10 miles from the Derby factory. The car is at the Toyota dealer and they have no ETA [estimated time of arrival] on when the part will be available to fit. They have three other cars with the same problem.”

Another driver said their insurance company had told them it could be three months to source a replacement, while one said a garage in Yeovil had been unable to tell them when it would be available.

In many instances thieves have operated in broad daylight, with some instances caught on camera.

Ironically, the increase in cost of the metals has been driven by their use in catalytic converters, with the automotive industry accounting for about 85% of demand for rhodium and palladium.

James Clark, senior press relations manager at Toyota UK, said such thefts were not limited to the company’s products, but added: “The recent rise in the value of such parts for recycling has meant that police forces have seen a very significant rise in these offences in the last few months.

“This sudden rise is one we could not have envisaged set against many years of low incidents of theft. This has impacted our ability to source enough of the parts we need in some cases, for which we sincerely apologise; but we are taking urgent action to address this with our suppliers.’

He said the company had posted guidance online for customers and sought to contact them, in some cases through dealers. It has also introduced a “catloc” device, to help defer theft, at a reduced price, sought to minimise the cost of replacement and its French supplier has increased production.

(20th September 2019)

Good Housekeeping, dated 20th September 2019 author Kalpana Fitzpatrick)

Full article [Option 1]:

You may have noticed recently that you’re having to tap in your pin more often when using your contactless bank card.

That's because of new fraud prevention rules which came into play this month (14 September 2019), which require you to enter your pin for one in every five contactless payments.

We make around 700 million contactless card transactions in the UK, but around £108 million is said to be lost to fraud. And according to TotallyMoney, 1 in 12 people admit they wouldn’t spot a rogue £20 entry on their statement!

So, if you’ve forgotten your pin, now is the time to dig it out; the Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) means your payments will otherwise be blocked until you pay using your pin.

Contactless payments are also blocked when the number of payments add up to more than €100 within five payments. The move will stop thieves going on a spending spree with your money.

What are the exceptions?

If you’re using your contactless to travel on public transport, your payment won’t be blocked.

If you make a payments via Apple or Google Pay, you won’t have to re-enter your pin for one in five contactless transactions.

Stay Safe

Check bank statements regularly

Check your accounts daily. The best way to keep track of your money is to download the banking apps for your accounts and set alerts for spending notifications.

If you see unexpected payments that have been taken from your account, contact your bank immediately. Contactless fraud is treated like any other kind of fraud, so you should get your money back, as long as you can prove you haven’t been negligent.

If you think you've been a victim of fraud, you should also report it to Action Fraud, using its online reporting tool, or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Hold on to receipts

It’s easy to forget where you spend when you’re tapping away with contactless, so keep hold of those receipts so you can check them against your statements.

Check your credit report

Keeps tabs on your credit report to spot any fraudulent activity – if someone uses your credit card or opens a bank account using your name, it will show.

You can check your credit report for free at the main credit reference agencies -

Experian :
Equifax :
TransUnion :

(20th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 19th September 2019 author Caelainn Barr)

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Thousands of reports of rape allegations have been inaccurately recorded by the police over the past three years and in some cases never appeared in official figures, the Guardian can reveal.

An analysis shows the vast majority of police forces audited by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have failed to collect accurate rape crime figures, resulting in cases going unrecorded and investigations not being carried out, raising the possibility that perpetrators could go on toreoffend. More than one in 10 audited rape reports were found to be incorrect.

The Guardian found complainants with mental health and addiction issues and victims of trafficking were particularly vulnerable to being struck from the record by a number of police forces.

The Guardian reviewed audits of 34 police forces published between August 2016 and July 2019. Only three of them were found to have accurately recorded complaints of rape, according to the audits carried out by HMICFRS. Of the more than 4,900 audited rape reports, 552 were found to be inaccurate.

As every report of rape is not audited it is not possible to know exactly how many are inaccurate, but more than 150,000 rapes were reported to police in that time which means potentially more than 10,000 cases could be affected by inaccuracies.

The inaccuracies in recording can range from incomplete paperwork to not recording a report of rape as a crime but noting it as an incident. This can lead to no investigation being carried out and the accused going on to reoffend. The data also found that a number of forces failed to improve in subsequent inspections, with some getting worse.

Vera Baird, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, said it appeared police were failing to investigate reports.

“Where cases are not being recorded as a crime and are dismissed as an incident, that’s a concern because it may be that if the cases were investigated they could result in a prosecution. We know rape is a serial offence so it should be a very considered decision not to pursue something that looks like a rape as a crime of rape,” said Baird.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said victims should have the confidence to report crimes knowing that they would be investigated and support would be provided.

“The rate of rape reporting to police forces has sharply increased since 2014, and we are working to further improve the accuracy of crime reporting, which is governed by detailed counting rules set out by the Home Office. The accurate recording of crime can be influenced by many factors which may not be clear at the beginning of an investigation,” the spokesman added.

A spokesperson for HMICFRS said although recording of sexual offence crimes by police had improved since 2014 they could not definitively say if there had been an improvement in rape recording.

Inspections of police forces also found that vulnerable women, including those with mental health issues, addiction issues, or those reporting rape in a domestic abuse situation or who had been trafficked into prostitution were particularly at risk of having their cases ignored by police in a number of forces.

In one instance a rape was reported to Greater Manchester police but the case was not recorded as a crime. The victim was in a secure mental health facility and officers did not investigate further after staff from the facility assessed that the victim “lacked the capacity to make an informed complaint”. The police later made direct contact with the victim, recorded the crime and it was under investigation in 2018. However, the force was unable to provide further details about the case based on the available information when contacted by the Guardian.

In North Yorkshire in 2017 a report of a victim with mental health issues was not recorded as a rape as “officers did not properly understand how to deal with her ability to consent”, according to an audit of the police force. She subsequently reported being raped again by the same person. The force has since investigated the case although there was no prosecution.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire police said: “It was not possible to bring about a prosecution due to several factors, including the victim declining to engage with the police, which made gathering enough information for a prosecution extremely challenging. Extensive safeguarding measures have been put in place by the police and other organisations to support the victim.”

Louise Ellison, a professor of law at the University of Leeds, has researched outcomes for vulnerable complainants reporting rape. She found that cases involving complainants with mental health issues were significantly less likely to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Ellison said: “People within the system who support victims of rape will tell you quite candidly that there are women who are coming in through their doors on quite a regular basis reporting rape and their cases are never appropriately investigated by the police.

“Their cases go nowhere because they are automatically assumed to be lacking in credibility. People within the system know this but the frustrating thing is that there doesn’t seem to be any real focus on it.”

The latest figures from the police and CPS reveal that the criminal justice system is failing to keep up with the increase in the number of rapes reported.

Recorded rape has more than doubled since 2013-14 to 58,657 cases in 2018-19. However, police are referring fewer cases for prosecution and the CPS is charging, prosecuting and winning fewer cases. The number of cases resulting in a conviction is lower than it was more than a decade ago.

The Guardian reported in September 2018 that senior staff at the CPS had urged prosecutors to take the “weak cases out of the system”, in order to improve its conviction rate for rape.

A review of the treatment of rape cases within the criminal justice system was announced by the government in March 2019. The review covers the response from a moment a crime is reported to the police until conviction or acquittal in court.

“We are conducting an end-to-end review into the criminal justice response to rape,” a government spokesperson said, “which will help us to better understand the decline in cases reaching the courts and improve our overall response.

“We are taking action to restore public confidence in the justice system by recruiting 20,000 more police, creating extra prison places and reviewing sentencing to make sure violent and sexual offenders are properly punished.”


The Guardian scraped all the crime data integrity audits from the HMICFRS website to examine how police forces are recording rape. Once the data was collected it was structured and analysed to find how many forces were inaccurately recording rape reports.

Only three out of 36 police forces accurately record rape (Information from Guardian graphic)

Sussex - accurate
Staffordshire - accurate
Cumbria - accurate
Thames Valley - under recording rape crimes
Gloucestershire - 26% audited reports were found to be inaccurate in 2019
West Midlands - Of concern, not improved rape recording upon inspection in 2018

Source : HMICFRS crime data integrity inspections 2016 to 2019

(20th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 19th September 2019 author Vikram Dodd and Jamie Grierson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have vowed to thwart the rise of the far right, which they have said is the fastest-growing terrorist threat in the UK, as they try to stop race hate ideologues from bringing violence to the country’s streets.

Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer, the Met assistant commissioner, Neil Basu, said the most likely attempts would come from “lone actors” and, as with Islamist terrorism, the authorities could not guarantee to foil every plot.

The Guardian understands that investigators have found links on far-right material on legitimate platforms such as YouTube that allow people to find more extremist propaganda.

Police said they and MI5, which since 2018 has taken the lead on the most serious extreme rightwing plots, were carrying out 80 investigations to stop violence fuelled by ideologies such as white supremacism and Islamophobia.

In their first public briefing since far-right terrorists murdered the Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016 and murdered a Muslim worshipper near a north London mosque in 2017, police revealed:

- A quarter of all terrorism arrests in the past year were linked to far-right violence.

- The far-right caseload of counter-terrorism police jumped from 6% to 10% in the last two years.

- Referrals to Prevent, the anti-radicalisation programme, had almost doubled between 2016 and 2018 for the far right, from 10% to 18%, and were expected to rise further.

- A third of all terror plots to kill in Britain since 2017 – seven out of 22 – were by those driven by extreme-right causes.

Basu said police were battling to stop extreme rightwing terrorism gaining more of a foothold than it already had. “The problem is small but it is my fastest-growing problem,” he said.

The growth from 2016 to 2018 came in the period following the vote to leave the EU, which also coincided with a rise in hate crime.

Basu said there was “clearly a correlation” between the rise in hate crime and far-right activity, but said he could not say the link was “causal” and that the far-right threat had been present long beforehand.

Most of the plotting took place online, police said, with links overseas to extreme-right followers elsewhere in Europe, in the US and South America, swapping information and messages of encouragement. Police said some of the rightwing extremist plotters had acquired and were using manuals on killing drawn up by Islamic State.

The ideologies that could trigger violence, police said, included those of cultural nationalists, and of legal groups such as the English Defence League and allied organisations, which publicly abhor violence. The ideology of white supremacists, such as the now-banned National Action and groups such as Sonnenkrieg Division and System Resistance Network, was also a major potential trigger of far-right violence, they said.

Police also revealed that some on the violent extreme right were followers of satanism as they tried to illustrate the bizarre ideological morass they were trying to navigate. Some caught up in trying to kill in the name of white supremacism were as young as 14, police said.

For years, members of Muslim communities, researchers on neo-Nazism and others have claimed that the authorities have been too slow to realise the dangers of rightwing extremism, and Basu said: “Some of the criticism that we did not look at white supremacist rightwing violence as terrorism is probably justified criticism.”

He added: “When nearly a third of plots foiled by police and security services relate to rightwing ideology, it lays bare why we are taking this threat so seriously.”

The remainder were jihadist, which remains by far the biggest terrorist threat to the UK and has stabilised at a very high level after years of growth.

Last year MI5 took the lead in investigating the most dangerous extreme rightwing terrorists, in a sign of how seriously the threat was being taken.

Some terrorists were incited by extreme-right propaganda, such as Thomas Mair, who murdered Cox in 2016. But others, such as Darren Osborne, who attacked Muslim worshippers with a van in north London, had acted after consuming lawful material from groups such as the English Defence League and mainstream media.

Nick Lowles, the chief executive of the Hope Not Hate charity, said: “We have long warned about the rising threat from the far right. Small groups of hardcore Nazis are increasingly willing to commit extreme acts of violence, while a wider pool of DIY fascists are engaging in campaigns of harassment against public figures, especially those who oppose Brexit.

“It is essential that the police track the most extremist groups, but it is also vital to have robust security arrangements for candidates in any forthcoming election.”

Weapons involved in plots, or which rightwing terrorists have sought to obtain, included knives, explosives and firearms.

Basu said National Action – the only far-right group banned under proscription powers in the UK – had been “decimated”, with only small groups or individuals still operating online across international borders.

He added: “We are bringing the full might of the UK counter-terrorism machine to bear against those extremists of any ideology who wish to do us harm or incite violence. And that is evident not only in the number of plots we have foiled, but also the number of convictions we have achieved and continue to chase through the courts.”

He called on individuals outside law enforcement to aid the fight against far-right extremism, adding that police “can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem”.

He said: “That includes fighting against intolerance and hatred where we see it, and the insidious rise of hateful rhetoric online that goes beyond free speech and crosses into criminality must be fought at every opportunity.”

Basu championed Prevent, now the subject of an independent review. The controversy surrounding the programme has centred on the impact it has had on Muslim communities. But in 2017-18, of the 7,318 individuals referred to the scheme, 1,312 were referred for concerns related to rightwing extremism, a rise of a third when compared with the previous year.

uaware comment

Looking at content of this article it is obvious that there has been some form of increase in rightwing extremism, but as for the size of the increase, based on the information provided the figures do not match the rectoric. As no data has been provided from previous years, how can you define a specific increase.

Was this the fault of the author or the information provided by the police ?

(20th September 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 19th September 2019 author Jack Hardy)

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ecord numbers of people are taking Class A drugs, figures have shown as experts blamed the cocaine and ecstasy habits of millennials for the rise.

The Home Office said 3.7% of 16 to 59-year-olds admitted taking the most dangerous substances in 2018/19 - the highest rate since records began in 1996.

This equates to around 1.3 million people and marks a peak after years of increasing abuse since 2011/12, according to findings from the Crime Survey of England and Wales.

Around 8.7% of young adults reported using Class A drugs in the last year - equating to around 550,000 people - taking it to the highest estimate for 16 to 24-year-olds since 2002/03.

An explosion in the number of festivals each year was highlighted as one potential driver behind the trend, while the increasing availability of cocaine was said to have helped lose its reputation as a drug for professionals.

Powder cocaine has become increasing popular among 16 to 24-year-olds in recent years, jumping from 4.1% who had used it in the past year in 2011/12 to 6.2% in 2018/19.

The use of ecstasy by young adults has also been rising during the same period after a “gradually downward trend”, with 5.4% of 16 to 24-year-olds having taken the party drug in the last year.

Harry Shapiro, the director of awareness group DrugWise, told the Telegraph: “There is a lot of cocaine available in the country these days.

“Although to some extent it still has an element of a sort-of ‘champagne’ image around it, I don’t think it is that unusual anymore - I don’t think people imagine they are crossing a line, if they have the odd line.

“What’s interesting about ecstasy is that there are some very strong pills out there, but (the rise) may also be linked to the explosion of festivals that we’ve had in recent years.

“We have gone from Reading and Glastonbury and a couple of others over the summer to almost every weekend there is half a dozen festivals going on somewhere.

“I think festivals give young people in their mid to late teens an opportunity to be away from prying eyes and experiment with things.”

The majority of ecstasy and powder cocaine users aged 16 to 59 reported only taking the drugs once or twice a year, rather than more frequently, the report said.

More broadly, overall drug use was found to have slightly increased - with roughly one in 11 adults aged 16 to 59 taking an illicit substance in the past year.

It comes as drug-related deaths in England and Wales reached the highest level since records began earlier this year, with deaths involving cocaine doubling in three years to 2018.

A Government spokesman said: “While overall levels of drug misuse are similar to a decade ago, the Government is concerned about the upward trend in more recent years – particularly Class A use.

“We are committed to reducing the use of drugs and the harms they cause and the Home Office has commissioned a major independent review to examine these issues.”

FAQ - Cocaine

What is it?

A strong stimulant that comes either as a powder (also called coke), freebase or crack. Coke is divided into lines and snorted, while freebase or crack are usually smoked or injected

Where is it from?

The drug is extracted from properties in the leaves of coca plants, mostly in South America

How common?

In 2015, around one in 10 people aged between 16 and 59 had tried the drug at some point in their lives - second only to cannabis. Britain also has the highest rate of cocaine use among young adults in Europe, with around 4.2% of 15-34 year-olds admitting to taking the drug in the previous 12 months.

What are the effects?

Users generally feel over-confident, alert and talkative, but effects are short-lived. Physical symptoms include a faster heartbeat while a heavy intake can result in flu-like symptoms in the following days.


Overdose has resulted in death High doses can cause convulsions, heart attack and heart failure, especially for people with heart conditions or high blood pressure Regular use can result in depression and anxiety, and a wearing away of the nose lining Taking cocaine with alcohol can result in the body producing the toxic chemical cocaethylene

The law

‘Coke’, ‘freebase’ and ‘crack’ are all Class A drugs, meaning they are illegal to have, give away or sell. The penalty for possession is up to seven years in jail, while supply can result in a life sentence and unlimited fine.

(20th September 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 19th September 2019 author Ross Lydall)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 4,000 Londoners, some as young as 11, have been drawn into “county lines” drug-dealing networks, a shock report on child exploitation revealed today.

It said adverts were being placed on Snapchat and Instagram to “groom” vulnerable youngsters, with the lure of “fake lifestyles” and the promise of making large sums of money.

Recruits were forced to become “money mules” and hand over their bank account details (“deets”) and bank cards (“squares”). These were used to launder money from the trafficking of drugs to provincial and seaside towns.

Today’s report said a £3 million “rescue and response” programme funded by City Hall had helped 568 victims of county lines in its first year. The youngest was 11 and the oldest 62, although more than two-thirds were boys aged 15 to 18.

A total of 4,013 Londoners were estimated to have been entrapped in county lines activities between January 2018 and April this year, once data from the Met police and social services was included. Lambeth was highest with 271 individuals, followed by Newham (265) and Croydon (264). Norwich, Brighton and Portsmouth were the most frequently visited cities.

Victims used National Rail or National Express coaches or cars hired at Heathrow and Gatwick to transport drugs. One ruse was to hide drugs in empty PlayStation consoles.

Efforts to help those involved have been frustrated by the fear of reprisals, their need to pay off “debt bondage” to gangmasters, and the lack of rehousing opportunities.

Victims were often selected after being excluded from school, suffering family breakdown or developing a drug habit. They were approached in pupil referral units, youth clubs and fast-food outlets and “promised a lifestyle that motivates them”, the report said.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “We are beginning to see the devastating scale of the impact with thousands of young people involved in lines reaching all corners of the country. We are supporting young people where we can, but we know we’re only scratching the surface of a major national issue.”

(BBC News, dated 19th September 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 4,000 people in London have been recruited by gangs to supply drugs through networks across the UK, new figures show.

Children as young as 11 are being coerced by criminal gangs, according to research by City Hall.

London is the highest exporting area for so-called county lines gangs.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "We're only scratching the surface of a major national issue that is driving violence in London and across the country.

Criminal networks deliberately target children and vulnerable adults to courier drugs from urban bases out to customers across the country, running phone lines to take orders.

In total, London's Rescue and Response support programme identified 4,013 individuals recruited by gangs during the study period.

Almost half (46%) were aged between 15 and 19, while 29% were aged from 20 to 25. Most were male (89%).

Police chiefs say the gangs affect every force area in England and Wales and are linked to violent crime. It is estimated that about 15% of county lines activity originates in London.

The most targeted counties were Norfolk, Hampshire, Essex, Sussex and Thames Valley.

Criminals offer young people and vulnerable adults money or drugs to lure them into gangs, approaching them in schools, youth clubs, parks and fast-food shops.

During the study period, a total of 568 young people were referred to the Rescue and Response programme - a coalition of London boroughs set up to help under-25s lured into county lines.

Of those referred, 33 have been successfully drawn away from gang activity to date.

The National Crime Agency, which jointly runs the National County Lines Coordination Centre with the National Police Chiefs' Council, has estimated there are more than 2,000 individual deal line numbers in operation in the UK with annual profits for each in excess of £800,000.

Note : The original article contains a London that shows the extent of the problem.

Counties with highest number of individuals linked to London county lines gangs

Norfolk : 416
Hamphire : 369
Essex : 336
Sussex : 332
Lambeth : 271
Thames Valley : 251
Suffolk : 238
Kent : 232
Avon and Somerset : 153
Dorset : 134
Hertfordshire : 106

(BBC News, dated 16th September 2019 author Will Fyfe)

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Gang members are enrolling in universities and masquerading as students in order to sell drugs in new cities, an academic has warned.

Dr Mohammed Qasim said dealers from county lines drug gangs become students to give themselves an alibi in case they are searched by the police.

"It's not hard to get in university... it gives them a reason to be in the city," said the drugs gang expert.

Police said drug gangs were becoming "more sophisticated" to avoid arrest.

More than 100 county lines gangs are operating across Wales, according to the National Crime Agency, with drug bosses pulling the strings mainly from London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

Authorities think the county lines network started in 2015 - cocaine deaths in Wales are more than four times higher than five years ago, with 31 last year.

Heroin and morphine deaths have almost trebled since county lines started, to 108 in 2018.

Dr Qasim infiltrated a county lines gang in Swansea as part of his research and said dealers were hiding behind the "student image".

He added that living among students helped ethnic minority gang members to blend into predominantly white areas of south and west Wales.

"The dealers now have to have an alibi as to why they're moving 200 miles from one place to another," said Dr Qasim, a researcher on ethnic minority gangs at Leeds Beckett University.

"They'll live amongst students so they won't be noticed so much.

"If you're from an ethnic minority background there are some parts of Swansea, for example, where you'll stand out, so you need to live in areas where there's other ethnic minority groups.

"It's not hard to get into university - universities will take people through clearing. They won't actually go to university to study, it's just a reason to be in a particular place."

The organisation that represents colleges in Wales said they work with authorities to "meet any challenges county lines gangs might pose", while universities are not commenting.

Dr Qasim met young county lines drug runners working out of a "really nice flat" in Swansea earlier this year and they wanted to set up their own "franchise" running drugs to Aberystwyth.

"One was kicked out of school, he didn't have much going on in his life in London but in Swansea he was making money," he said.

"He was away from gang crime, he'd been given a flat. I'd imagine you pay £1,100 a month in the city for a flat like that.

"He had five or six people living in a one bedroom flat back in London, so living in this apartment here was like heaven.

"These were victims of exploitation from older gang members. They put them into these cities, sell them the dream that they can make money and eventually set up their own operations."

"When the English guys first appeared on the scene, we didn't like it. We're proud Welsh and I didn't like buying from them at all.

"We were really angry about them bringing crack into the area. We didn't have that here before and it's so destructive for people - they just don't care.

"The people I dealt with were Birmingham youngsters but I didn't like having to pick up off 17-year-olds - I'm 45.

"I know a couple that tried to rip them off and steal from them and this boy just pulled a machete - you could see from the look in his eye he would have taken their arm off if they'd gone for the drugs."

Police say young runners, often victims of child exploitation, are told by dealers to swallow the drugs to transport around the county as it is more difficult for officers to carry internal searches on children.

"That's partly to make the police response more difficult as we don't want to be keeping young people in detention longer than necessary," said Det Insp Paul Stanley of British Transport Police.

"And partly to reduce the risk of them being located."

Dealers are said to operate a "marketing machine" and offer credit to addicts in order to lure them into taking drugs.

County lines gangs have a widespread marketing network, texting potential customers offering cut-price deals on heroin and crack cocaine.

"We see guys in treatment who are trying really hard to move away from the scene but you literally have people knocking on their doors," said Carly Jones of drug awareness organisation PSALT.

"We always say to people in treatment is get rid of your phone, change your number, get a fresh start.

"We have tens of people saying that's what they did, but within two weeks they have someone knocking on their door saying here's £50 credit on us, trying to hook them back in.

"It feels like we're drowning in street drugs at the moment and I think there's worse to come."

Drug Crimes in England and Wales, 2013-18

Note : Original article provides an interactive map of the problem

(20th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 18th September 2019 author Steven Morris)

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A Spider-Man-like gadget that brings suspects to a halt by entangling them in cord fired from a hand-held device could be adapted for use by UK police.

The US-made BolaWrap 100 restraint, which is being demonstrated to forces in the UK this week, is billed as an alternative in some situations to the Taser stun gun.

According to the makers, Wrap Technologies, its effect is similar to putting a suspect in handcuffs, but from a distance, and it provides a way to control potentially dangerous suspects without inflicting pain.

The company says its invention could be particularly effective in dealing with people under the influence of drugs. It also says it can be useful in restraining people with mental health issues.

Tom Smith, the president of Wrap Technologies and a founder of the company behind Taser, said: “The BolaWrap 100 device ensures a safe distance can be kept between a suspect and a person trying to detain them; it does not inflict pain which can often escalate a situation, and it allows time for negotiation and de-escalation in a safe environment.”

However, the charity Inquest, which works with the families of people who have died during or after being restrained by police, warned the device could be dangerous and said the prospect of it being adopted by UK forces “was of serious concern”.

Doug Sear, the head of the British distributor, Emergency Protection, said: “It’s a Spider-Man type of tool. It shoots out 8ft of Kevlar and in a blink of an eye you’re wrapped up.”

Sear said the device, being demonstrated to UK police this week, was typically aimed at the chest or below and was an excellent way of tackling a person with a knife. He said police forces across the UK had shown an interest in it.

It is expected that around 40 to 50 police officers or trainers will attend the demonstration, at an undisclosed location.

The Kevlar tether is laser guided, and users are trained to ensnare the limbs of suspects. The tether leaves the cartridge at nearly 200 metres per second, and can also be replaced in seconds for multiple detentions.

BolaWrap 100 is powered by a blank charge similar to a sports starting pistol and officers who have tested it in the US have said the noise from the device can also slow down suspects. The officer discharging the device can be up to 8 metres away from the target.

It is also being aimed at security agencies, prisons and detention centres, as well as wider military use. It has been trialled by police forces across the US and Australia.

Deborah Coles, the executive director of Inquest, said: “The potential introduction of this new device is of serious concern.”

The charity flagged up the landmark review by Dame Elish Angiolini into deaths in custody, in which she argued the police needed to recognise that all types of restraint had the potential to cause death.

The 2017 review said there was no consistency of training in restraint techniques across English and Welsh police forces. It focused on restraint involving people in mental crisis, concluding: “National policing policy, practice and training must reflect the now widely evident position that the use of force and restraint against anyone in mental health crisis or suffering from some form of drug or substance induced psychosis poses a life threatening risk.”

Coles said: “Rather than investing in new restraint equipment, focus and investment by police should instead be given to implementing the outstanding recommendations of Dame Elish almost two years on from her review.”

How the ‘Spider-Man’ restraint device works

1. The device is aimed at a potentially dangerous person’s limbs or chest

2. The 2.4 metre laser- guided Kevlar tether is fired, and travels at 195 metres per second

3. The tether wraps tightly around the body of the target and does not inflict pain

4. Limbs of target are ensnared, allowing time to de-escalate a situation

(20th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 18th September 2019 author Sophie Borland)

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Cheating GP surgeries and dentists are fleecing the NHS out of £214million a year, a shocking report has revealed.

They are claiming money for non-existent services and appointments – and submitting invoices for patients who have died.

The scams come as the Health Service is losing £1.3billion to fraud a year or £3.5million a day, according to estimates from the NHS watchdog.

This is equivalent to hiring 48,000 junior doctors or 52,000 nurses – or performing 108,000 hip replacements or 650,000 cataract procedures.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority is particularly concerned about rackets at rogue GP practices and dentists.

It suspects they are are routinely claiming money for 'ghost patients' who are still on their books despite having died or moved away.

Latest figures suggest there were 3.6million more patients on GP surgery registers in 2018 than there were people living in England.

The scams are continuing despite repeated attempts by NHS officials to crack down on the problem by urging doctors to clean up their lists.

Other GP surgeries are suspected of claiming extra NHS cash for providing treatments which never happened, such as support to stop smoking or contraceptive services.

Meanwhile, some dentists have been forcing patients to come back for multiple procedures to earn extra cash which could have all taken place in one session.

Others are invoicing the NHS for more complex treatments than those actually carried out.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority insists that these ruses are by no means widespread and the majority of doctors and dentists are honest and conscientious.

But chief executive Sue Frith said: 'Fraud against the NHS is insidious and a despicable crime. We will never stop pursuing those who see the NHS budget as a pot of money to line their own pockets.'

Figures compiled by the watchdog, published in an NHS England planning document, show that dental fraud is costing the NHS approximately £126million while GP surgery scams run up an £88million bill.

The document states that GP and dental surgeries are provided by 'independent contractors' and 'high trust environments that present considerable scope for manipulation and sharp practice'.

Senior GPs or partners earn around £105,000 a year while dentists receive between £75,000 and £100,000.

John O'Connell, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'This is an absolutely scandalous waste of taxpayers' cash. These fraudsters should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.'

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, of the Royal College of GPs, said: 'GPs and their teams will be shocked and hurt to hear that insinuations they are complicit in somehow defrauding our National Health Service are still being propagated.'

She stressed: 'Records can never be perfect as our patients' circumstances change all the time. It is certainly not a case of surgeries deliberately and systematically profiting by keeping patients on their lists when they shouldn't be there.'

Dave Cottam, of the British Dental Association, said: 'Anything that takes resources away from patients should be condemned.

'Sadly confusion is practically written into our contracts. There is no clarity over what the NHS offers and no two dentists would give you the same answer on how treatments are claimed.'

The document also reveals £256million a year is lost to patient fraud, £375million to buying and commissioning scams and further huge amounts to payroll and pharmacy cons.

(Telegraph, dated 17th September 2019 author Henry Bodkin)

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The NHS is losing more than £1.2 billion to fraud each year, according to a new report which found that GPs are inventing patients in order to make extra money.

“List inflation”, where practices claim they are treating more patients than they are, fraud through self-prescribing and the filing of duplicate timesheets by agency staff are among a range of “sharp practices” investigators have uncovered.

They blamed a “high trust” environment leaving “considerable scope for manipulation”.

As well as fraud by staff, patients falsely claiming to be exempt from paying for prescriptions is estimated to be costing £341.7 million each year.

The NHS has a strategy for dealing with this, however earlier this year a report by the National Audit Office found this was unnecessarily scaring innocent patients with Penalty Charge Notices.

Fraud within the GP sector accounted for £88 million.

Another significant area of concern was from dentists with NHS contracts, some of whom are suspected of charging for “phantom appointments”.

In 2018 NHS England set up a specialist counter fraud team to deal with the problem. The report said: “Fraud, bribery and corruption are complex, hidden crimes that represent losses to NHS England and therefore impact the care which can be provided to patients.

“Whilst the nature and extent of the losses are not fully understood, it is clear that any loss as a result of dishonesty is too much.

“This is of particular relevance in a time of economic challenges when the NHS is redesigning the delivery of services to make the required efficiencies to provide a sustainable future.”

It went on: “There are considerable gaps in intelligence with reference to fraud risks in primary care areas, a significant proportion of current work and future priorities therefore relate to primary care.”

Primary care services as a whole, including pharmacy and dentistry, contributed to 58 per cent of the estimated £1.29bn losses. A further £2.2m is estimated to be lost from NHS pensions each year.

(20th September 2019)

(Guardian, datd 18th September 2019 author Jamie Grierson)

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The view from the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare takes in the facade of a quintessential British seaside resort – a sprawling sandy beach lined by a broad promenade, Edwardian hotels, arcade entertainments and fish and chip shops.

But behind that charming front, another story has been unfolding in Weston. The town has for many years been home to a significant number of heroin and crack cocaine users, putting pressure on austerity-hit treatment services and the police.

The emergence of the county lines phenomenon – drug-dealing gangs based in cities, dispatching usually vulnerable runners into smaller towns and villages to push their supply – has significantly worsened the Somerset town’s drug problems. And as concerns grow over the extent to which children are being trafficked as part of the phenomenon, Weston stands as a reminder of another devastating part of the equation: the users at the very end of the line.

In March, the Avon and Somerset police and crime commissioner (PCC), Sue Mountstevens, revealed the force was aware of at least 34 county lines operating in Somerset, including Weston. In response, the force launched Operation Remedy to crack down on knife and drug crime in the region.

Emma Black (not her real name), 46, has struggled with drugs since she was 13. A heroin user, she says her mother was also an addict and she first used drugs with her.

Now a mother herself, she lived in Weston and has experienced the devastating impact of county lines first-hand. Although still using heroin, after a period of homelessness she was provided a flat with a local housing association, which she saw as an opportunity to help her “get clean”.

But two weeks into her tenancy, she returned home to find a young man at the top of her stairs. She recognised him from a friend’s flat but knew nothing more about him. She said: “I’d never spoken to him before and there he was at the top of the stairs and he says: ‘Can I come in? Can I come in?’”

Emma refused but he persisted. He reassured her he would only be in the flat for a couple of hours and would give her “eight bits” for free, bits being a bag of heroin or a rock of crack cocaine, with a rough value of £10.

She said: “Well, as soon as he said that my head fell off. All I could think about was the drugs so I let him in and then another three or four turned up. Young, really young as well. Two of them – they were, like, no older than like 16. They were from London. It turned out they worked for the same line I had been using to get my drugs from.”

Emma was being “cuckooed” – when drug dealers take over the home of an often vulnerable person in order to use it as a base.

The young men set themselves up in her home, asked for knives to protect themselves, smoked cannabis and ultimately refused to leave.

The gang had a Polish heroin-user run drugs from Emma’s property for them. “The guy was going in and out and in and out, the line was so busy. I started feeling a bit intimidated because, like, they started to speak to me like shit,” Emma said.

Emma discovered the Polish man had been working in a carwash in Weston but had had his identity card taken from him by the dealers as leverage to force him to deliver drugs for them.

Soon, they demanded Emma start running drugs for them too. “I thought I had to – remember, they had all my knives out the kitchen drawer,” she said. “One had a knife down the back of his trousers.

“One day, I was going to a drop,” Emma recalls. “A police officer came round the corner. I was shaking because I had bits on me. I thought they had come to arrest me. But he said he was coming to make sure I was all right. He said he had heard the boys were in there. He couldn’t come in to search without a warrant but he said, ‘If you want them out just phone me and I’ll get them out.’ He gave me his number.”

Emma went back in and told the gang the police knew they were there. They threatened her but ultimately they fled the property. “While they were in my house, they’re disgusting,” she said. “They treat the house like shit.”

Emma described how the gang members would “bank” the drugs – deposit them between their buttocks – and leave faeces on the floor of the bathroom during the removal.

She said: “They’re nice as pie at first. It changes as soon as they get in there. They’re really intimidating. In my experience it’s almost always women, it is horrible. It’s terrible but when you are an addict and they turn up promising you all these drugs, you know you’re powerless.”

As Operation Remedy has got under way, the scale of the problem has become clearer. In the first three months, there were 150 arrests linked to roughly 450 offences across the whole of Avon and Somerset force area for residential burglary, knife and drug crime.

Emma is all too aware of the ubiquity of the problem in towns such as Weston. When county lines dealers started arriving there from out of town, she says, she found it easier to access heroin – with special offers regularly sent out to users – and as a result much harder to stop using and begin to repair her life.

“I get texts every day from the dealers,” she said. “They have all the addicts’ numbers and they send them out. It’s easier to get drugs. They’re available 24 hours a day.”

(20th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 17th September 2019 author Rebecca Camber)

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Hundreds of women criminals are to be spared jail under a pilot scheme to tackle reoffending.

Shoplifters, drug users, thieves and low-level offenders will instead be referred to specialist services for help with mental health problems and substance abuse.

The move to help 1,000 female criminals over the next two years has been launched by London Mayor Sadiq Khan after research found women are more likely than men to be sent to prison for a first-time offence.

Women are also more likely to reoffend than men after a short prison sentence for a low-level offence such as theft or criminal damage, according to research.

Mr Khan has launched the scheme in four London boroughs as he believes the lack of a women’s prison in the capital means female offenders are taken further away from their families and support networks.

When they are arrested, women who have committed non-violent crimes such as shoplifting, low-level criminal damage such as graffiti or minor public order offences will be offered an ‘out-of-court disposal’.

Under this form of dealing with crime without the need for a prosecution, offenders will still receive a conditional caution that would be present on their criminal record for six years.

They will be required to attend appointments with a women’s centre and warned that failure to attend could result in prosecution for the original offence.

Specialist staff will ‘assess the needs’ of the criminal and offer ‘long-term support to address the causes of her offending’.

For example, they may be referred to mental health services, a domestic abuse organisation or receive help to deal with substance misuse.

Only non-violent female offenders who have admitted their guilt will be considered to participate in the pilot.

The scheme in the boroughs of Camden, Islington, Lambeth and Southwark follows similar pilots in Humberside, West Midlands and Durham.

Ministry of Justice figures show that female offenders cost the Government about £1.7billion a year.

Similar plans by the Liberal Democrats to stop jailing many women criminals were condemned last month by former Tory policing minister Sir Mike Penning.

‘Everyone’s in favour of rehabilitating prisoners but this is utter lunacy from Jo Swinson’s party,’ he said.

‘How can you jail a man for a particular offence but not a woman?’ 

Sophie Linden, London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: ‘This pilot builds upon programmes carried out across England which have shown that through targeted support we can reduce the rates of women reoffending after their prison sentence.’

Dr Kate Paradine, of the charity Women in Prison, says: ‘The only way to tackle the crisis in our criminal justice and prison system is by addressing the root causes of crime in our communities.

‘Investing in women’s centres and diversion services is a vital first step to addressing this and will form essential part of London’s “whole system” approach.’

(20th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 17th September 2019 author Jamie Grierson)

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Artificial intelligence could be used to help catch paedophiles operating on the dark web, the Home Office has announced.

The government has pledged to spend more money on the child abuse image database, which since 2014 has allowed police and other law enforcement agencies to search seized computers and other devices for indecent images of children quickly, against a record of 14m images, to help identify victims.

The investment will be used to trial aspects of AI including voice analysis and age estimation to see whether they would help track down child abusers.

Earlier this month, the chancellor, Sajid Javid, announced £30m would be set aside to tackle online child sexual exploitation, with the Home Office releasing more information on how this would be spent on Tuesday.

There has been debate over the use of machine learning algorithms, part of the broad field of AI, with the government’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation developing a code of practice for the trialling of the predictive analytical technology in policing.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, has made a crackdown on crime the central plank of his domestic agenda. His hardline approach will increase police officer numbers, put up the use of stop and search and incarcerate more offenders, handing down longer sentences.

Law enforcement bodies have welcomed the greater resources but critics described the approach as cynical populist politics designed to sway voters before a possible general election.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, said “vile predators who prowl the internet abusing children are cowards who need to be caught and punished”, adding that the money would make sure “online paedophiles are no longer able to hide in the shadows preying on our society’s most vulnerable”.

National Crime Agency statistics showed 2.88m accounts were registered around the world on child sexual abuse sites on the dark web last year, with at least 5% believed to be in the UK.

The UK also plans to co-host a summit on child sexual abuse in Ethiopia in December to look at how leaders around the world can work together to tackle the crime.

A paper by the security thinktank Rusi, which focused on predictive crime mapping and individual risk assessment, found algorithms that are trained on police data may replicate – and in some cases amplify – the existing biases inherent in the dataset, such as over- or under-policing of certain communities.

The paper also highlights the risk of “automation bias”, whereby police officers become overreliant on the use of analytical tools, undermining their discretion and causing them to disregard other relevant factors.

(20th September 2019)

London Evening Standard, dated 16th September 2019 Anthony France)

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Body scanners designed to detect guns, knives and explosive devices concealed under clothing will be deployed by police for the first time today.

A Home Office-funded trial is taking place at Stratford station in east London as the latest strand in a crackdown on the capital’s violence epidemic.

British Transport Police is using the new Thruvision scanners, which work by revealing objects hidden inside clothing that block body heat. Sensitive cameras capable of screening 2,000 passengers an hour will enable officers to see the size, shape and location of any blade or gun.

Thruvision can scan commuters 30ft away as they ride an escalator or enter ticket barriers without slowing them or requiring a physical search, according to its British inventor. The trial will also seek to identify how officers can use technology to detect if an individual is carrying a knife, potentially reducing reliance on controversial stop and search powers.

Thruvision is already used on the Los Angeles Metro, which last year became the first mass transport system in the US to adopt it.

The initial five-day trial at Stratford will be run by BTP with support from the Metropolitan Police.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said: “We are pulling out all the stops in a battle against knife crime, in London and across the country.

“Twenty thousand more police officers will help, but new technology can make an enormous impact on public safety, as this equipment shows. No one should feel they can walk the streets with a knife and expect to get away with it.”

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith added: “Fortunately, knife crime on the rail network is very low. However, we recognise the important role our force plays in identifying those intent on carrying lethal weapons to commit atrocious crimes. 

“In support of the Home Office and other police forces, we are keen to explore how technology can assist us in tackling violent crime head on.”

The initiative comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to extend  controversial police stop and search powers with greater use of Section 60, which allows stops in an area without reasonable suspicion for a limited time.

The trial will enable the Home Office, BTP and the Met to consider whether such technologies can play a significant role in efforts to combat knife crime.

The Home Office said scanners do not show any intimate body parts and it is impossible to tell an individual’s gender, age or ethnicity from the images it produces. The scanner does not emit any radiation.

(20th September 2019)

(Mail on Sunday, dated 15th September 2019 author Martin Beckford)

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Britain’s ‘FBI’ is secretly building a database of voice recordings to catch criminals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The audio library is being developed by the National Crime Agency so that suspects can be identified by their unique ‘voiceprint’.

Recordings captured at crime scenes or during undercover surveillance will be compared with samples kept on file.

Agents could even try to get hold of data taken from smart home speakers like Amazon’s Alexa to see if speech patterns match those of known gang bosses.

The system will be similar to controversial facial recognition technology already being used to catch criminals.

But privacy and civil liberties groups fear the latest move would create ‘yet another state-held library’ without ‘clear rules’.

Law-enforcement chiefs have already started quietly recruiting intelligence officers for their Voice Analytics scheme and also briefing experts on the technical and ethical challenges.

A senior NCA officer earlier this year told the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group – a quango that advises the Home Office – the scheme had ‘significant potential for improving public safety and security’.

However, members of the Government advisory group said the ethical considerations were similar to those of facial recognition, with one observing ‘research pertaining to public opinion on voice capture needs to be undertaken’.

The crime agency says it is looking at how to make the project ‘legally compliant and publicly acceptable’.

There has been growing concern over the use by police of facial recognition to scan crowds in order to target known criminals.

It also emerged last year that HM Revenue & Customs had stored five million taxpayers’ unique ‘voiceprints’ without asking for their consent and was forced to delete the huge database.

The first public details of the secret voice analysis project emerged in a job advert seeking a £20-an-hour intelligence officer to work on the scheme at the NCA’s headquarters in Vauxhall, South London.

It states: ‘Voice Analytics (VA) system will allow the creation of a library of voiceprints.

‘The base technology is engrained in the day-to-day life (Alexa, Siri, etc.) of the public.’

The role would involve drafting applications to ‘carry out covert and other activity for the purpose of intelligence gathering’ and creating ‘products for evidential or intelligence purposes or to inform operational, tactical or strategic decision-making’.

Last night, Silkie Carlo, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch – which exposed the HMRC scandal – told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We’re alarmed by the secret creation of yet another state-held library of people’s voiceprints. This raises serious and urgent questions that the NCA must answer.

‘Voice analytics lack a convincing legal basis, evidence basis, or any oversight in the UK.’

Professor Paul Wiles, the UK’s Biometrics Commissioner, said there needed to be ‘clear rules’, adding: ‘It is crucial to maintain public trust in what the police are doing.’

An NCA spokesman last night said the project ‘remains at a very early stage’, adding: ‘All development work is also being managed in conjunction with appropriate regulatory bodies and law enforcement partners to consider what oversight of voice analytics would be required to ensure any work would be ethical, legally compliant and publicly acceptable.

‘A recent job advert... which was posted by an external recruitment agency, was incorrect to suggest the role included work on home devices.’

(20th September 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 15th September 2019 author Telegraph Reporters)

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County lines drug networks have been blamed for a huge spike in the number of children identified as having links to gangs, after the figure more than doubled in three years.

Social services in England carried out 8,650 assessments of young people whom they labelled as vulnerable with gangs highlighted as an issue in 2017-18.

It marked a significant jump on 2014-15, when 3,680 such cases were recorded.

A similar trend was found in the number of children who went missing during the same period - from 8,850 to 16,070 - which is considered a trait of county lines networks.

Drugs gangs increasingly recruit vulnerable children to ferry narcotics from cities to smaller towns, with around 2,000 operations believed to be operating across the UK.

The smuggling networks are known as "county lines". Academics and MPs described the figures, analysed by The Guardian, as “shocking”.

“There will be elements of that about increased reporting and awareness but that is not going to account for such a big rise - there is something happening,” Simon Harding, an associate professor of criminology at the University of West London, told the newspaper.

“Working in county lines has a great allure for young people. It gives them a tax-free income, gives them a regular income and high income”.

The Department for Education data showed a steady rise in the number of vulnerable children who go missing or become involved with gangs over the past few years.

Factors for a child disappearing are complex but can also include the absence of social services in the area, along with the work of drugs gangs.

Josie Allan, of Missing People UK, said: “I did research recently with a small group of young people involved in county lines, and everyone who took part said that going missing was a key feature, especially in the early stages of criminal exploitation.”

Another factor thought to be driving the trend of children being reported missing is a drop in the number of parents or teachers reporting them as “absent” instead.

Ann Coffey, the MP for Stockport and chair of the all-party Parliamentary committee on runaway and missing children and adults, told the newspaper: “What concerns me is that we are not really making inroads on arresting and taking those senior gang leaders out of county lines. As long as they continue to operate, the number of children exploited will continue to grow.”

A Government spokesman said: “Any child that goes missing from home, school or care could be in danger of exploitation from gangs or violent criminals – that’s why we are equipping the professionals who protect vulnerable children to help them identify those who are most at risk and keep them safe.

“Our national ‘tackling child exploitation’ support programme is helping specialists in education, social care, health, the police and the voluntary sector to improve how they respond to these kinds of threats in their communities, including gangs, county lines drug activity and trafficking, and our serious violence strategy includes a range of actions to combat county lines.”


The term is increasingly in the spotlight, here is what you need to know about it:

What is meant by county lines?

Drug-dealing operations in major cities seek new markets outside their urban hubs for their drugs, primarily crack cocaine and heroin.

They expand their networks into smaller towns, which requires a supply of new recruits to transport the drugs. These are often controlled via a branded mobile phone line.

Who falls victim to these operations?

Children and vulnerable adults are manipulated and coerced into ferrying and stashing the haul.

They can be homeless, missing people, addicts, living in care, trapped in poverty, or suffering from mental illness or learning difficulties.

Even the elderly and the physically infirm have been targeted and officers have observed a gang member attending drug rehabs to seek out potential runners.

How do dealers target the exploited?

Initially they can be lured in with money, gifts and the prospect of status. But this may quickly turn to the use of violence, sexual and physical.

How prevalent are county lines?

National Crime Agency research shows police have knowledge of at least 720 county lines in England and Wales, but it is feared the true number is far higher.

Some 65 per cent of forces reported county lines being linked to child exploitation, while 74 per cent noted vulnerable people being targeted.

How many people have been prosecuted in relation to this?

In October 2018, a drug-dealer was jailed for trafficking children – including a 14-year-old girl – to use in a heroin and crack-selling ring.

Zakaria Mohammed, a 21-year-old resident of Birmingham, is believed to be the first dealer to be convicted for breaching the Modern Slavery Act by trafficking juveniles.

How many children are at risk?

Children without criminal records – known in the trade as “clean skins” – are preferred because they are less likely to be known to detectives.

Charity The Children’s Society says 4,000 teenagers in London alone are exploited through county lines.

The Children’s Commissioner estimates at least 46,000 children in England are caught up in gangs.

(20th September 2019)


(Independent, dated 11th September 2010 author May Bulman)

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Sexual grooming crimes have soared by a third in a year as paedophiles turn to Instagram to target children as young as 11, the NSPCC has said.

Figures show that in the year to April 2019, there were 4,373 offences recorded of sexual communication with a child - an offence came into force on April 2017 - compared with 3,217 in the previous year.

The data, obtained from 43 police forces across England and Wales under Freedom of Information laws, also revealed that where age was provided, one in five victims were aged just 11 or younger.

Last year, the number of recorded instances of the use of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, was more than double that of the previous year.

In one case, Freya, a 12-year-old whose name has been changed to protect her identity, was staying at a friend's house when a stranger bombarded her Instagram account with sexual messages and videos.

Her mother told the NSPCC: "She was quiet and seemed on edge when she came home the next day. I noticed her shaking and knew there was something wrong so encouraged her to tell me what the problem was.

"When she showed me the messages, I just felt sick. It was such a violation and he was so persistent. He knew she was 12, but he kept bombarding her with texts and explicit videos and images.

"Freya* didn't even understand what she was looking at. There were pages and pages of messages, he just didn't give up."

Overall in the last two years, Facebook-owned apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp) and Snapchat were used in more than 70 per cent of the instances where police recorded the communication method, with Instagram being used in more than a quarter of cases.

The NSPCC is now calling on Boris Johnson's government to draw up a draft Online Harms Bill, which would introduce independent regulation of social networks, with tough sanctions if they fail to keep children safe on their platforms - as a matter of urgency.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: "It's now clearer than ever that government has no time to lose in getting tough on these tech firms. Despite the huge amount of pressure that social networks have come under to put basic protections in place, children are being groomed and abused on their platforms every single day."

He added: "These figures are yet more evidence that social networks simply won't act unless they are forced to by law. The government needs to stand firm and bring in regulation without delay."

A government spokesperson said: "Grooming children online is a sickening crime and the government is committed to stamping it out.

"We have taken strong action to tackle this vile abuse, from developing AI tools to identify and block grooming conversations to our Online Harms white paper, which will place a legal duty of care on social media companies to protect their users."

(Oxford Mail, dated 11th September 2019 author Fran Way)

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Children are being messaged through Instagram in more than 70 per cent of sexual grooming crimes recorded by Thames Valley Police.

The figures, obtained by child protection charity NSPCC through a Freedom of Information request, have revealed that sexual grooming crimes have soared by 140 per cent in the Thames Valley.

The number of children who are under 16 and are being targeted through Facebook-owned social media apps like messenger, Snapchat, Whatsapp and Instagram is also at an all-time high.

The new crime, under section 15a of the sexual offences act - which came into force two years ago - covers sexual communications with a child.

The crime happens when an somebody who is 18-year-old (or older) intentionally messages somebody legally underage (under 16) for sexual gratification.

They might also encourage the child to be sexual over the chat.

In the 12-months leading up to April 2019, 274 crimes where an adult had been sexually contacting a child were recorded by the force.

Of those, social media had been used in at least 154 of the instances - with Instagram being used in 72 per cent of the crimes and groomers using Snapchat and Facebook for around 26 of the crimes.

The year before in 2017 to 2018, 114 crimes were recorded.

When police had noted an age of the victim, it showed that around one in five were 11-years-old and younger.

The worrying figures also translate across the whole of the UK, with more than 7,500 crimes of the same nature being recorded by the 43 police forces in the last two years of the new offence coming into action.

A spokesman for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said: "There is no place for grooming or child exploitation on our platforms and we use technology to proactively find and quickly remove it.

"We also investigate reports from the community with a content and security team of over 30,000 people who respond to reports 24/7."

(Swindon Advertiser, dated 11th September 2019 author Tom Seaward)

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Rising popularity of social media sites like Instagram could be behind a hike in the number of child grooming reports in Wiltshire, police have said.

It came as new figures showed the number of grooming offences reported to Wiltshire Police almost doubled last year.

In the year to April 2018, 54 offences of sexual communication with a child were recorded by the county force compared to 28 in the previous year.

The NSPCC, which obtained the figures under freedom of information rules, called on government to turn up the heat on social media firms like Facebook and Twitter.

Reacting to the figures, Det Sgt Helen Clarke of Wiltshire Police's child internet exploitation team, said: "With the rise in popularity of social media sites such as Instagram, we have seen an increase in the number of incidents involving sexual communication with a child. It is becoming increasingly easy for offenders to access children.

"We want to reassure the public that we are doing everything in our power to monitor the internet activity of those suspected of grooming children online and will actively pursue prosecutions against suspects."

She urged parents to speak to their children about the dangers of talking to strangers online: "Be aware of what your child is doing online - ensure profiles are private and they are not accepting friend requests from people they do not know."

Nationally, police forces recorded 4,373 offences of sexual communication with a child in the 12 months to April 2018. In more than half of cases, police were able to give the method of communication used. Instagram featured in a third of cases, while use of Facebook and Snapchat had fallen.

(Chronical Live, dated 11th September 2019 author Katie Dickinson)

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The number of grooming crimes recorded by police in the North East and Cumbria has soared by more than a third in the last year, new figures suggest.

Children's charity the NSPCC said police recorded 369 offences of sexual communication with a child in the year to April 2019, compared with 271 the previous year - a rise of 36%.

Throughout England and Wales more than 7,500 have been recorded within just two years of the new offence coming into force.

The figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests from 43 police forces show that more than one in five offences were against children aged 11 or under, and that instances of grooming on Instagram have doubled.

In the North East and Cumbria over the last two years, Facebook-owned apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp) and Snapchat were used in more than 75% of the instances where police recorded and provided the communication method. Instagram was used in 24% of them.

(Telegraph, dated 14th September 2019 author Martin Evans)

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Thousands of British youngsters are being persuaded to broadcast sexually explicit videos from their own bedrooms as part of a worrying new trend,  the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Monitors who scour the internet to remove indecent images of children are identifying more than 100 new webcam videos a day, mostly featuring girls aged between 11 and 13.

So called 'self-generated' material now accounts for a third of indecent web pages being intercepted in the UK, with 22,000 separate videos removed from the internet already this year.

Many of the youngsters who film themselves performing sexually do so in the belief that the video will only be viewed by a boyfriend or a close circle of acquaintances, and film themselves in the comfort of their own bedroom.

But in reality the person on the other end of the web-camera is often a predatory paedophile, who has manipulated the victim into believing they are in a relationship with someone their own age.

In other cases, material that was meant to be kept private between a girlfriend and boyfriend, can be posted on the internet and then tracked down by paedophiles.

And experts have also found live streaming websites where youngsters film themselves performing explicit acts in order to win the approval of an online audience

Last year the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which is funded by the tech industry and works to eliminate child sex abuse imagery from the internet, removed 105,000 web pages, the highest figure ever.

Susie Hargreaves, the CEO of the organisation, said there had been an explosion in the volume of self generated videos featuring very young girls and they were now beginning to replace traditional paedophile material found online.

She said: "Of the material we have seen this year 96 per cent of the videos feature girls and of those 85 per cent are aged between 11 and 13.

"These are children who are mainly in their bedrooms. In one video I have seen a little girl is responding to a request online, she is actually actively engaged in what we call a Category A activity which is the worst level of sexual abuse, and yet you can hear someone shouting 'dinner is ready'."

Ms Hargreaves said any child who has a web enabled device and access to high speed internet is vulnerable to exploitation in this way and ought to have their online activity supervised.

She said: "Children are at home in their bedrooms on webcams and they are being coerced or tricked or encouraged into performing sexual acts which are then videoed by someone on the other side of the screen and they they then make their way onto child sexual abuse websites.

"Children are terribly unaware that these videos are being shared on the internet. In some cases they are clearly being groomed by someone they think is a boyfriend, someone they are having a relationship.

"The other side in which we have seen a huge increase is children going onto sites where people can make comment and can ask them to do things, and the children are saying 'well if I get a thousands likes I'll do that'.

"You can often see them reading the comments on screen, there are live streaming sites that exist. The girls will be unaware what they are doing. They are so young they are unaware what they are doing is going to be captured and distributed on the internet.

"Sexual predators no longer need to have contact with a child, they can meet them online and encourage this behaviour. Of course in the really bad situations it might escalate and they can blackmail these children and that can lead to contact abuse."

Last week the NSPCC published new figures that revealed the number of grooming cases in which paedophiles had contacted children online had soared by a third in the past year.

(The Sun, dated 17th September 2019 authpr Steve Hawkes)

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CHILD sex attackers could be locked up for longer under a programme that lets the ­public challenge jail terms, it was revealed last night.

Taking, distributing and publishing indecent images of kids is also among 14 new offences added to the initiative.

Criminals guilty of stalking and harassment will also be covered by the Attorney General's Unduly Lenient Sentencing Scheme.

It comes after PM Boris Johnson vowed life would mean life under a separate sentencing review being drawn up.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said last night: "We are determined that those found guilty of heinous crimes such as child sex offences receive the sentences their actions warrant.

"Sentences are decided by our independent judiciary based on the facts before them, but it's absolutely right that victims have a voice in the system when punishments don't appear to fit the crime."

The scheme, launched 30 years ago, already covers murder, robbery and terror offences.

Last year, 99 criminals saw their sentences increased following review.

In July, an intervention saw the jail term of a mother who let her partner rape her daughter upped from three to five years.

(20th September 2019)

(Mirror, dated 15th September 2019 author Nicola Small)

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More than 20,000 people were wrongly fined for claiming free prescriptions last year - even though they had paid.

The number incorrectly hit with the £100 charge was nearly 20 times higher than five years ago.

And patients' groups said last night the soaring figure was an outrage.

Rachel Power, of the Patients Association, said: "The system is dysfunctional. A patient can end up facing a fine because of a mistake by a pharmacist - this clearly can't be right."

A total of 21,497 patients appealed fines they should not have had last year, up from 1,122 in 2014/15.

A fraud crackdown that began in 2014 had led to increased checks.

The fines were eventually overturned. The NHS Business Services Authority said it was due to pharmacists ticking the wrong box on forms.

Ms Power added: "It's an outrage that such a badly administered system has gone from pursuing 1,122 cases in 2014/15, rising every year to almost 20 times that in five years.

"Some of the people who received these notices will be vulnerable.

"The impact of letters threatening court action, particularly on those being treated for mental illnesses, should not be underestimated."

The National Audit Office found a further 1.7 million fines since 2014 had been quashed because the recipients qualified for free treatment.

That is nearly one in three of all penalty charges issued. Around 90 per cent of prescriptions are free.

Dr Richard Vautrey, of the British Medical Association, said: "Far too many people are needlessly receiving distressing letters or fines.

"The system is over-complicated and not fit for purpose."

Brendan Brown, director of citizen services, said: "The NHS loses millions of pounds each year and it's important we protect funds from loss through error or deliberate fraud."

'It picks on the vulnerable'

Frances Valdes was wrongly accused of fraud in November, in a letter claiming she failed to pay for a prescription months earlier.

Frances, 61, said: "I'm a scrupulously honest person and it really upset me.

"I emailed saying I was a retired lawyer and was going to challenge it because I'd paid.

"In less than 24 hours I heard back saying that if I say I paid for it then that's fine, they'll drop it."

Frances, of Hove, East Sussex, added: "They're making this allegation after three to four months, and the minute I say I paid, they drop it. It stinks.

"I volunteer at a debt charity - people often have psychological issues and if an envelope comes in like that they'll stick it in a bag. It's picking on the vulnerable."

Hove MP Peter Kyle, said: "People are being targeted with frightening letters to pay a fine they don't owe, for a fraud they didn't commit. It's wrong."

uaware comment

A friend of mine needs a monthly repeat prescription, so purchased a pre-paid prescription card and obtained a reasonable discount on his medication. On receipt of their card they noticed that their first and family name had been reversed, but the Government Civil Service tend to do weird things like that. So "John Smith" became Smith John (name changed in story for anonymity).

After 8 months of using the card, "John" received one these fraud letters which stated "you are not entitled to free prescriptions", please provide an explanation. On calling their helpline and explaining the situation an apology was received both verbally and in writing.

The problem was caused by the idiot issuing the notice not realising that John Smith and Smith John are one of the same living at the same address, so covered by the pre-paid prescription card.

(20th September 2019)

(Stoke Sentinel, dated 14th September 2019 author Phil Corrigan)

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Shoppers in Hanley may have wondered if a serious incident was unfolding at the intu Potteries centre on Friday morning

Lots of uniformed and plain clothed police officers, sniffer dogs, patrol cars and bikes were assembling outside the shopping centre.

This was not a terrorist attack - but the launch of a new policing tactic in Staffordshire.

Project Servator, which is being rolled out across the country after being pioneered by City of London Police in 2014, is aimed at disrupting all criminal activity from shoplifting to terrorism to child sexual exploitation.

The tactic involves the deployment of officers and resources at a specific location - such as a shopping centre - without any prior announcement.

While the police will liaise with businesses and local authorities, the idea is that the deployments will be unpredictable, so criminals can never know when or where they will take place. They may be supported by armed officers, dogs, helicopters, CCTV cameras or other resources.

Officers receive a week of special training to help them spot tell-tale signs that someone may be planning or preparing to commit a crime.

For example, at intu Potteries uniformed officers were stationed near the entrance, where they could be seen by everyone coming through the doors.

Plain clothed officers deployed nearby kept an eye out for anyone acting suspiciously after spotting their uniformed colleagues - such as by ducking into a shop or immediately turning around. Officers also spoke to shop staff and handed out leaflets explaining the operation.

Staffordshire Police worked closely with shopping centre managers in organising Friday's trial run - which officers were keen to stress was not in response to any specific threat.

Temporary Chief Inspector Mat Derrick, who was in charge of the operation, said: "I am really pleased to be trialling Project Servator at intu Potteries.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to talk to visitors to the centre, shoppers and staff about the importance of being vigilant at all times, and to work with them to keep everyone safe and add another layer of security to our existing policing methods."

CI Derrick added: "The idea is that it's totally unpredictable where we go, and how. It could be a vehicle stop outside the city centre. It could involve armed officers, or the helicopter, or drones. There's a wide range of options, and the criminals will never know where we will be deploying.

"We want to create a hostile environment for criminals, while reassuring the public."

The Project Servator tactics were developed and tested by security experts at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure in partnership with the City of London Police.

In other parts of the country it has helped counter terrorism units, and resulted in arrests for various offences and the removal of guns, knives and drugs from the streets.

Rachael Jackson, general manager at intu Potteries, said: "We have very close working relationships with the security services and police at a national and local level so we had no hesitation in working with Staffordshire Police on Project Servator.

"We take the safety and security of our customers and staff seriously and this project is just another way in which we continually adapt and flex our approach.

"It's great to have Staffordshire Police in the centre working alongside our own experienced staff to launch such a great initiative."

Shoppers in Hanley also welcomed the new police tactic.

Maureen Harris, aged 81, from Newcastle, said:" You never seem to see police around so I think it's good that they're doing things like this."

Sheila Edge, from Abbey Hulton, said: "I think this is a good idea. It always makes you feel more reassured when you see police around."

(20th September 2019)

(Mail on Sunday, dated 14th September 2019 author Martin Beckford)

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Every camera on new 'smart' sections of motorway is expected to rack up £600,000 in fines each year, according to road chiefs.

Errant drivers are given £100 fines and three penalty points under the controversial system.

So many extra motorists are predicted to be hit by punishments that police are hiring more staff to deal with the expected workload.

One of Britain's biggest police forces, Thames Valley, is taking on an extra 15 civilian employees to process all the fines expected when Highways England switches on smart sections of the M4 and M40 later this year.

It has prompted concerns that drivers are being used as 'cash cows' under the new system - which uses variable speed limits and the hard shoulder as an extra lane during busy periods to control traffic and improve safety.

There have already been calls for smart motorways to be scrapped after four people were killed on one stretch of the M1 because there was no safe place to stop.

AA president Edmund King said: 'If more resources were put into making the gantry signs accurate and the variable speeds right for the conditions, you might not need more resources for enforcement.

'Accurate technology and more consistent and appropriate speed limits would actually reduce the levels of fines.

'Any 'income' from fines should go into making these roads safer by sorting technology and doubling the number of lay-bys.'

The huge numbers expected to be caught by the automatic cameras - either for breaking the speed limit or straying into lanes that have been temporarily closed with a red 'X' gantry sign - are revealed in a report by Thames Valley police.

It said of the smart motorways which will be introduced later in the year: 'It is anticipated that the M40 and M4 will each capture 30,000 infringements per year.

The national equation used by Highways England has shown that an increase of 15 [staff] will be required to deal with the 500 captures per camera per month, funded by Highways England.'

A Highways England spokesman said: 'There are around 150 speed camera sites on smart motorways; normally one between each junction.

'They are clearly signed and are bright yellow for visibility. The vast majority of drivers on smart motorways drive within the speed limit.'

There are already more than 200 miles of smart motorway in the UK, including London, Birmingham and the North.

Richard Goddard, of the Campaign For Safer Roadside Rescue And Recovery, said last night: 'I think the motoring public will be flabbergasted and shocked to see the scale of the cash cow these smart motorways have become.

'We fervently believe they are not safe. The refuge areas are too far apart. Motorists face the petrifying risk of breaking down in a live lane, many hundreds of yards from a refuge area with traffic barrelling down behind them.

'At the very least, every penny generated by these cameras should be ploughed back into making these roads safer.'

(20th September 2019)

(Mirror, dated 14th September 2019 author Stephen Hayward)

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Gangs are raiding cars at motorway services using radio jamming devices to stop owners locking them.

Police are probing a wave of thefts where there were no signs of a break-in.

They believe crooks are lying in wait using £50 gadgets bought online to block remote key fobs sending locking codes.

Then they pounce while the owner is away.

Tony Forrester, 58, had a wallet and laptop lifted at an M40 Welcome Break near Oxford while buying a lottery ticket.

"It's only when you get home that you realise and the thieves are long gone," said Tony, of Walsall.

"I went back to the services and asked to check their CCTV, and they told me they didn't have any in the car park. I've emailed Welcome Break, saying you're putting customers' safety and security at risk by not having CCTV."

There was no CCTV in the car park. In summer there were 28 jammer break-ins at Cherwell Valley Services near Bicester 18 miles away.

Gangs raided 14 vehicles at three services on the M4 in just two weeks in November 2016.

A Thames Vally police spokesman said at the time: "Often victims are locking their belongings in the boot of the car and leaving the vehicle unattended for no more than five minutes.

"In that time, the vehicle is being entered and items are being stolen. We have cause to believe that jamming devices are being used.

"Our advice for motorists stopping at motorway service stations is to look and listen for confirmation that their vehicle has locked before walking away from it.

"If they are not able to lock their vehicle using a key remote, this could be a sign that a jammer is being used nearby."

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "For years car makers have successfully used technology to make it harder for thieves, but sadly they have now got their hands on their own tech.

"The advice to drivers using any busy car park where thieves may be lurking to jam signals from their key fobs is to physically make sure the car has locked before they walk away."

(20th September 2019)

(Express, dated 13th September 2019 author Giles Sheldrick)

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Many constabularies are embarking on major "uplift" programmes to ensure frontline officers are equipped with the 50,000-volt stun guns. The Met said 6,500 officers will be Taser-trained by November while West Midlands Police will give more than double the current number of officers access to the weapon. The Daily Express asked all 43 police forces in England and Wales to provide details on plans to extend Taser training and deployment.

Of those who responded, the majority said they were increasing the number of officers trained to carry Tasers.

The move comes after a string of horrific attacks on police officers across the country and the tragic death of PC Andrew Harper, who was killed while on duty in Berkshire last month.

Thames Valley - the force with which PC Harper was serving when he died - said it would have an extra 390 Taser-trained officers by 2020. Sussex and Surrey revealed 80 percent of their officers will have a Taser by 2021 while in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, 120 and 150 officers are being trained respectively.

Lancashire and Devon and Cornwall said they were "committed" to increasing the number of officers trained to use Tasers and Durham, Wiltshire, Kent, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire said every officer who wanted the weapon could have one.

And Cheshire Police said all its response officers would be given the chance to undertake training.

Supt Debbie Hooper, from the force, said: "We are in the process of upgrading the Tasers we use. As part of this upgrade, a decision was taken that all response officers will be given the choice to undertake the required training to carry a Taser is they wish." City of London is considering rolling out the weapon to all its frontline officers and Dorset and Cumbria are carrying out reviews. Leicestershire said its Taser training was ongoing.

Currently, individual forces cover the cost of equipment and training but police chiefs want the Home Office to commit to more funding so the financial burden is eased.

Tasers are effective from around 12ft and work by firing two needle-like probes into the body, incapacitating the subject for several seconds.

Firearms experts claim the weapon is a "game-changer" for the police.

Figures show officers were victims of 10,399 assaults which caused injuries last year - up 32 percent from 7,903 in 2015/16.

John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "It's time for the Government to set aside ring-fenced funding for Tasers and for chief officers to roll out Tasers to all frontline officers who wish to carry one."

(20th September 2019)

(BBC News, dated 13th September 2019 authors Thomas MacKintosh and Steve Swann)

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The number of people killed as a result of domestic violence in the UK is at its highest level in five years.

Last year, 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides, according to data obtained by the BBC from 43 police forces across the UK - an increase of 32 deaths on 2017.

One criminologist described them as "invisible victims of knife crime".

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government was "fully committed" to tackling domestic abuse.

Whilst both men and women are killed by domestic violence, the vast majority of victims are women.

In England and Wales, between April 2014 and March 2017, around three-quarters of victims of domestic killings by a partner, ex-partner or family member were women, while suspects are predominantly male.

Domestic violence-related homicides

Stabbed by her ex-boyfriend on New Year's Day, Charlotte Huggins began 2019 like many across the UK, drinking in a pub and celebrating with friends.

Hours later, her ex-boyfriend Michael Rolle barged into her south London home while her daughter and aunt slept upstairs.

Rolle had spotted Ms Huggins with another man and in a "jealous rage" stabbed her in the back with a large kitchen knife.

He fled the scene and later argued Ms Huggins had fallen on the knife. In July, an Old Bailey jury convicted him of murder.

Despite a public debate about rising levels of knife crime, Ms Huggins's murder attracted little attention when it came to trial.

Liverpool University criminologist Professor Sandra Walklate is keen to point out the weapon used commonly in street murders is equally prevalent in the home.

"That's part of the issue about violence against women, it mostly remains invisible."

The BBC has been following the first 100 killings of 2019. The vast majority of cases have now had charges and many have come to trial over the summer.

About a fifth were committed by a partner, an ex-partner or a family member.

Victims include 69-year-old Mary Annie Sowerby who was repeatedly stabbed in the neck and chest by her son Lee in Cumbria; and Alison Hunt, who was knifed 22 times by her ex-boyfriend Vernon Holmes in front of her 16-year-old child.

One of the most shocking killings occurred in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

Julian Giraldo woke up on 13 January with a premonition something bad was going to happen. He tried for hours without success to call his parents on the phone.

He was aware of problems in their 17-year marriage but had no idea what was happening as he struggled to get through.

His father Rodrigo Giraldo, a former Colombian police officer murdered his wife, Margory Villegas, in the presence of their newly fostered baby. The 55-year-old then drove to a local beauty spot where he set her body alight, placed the remains into a suitcase, and then buried it in a shallow grave.

Despite his denials, the evidence against him was overwhelming, leading to his conviction and subsequent life prison sentence.

As with many other such cases, the killer had a history of domestic abuse.

Julian, who appeared as a witness at the trial, told St Albans Crown Court his mum was someone who "gave her entire life for her family."

Speaking to the BBC in a local park he said: "My dad needs to take ownership for his what he's done.

"He's always been a victim of his own realities. Right now he's living his choices."

Mr Giraldo believes the murder was the culmination "of lots of little tiny things that over time create the situation."

"I am on a quest for personal development for myself, for my family, for my community," he says. "I want to prevent this moment from occurring to other people."

He said: "We want the government to fix all our problems. But I think realistically, what we actually need to do is work collectively as a community to create better things."

Last year, there were 173 domestic killings, making it the highest figure since 2014, according to data supplied to the BBC by 43 police forces in the UK. There were 165 in 2014, 160 in 2015, 139 in 2016 and 141 in 2017.

The increase comes despite a major government effort to tackle domestic violence.

Theresa May made it a high priority when she was home secretary and the ex-prime minister hopes the newly approved domestic abuse laws will provide something of a legacy.

Boris Johnson confirmed the government will introduce a new bill aimed at tackling the "horrific crime" of domestic abuse when Parliament returns.

Government minister Victoria Atkins also pointed to the introduction of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme - known as Clare's Law - which lets people find out from police if their partner has a history of domestic violence.

"These tragic cases are a stark reminder of the devastating impact of domestic abuse and we are determined to do more to protect victims and bring more perpetrators to justice," she added.

However, Prof Walklate argues successive governments have placed too much emphasis on reforming the criminal justice system.

"What might change behaviour is to ensure that police forces, health services, education, social services all speak from the same hymn sheet in relation to violence against women," she says.

"It is at that point at which you start to send out general messages that this is not tolerable."


In March, the Centre For Women's Justice (CWJ) lodged a "super-complaint" accusing police of failing to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence.

CWJ's Nogah Ofer explained police already have powers, such as non-molestation orders, that are not being used enough and could halt the rise in domestic violence-related murders.

"Women have to go off and get orders in the civil courts," Ms Ofer says. "Then those orders are breached and the police don't do anything to arrest the suspects."

"We hear this all the time. There's this constant sense of frustration they're not being taken seriously."

The role of domestic abuse commissioner has been created to spearhead the campaign against a problem that costs the country £66bn a year.

A job advert for the position was put out in December - but as yet, no-one has been appointed to the position.

However, it will already be too late for the family of Charlotte Huggins and dozens of other families affected by domestic violence.

Analysis (By Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw)

In April 2018, the Home Office published its long-awaited strategy to tackle serious violence in England and Wales.

The policy paper acknowledged that a "significant proportion" of violent crime was linked to domestic abuse or alcohol but said neither was "driving" the increase. "That is why they are not the focus of this document," it added.

Instead, most of the effort from government, police and other agencies has gone into combating street-based violence, gang crime and county lines drug dealing.

No-one would argue they should not be priorities, as the recent wave of fatal stabbings of teenagers in London demonstrates.

But while the authorities concentrated precious resources on one type of violent crime, did that deflect them from bearing down on another?

There's no firm evidence to prove it, but these latest figures will act as a reminder of the importance of being alert to the pernicious, and often hidden, crime of domestic abuse.

Labour MP Jess Phillips, who campaigns on the issue of domestic abuse, agreed the government had focused too much on the criminal justice system, while police resources had been cut and there were fewer refuge beds available.

"If women trying to escape can't get into refuges, it doesn't matter how cracking the laws are we've made in Westminster," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"They do not help people on the ground."

(Guardian, dated 13th September 2019 author Sarah Marsh)

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Charities and experts have described official figures showing the number of people killed as a result of domestic violence at a five-year high as "truly horrifying".

Data from police forces in England and Wales revealed that 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides last year, an increase of 32 on 2017.

Around three-quarters of people killed by a partner, ex-partner or family member were women, and suspects were predominantly male.

The statistics, based on freedom of information data obtained by the BBC, found there were 165 domestic killings in 2014, 160 in 2015, 139 in 2016 and 141 in 2017.

Sandra Horley, the chief executive of the Refuge charity, said the findings were "truly horrifying".

"Domestic violence is a national travesty and the biggest issue facing women and girls worldwide," she said. "Now more than ever, violence against women and girls must be taken seriously. But change will not happen without pressure, and we know that women and girls depend on us to keep pushing for action.

"To put it simply, without the necessary action to address violence against women and girls, these appalling statistics are unlikely to be reduced."

Prof Elizabeth Yardley, a criminologist at Birmingham City University, said domestic homicide did not come of the blue: "Perpetrators don't 'lose it' and victims don't 'provoke' it.

"A perpetrator's desire for control is what drives domestic abuse and homicide. Abusers will gradually strip away a victim's sense of identity and personhood so that they become dependent on the perpetrator and isolated from sources of support. The perpetrator will cause them to lose their friends, family and employment. This makes them easier to control and removes any critical voices."

Boris Johnson pledged on Thursday to reintroduce domestic abuse legislation in the next Queen's speech. "Domestic abuse shatters lives and tears families apart," he tweeted. "We are fully committed to tackling this horrific crime - which is why the Queen's speech will confirm we will be reintroducing domestic abuse legislation in the next session."

Horley said she hoped the government stuck to its commitment and ensured the bill was given priority.

Sir James Munby, the former president of the family division of the high court of England and Wales, has called for the domestic abuse bill to be brought back before parliament at the start of its next session.

"This is a vitally important bill, tackling what everyone agrees is a very great social evil," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "It is immensely depressing nothing effective has been done to get this necessary reform through parliament."

Once reintroduced, "it must then be pursued to the earliest possible conclusion of the parliamentary process with determination, vigour and a real sense of urgent commitment on the part of government.

"What the prime minister does or not will be a vital litmus test of his real commitment to safeguarding those in our society who are vulnerable, disadvantaged and oppressed."

The bill, introduced in July, would place a new legal duty on councils to provide secure homes for people fleeing violence and their children. It would also introduce the first legal government definition of domestic abuse, which would include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.

Karla McLaren, of Amnesty International, said bringing back the bill would be a huge relief to many, but the announcement should result in "meaningful change for all survivors".

"So far the existing bill has neglected to meet the specific needs of migrant women who find it hard to access life-saving services such as refuges and are often too scared to report abuse for fear they'll be referred to the Home Office and detained or deported," she said.

Theresa May was criticised earlier this month over her decision to honour the cricketer Sir Geoffrey Boycott, who was was convicted in France in 1998 of beating up his then girlfriend in a Riviera hotel.

Campaigners said it sent a dangerous message that domestic abuse was not taken seriously as a crime, but Boycott said he "couldn't give a toss" about the criticism.

- In the UK, the domestic violence helpline is 0808 2000 247.

- In Australia, the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732.

- In the US, the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

- Other international helplines can be found at

(20th September 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 13th September 2019 author Sarah Knapton)

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High-tech scanners used to pick up tiny defects in aeroplane turbine blades and car engines have been repurposed by murder detectives to solve 120 homicides.

Automotive experts at the University of Warwick have been working with West Midlands police ever since investigators approached them in 2014 asking them to scan a piece of charcoal found at the home of murder suspect Lorenzo Simon.

Simon had killed his tenant Michael Spalding, 39, and dismembered his body, before dumping the remains in a canal in a suitcase in Birmingham.

There was no evidence linking the body in the suitcase to Simon, but when experts put the charcoal through there micro CT scanner they found a piece of shoulder bone inside that perfectly matched a fragment of the remains.

Speaking at the British Science Festival, Professor Mark Williams of Warwick Materials Group, said: "That was our first case. They had no evidence to link the suspect to the suitcase.

"There was no blood or DNA of the victim in the house, zero evidence which was really unusual for a dismemberment, he'd done it in a plastic sheet, he was actually a fan of Dexter. He scooped up the mess an burned it in the back garden.

"The police came to us and said we've got this piece of charcoal, we don't want to examine it physically because it's so brittle and fragile. We looked at the results and we found human remains and we rang them and said you've got to come and see this.

"If someone told me five years that I would be working to produce expert witness testimony over 120 murder cases I would have said no way. I used to measure cars and parts and now its bones."

The scanners pick up micro-defects which are thousands of times smaller than a human hair, allowing forensic experts to distinguish between different kinds of blades and weapons, and see exactly how much force caused an injury.

After scans have been carried out, the objects such as skulls and bones can be printed in 3d allowing juries to examine crucial evidence without being confronted with a real body. In the past judges have often thrown out evidence because it is too graphic for jury member to see.

And the technology is being used to study the delicate bones of young children or babies which are often damaged in post mortem, or to find the exact impact point of road traffic collisions.

The team has even discovered an area of bony cartilage in the throat which can help investigators determine whether a victim was strangled.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne, of West Midlands Police, said: "Using cases where we thought somebody may have been strangled we have been able to prove that actually was not the case, that that was not the cause of death.

"So you could imagine people die for all sorts of reasons, often in circumstances that are not clear.

"If we are able to categorically say that this person who is dead, was strangled and that the force used was significant, then it narrows down the opportunity for people to say it was an accident or actually it was a playfight, or those kinds of things that people are not able to take that route.

"Therefore they either have to lie or put their hands up and say 'I did strangle this person."

He said that the new technology was making it harder than ever for criminals to get away with murder.

"When I was starting off investigating murders it really was ablut feet on the ground, knocking on doors looking for witnesses," he added.

"Now with all the science it's increasingly difficult for people to get away with murder.

"We are incredibly good at solving murder, and people who commit murder more likely to go to jail for the rest of our lives, which is good news for everyone."

(20th September 2019)

(The Register, dated 12th September 2019 author Shaun Nichols)

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We have a new twist on the "researchers find unprotected public-facing cloud-hosted database" story, as one recently uncovered archive turned out to be at the heart of a years-long fraud operation.

The folks at VPNmentor said they were confused when first encountering a mystery database that contained details on scores of accounts on ticket purchasing sites. The profiles were all seemingly interested in events at small, independent theaters and music venues.

Essentially, a bunch of crooks had assembled their own database of online accounts they had created to use for fraud - and then accidentally left that database facing the public internet.

"The breach seemed to give access to personal details of anyone purchasing tickets from a website using Neuroticket," explained the VPNmentor team, headed up to Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, on Wednesday. "Initially, we believed this vulnerability compromised customers on these websites."

Even more curious, when the team tried to track down the owners of the email addresses listed in the database, they got few responses, indicating the vast majority were fake accounts created by crims for mischief and fraud.

When efforts to tie the records to a breach of Neuroticket, Ticketmaster, or Tickpick all resulted in dead ends, the team noticed that around 90 per cent of the records also referenced Groupon.

When the VPNmentor crew got in touch with Groupon, they had their breakthrough. It turns out the accounts had all been used to purchase tickets for gigs, plays and concerts that were on offer through Groupon deals. What's more, Team VPNmentor claims, Groupon immediately recognized the purchases as being the work of a fraud ring it had been tracking since 2016.

The fraudsters in this case used an army of fake accounts and stolen credit card numbers to make bulk purchases of tickets being offered at a discount on Groupon. Those tickets were then resold by the fraudsters at full price (or at a markup) to turn a quick profit.

"Groupon had been able to close most of the accounts, but not all of them. The operation has remained resilient, despite excellent work by the company," VPNmentor's team said in their write-up.

"Groupon's Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) estimates the number of fraudulent accounts in the network we helped uncover to be as high as 20,000."

It gets even more bizarre. When combing through the records in the database, the VPNmentor crew found a note from another hacker who had stumbled on the exposed silo.

"Claiming to have extracted information from the database, it demanded a ransom of $400 in Bitcoin, in exchange for not releasing the stolen data to the public and subsequently deleting it," the team notes.

"It seems, at least one criminal hacker has already hacked the database. Not understanding what they discovered, they're trying to extort its owners."

UK-based bug-hunter Oliver Hough also says he came upon the database a while ago, but was unable to connect the dots with Groupon.

The moral of the story is, as always, keep track of your cloud database instances and always make sure public access is disabled. Even if you're a crook.

Updated to add

Since publication, Groupon has dropped us a line to stress its own systems were not compromised by criminals, and that the exposed database appears to be full of marketing emails. No more that 673 purchases were made by the crooks, Groupon added.

Furthermore, Groupon says it doesn't know if database is related to its 2016 investigation, as claimed by VPMmentor. "There are some similarities, but we have no evidence they're related or connected," a spokesperson for the voucher biz said.

(20th September 2019)

(Thomson Reuters Foundation, dated 12th September 2019 author Hugo Greenhalgh)

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LONDON, Sept 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - LGBT+ campaigners called on Thursday for a public enquiry into why prosecutions for hate crime had plunged in Britain despite a doubling of homophobic incidents in the past five years.

The number of hate crimes in Britain against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community grew by more than 130% between 2014-15 and 2018-19, according to a Freedom of Information request to British police forces by the BBC.

Figures show reported incidences grew from 5,807 to 13,530 over the period. The BBC report did not cover Scotland.

However, the broadcaster's investigation showed that the number of prosecutions had dropped proportionally from 20% of the overall number of hate crimes reported to just 8%.

"We'd like to see an investigation into why there has been this drop," said Laura Russell, director of campaigns, policy and research at LGBT+ charity Stonewall.

"It's vital that we improve confidence in the way the criminal justice system deals with anti-LGBT crime.

"A crucial part of this is making sure perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice," she added.

All sorts of hate crimes are on the rise, according to Home Office statistics. Official figures reveal race-related incidents increased by 14% between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Religiously motivated hate crimes grew by 40% over the same period.

Russell's call for an enquiry was echoed by Nick Antjoule, head of hate crime services at LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop.

"There does need (to be) some sort of public enquiry," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday.

"When you look at the data, hate crime against LGBT+ people is far more likely to involve very serious violence than other forms of hate crime (against other minorities)."

Official police figures show a 27% increase in the number of reported hate crimes against LGBT+ people in Britain over the year to March 2018.

The country has witnessed a rash of incidents over the past few months.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy was arrested following an assault outside a LGBT+ youth club in Wales.

Last month, four teenagers were charged with hate crimes after a lesbian couple was attacked on a London bus in May.

And in June, two actors from an award-winning LGBT+ play in the southern city of Southampton were attacked after the women kissed on the street.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said many cases lacked witnesses and police were plagued by "scarce evidence", hampering prospects for an arrest.

"Police will investigate crime reports and will pursue action against those responsible where there is evidence to do so," he added.

In a statement, Baroness Williams, Britain's minister for countering extremism, said the perpetrators of hate crimes represented "the very worst of our society".

Authorities "across the criminal justice system and government are working hard to empower victims to report incidents and ensure perpetrators are punished," she added.

(Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

(Guardian, dated 11th September 2019 author PA Media)

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The number of homophobic hate crimes reported to police have more than doubled in the past five years - yet only 8% result in prosecutions, figures show.

Reports of homophobic abuse recorded by UK police forces soared from 5,807 in 2014-15 to 13,530 in 2018-19, according to the data. But the number of prosecutions dropped from 1,157 to 1,058 over the same period - from 20% of all reports to 8%.

The figures were obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live Investigations under freedom of information laws. Full responses to the request were received from 38 of the UK's 46 forces, with partial data from Police Scotland not included in the analysis.

Lee Broadstock, the secretary of the national LGBT police network, told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday: "We have seen an increase in confidence in victims to report it to us and I think that's where that increase has come from.

"We have improved confidence of people to report, but they are reporting some of the lower-level incidents, some of the shouting in the streets, a lot of the online hate is being reported to us.

"Some things are proving a lot more difficult for us to take forward, especially with online hate, such as on Twitter … It's very difficult to get that user account from Twitter because it's based in the US so it's very difficult for us to prosecute."

The figures show reports to West Yorkshire police and South Yorkshire police have increased more than fivefold in the past five years, from 172 to 961 and 73 to 375 respectively.

But the proportion that resulted in a charge or summons fell from 19% to 4% in West Yorkshire, and from 10% to 3% in South Yorkshire over the period.

The Metropolitan police, Britain's largest force, said reports rose from 1,561 in 2014-15 to 2,315 in 2018-19, as the number of cases leading to a charge or summons fell from 246 to 165 over the five years.

Reports to Greater Manchester police increased from 423 to 1,159 as the number resulting in prosecutions fell from 82 to 50.

(20th September 2019)

(Mirror, dated 11th September 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

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Sunday is the most common day of the week for drivers to speed, with motorists most likely to exceed the limit in the early hours of the morning.

And when it comes to the time of day, drivers are most likely to flout the rules at 4am - when the roads are least busy.

That's according to data obtained from the Department for Transport, which reveals that over half of vehicles exceed the speed limit on a Sunday, with Saturday coming in second place.

By comparison, drivers are most likely to abide by the law on a Wednesday, when less than half exceed the limit.

Between 3pm and 5pm is also the time when the speed limit is most likely to be obeyed.

The research - carried out by MoneySuperMarket - also found that just one in 10 drivers will declare a speeding conviction when searching for a car insurance quote.

However, intentionally leaving this out could leave you at best without cover, and at worst, being caught out for fraud.

When it comes to the worst drivers, motorists in Yorkshire and the Humber are twice as likely to have been convicted as those in London and Northern Ireland.

On average, those with a prior speeding conviction could see their annual insurance premiums rise by 14%, or £72 on average.

The study also analysed drivers' reasons for speeding, with most saying they simply were not paying attention to the limit.

In addition, four in 10 said they were running late, while 17% did it out of habit.

Rachel Wait, at MoneySuperMarket, said: "It is important to remember that there are still major safety rules to abide by, no matter what time it is.

"If you are caught speeding and want to keep your insurance costs down, it's worth seeing whether you can take part in a speed awareness course, which means you won't get points on your licence and provides a helpful reminder about speeding limits and the importance of driving safely.

"Another option is to install a telematics 'black box' in your car, which monitors your driving and can bring your premiums down after a period of time, as long as you're consistently showing a safe level of driving.

"Regardless of your circumstances, or speeding convictions, it's important to always shop around for car insurance and not let your policy auto-renew. There are substantial savings to be made - up to £245 in some cases - so it's worth taking the time to do your research and find the right policy for your needs."

(20th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 10th September 2019 author Richard Spillett)

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Police forces could need half a million people to apply to be officers to meet the 20,000 target if current recruitment rates continue, one of the country's most senior officers has said.

In a speech today, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council Martin Hewitt outlined the scale of task facing forces ahead of a plan to bring in thousands of new recruits in the next three and a half years.

He said that up to 30,000 officers could leave the job in that time, meaning 50,000 would be needed to replace those leaving and add the required number on top.

With only one in ten hopefuls currently successful, 500,000 applicants could be needed to fill the quota.

The most recent census states that there are 36.3 million working age adults, meaning that nearly one in every 60 adults in Britain would have to apply for the plan to be met.

Mr Hewitt, speaking at Police Superintendents' Association Annual Conference, said he hoped the ratio of applicants who are successful could be improved so that quite so many wouldn't be needed. 
And, speaking to the Press Association before the speech, Mr Hewitt warned that, even if the 20,000 target is met, recruitment alone will not plug the widening gap between resources and the surge in demand on UK forces.

He told the Press Association: 'The 20,000 is a great opportunity and that will help, but its not the answer on its own.

'One of the demand issues that has transformed over the last few years is the amount of time that we are stepping in to spaces that would have been done by other organisations, particularly social care and health.

'The 20,000 will help but it is not the sole answer. We now have to deal with these really challenging online threats where our role is very different and we're in a very different space, but we still have to deal with the crime we've always had to deal with.

'We've had this ever increasing rise in demand, and not only is it volume demand but it's also increased in its complexity.'

Plans are under way to recruit 20,000 extra police officers nationally over the next three-and-a-half years, to bring the service back up to 2010 staffing levels.

So far around £800 million has been pledged to allow around 6,000 officers to be recruited by spring 2021.

On Monday, chairman of the Police Superintendents' Association (PSA) Paul Griffiths called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to recruit another 300 superintendents as part of the drive.

(20th September 2019)

(The Sunday Times, dated 8th September 2019 author Shanti Das)

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Amazon's camera doorbell company Ring has linked up with Police forces across the country to hand out thousands of free doorbells, leading to allegations that it is creating a "surveillance state" on private property.

The tech giant has given the recording devices to at least four police forces to passs to residents. At least five other forces have promoted the all-seeing doorbells with money-off vouchers or discount codes.

Yet others are in talks with Ring.

The company and the police claim the video doorbells, which start at £89, deter intruders and capture evidence that hep crime investigations. The internet-enabled devices are triggered by movement and start recording as someone approaches the front door. The householder is notified via mobile.

The initiatives have been welcomed by Neighbourhood Watch and victims' groups, which claim the doorbells cut crime and make people feel safe. But legal experts and privacy advcates argue their introduction is "an extension of the surveillance state" and have expressed alarm over the close relationship between the police and Ring, which was acquired by Amazon last year for a reported £1bn.

Hannah Couchman, policy expert at the Human Rights organisation Liberty, described the partnership as "patently inappropriate" and said: "The blurring of the line between law enforcement and private companies is a real concern".

"Amazon is building a privately run surveillance network. They are turning our front doors into CCTV cameras but without the discussion and public debate you would expect".

If police wanted to access footage, she said, "they could just ask. But they could also get a warrant to force you to provide that in certain circumstances." This new scheme amounted to co-opting householders "into state surveillance".

Griff Ferris, legal officer at Big Brother Watch, a pro-privacy campaign group, described it as a "chiling Amazon-sponsored police project to extend the surveillance state into people's property and said the "commercial data-gathering" exercise must be stopped.

Ring has also been given approval to sign a £243,000 sponsorship deal with the Metropolitan Police to distribute 1,000 video doorbells to crime victims and people living in burglary hotspots.

Officers will not be able to access footage recorded by the cameras without consent but can request to see it as part of an investigation. As with other private CCTV, they can use their powers to demand footage if the owner declines.

Four other forces have handed out doorbells given to them by Ring : Suffolk, which has received 1,000 since February 2018; Leicestershire, which said it was given "a small number"; Humberside, which gave away a device in a prize daw; and Herfortshire, which did not say how many it received. The Sunday Times asked all 43 forces in England and Wales whether they were working with Ring. Of the 33 that responded, almost half had worked with Ring or promoted its products, or were considering doing so.

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith of Suffolk police, which has provided 1,000 free Ring doorbells, said:" This is massively powerful to us. We have had at least four prolific criminals captured as a consequence of Ring doorbells and, having spoken to a number of victims, [we can say] these devices have provided real reassurances."

Ring launched in 2012 and has its Headquarters in California. Inthe US it has partnerships with 400 police forces, according to The Washington Post. Ring said its technology had led to "amazing results and that it was "proud" to work with British Police.

Carly Kind, director of the Ada Lovelace Institute, which resarches data and artificial intelligence, accused the government of taking a "whack-a-mole" approach to regulation. "What we need instead is a comprehensive review of technologies that involve biometric data, such as facial recognition, voice recognition, fingerprints or DNA.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat culture spokeswoman, said: "The Sunday Times's findings have left me feeling uneasy, especially for those in a vulnerable position, who may not usually be able to afford this technology and may be having their privacy compromised.

The Met declined to comment.

(20th September 2019)

(Yorkshire Evening Post, dated 8th September 2019)

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According to the latest police figures from the crime map, there were 1552 reports of anti-social behaviour across Leeds in July 2019.

These are the 15 Leeds areas with the most reports of anti-social behaviour in July 2019, ranked from the least to the most reports.

Halton : 34
Chapeltown : 36
Killingbeck : 40
Gipton : 44
Bramley : 52
Morley : 54
Pudesy : 54
Beeston : 56
Holbeck : 56
Middleton : 57
Seacroft : 57
Hyde Park and Headingley : 59
Armley : 86
Harehills : 117
City Centre : 163

(Yorkshire Evening Post, dated 12th September 2019)

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West Yorkshire Police says it is 'committed to prosecuting anyone found to be possessing or using a knife or firearm.' These are 10 Leeds areas with the most possession of weapons crimes in 2018/19. All images are for illustrative purposes and do not represent a specific incident or location.

Figures released after a FOI request have revealed the weapons crime hotspots :

Cross Gates & Whinmoor : 23
Armley : 31
Killingbeck and Seacroft : 40
Middleton Park : 42
Chapel Allerton : 42
Beeston & Holbeck : 52
Burmantofts & Richmond Hill : 61
Gipton & Harehills : 73
Hunslet & Riverside : 84
Little London & Woodhouse : 100

(20th September 2019)

(The Sunday Times, dated 8th September 2019 author Peter Evans)

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An agency used by lenders and insurers to assess the financial health of smal businesses has warned that it cannot guarantee the accuracy of data it takes from Companies House.

Company Watch, which provides credit reports on thousands of private companies every year, has added a disclaimer to its assessments amid fears that the register is being used by fraudsters.

Reports on small businesses produced by credit reference agencies, such as Experian, Equifax and Company Watch, are used in more than 220m transactions a year, according to the Business Information Providers Association. The agencies use accounts, sharehoder registers and directors appointments filed with Companies House to determine the risk of doing business with small companies.

However, concern is mounting about the accuracy of information on the register because of a lack of verification. For example, directors who misspell their names may appear multiple times. Also, companies with turnover less than £10.2m - the vast majority of those registered - can claim exemption from audits of their annual accounts.

In May,the government began a consultation on how to reduce abuse of Companes House for money laundering and tax evasion purposes. Limits are expected to be set on the number of directorships an individual can hold.

Under the proposals, Companies House will have more power to crss check directors' details with other government agencies.

The Company Watch disclaimer warn that Companies House "does not verify the accuracy of information that is submitted to it", and says users may wish to consult Chartered Institute of Credit Management guidelines "for tips on what to look for when assessing credit risk".

Jo Kettner, boss of Company Watch, said: "There are limitations to the sources we're using, but as an industry, we haven't been as transparent as we could have been to the consumers of that data."

Britain is one of the easiest places in the world to set up a company. This has helped to foster a flourishing start-u scene, but has also led to a rise in "ghost companies" set up to funnel cash and avoid tax. Almost 3,000 firms last year listed their beneficial owner as a company in a tax haven, according to the campaign group Global Witness.

(20th September 2019)

(The Times, dated 8th September 2019 author Richard Kebaj)

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One of Britain's top female spies is to lead a new cyber-warfare agency that will attack hostile nations and criminal and terrorist networks.

She is an Oxbridge graduate in her mid-forties who worked her way up the ranks at GCHQ, the UK signals agency, to become head of its offensive cyber-operations.

It is understood that the official, who cannot be named for security reasons, will run the National Cyber Force, a joint venture between GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that will bring together intelligence and military hackers to form "Britain's SAS of cyber-warfare''.

The agency will perform proactive and retaliatory attacks against states such as Russia and Iran, including the hacking of mobile, computer and satellite networks to remove fake news from social media. It will also shut down digital platforms used by terrorists and criminas after its expected launch late this year.

It will take inspiration from the US Cyber-Command, which in June attacked the systems that control Iran's missile and rocket launchers after Tehran shot down an American drone and attacked oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

"The specialist who will be running the National Cyber Force is not only the best woman cyber-spy in Britain, but the best offenive cyber-spy this country has. Period," a Whitehall official said. "She is a highly experienced operator who is versed in military operations."

Britains eagerness to expand its cyber-warfare operations follows a series of state-sponsored attacks against the UK in the past two years, including a hacking attempt on parliamentary email accounts in June 2017 by Iran. The regime's hackers repeatedly tried to access 9,000 accounts but compromised only about 30.

The agency, which will have a budget of about £250m at alunch, will initially be staffed by more than 500 hackers with a plan to expand its workforce to 3,000 people over the next decade.It will expand on Britains existing national offensive cyber-programme, which is run from GCHQ's "HQ" in Cheltenham.

However, no decision has been made about whether the new agency will operate from an established cyber or military facility, or a purpose built site.

General Sir Richard Barrons, former head of the Joint Forces Command, said the cyber-force was essential to protect Britain's position in the digital arms race.

"It's a fundamentally important capability in the digital age," he said, adding that the UK needed to operate "at the highest levels of cyber-capabilities to be able to combat what our opponents are doing".

Jeremy Fleming, GCHQ's director, warned state-sponsored hackers last year that they "need to know there are consequences for their actions". He also revealed that his agency had launched cyber-attacks against Isis that crippled the terrorist organisations propaganda machine.

"There were times in 2017 when Isis found it almost impossible to use or trust their established channels to spread their hateful message.

"It was the firt time we'd used these methods to systematically and persistently degrade an adversary's online efforst as part of a wider military campaign.

(20th September 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 6th September 2019 author Charles Hymas)

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Police should be allowed to use facial recognition to investigate specific crimes and to protect the public at major events, according to the first national survey of the public's attitude to the technology.

They are opposed to unrestricted use but two thirds (65 per cent) of the public believe an outright ban on the police would be wrong.

Up to 70 per cent backed its use to analyse faces on CCTV to catch a suspect in an investigation or in day-to-day policing to combat crime at events such as football matches or carnivals. The technology enables police to scan crowds and pick out faces that match huge databases of suspects.

There is, however, far less tolerance of its use by private companies, whether to monitor shoppers or workers, and in schools if it was to be used to track children's behaviour or expressions.

By a majority of almost two to one, the public believes that organisations should seek the consent of people before they start deploying facial recognition.

Most also want a moratorium on any further use of the technology until publicly-agreed guidelines are in place on when and where it should be used.

The survey of 4,109 adults by YouGov for the Ada Lovelace Institute, an independent research body on AI, comes just days after the defeat of the world's first legal attempt by a British man to block police use of the technology as an intrusion into his privacy.

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, is currently investigating the data legality of the technology, having warned that "scanning people's faces as they lawfully go about their daily lives, in order to identify them, is a potential threat to privacy."

More than half (55 per cent) of the public believe the Government should limit police use of facial recognition to criminal investigations, although half also saw it as no different to taking photographs or using CCTV.

Of those who were comfortable with its use, 80 per cent said it was because it was "beneficial for the security of society."

There was also a majority in favour of the technology where there was personal benefit, with 54 per cent backing its use to unlock a smartphone by recognising an owner's face and with passport checks at airports where it can speed up queues.

Concern grew where it "normalised" surveillance with 67 per cent saying they were uncomfortable at the prospect of it being used in schools and 61 per cent felt the same about its on public transport.

By a ratio 40 per cent to 30 per cent, the public felt the Government should outlaw the use of facial recognition technology in schools.

Even bigger public opposition emerged over its use by private companies with 77 per cent expressing concern at the idea of it being used by shops to track customers.

Some 76 per cent were also unhappy with the idea of AI facial recognition being used to assess the mood and personality of people in job interviews. In both cases, those surveyed said they did not trust the firms to use the information ethically.

Some 46 per cent of the public believe they should be given the chance to consent or opt out of being subjected to facial recognition technology, against just 28 per cent who disagreed.

Carly Kind, Institute Director, said the survey showed the UK was "not ready" for the full roll-out of facial recognition.

 "As a first step, a voluntary moratorium by all those selling and using the technology would enable a more informed conversation with the public about limitations and appropriate safeguards," she said.

(Telegraph, dated 3rd September 2019 author Martin Evans)

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Britain risks sleepwalking into a  "ghastly, Orwellian, omniscient police state" unless it addresses the ethical dilemmas posed by new technologies such as facial recognition and artificial intelligence, the Met Commissioner has warned.

Cressida Dick said while the digital age presented numerous opportunities to help in the fight against crime it was vital there was a strict legal framework to ensure it was not used inappropriately.

In a speech delivered at the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney, Australia, Ms Dick said  it was important to remember that the role of technology and data was to enable humans "to make better decisions.''

She said: "We're now tiptoeing into a world of robotics, AI [artificial intelligence] and machine learning ... the next step might be predictive policing.

"People are starting to get worried about that ... particularly because of the potential for bias in the data or the algorithm, [like] live facial recognition software."

Ms Dick said while the police could be restricted in their use of data and technology by robust legislation, autonomous machines, robots and computers could not be controlled in the same way.

"If a machine kills someone who is going to be held to account?" she asked.

Ms Dick, who joined the Met as a police constable 36-years ago, said the growth in the use of technology by crime fighters during that period was difficult to comprehend.

She explained: "In 1983 I had criminal records and fingerprints ... [handwritten] intelligence collated on index cards ... DNA as a tool hadn't been thought of ... and if you wanted an image of a crime scene, you had to call a photographer."

But she said her 22,000 officers now enjoyed the benefits of body worn cameras, tablets with instant access to European criminal databases and access to huge amounts of evidence on social media sites.

Speaking on the same topic in London in June, Ms Dick said the police had to make better use of technology and data if they want to reduce crime and bring criminals to justice.

She said detection rates for some offences were "woefully low" despite the fact crime was going up  the courts were emptying rather than filling.

Ms Dick said when the police investigated the most serious crimes they were very good at making use of technology and data, but it was important the same skills and resources were put to use effectively in other areas of their work.

She also explained that the explosion in data has created a headache for the police, with vast amounts of information now needing to be sifted by those working on investigations.

She explained: "In 2005, following the London terrorist attacks, police investigations into the seven attacks resulted in the seizure of four terabytes of data. Today, a current counter-terrorist investigation has 81 terabytes of data."

The police have recently been grappling with the problem of how to deal with the vast amount of data stored on the smart phones of suspects and victims in rape cases.

One suggestion is to use artificial intelligence to help scan devices for relevant evidence and material, but there are concerns that without human oversight the system could be unreliable.

(Telegraph, dated 4th September 2019 author Telegraph Reporters)

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An activist has lost the world's first legal challenge over police use of facial recognition technology.

Ed Bridges, 36, from Cardiff, brought the challenge at the High Court after claiming his face was scanned while doing Christmas shopping in 2017 and at a peaceful anti-arms protest in 2018.

His lawyers argued the use of automatic facial recognition (AFR) by South Wales Police caused him "distress" and violated his privacy and data protection rights by processing an image taken of him in public.

But his case was dismissed on Wednesday by two leading judges, who said the use of the technology was not unlawful.

Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, said: "We are satisfied both that the current legal regime is adequate to ensure appropriate and non-arbitrary use of AFR Locate, and that South Wales Police's use to date of AFR Locate has been consistent with the requirements of the Human Rights Act and the data protection legislation.

The judges said they were told by lawyers during a three-day hearing in May that Mr Bridges' case was the first time any court in the world had considered the use of AFR.

At the start of the ruling, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave said: "The algorithms of the law must keep pace with new and emerging technologies.

"The central issue is whether the current legal regime in the United Kingdom is adequate to ensure the appropriate and non-arbitrary use of AFR in a free and civilised society.

"At the heart of this case lies a dispute about the privacy and data protection implications of AFR.

"Counsel inform us that this is the first time that any court in the world had considered AFR."

The decision was relayed over video link from the High Court in London to the High Court in Cardiff, where the case was heard.

Mr Bridges crowdfunded his legal action against the force and was represented by civil rights campaign group Liberty.

Facial recognition technology maps faces in a crowd by measuring the distance between features then compares results with a "watch list" of images - which can include suspects, missing people and persons of interest.

South Wales Police (SWP) has been conducting a trial of the technology since 2017, with a view to it being rolled out nationally, and is considered the national lead force on its use.

The trial comprises two pilot projects, AFR Locate and AFR Identify, and the force has used the technology 50 times to date.

(20th September 2019)

(The Register, dated 6th September 2019 author Katyanna Quach)

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London cops have admitted they gave photos of people to a property developer to use in a facial-recognition system in the heart of the UK capital.

Back in July, Siân Berry, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan whether the Met Police had collaborated with any retailers or other private companies in the operation of facial-recognition systems. A month later, Khan replied that the police force had not worked with any organisations on face-scanning tech in the capital beyond its own experiments.

However, that turned out to be incorrect. On Wednesday this week, the mayor revealed the cops had in actual fact handed over snaps of people to the private landlord for most of the busy King's Cross area - which, it emerged last month, had set up facial-recognition cameras to snoop on thousands of Brits going about their day.

"The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has just now brought it to my attention that the original information they provided ... was incorrect and they have in fact shared images related to facial recognition with King's Cross Central Limited Partnership," Khan said in an update, adding that this handover of photos ended sometime in 2018.

"As a matter of urgency I have asked for a report from the MPS on this concerning development and on their wider data-sharing arrangements, including what information has been shared and with whom," the mayor continued. "I apologise to the Assembly Member that the previous information provided was inaccurate. A fuller update will be provided to London Assembly Members as soon as I am able."

Tony Porter, Blighty's Surveillance Camera Commissioner, a role set up to enforce a CCTV code of practice, is also probing the situation. "In light of this acknowledgement from the MPS I will be contacting senior officers at the force to understand how they were complying with section 33 of the Protection of Freedoms Act and paying due regard to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice," he told the BBC.

The property developers at the heart of this kerfuffle said their facial-recognition technology is not in use right now at its King's Cross Estate, an area right next to St Pancras International Station. The cameras were operational between May 2016 and March 2018, it is claimed.

"The system was used only to help the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police prevent and detect crime in the neighbourhood and ultimately to help ensure public safety," the landlords said in a statement.

The UK's privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner, launched her own inquiry into the brouhaha last month. We understand the AI-backed CCTV studied anyone walking by Google's UK headquarters, Central Saint Martins college, two railway stations, plus schools and shops, during the time the equipment was active.

(20th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 5th September 2019 author Amy Walker)

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The number of violent crimes recorded on Britain's railways rose by 16% last year, official statistics show.

In 2018-19, there were 13,591 such offences - including attempted murder and serious and common assault - compared with 11,671 in the previous year.

The British Transport Police (BTP), which published the figures, said preventing serious violence and knife crime on the rail network remained one of its highest priorities.

There was also a significant rise in all crimes, with 68,313 offences recorded between 1 April last year and 31 March 2019 - a 12% increase on 2017-18.

Adrian Hanstock, the deputy chief constable of the BTP, said the record number of passengers using the railways was behind the jump in crime rates.

Theft, antisocial behaviour and shoplifting accounted for a large proportion of the overall increase "as stations become increasingly commercial environments", he added.

"Despite this increase, when put into context it is important to remember that the chance of becoming a victim of crime on the railway is very low," Hanstock said. "Of course, any rise in crime is of concern to us and we are tackling this head on through our problem-solving initiatives at key locations."

The largest share of overall offences was recorded by BTP's north of England division, where there were 27,377 offences last year. The division also had the largest number of recorded violent crimes in 2018-19, at 5,729.

There were six homicides on British railways in 2018-19, including the murder of Lee Pomeroy, 51, who was stabbed to death after an argument on a train.

The force also reported a surge in the number of vulnerable people it dealt with, including through providing mental health support. Officers and rail staff performed 2,529 lifesaving interventions, up 32% on the year before.

Hanstock said: "It is troubling that the railway still attracts those in mental health crisis. Officers and rail staff work incredibly hard to safeguard those with vulnerabilities and help them access the most appropriate care and support."

He noted that "county lines" drug trafficking was of particular concern to the force. He said: "We've set up dedicated teams to oversee this important area of safeguarding, sharing valuable intelligence with our national partners, including the National Crime Agency.

"As a result of our close collaboration with other law enforcement partners, large quantities of drugs have been seized and, importantly, a number of vulnerable youngsters have been protected from these toxic criminal networks."

(Telegraph, dated 5th September 2019 author Jack Hardy)

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The transformation of train stations into eating and shopping "destinations" is partly behind an apparent surge in crime on Britain's rail network, police have claimed.

The British Transport Police said the redevelopment of rail hubs in cities such as London, Birmingham and Leeds has meant the work of officers is "rapidly changing".

As well as criminal incidents on board train carriages and platforms themselves, the force oversees the wider station area.

It comes amid a 12% rise in crime on the country's railways, with 68,313 offences reported in the past year compared to 60,867 in 2017/18.

Sexual offences have surged 135% in the past five years - with 2,635 reported in 2018/19 - while violence also jumped 61% over the same timeframe, according to the BTP's annual report.

Deputy chief constable Adrian Hanstock said the spike had been "anticipated" due to the "record" number of passengers now crammed onto services up and down the country.

The risk of falling victim to serious or violent crime continued to be "rare" on the rail network - affecting in every million journeys during the past year.

But the changing face of Britain's stations was also identified as a potential driving force behind the alarming rise in crime.

Mr Hanstock added: "The rail environment is rapidly changing. Just a decade ago, the railways were simply a method of travel but today some of our stations are destinations in their own right.

"As an example of this change, many London stations are increasingly popular shopping destinations and also offering a host of busy restaurants and bars.

"In Leeds, there are a number of lively nightclubs established in the rail arches and Birmingham New Street station doubles as a major shopping centre."

The force claimed "proactive" work to identify people carrying knives on trains accounted for half of all recorded knife crime offences in the past year.

A jump in reported hate crime on the network - up 7% in the past year with 3,580 reports - was similarly explained by a campaign encouraging onlookers to report such offences, the BTP said.

Paul Crowther, the chief constable of the BTP, said in his foreward to the force's annual report: "Although serious offences involving weapons remain rare on the railway network, bringing the issue sharply into focus for the rail network was the stabbing of one of our officers outside Ilford station in London in November last year and the tragic murder of a man on board the Guildford to Waterloo service in January.

"In each case our officers were on scene within minutes, detaining or searching for violent offenders and providing vital assistance and support in difficult and challenging circumstances."

(20th September 2019)

(Wales Online, dated 5th September 2019 author Liz Day)

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Four million people had their online accounts hacked as a group of fraudsters targeted Tesco, Boots, and Goldsmiths customers in a "substantial and sophisticated" fraud.

Edward Kumsah, Jade Ofomola, Demi Okoi and Jamie Evans caused loss of more than £60,000 to the retailers by gaining unauthorised access to loyalty accounts and buying high-value goods.

Speaking at Cardiff Crown Court Judge Nicola Jones described the case as "extremely complex".

James Davis, prosecuting, said the details - including email addresses and passwords - were not gained from the three companies but hacked from smaller, less secure websites.

He told the court the exact source of the details was not known and some may have been bought from the dark web.

 Prosecutors said the fraudsters took advantage of people using the same password for several sites and were able to access Tesco Clubcard and Boots Advantage Card accounts.

The court heard they were able to log in and change a customer's email address, often by adding a single letter or number, so that future messages went to them rather than the real customer.

They could then steal vouchers, order goods online, collect them in-store and sell them on at a discounted price.

Mr Davis said the offending caused total loss of £63,690.24 to Tesco, Boots, and Goldsmiths Jewellers, adding: "This was a substantial and sophisticated fraud."

The court heard details were taken from four million people and there was evidence malicious software had been used to obtain the data.

Prosecutors said Boots became aware of the fraud in June 2014 and set up a crisis management team with their investigation costing tens of thousands of pounds.

Mr Davis said the loss to the pharmacy was £21,335.68, with 310 customers affected. The loss to the supermarket was £23,879.56, with 432 customers affected.

The court heard the offenders ordered items including Hudl tablets from Tesco and £2,000 Tag Heuer watches from Goldsmiths. The loss to the jeweller was £18,475.

 Prosecutors said security at Tesco Extra in Cardiff became suspicious when they noticed a Clubcard had been used to buy a lot of PlayStations and Xboxes.

The defendants were identified after being caught on CCTV going into stores to collect the goods.

All four were arrested at Tesco Extra in Pontypridd on November 10, 2014, when security recognised Evans. The other three were caught in a car outside with the door pocket full of vouchers.

Mr Davis said all of the customers had their points refunded and did not lose out.

He described Kumsah as the "prime mover", who was involved in hacking, with malicious software and incriminating messages found on his computer.

The court heard he was using more than 10 fake names, including Jason Duffus, and had 50 previous offences on his record.

Kumsah, 44, from William Street in Ystrad , admitted conspiring to defraud Boots and Tesco between November 2013 and December 2014.

Lucy Crowther, defending, said it was not known why there had been a five-year delay in the case, with the postal requisition sent in December last year.

Judge Jones said he manipulated others and undermined trust in loyalty schemes, adding: "You were the brains behind the operation."

Kumsah, who has worked for Tesco in the past, was jailed for 30 months and ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge.

Prosecutors said Ofomola, who was in a relationship with Kumsah at the time, had a minor and unrelated offence on her record.

The 30-year-old from Eirw Road in Porth admitted conspiring to defraud Goldsmiths between January and December 2014.

Susan Ferrier, defending, suggested her client was naive and "caught up" in the relationship with her co-defendant, which has now ended.

The judge noted she has physical and mental health problems and is due to have "life-saving medical treatment", which has been delayed by the proceedings.

Ofomola was given a 15-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.

Her cousin Okoi, 22, from Allesley Road in Coventry, admitted two counts of fraudulently obtaining goods from Tesco. Nick Gedge, defending, said she had no previous cautions or convictions and played a "peripheral role" in the fraud.

He told the court she was 17 at the time and was staying with her older cousin Ofomola following an argument with her parents. Mr Gedge suggested there was a "significant degree of naivete" and the case has been "hanging over her head" for five years, with the delay not her fault.

He said Okoi has started a new life in the Midlands where she has been working for an insurance company. She is married and expecting a baby in November.

Judge Jones noted she is likely to lose her job as a result of the conviction and accepted she was manipulated by the older defendants but should have known what she was doing was wrong.

Okoi, described as a "foot soldier" for Kumsah, was fined £250 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge.

Prosecutors said she was in an on-off relationship with Evans, who had previous convictions for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, battery, and possessing a bladed article.

Evans, 36, from Waterloo Road in Stoke-on-Trent, admitted three counts of fraudulently obtaining goods from Tesco.

The judge asked why he failed to attend an appointment with probation for a pre-sentence report.

Andrew Kendall, defending, said Evans borrowed money for the train but realised at the station the ticket cost nearly £250 - most of his £300-a-month income.

Mr Kendall said Evans, who cares for his partner, got a job managing houses for property developers, and is hoping to start his own car business.

Judge Jones accepted he was another "foot soldier" and imposed a 12-month community order, requiring him to complete 120 hours of unpaid work.

She said: "Four million customers had their accounts hacked. Many people have been affected by this fraud but there are many more people out there who do not know they have been hacked."

(20th September 2019)

(The Times, dated 5th September 2019 authors Mark Bridge and Tom Knowles)

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Criminals will have obtained personal details and telephone numbers of up to 18 million Britons exposed in a huge breach of Facebook data, experts say.

Information on almost 420 million people worldwide was "scraped" from the social network by unidentified people and stored online in a publicly accessible format, researchers said. The pairing of contact details and posts from social media was likely to be used for scams and identity theft.

The breach is far larger than that involving Cambridge Analytica - the disgraced political consultancy - when data on one million Britons and 88 million Facebook users elsewhere was compromised. Facebook has 42 million users in this country.

The database was held on an online server that was not password-protected and could be found by anyone. It contained details of Facebook account IDs alongside phone numbers and details such as names, gender and country. Alan Woodward, of Surrey university, said that anyone scanning for unprotected databases would have found the site and it "should be assumed" that criminals accessed the data. The database has been taken offline by web hosting companies but researchers have been unable to establish who created it.

The discovery was made by the GDI Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to make the internet safer.

In April 2018 Facebook admitted that "malicious actors" could have scraped the data of most of its two billion users without permission because of a lack of safeguards. It removed a feature that allowed a search for individual profiles using a phone number or email address.

In a blog post Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer, said at the time: "Malicious actors have abused these features. We believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way."

Facebook was fined £500,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office last summer for serious breaches of data protection law that enabled a researcher to harvest the data of up to 87 million Facebook users and to share them with Cambridge Analytica. The ICO said that it was looking into the incident with the Irish Data Protection Commission, the lead regulator of Facebook in Europe.

Facebook denies that a breach has taken place because account details were public. It believes the data is duplicated so the number of accounts affected is "closer to half" of 420 million. A Facebook official said: "This dataset is old and appears to have information obtained before we made changes last year to remove people's ability to find others using their phone numbers. The dataset has been taken down and we have seen no evidence that Facebook accounts were compromised."

- Facebook is launching a dating service in the US, using the knowledge it holds on users' interests, location, friends and habits to match potential partners. The service is expected to open in Britain and Europe next year.

Beware the scammers

•Be on your guard for cold callers. Hoaxers pretend to be from your bank or the police and claim you are a victim of fraud and must give your bank details or transfer money. Your bank or the police would not do this.

•Swindlers may pretend to be you to request a new Sim card, issued with your number, to be used for frauds. If you suddenly lose mobile signal where you should have coverage contact your phone provider and bank immediately.

(City AM, dated 5th September 2019 author James Warrington)

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Phone numbers linked to the accounts of more than 419m Facebook users have been exposed in the tech giant's latest data breach.

Databases relating to 133m US Facebook accounts, 50m accounts in Vietnam and 18m UK accounts were found on a server that was not secured by a password, Techcrunch reported.

In addition to phone numbers, each record also contained the person's Facebook ID, which can be used to discern their username.

Some of the records also listed the user's name, gender and location by country, according to the report. The databases have since been taken down.

Facebook admitted the existence of the datasets, but said much of the data was duplicated and the number of accounts affected was closer to half of the reported 419m figure.

"This dataset is old and appears to have information obtained before we made changes last year to remove people's ability to find others using their phone numbers," a Facebook spokesperson said.

"The dataset has been taken down and we have seen no evidence that Facebook accounts were compromised."

The information cache, which was discovered by a security researcher, is the latest data breach to hit the social media behemoth.

The Silicon Valley firm has admitted to a series of data leaks across its Facebook and Instagram platforms, as well as security flaws in its Whatsapp messaging service.

Facebook has come under increased scrutiny from regulators in both the UK and the US since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when data belonging to more than 80m profiles was misused for political advertising.

Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at software company Thycotic, accused Facebook of trying to "reduce accountability by stating that the data is old".

"However, this does not make any difference when such data does not change meaning that while old, it is very likely to be still accurate and valid," he said.

Eoin Keary, chief executive and co-founder of cybersecurity firm Edgescan, said: "The root cause of this issue is lack or procedure in relation to tracking digital assets and applying the appropriate security."

(20th September 2019)

(Mirror, dated 4th September 2019 author James Andrews)

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Rising numbers of Brits are being turned into criminals without realising it thanks to clever tactics used by fraudsters.

Worse, it's under-25s being targeted most, with social media being used to draw people in.

Santander's Chris Ainsley said: "It's alarming to see not just how criminals prey on unsuspecting social media users."

He added: "It takes just a few clicks to become embroiled in this type of crime, but the consequences can have a lifelong effect."

So, in an effort to combat this rise in crime, Santander commissioned reformed scam artist Tony Sales to investigate how criminals use hashtags to lure people in.

They found hashtags promising an easy payday, often looking pretty simple or safe, were being used to recruit people as "money mules".

That's when someone lets a criminal use their bank account to transfer cash associated with illegal activity, generally with the promise of payment in return.

It's a crime that can result in a criminal record and a prison sentence of up to 14 years, but one people might not even realise they'e making.

"The hashtags used to recruit money mules act as bait and form part of a secret language used to entice people into criminal activity," ex-fraudster Tony explained.

"That's why it's so important to expose these hashtags for what they are - a fast track to a criminal record."

The ten most dangerous hashtags he found were:

1.    #Moneyflipsuk
2.    #Mflipssss
3.    #Deetsandflips
4.    #Deetsandflipping
5.    #legitmoneyflips
6.    #flipsanddeets
7.    #PayPalFlip
8.    #RealMoneyTransfers
9.    #UkFlips
10.   #EasyMoney

Santander's research also found that almost a quarter of people said they would click on posts featuring this sort of 'easy money' - with #PayPalFlip being the most tempting.

To keep people safe, Tony offered the following tips to make sure you're not drawn in:

- Glam can be a scam: Be wary of accounts belonging to apparently glitzy users, offering an equally glamorous lifestyle at just a drop of a hat. Don't be fooled; life behind bars is anything but glam.

- Emotional extortion: Fraudsters prey on your emotions, luring you in with everything from the promise of money to help with a family emergency, to a means to fund your latest trainer obsession. Be on your guard. It's not charity, it's just another way to scam you.

- Be a snitch: Spotted a dubious hashtag on social media? Report it to the site owner who will be able to shut down the hashtag and block the accounts that were using it to recruit.

- Verify the vacancy: A job that looks too good to be true probably is - so play detective and double check. Always take a look at the company's website to ensure they exist. Fake job adverts advertising 'mystery shoppers' or 'payment processing agents', are just more ways that money launderers get hold of your bank details.

- Scammer under the hammer: Fraudsters looking for money mules also operate on auction-style websites such as eBay, targeting victims by claiming they have paid twice for an item by accident and requesting that the money is transferred into a different bank account. No mistake, just another ploy to get hold of your bank details.

- Daylight robbery: Fraudsters don't only prey online under the auspices of anonymous social media handles. They also recruit in person, such as waiting outside school gates offering children the promise of free food or goods in exchange for bank details. Stay alert and report any suspicions you might have.

(20th September 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 3rd September 2019 author Anthony France)

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Scotland Yard has 863 unsolved murders on its books from the past 20 years, the Standard can reveal.

The number of "undetected" homicides for last year in London was 33 - the most in a single year since 2002, statistics released by the Metropolitan police show. There is a recent rise in such cases, with five in 2014, nine in 2015, 16 in 2016 and 28 in 2017.

Senior detectives point out that the Met solves about 90 per cent of homicides, and not always in the year they are committed. However, despite advances in forensics and CCTV, witnesses often refuse to co-operate for fear of being accused of "snitching".

As of July 31, 863 of the 3,078 homicides since January 1999 were classified as undetected, analysis of data obtained through a Freedom of Information request revealed.

About 2,140 murder investigations were resolved by a sanction detection, where a suspect is charged. In 75 cases, a suspect is no longer being sought because they have died. 

Among London's most notorious unsolved murders is that of American artist Margaret Muller, 27, who was stabbed during an early-morning jog in Victoria Park in February 2003. Police believe she could have been the victim of a bungled robbery.

Also seeking justice is the family of Billy Cox, 15, who was shot dead on Valentine's Day in the bedroom of his home in Clapham in February 2007.

His mother Arpon Cox said this year: "We continue to live every day with the pain of Billy no longer being with us, and that his father passed away with a broken heart in not receiving justice for his son."

Two men arrested on suspicion of murder in June have been bailed.

A shortage of detectives and forensic science facilities and increasing demands on police have made solving murder harder.

But Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Wood, head of the Yard's homicide and major crime command, said no unsolved murder case is ever closed.

He added: "There is a huge amount of work taking place on unsolved murders. There are between 15-20 cases subject to a full cold-case review at any one time… Homicide investigations are lengthy and complex, and in some cases do take years to come to conclusion."

The Met has a robust review process for all homicide investigations, he said. If unsolved after 28 days, a homicide is independently reviewed by specialist officers from the Met's Serious Crime review group. 

If a case remains unsolved where all reasonable lines of inquiry have been progressed, it is formally presented to a panel chaired by a commander. They decide whether the investigation should be put on hold.

An investigation on hold is subject to a review every two years by the Serious Crime review group, with the aim of identifying new investigative opportunities or techniques.

(20th September 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 3rd September 2019 author Martin Bentham)

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Fraud has been a "Cinderella crime" for too long and must be taken far more seriously by police to stop criminals plundering the wealth of law-abiding citizens, one of the country's top law enforcers said today.

Graeme Biggar, the head of the National Economic Crime Centre, said that fraud was "not getting the attention it deserves" despite being one of the most commonly committed offences.

He said that a "step change" was needed and that police and the National Crime Agency had "got a lot more to do" to tackle the fraudsters properly.

He added that a major expansion was also needed in the number of specialist financial investigators employed by forces to track down illicit money and that law enforcers should "supercharge" the use of unexplained wealth orders.

Mr Biggar's comments were made to the Evening Standard in his first interview since his appointment as director general of the National Economic Crime Centre.

It is based at the National Crime Agency and co-ordinates the work of police and other agencies against crimes including money laundering, fraud and corruption.

Mr Biggar said that although progress was being made with four unexplained wealth orders issued and account freezing orders totalling £220 million imposed on 220 individuals suspected of having illicit funds, much more needed to be done to tackle economic crime.

He said this would require a "cultural shift" as law enforcers focused more on removing assets from offenders - including major organised crime families who have previously dodged justice - to disrupt their activities and reduce the harm inflicted on the public.

"We need to go after the money more," Mr Biggar told the Standard.

"Fraud particularly we've got a lot more to do. It has been a bit of a Cinderella crime that we all collectively as a country and society need to take more seriously.

"It's the second most reported crime in the country and it's not getting the attention it deserves."

Mr Biggar said that part of solving this issue would be to ensure that the Government's focus on increasing police numbers was matched by a boost to the number of financial investigators capable of tracking down illicit money and identifying economic crime.

An estimated 3.8 million fraud offences were committed during the year to the end of March, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

This was up 17 per cent on the previous 12 months. Fraud recorded by police was also up by nine per cent in the same period.

The estimated annual cost is £190 billion across the UK. The most common offences are bank and credit account fraud.

(20th September 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd September 2019 author Benedict Moore-Bridger)

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The scale of crime in London schools is laid bare today by figures revealing that police were called 8,000 times in a year to reports including violence, rape, drug use and more than 400 incidents of people carrying weapons.

Met police data for the 12 months to May shows 291 recorded offences of suspects with a knife on school grounds, and 21 cases of gun possession. There were 112 other reports of unspecified weapons being brought into schools.

The total number of offences logged by police in both state-funded and private schools includes 37 rapes among 544 sex offences, 232 for drugs and more than 3,500 cases of violence.

Although the ages of those involved is not specified, it is understood that most are likely to have been pupils rather than parents or staff.

Sophie Linden, London's deputy mayor for policing and crime, said the situation was "clearly unacceptable".

There have been 15 fatal stabbings of teenagers in the capital this year.

Today's figures, released under freedom of information laws, come after head teachers urged the Government to step up action against youth violence to ensure schools remain centres of learning. A recent Ofsted report warned that London schools were not given enough support on knife crime.

The figures show officers were called to schools 83 times because of "racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm or distress". There were also 119 "obscene publications" offences, 12 incidents of drug trafficking and 220 reports of possession of narcotics.

The data shows the number of times police produced a crime report after being contacted about an alleged incident. It does not include the number of subsequent charges or convictions, and Scotland Yard said that not all 999 calls result in a crime report being made.

Crime also affects primary schools. A 10-year-old boy at White Bridge Primary School in Loughton, Essex, was suspended for six weeks after being caught with a knife. Staff were alerted by the year six pupil's classmates. Headteacher Julie Witteridge said no one was threatened or hurt in the incident in June, but urged parents to discuss the dangers of knives with their children.

Ms Linden said: "The Mayor is working to increase the number of schools officers across the capital, to engage with pupils and drive down crime in schools." There are 353 Safer Schools Officers and 47 Youth Engagement Officers working in London across 631 schools - up from 319 a year ago.

A Met spokesman added: "We know some of the increased reporting is due to having an increased number of officers in school, better partnerships and robust police recording processes."

The Government is working on new school security guidance which is due to be published later this year.

The shocking toll: Number of offences for 12 months ending April 30 this year

- Violence against the person : 3,511
- Sexual offences : 544
- Robbery : 84
- Burglary : 489
- Vehicle offences : 60
- Theft : 1,273
- Arson and criminal damage : 352
- Drug offences : 232
- Possession of weapons : 424
- Public order offences : 883
- Miscellaneous crimes : 148

(20th September 2019)

(This is Money, dated 2nd September 2019 author Rob Hull)

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So far this year, more than 300,000 UK motorists have received fines in the post for driving offences committed in European countries.

Due to an agreement the UK signed up to in 2017, foreign police forces can request the addresses of owners of British cars that have been caught by breaking traffic laws in their countries and issue fines through the post.

However, one major difference in how motoring offences are enforced in the UK means that not one foreign driver has been chased for speeding or jumping red lights on UK roads, This is Money can reveal.

The key difference is that across many European countries the owner is responsible for the offence, while in the UK it is the driver.

The days of British motorists being able to get away with driving offences committed on foreign roads became a thing of the past when the UK became a member of a alliance designed to make it easier for police from different nations to share details about drivers who have broken laws in countries they don't live in.

The Mutual Legal Assistance scheme - which the UK rejected in 2011 but was forced to adhere to by the EU two years ago - grants foreign police the powers to apply to UK authorities for a driver's information.

Under the agreement, the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency must supply these details.

That means any offence that's captured by cameras is fair game for foreign police to enforce with fines, even when drivers have returned back to the UK.

Under these rules, fines can be enforced on Britons driving in foreign countries for speeding, failing to wear a seatbelt, not stopping at a red traffic light or other mandatory stop signal and drink or drug driving offences.

Penalties for use of forbidden lanes (such as an emergency lane, a lane reserved for public transport, or a lane closed down for road works) and using a mobile phone at the wheel can also be chased.

Once overseas authorities have received the car owner's details from the DVLA, automated fines are sent to them in the post and must be paid to avoid further action.

But, shockingly, the same rules don't work in reverse.

The Home Office confirmed to This is Money that the UK doesn't have the same powers to chase drivers of foreign-registered motors who are caught on camera breaking the law on British roads.

It's due to one major difference in how fines and penalties are enforced in the UK compared to the rest of Europe.

That's because it's the owner of the car who is the one liable for offences in some other EU countries and are therefore legally pursued by authorities.

However, UK law dictates that it's the driver - not the vehicle owner - who was at the wheel at the time who is legally required to receive penalties.

This is why police in the UK have to prove a motorist was driving before handing out points and fines for offences such as speeding.

The approach used by other EU nations is a double-edged sword for Britons, as vehicle owners can also be forced to pay fines issued by overseas police even if they weren't the one committing the offence - though in most cases, the owner is the one most likely driving at the time.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed to This is Money that there is 'no legal mechanism' in place to 'compel foreign registered vehicle keepers to provide us with details of who was driving at the time of the offence'.

They added that no UK government or enforcement body makes requests for foreign driver details.

The Home Office said this is unlikely to change while the UK is a member of the EU, with the spokesperson adding: 'In the UK, we only fine the driver, not the vehicle owner. We have no plans to change this.'  

It also warned that UK motorists are likely to still be pursued by foreign police once Brexit is concluded.

Driver details will continue to be shared by DVLA under the CBE (Cross Border Exchange of Information on Road Safety Related Traffic Offences) directive, the spokesperson said.

When asked about the state of play with MLA after Brexit, the Home Office representative confirmed: 'In the absence of EU legislation, the UK will move our cooperation with EU Member States to the tried and tested mechanisms that we already use for cooperation with non-EU countries.' 

This is Money contacted the Department for Transport for comment, though was told that all queries regarding MLA and fines for foreign drivers 'is one for the Home Office to answer, not us'.

###What can Britain do about the pursuit of fines post Brexit?

However, there could be a potential light at the end of the tunnel for British drivers.

A memorandum issued by the Department of Transport in 2016 suggests the UK government has grown frustrated with the EU's failure to introduce a level playing field in relation to accessing the details of vehicle owner's who live in foreign countries.

It says: 'In the most recent Expert Working Group on CBE held on 21 November 2016, the possibility of formulating a sub-group to specifically look at 'secondary enforcement measures' was raised.

'These enforcement measures might include (but not be limited to): resolving the driver liability issue by tightening the enforcement measures, easier prosecution of offenders in the courts and easier transferring of penalties through the framework for Mutual Recognition of Financial Penalties.'  

The AA said the report had sparked the recent flood of requests from French police for UK driver's details.

This is Money previously revealed that in the five months between February and June 2019, three quarters of the 325,000 requests from foreign police for UK driver details were sent by French authorities.

This was around a 250 per cent increase compared to the same months in 2018, as French authorities looked to collect as many fines as possible before 29 March - the initial date Britain's divorce from the EU was expected to take place.

With the next Brexit deadline fast approaching at the end of October, more requests are expected from foreign police looking to cash-in before Britain can establish new rules that could potentially close the tap on this revenue stream. 

###Do police have ANY powers to fine foreign drivers today?

The Home Office did confirm to This is Money that while UK authorities have no powers to enforce secondary fines for offences detected by cameras, penalties can be issued to those caught in the act by officers.

'Any driver stopped by the police for motoring offences in the UK will continue to be punished, whether British or foreign,' they clarified.

The UK has for a decade has been using a 'deposit' system for offending foreign drivers - a system previously used by the French.

Failure to pay the levy is a criminal offence, attracting a £300 fixed penalty notice.

While HGV drivers need to pay a deposit towards the full fine, drivers of passenger cars don't and escape the charge.

The chances of all drivers - British or foreign - being stopped at the roadside are also diminishing as the declining number of dedicated UK transport police means foreign motorists are increasingly likely to escape without even a slap on the wrist.

A report last year revealed that on-duty traffic officers had dropped by almost a quarter since 2012.

Figures show that back in 2010 there were 3,472 police patrolling the UK's roads. By 2017 this had fallen to just 2,643, with some forces - such as Northamptonshire Police - recording declines of as much as 83 per cent in that time.  

(20th September 2019)

(Independent, dated 2nd September 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

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The government must change the law to ensure domestic and sexual abuse victims are not put at risk after reporting attacks, an MP and campaigners have said.

A letter seen exclusively by The Independent warned that changes made by the Conservatives had caused a steep drop in the use of police bail - and thousands of alleged sex attackers and violent criminals were released without any restrictions.

Labour MP Sarah Champion, who wrote the letter, said the changes had endangered survivors and could discourage them from reporting crimes to the police.

"The result has been that vulnerable survivors of domestic abuse, child sexual abuse and/or sexual violence are now unnecessarily exposed to reprisals from suspects, who are frequently known to them, if the suspect is released from custody while the police investigation is ongoing," the letter said.

She called for the home secretary to use the Domestic Abuse Bill to create a legal presumption that alleged domestic abusers or sex attackers can only be released from police custody when bail conditions are in force.

These conditions limit the threat a suspect can pose, by confining them to one address, seizing their passport and banning them from contacting victims or entering certain areas.

"If the police are unable to put simple restrictions on suspects, survivors will live in fear of being contacted or visited by their abuser," Ms Champion told The Independent.

"This is alarming when so many survivors of child sexual abuse know their abuser personally.

"Already the level of prosecution for these crimes is shockingly low - only 1.5 per cent of reported rapes are charged.

"The government needs to be building confidence in the criminal justice system, and keeping survivors safe is the first step to doing that."

The letter, signed by the Centre for Women's Justice, End Violence Against Women Coalition, Rape Crisis, Refuge and Women's Aid, said the length of time that suspects can be kept on bail should also be extended to protect victims.

The call was backed by senior figures in the criminal justice system, including former chief crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal, Wiltshire Police's head of public protection and three peers.

"This letter shows the women's sector, police and parliamentarians speaking with one voice - the government has no choice but to listen and change the legislation to ensure the criminal justice system prioritises the safety of those reporting violent and sexual crimes," Ms Champion said.

The new Tory measures also meant bail, where police can enforce restrictions on suspects' movements and who they contact, could only be used when deemed "necessary and proportionate".

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found that in the six months after the limit came into force, the use of police bail plummeted by three-quarters - and 65 per cent in domestic abuse cases.

Inspectors warned that a drop across all offences suggested that police were "not protecting vulnerable victims the way that they should", adding: "There was a change in legislation and it was lost in translation."

A sample of around 3,000 people "released under investigation" between April and June 2017 found that 1,700 alleged violent criminals, 768 rape suspects and 31 who were questioned on suspicion of murder had been freed without conditions.

A police inspector can authorise initial bail for 28 days, and an extension of up to three months can be granted by a superintendent.

Any further extension for "exceptionally complex" investigations must be approved by executive-level officers.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) released guidance emphasising that pre-charge bail is a "legitimate tool" earlier this year.

It stated that officers deciding whether to apply bail conditions must take into account the need to protect victims and witnesses, and ensure public safety.

The document said police must warn victims and witnesses if a suspect is released under investigation, and provide advice about what to do if they are targeted.

Nicki Norman, the co-chief executive of Women's Aid, said the guidance was a step forward.

"However, the Domestic Abuse Bill provides a further opportunity to strengthen police forces' response and resolve the unintended consequences of previous reforms to pre-charge bail," she added.

"We call on the government to act on the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill and sector experts to safeguard victims."

The committee called for the government to take the same measures called for in the letter, creating a presumption of bail and extending the time limit in domestic abuse and sexual violence cases.

In an official response published in July, the government said it was right to limit bail to prevent "serious negative impacts on suspects" and conditions can still be used where it is necessary and proportionate.

A spokesperson for the NPCC said: "We are concerned that a reduction in bail could mean missed opportunities to protect vulnerable people and put conditions on violent offenders that could prevent reoffending. We will continue to assess the effects of recent changes to the law and its implementation."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We continue to work with the police to ensure pre-charge bail conditions are being imposed where appropriate, including to protect victims and witnesses.

"The government is listening to the concerns that have been raised about pre-charge bail to understand the underlying issues and consider what further mitigations can be put in place."

(20th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 1st September 2019 author Ralph R Ortega)

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Tech investor John Borthwick believes the convenience of today's smart assistants from Amazon, Google and Apple comes at a price far higher than the cost paid for the devices.

'From a consumer standpoint, user standpoint, is that these, these devices are being used for what's - it's hard to call it anything but surveillance,' Borthwick says, warning that government regulation may be the only safeguard to user privacy.

Borthwick, a venture capitalist who started out in the technology industry with a web content studio that was bought by AOL, and who later headed tech strategy for Time Warner, tells Yahoo that he expects regulators will hand over more control of privacy to device users.

As it stands now, he warns tech companies that manufacture and sell popular smart speakers, like Amazon's Echo, Google Assistant and Apple's HomePod, are having much more than they're audible responses recorded.

'They've gone to those devices and they've said, 'Give us data when people passively act upon the device.' So in other words, I walk over to that light switch,' Borthwick said. 'I turn it off, turn it on, it's now giving data back to the smart speaker.'

Tech companies provide an activation, or 'wake' command with most devices.

Amazon's Echo, for example, will not respond until it hears a user say 'Alexa,' followed by a command. A similar protocol is followed with Google Assistant, and when an Apple product user requires help from Siri.

Borthwick, however, points out how the speakers are connected with other products, where surveillance is less obvious.

'These smart speakers-- I was particularly sort of disturbed by-- it sounds very wonky, but the-- the smart speakers are driven by an implication,' he tells Yahoo.

'You invoke it. And you say, "hey, smart coffee cup,'' he explains, clinking on a cup.

'"I would like you to tell me what's the temperature of my coffee," or "What's the weather today?" You invoke a request.'

'So all these smart devices in the home that are connected into this... So the light bulb over there, which you get say to your smart speaker, "turn on that light,'' he continued, explaining how data is collected, using a more passive approach.

'I think that we've sort of tripped over a line, which many people are now calling surveillance and I think is-- is-- is wrong,' he said.

The tech investor warns the US has a 'laissez faire' attitude toward the devices and encourages self-regulation.

'I would characterize it today as being like tech companies saying, 'We got it, don't worry, it's OK,'' he said.

On the other extreme is the Chinese 'authoritarian model,' where the state itself is engaged in surveillance with 'cameras around China.'

Somewhere in between is the European Union and its General Data Protection Regulation.

Passed in 2018, the regulation aims to give individuals control over their data while simplifying the regulatory environment for businesses with a uniform rule for all of the union.

Borthwick said he's sure similar regulation at the local, state and federal level is coming to the states.

'I think generally, it's about giving the users a lot more power over the decisions that are being made,' he said. 'I think that's one piece of it.

(20th September 2019)

(Scotsman, dated 1st September 2019 author Lauren Walker)

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Police Scotland has launched an awareness campaign following reports that the number of victims raped on a first or second date has increased

Over 160 people have reported they were raped in the very early stages of dating in the last year, meaning that in one in ten cases the crime is committed by someone other than a partner or ex-partner, according to data from Police Scotland.

These figures, including people who met through social media and dating apps, were released as the force launched its £30,000 anti-rape campaign - #GetConsent - which aims to educate people on what legally constitutes as rape.

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald, Major Crime and Public Protection at Police Scotland introduced the campaign in reaction to the "shocking" statistics on rape occurring during the first or second date.

She said: "No one should go on a date expecting or feeling entitled to sex, just as no one goes on a date expecting to be raped. Nor should anyone feel bullied, coerced or shamed into having sex because their date expects it or believes they're entitled to it because they paid for drinks or dinner.

"Our new campaign seeks to tackle these issues head on and make it clear that sex without consent is rape."

The consent campaign focuses on changing behaviours and attitudes towards rape to prevent the crime, and is aimed at 18 - 35-year-old-men, as this is statistically the peak age for offending.

Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland, said, "This campaign is a welcome contribution to the national conversation we need to be having about sex and consent. What needs to be clear - and it cannot be said enough - is that it doesn't matter what the situation is, all sexual violence, abuse and harassment is unacceptable."

For the next six weeks, the campaign will be advertised on telephone kiosks, in pub and club washrooms and on several social media platforms.

(20th September 2019)


(TNW, dated 29th August 2019 author Matthew Beedham)

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Authorities in France say they have shut down a cryptocurrency mining botnet that had infected more than 850,000 computers across 100 countries.

France's "cybergendarmes" or more formally, the C3N digital crime-fighting center was alerted to the potential fact that a server based in Paris had been distributing a virus called Retadup, BBC reports. It's thought the virus managed to infect hundreds of thousands of Windows-based computers across the globe. Central and South America reportedly took the brunt of the infection.

After a system was infected, hackers were able to take control and install cryptocurrency mining programs. The report says the hackers were using the virus to "create the cryptocurrency Monero." Presumably, the bad actors installed XMRig or a similar program to surreptitiously mine the coins on their behalf without the system's owner knowing.

The cyberbaddies also reportedly used ransomware to extort money from victims. In most cases, hackers will use ransomware to demand other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Authorities have not disclosed how much money hackers have been able to harvest by spreading the virus, but French authorities believe the individual(s) managed to earn millions of Euros.

The chief of C3N, Jean-Dominique Nollet, told France Inter Radio how authorities were able to shut down the botnet and put a halt to its nefarious activity.

"Basically, we managed to detect where was the command server, the control tower of the network of infected computers, the 'botnet,'" said Jean-Dominique Nollet to France Inter Radio. "It was copied, replicated with a server of ours, and made to do things that allow the virus to be idle on the victims' computers," CoinDesk reports.

Mr Nollet has also said the C3N would continue to run the mirrored server so any infected computers that haven't been online recently could still be disinfected.

Even though authorities have managed to dismantle the botnet, those behind its creation are on the run and yet to be caught.

Despite the value of many cryptocurrencies being way down from their all time highs, hackers are still keen on surreptitious cryptocurrency mining. According to research from SonicWall, Criminals made a staggering 52.7 million crypto-jacking hits during the first six months of this year.

(7th September 2019)

(Wales Online, dated 29th August 2019 authors Sophie Halle-Richards and Amardeep Bassey)

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A domestic abuse victim says women should be aware of a study which identifies the eight stages that lead from abuse to murder.

Criminology expert Dr Jane Monckton Smith, found there was a distinct pattern of abuse escalation which culminated in murder in 372 killings across the UK.

Abbie Brydon, 30, was beaten within an inch of her life  by her former partner, Scott Hughes, at their home in Wythenshaw in March, 2018.

She believes that all women should read the study, which could help them identify signs that they are at risk of severe violence or death, reports Manchester Evening News.

Dr Monckton Smith, a lecturer at The University of Gloucestershire, believes controlling behaviour could be a warning sign of someone's potential to kill their partner.

The research indicated women represent more than 80% of victims killed by their partners and in the majority of these cases, the partner was male, the BBC reports.

The study examined cases on the website Counting Dead Women where the woman was known to have had a relationship with the killer.

Other cases were included such as those of male victims killed by their male partners.

She believes if her neighbours hadn't heard her screams for help, she would have been killed by Hughes, who is now serving a 14-year prison sentence after being convicted of GBH with intent.

Miss Brydon was hospitalised with two 'blow out' fractured eye sockets, nasal fractures and a face so badly bruised her own family didn't recognise her - after she was attacked by her former partner.

"I think you never assume it is going to happen to you but the similarities in the study and how the stages progress are absolutely spot on," Abbie said.

"Going through it stage by stage I think would make a lot more people take it seriously. If it was more widely known to women I think it could save lives.

"I never in a million years thought it was going to get that far but I think if people could see it in black and white it might make you realise; I need to get out, I'm in trouble.

Dr Monckton Smith told the BBC: "We've been relying on the 'crime of passion, spontaneous red-mist' explanation [of killing] forever - and it's just not true.

"If you start looking at all these cases, there's planning, determination, there's always coercive control."

The eight steps discovered in almost every killing were:

1. The perpetrator had a history of stalking or abuse prior to the relationship

2. A quick acceleration of the romance into a serious relationship

3. Coercive control comes into the relationship

4. The perpetrator's control is threatened by some form of trigger - for example, the relationship ends or they run into financial difficulty

5. The coercive behaviour and control tactics is then escalated through tactics such as stalking or threatening suicide

6. A change of tactics is then adopted, with the perpetrator choosing to move on through revenge or homicide

7. Weapons are considered and opportunities to get the victim alone feature as part of the perpetrator's planning

8. The homicide is carried out, and the perpetrator considers hurting others such as the victim's children.

(7th September 2019)

(The Next Web, dated 29th August 2019 author David Canellis)

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The head of the United Nations' cybercrime and anti-money-laundering branch has warned that investigating online child sexual abuse has become considerably more difficult since the advent of cryptocurrency.

Neil Walsh told Australia's ABC the true scale of online child sexual abuse is much, much bigger than many realise, and that cryptocurrency - like Bitcoin - has added an additional layer of anonymity that favors perpetrators.

"It's what makes it really hard for cops [and] investigators to manage some really big risks. Because in the past, when we looked at some of those really big high threat areas, like kids getting abused online, it had to be paid for, and now with the use of cryptocurrencies, it's exceptionally difficult for investigators to track and manage that risk," Walsh told ABC.

"When we look at some of the really high-risk crime, where we see kids, and I'm talking babies - very, very young, six months old and younger, who are in pay-per-view, live, online child sexual abuse streaming websites that's getting paid for by cryptocurrencies, we need to have some sort of options," said Walsh. "We need to know how we try and challenge that threat, and reduce the risks for kids and reduce the opportunities for criminals to get involved."

Regulating cryptocurrency exchanges is one of those options. In particular, Walsh views forcing exchange users to reveal their identities as necessary to "keep the most vulnerable in our society safe."

The thing is, Walsh believes adhering to strict Know-Your-Customer and Anti-Money-Laundering regulations is "not really a large amount of risk," which isn't likely to sit well with cypherpunks and cryptocurrency purists.

The pseudonymity provided by Bitcoin is also referred to as a "layer of secrecy" in the interview, which is rather loaded language, but understandable given the context.

In the end, Walsh reinforced that regulating global use of cryptocurrency is going to take lots of different brains. "It's going to take technologists, policymakers, philosophers, the whole nine yards," said Walsh.

(7th September 2019)

(Wiltshire Times, dated 28th August 2019 author House Reporter)

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 Gangsters linked to one of the groups were said to have been involved in less than one per cent of all crimes recorded by Wiltshire Police last year.

But the force warned that County Lines drug networks are on the rise. The gangs are led by kingpins in cities like London and Birmingham, with lieutenants increasingly turning to local children and addicts to peddle their product. A national problem, the County Lines gangs have taken over much of the heroin and crack cocaine trade in towns like Swindon and Trowbridge.

The increase was detailed in Wiltshire Police's Force Management Statement, published yesterday,. A spokeswoman for the force said: "Together with our partner agencies across Swindon and Wiltshire, we work hard to identify where County Lines are exploiting vulnerable children and adults, to proactively disrupt these networks and to safeguard and protect those at risk of harm. The intelligence we receive from people in all of our communities is crucial in helping us, our partner agencies and neighbouring forces tackle this.

"Intelligence from the community is helping us identify more County Lines operating in Wiltshire which allows us to take positive action to disrupt them."

Earlier this month, three men were jailed at Bristol Crown Court for their part in a conspiracy to smuggle almost a kilo of cocaine into Swindon with an estimated street value of £200,000. One of the leaders, London rapper Nahkell "J Avalanche" Gordon, had links with Tottenham gang the Wood Green Mob.

At around the same time as he was said to have arranged for the drugs to be transported from London to the south west, Gordon had also set up the transfer of a pistol and ammunition from the capital to Manchester - with the deadly weapon taken by an unsuspecting Uber driver.

Following that case, senior investigating officer Det Insp Mark Wilkinson said there was nothing glamorous about the life of a County Lines dealer.

He told the Adver: "These rappers will try and portray it as a glamourous lifestyle, but the reality is that if you decide to run that music career alongside criminal activity there's only going to be one out come. That's prison and a criminal record - a burden that you will carry for the rest of your life."

Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner, called for extra funding to tackle the challenge posed by organised crime gangs.

He said: "Although I welcome the Prime Minister's promise of 20,000 new police officers, it's unclear what this will look like for Wiltshire so we have to continue to work with what we have.

"I am, however, positive that we will get more officers although how they are paid for remains a question which requires an answer for which I will continue to push.

"My message to Westminster remains the same when it comes to money - we still don't receive enough funding from central government."

(7th September 2019)

(Birmingham Mail, dated 28th August 2019 author George Makin)

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Michael is 82. He sits in his living room dominated by pictures of children and grandchildren.

He lives in a quiet area of Dudley, loves his gardening and his neighbours are friendly and look out for him while his family visit regularly.

It's the ideal retired life - but every night he barricades himself in his bedroom terrified that conmen and thieves will invade his home.

He isn't paranoid, just very frightened after being intimidated by rogue tradesmen and having money stolen from his home in a distraction burglary.

He is an example of the hidden cost of fraudsters, of robbed self-confidence, of fear and the dread you will be targeted again.

Michael - not his real name - is just one of the hundreds of victims who Dudley Council Trading Standards' scams unit help and support.

Chris King, a principal Trading Standards officer, emphasises that the town is not a hotbed of conmen and thieves.

Indeed, Dudley has the lowest crime rate of the seven cities and boroughs that make up the West Midlands.

When he started out in the job some 30 years ago, his work was focused on weights and measures, tackling traders who sold counterfeit goods, licensing etc.

But he explains over the last 15 years the majority of the cases Trading Standards officers deal with are scammers and rogue traders who target the vulnerable such as the isolated and the elderly - often with consequences that far outstrip the money that is taken.

Chris is quietly spoken but there is a real edge in his voice as he says: "These people have worked all their lives, paid their taxes, their National Insurance and abided by the law and in the latter part of their lives they have the right to live without fear of intimidation or being conned."

Dudley Council has taken a radical approach to dealing with the unseen cost of scammers and companies that break the law with high pressurised or misleading marketing.

Instead of just tackling the issue as a crime it is also treating it as a health problem.

It recognises the consequences go beyond the money and seriously impact on victims' mental and emotional well-being.

The council is spending £100,000 a year from the government's better health fund to support and help those who have been targeted so as they can continue to lead independent lives without fear.

That, as Chris points out, is not just the morally right thing to do, it also makes economic sense.

The cost of the scams unit to every Dudley resident is just 33 pence a year, compared to the £25,000 a year the council can pay to place a victim in a residential home.

Dudley builder who left Sandwell homeowners out of pocket must pay £10,000 court bill

A major part of its work is dealing with telephone scammers who cold call with a range of different ploys to get their hands on your money.

And the impact of such scams can be devastating.

In a recent case, Dudley Council helped a retired school teacher recover £60,000 he was conned out of by fraudsters using a sophisticated telephone fraud.

They contacted him claiming to be ringing from his bank's security department and told him he was the victim of embezzlement and he should go into his nearest branch the next day and transfer his life savings into another account.

They warned him not to say anything to bank staff in case he 'tipped' off the bank employee supposedly stealing his money.

They had the details of his account numbers and even the amount of money they held.

Fortunately, he did ring his daughter who warned it could be a scam.

She, in turn, contacted the bank the next day to say she believed her father was a victim of a scam and asked them not transfer the money but they refused saying they couldn't discuss it with her because of data protection.

An hour later, her father transferred the money which was promptly stolen.

Since then Trading Standards got the bank to admit it could have done more and it has now replaced his life savings.

In addition, they and the police are taking legal action against the scammers.

Companies can legally buy data which helps identify customers by their age, sex and location which they can use to target people and mislead them into buying services or items they neither need or are unsafe or dangerous.

Such companies will claim they are legitimate but if they pressurise you to buy something you didn't want or fail to provide the service they claim, it is illegal.

Chris says: "It's often very difficult sometimes to draw a line between people who are selling something - they are probably mis-selling it or you don't want it or is overpriced and you might get it somewhere cheaper - and people who are out and out fraudsters who are just telling you lies."

Susan, not her real name, is a victim of this grey area between legitimate firms and scammers.

Aged 76 and unable to walk without aids, her phone is her lifeline to the outside world when her husband is at work.

But her life is plagued by unwanted calls from companies who constantly ring offering services she doesn't want or need.

Recently, she was contacted by a firm offering to service her expensive vacuum cleaner.

She agreed a price of £50 but when the engineer arrived he gave her the hard sell of why should she should take out a warranty agreement for £120 a year.

Fortunately she refused but it's not the first time she fell victim to a plausible sales pitch.

She explains: "I had a man come round in a white van saying he was cutting down trees and he said he would cut the trees in the back garden for £350 for me and I told him I couldn't afford that much and offered a low price and he agreed but he then just cut one branch off."

When Susan refused to pay he became aggressive and threw the contents of his van on her lawn demanding payment.

She has also been targeted by what Trading Standards call the HMRC scam when fraudsters ring up saying you are in arrears in your tax and you must pay something now over the phone to avoid the police or bailiffs coming to your home.

 She says: "I was so frighted I simply put the phone down straight away."

Susan was suffering from over ten unwanted calls a day leading to her being too afraid to answer the phone, and to worry about missing legitimate attempts to contact her.

In an effort to tackle this telephone fraud, Dudley Council is giving victims a call blocking device which comes preloaded with thousands of numbers known to have been used by scammers.

It automatically blocks them while allowing calls from family, friends and others through.

Every time an unwanted call is made Susan can simply press a button which adds the number to the barred list.

Since contacting the council, and having the blocker installed she say feels more confident: "Every time the phone rang I worried if I should answer it and I'm a nervous person anyway.

"I feel better now I know I can just block the call and put the phone down."

It may not seem to be much but it gives vulnerable people a means of taking back control of their lives.

Dudley Trading Standards' radical approach is not just about preventing fraud and catching the conmen.

It's also about making sure victims are supported and given the tools - whether that be a call blocker or a referral to local community group to break their isolation - to feel confident enough to continue their lives.

And just for that, it is worth every penny.

Seven common types of online crime reported to Action Fraud.

The list includes:

- online shopping and auctions frauds
- computer software service fraud
- server hacking
- personal hacking (when hackers break into computers and computer networks)
- social media and email hacking
- PBX dial through hacking (when hackers get access to the Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) telephone systems used by businesses and make calls to premium rate or international numbers)
- hacking extortion

(7th September 2019)

(This is Money, dated 28th August 2019 author George Nixon)

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A preacher, an award-winning hotelier and a retired fridge engineer who was also the frontman of a rock n' roll band were among those who tried to con their insurers into paying out money, new figures show.

The Association of British Insurers today revealed that 469,000 fraudulent and dishonest claims were detected by insurers in 2018.

A total of £1.2billion was claimed in 98,000 fraudulent applications, while 371,000 dishonest applications for insurance payouts were made last year, up five per cent on 2017.

Some 16 people made the news headlines with a crash-for-cash gang that conned £1.2million out of insurers and earned them a combined 33 years in prison, with the ringleader receiving a six year sentence.

In another high-profile case, a preacher from Leeds used the personal details of his congregation to make fraudulent claims for car crashes that never happened.

Charles Motondo was jailed in May for 10 months on three counts of fraud, after a police investigation revealed he had called insurance companies posing as one of the people in his congregation pretending to have caused a car crash.

It turned out that Motondo owned the car he said he had crashed into, while the car he claimed to have been driving was in the church car park at the time of the supposed accident.

David Romaine, 69, was unmasked as the lead singer and guitarist of Essex rockabilly band The 501s after he attempted to claim £5,000, saying he didn't have any noisy hobbies and that he had suffered hearing damage due to his work repairing fridges.

Meanwhile in March 2019 Richard Moore from Bury, Greater Manchester, tried to claim £34,000 in disability payments from Aviva claiming he was too ill to work, having taken out income protection insurance in 2008.

He told Aviva that anxiety and depression had made him too ill to work between 2013 and 2017, but at the same time he had been running an award-winning hotel. He received a 14-month suspended prison sentence and 100 hours of community service.

While these were just some examples, the ABI said the equivalent of two insurance cheats each week received a criminal conviction or caution for insurance fraud over the last year.

The total value of all claims rose six per cent on 2017 figures.

Mark Allen, the ABI's Manager for fraud and financial crime, said: 'Insurance fraud is the scourge of honest insurance customers who make genuine claims.

'Insurance cheats can be ingenious, and are constantly looking for new scams to exploit, which is why the industry makes no apology for spending around £250million a year on measures to tackle this crime.

'Spearheaded by the Insurance Fraud Bureau and the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, there will be no let-up in the industry's determination to root out fraudsters and press for the stiffest possible penalties for these cheats.'

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Fyfe, head of the insurance fraud enforcement department at the City of London Police, said: 'Certain tactics used by these fraudsters, such as crash for cash claims, can put the lives of innocent members of the public at risk.

'For this reason, IFED continues to come down hard on insurance fraudsters; achieving convictions and other sanctions against these criminals on a weekly basis.

'Whilst we are pleased more and more fraudsters are behind bars, we will not be resting on our laurels. We will continue our dedicated work, alongside our partners in the insurance industry, to find those committing fraud and put them before the courts to ensure justice is done.'

(7th September 2019)

(Planet Radio, dated 28th August 2019 author Amelia Beckett)

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The number of people killed in drink-drive crashes on Britain's roads has reached an eight-year high.

The central estimate of 250 deaths is the most since 2009 and up 20 since 2016.

However, the DfT described this rise as "not statistically significant'', as the total number of people injured or killed in drink-drive crashes was 8,600 in 2017, down from 9,040 during the previous year.

Publication of the figures comes after recent research by road safety charity Brake found that more than 5,000 motorists have been caught drink-driving on two or more occasions in the past four years.

The Scottish Government reduced the alcohol limit for drivers from 80 milligrammes (mg) per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg in December 2014, but the legal level in the rest of the UK remains among the highest in Europe at 80mg.

Brake's director of campaigns Joshua Harris said the increase is drink-drive deaths is "incredibly concerning''.

"How much longer must this continue before the Government acts?

"The current drink-driving limit gives a false impression that it is safe to drink and drive. This is a dangerous message and one that couldn't be further from the truth.''

AA president Edmund King said there continues to be a "hardcore of drink-drivers'' as more than two-fifths of those failing breath tests are more than twice over the limit.

He said: "As well as needing more cops in cars to catch people in the act, the ultimate responsibility lies with drivers themselves.''

RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes claimed the figures show that "no discernible progress has been made'' in reducing the number of drink-drive fatalities over nine years.

He added: "The Government should be looking closely at all its options, even reviewing the drink-drive limit.

(7th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 27th August 2019 author John Stevens)

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Britain was last night branded the 'drug capital of Europe', with one in three of the continent's overdose deaths happening here.

Experts warn the country is in the midst of an addiction crisis as figures show drug abuse kills more people in the UK each year than knife crime and road accidents combined.

Drug deaths are at their highest level since records began, with cocaine-related fatalities doubling in the past three years.

And official figures show that 34 per cent of the 8,238 drug overdose deaths in the EU in 2017 took place in the UK. Germany, which was second, accounted for 13 per cent - less than half the UK's share.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith demands that the Government take urgent action to prevent the crisis from spiralling.

A report backed by the Conservative MP calls for investment in residential rehabilitation centres - funded in part by new taxes on alcohol and gambling - and says the UK 'must conquer addiction to end its reign as the drug capital of Europe'.

The Centre for Social Justice, which produced the report, said it should be easier for those struggling with addiction to seek help from their employer without fear of losing their job.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Duncan Smith calls on ministers to make tackling drug addiction a priority. He says tackling addiction would also 'deal with the root cause' of gang violence and knife crime.

The CSJ report accuses ministers of failing to fulfil a pledge made two years ago that they would ensure addiction services are 'effectively funded' so that 'no one should be left behind'.

Freedom of information requests by the think-tank, set up by Mr Duncan Smith, found that nearly one in five local authorities have cut addiction treatment budgets by over a third, and that some have slashed their budget by more than half.

Around 30 residential rehabilitation centres have closed their doors since 2014.

The cost of drug and alcohol addiction is estimated to be £38billion - roughly 2 per cent of GDP, the same as our defence budget.

The report argues that 'neglect' of addiction services has led to harm that will last for more than a generation.

It calls for a new tax on alcohol, the introduction of a levy on gambling firms, and an overhaul of 'proceeds of crime' rules to pay for improved addiction services, including the re-opening of residential rehabilitation facilities. It also calls for a new body, the Prevention and Recovery Agency, to bring together Whitehall departments to address the problems of alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.

The agency would be responsible for funding decisions and ensure essential services are being provided across the country.

Andy Cook, chief executive of the CSJ, said: 'There has been a clear and worrying correlation between the recent reductions in addiction funding and the increase in drug-related deaths. Recovery is earned through an enormous test of character and emotional determination. We should be doing all we can to support those going through this process.

'It is a dereliction of duty that rehabilitation centres are turning away those in need due to a lack of funding.'

A Government spokesman said local authorities had been awarded £3billion to spend on public health services, and added: 'Every drug-related death is a tragedy.

'We have commissioned a major independent review of drugs, which will look at a wide range of issues, including the system of support and enforcement around drug misuse, in order to inform our thinking about what more can be done to tackle harm from drugs.'

(7th September 2019)

(Mirror, dated 27th August 2019 author Shivali Best)

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From YouTube to Snapchat, most youngsters are now adept at using a range of social media sites.

But a worrying new survey has warned that children as young as eight are giving their personal details to strangers online.

The survey, by O2 , asked 2,000 children about their behaviour online, as well as the information displayed on their social media profiles.

The results revealed almost a third (29%) of eight to 13 year olds have given personal details to strangers they've met online.

An analysis of their social media profiles also revealed that almost a quarter display their email address, while 8% show their phone number.

Meanwhile, seemingly innocent details such as pet names (25%) and their school (24%) were also frequently displayed.

Ann Pickering, Chief HR Officer and Chief of Staff at O2, said: "Apps and social media are a brilliant way of keeping in touch with friends and making you feel less alone, but it's vital that parents understand and talk to their kids about the potential dangers too."

In terms of specific apps, the survey revealed that children were most likely to use YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram , Snapchat and Roblox.

Worryingly, just 37% said they felt their parents understood YouTube, while just 10% said their parents understood Snapchat and Roblox.

Based on the findings, O2 and the NSPCC have relaunched Net Aware - a website where parents can find information about the apps, sites and games their children use the most :

Laura Randall, Associate Head of Child Safety Online, NSPCC, said: "It is vital parents think of the online world in the same way as the real world.

"They wouldn't send their child on a school trip without checking where they are going and who they are going with. The same level of scrutiny should apply to any app or game their child is using.

"That's why we continue to work with O2 to provide the latest information for parents about the most popular apps, sites and games their children are using - all at their fingertips on one website."

(7th September 2019)

(Daily Echo, dated 25th August 2019 author Katie Williams)

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REPORTS of violent crime have soared in Dorset - and claims of sex offences are up by a quarter, according to new figures.

The latest home office figures show that crime in our county has now risen above the national average. Total recorded crime rose by 10.7 per cent. Nationally, the figure was 7.8 per cent.

Violent crime is up by 27 per cent from 14,852 reports to 18,863 in 2018/19.

The number of reported sex offences also rose by 25 per cent, with 1,980 in 2019 compared to 1,583 in 2018.

The latests crime figures were released by the Office for National Statistics this week.

Offences of stalking and harassment rose by a huge 85 per cent from 2,465 to 4,581, with public order offences and robberies also showing noticeable increases.

Reported theft offences, however, slightly dropped from 20,916 in 2018 to 20,458 in 2019.

 Dorset Police's Deputy Chief Constable David Lewis has insisted that the county remains one of the safest places to live in England or Wales.

"Latest figures on recorded crime in Dorset has shown an increase," he said.

"While there has been some genuine increase in crime, improvements to the way Dorset Police records crimes, coupled with more robust enforcement, also forms part of this increase.

"Public order offences are up by 56 per cent in Dorset. This increase is largely from improved recording, particularly around the recording of harassment in public places and threatening behaviour."

DCC Lewis added that the rise in violent crime is partly down to the impact of crime recording improvements, and that stalking and harassment figures are impacted by it being listed as a separate offence from April 2018.

In terms of crimes per 1,000 population, Dorset ranks as the 12th safest county in the country, up from 13th in the 12 month period to December 2018," he said.

"While there has been a rise in crime, the likelihood of being a victim is still very low and Dorset remains a one of the safest counties to live, work and visit in the country."

Knife crime in England and Wales hit a record high in 2018/19, up eight per cent on the previous year.

Police recorded 43,516 offences involving knives or sharp objects in the year to March 2019, the highest since comparable records began in 2011.

In Dorset, the number of knife crimes in 2018/2019 dropped from 175 to 173.

Total police-recorded crime, excluding fraud and computer misuse, stood at 5.26 million offences in 2018/19 - up from 4.88 million in 2017/18.

(7th September 2019)

(Express, dated 25th August 2019 author Jon Austin)

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LONELY pensioners and vulnerable people with no history of substance abuse are the latest people to fall victim to the menace of county lines drug dealing, police have revealed.

The homes of the elderly, victims of domestic violence, or those with mental health problems have been taken over by gangs to use as safe houses to store illegal substances or places from which to sell. Known as "cuckooing," the practice by drug gangs of taking over an individual's home was thought to be confined to those occupied by existing drug dealers, who were lured into the clutches of the criminals by the promise of free heroin or crack cocaine. However, police have now said anyone vulnerable to manipulation by gangsters is a potential target.

The Metropolitan Police have identified several victims, who were not involved in drug abuse, who had their homes taken over, including a 76-year-old.

The victims were identified as part of a major operation to target county lines gangs in and around Lewisham and Catford in south London. Detective Inspector Thomas Williams said: "We have had cases where the homes of the elderly have been cuckooed, including people who have never been involved in drugs.

"The oldest case I know of is someone who was 76. If they are on their own and lonely they may be glad of the company at first, but these people quickly take over their homes to sell drugs."

In another case a couple with mental health problems had their home taken over and were only allowed to remain in their bedroom. The rest of the home was taken over by drug dealers.

A third case involved a victim of domestic violence who had been moved for her safety with a three-year-old child.

He said: "She was new to the area and a woman and her boyfriend groomed her.

"She thought she was making new friends, but they got her hooked on drugs and used her place to sell from. We had to safeguard her and move her on."

County lines drug dealing involves criminals in London and other cities sending dealers out to the suburbs, market towns and coastal resorts to feed growing habits while risking violent turf wars with local criminals.

Organised crooks coerce often vulnerable people and children as young as 12 into selling drugs in far-flung areas using dedicated mobile phone numbers.

In many cases recruited "pushers", often addicts, have been reported missing.

In 2015-16 there was a 66 percent increase in referrals of vulnerable people to the National Referral Mechanism, which helps victims of human trafficking, and the National Crime Agency said the rise was driven by county lines activity.

The last estimate from the NCA was that at least 2,000 dedicated drugs hotlines were being used with each phone bringing in between £3,000 to £5,000 a day.

Inspector Williams said that Operation Perseus was targeting a number of different drugs gangs in south London and it was working with two local authorities to obtain injunctions to shut drugs dens operating from social housing.

Police forces across the country are fighting back against the county lines gangs now on an almost daily basis.

On Wednesday a suitcase containing £190,000 in cash was found by police investigating a county lines network spreading out from London into Kent.

The money was seized with a Range Rover and an Audi during a raid in Chatham, Kent.

About 500g of suspected cocaine was found at a property in Dartford.

Drugs, weapons and cash were also found during raids at five properties in London.

Also on Wednesday, police smashed a county lines ring in Wiltshire they suspect was using a network of 40 pupils at the same school.

Wiltshire Police arrested a 27-year-old man during a raid while looking into the activity at Kingsdown School in Swindon.

He was released under investigation.

Sergeant Nathan Perry said: "We found the person we're looking for and we have managed to safeguard the children who were at risk and we've found drugs."

(7th September 2019)

(Express, dated 24th August 2019 author Carly Read)

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A leaked European Commission report obtained by The Times said the legislation will lay down rules across all member states to limit its use because "artificial intelligence applications can pose significant risks to fundamental rights". The report added: "Without an EU-level regulatory framework, non-compliant AI goods and services raising ethical issues and potential infringements of fundamental rights will emerge on the European market, causing direct harm for consumer and businesses alike." EU civil servants prepared the report for the next European Commission to begin on November 1 when Ursula von der Leyen will take over from Jean-Claude Juncker, who is standing down officially on that date.

She initially said she wanted "to put forward legislation for a co-ordinated European approach" on the human and ethical implications of AI.

But there were criticisms the technology would be against the rules of Brussels' General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The GDPR reads that recognition data is considered "biometric data", which requires explicit consent from the person whose data is being collected.

Diego Naranjo, an advocate at European Digital Rights (EDRi), said: "We have to think, as a society, if this type of technology is needed for the objective that is being used because at the end it constitutes a very serious invasion of citizen's privacy."

But EDRi said in a statement last month that it would take a long time "to formulate a meaningful and future-proof piece of legislation on this topic".

The technology has been used widely by police and security forces for some time.

Technology experts appointed by the commission indicated human rights and ethical breaches in the use of the technology.

The group said: "Individuals should not be subject to unjustified personal, physical or mental tracking or identification, profiling and nudging through AI powered methods of biometric recognition such as emotional tracking, empathic media, DNA, iris, and behavioural identification, affect recognition, voice, and facial recognition and the recognition of micro-expression."

The group added facial recognition technologies "must be clearly warranted in existing law," where the legal basis for the technology should be the consent of the data subject.

The new-age technology has been thrust into the spotlight recently after making several headlines.

A man was arrested in London earlier this year for covering his face when officers from the Metropolitan Police used the technology.

The incident sparked outrage and forces up and the force was accused of adopting a 'Big Brother' approach to the public.

This was a reference to the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell, who writes that the UK became a province of a superstate ruled by 'the Party' whose Big Brother leader employs the Thought Police to persecute individuality and independent thinking.

The province was in the book under excessive security, watching everybody's movements.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee condemned the technology in a recent report.

The document stated: "If certain types of faces - for example, black, Asian and ethnic minority faces or female faces - are under-represented in live facial recognition training datasets, then this bias will feed forward into the use of the technology by human operators."

(7th September 2019)

(Edinburgh Evening News, dated 22nd August 2019 author Lloyd Bent)

Full article [Option 1]:

The most common crimes reported at Scottish railway stations since January 2014 were common assault and theft, either from a person or by shoplifting. The month in which the most crimes take place is July, the crimes usually take place on Saturday, and the most common time is between 9pm and 10pm.
These are the stations with the most crimes reported according to British Transport Police figures, gathered by the JPImedia data team, which cover the period from January 2014 to February 2019. The crimes reported could have taken place on the trains, on the railways or in the stations. The locations given in the data are based on where the crimes were reported. As crimes are most often reported at terminus stations, these are the places with the highest numbers. Of the 1681 crimes reported in 2018, just 658 (39%) saw a suspect charged or given an out-of-court penalty.

Crimes reported ( January 2014 - February 2019)

1. Edinburgh - Waverley Station : 1088
2. Glasgow Central Railway Station : 884
3. Glasgow Queen Street Railway Station : 268
4. Edinburgh - Haymarket Railway Station : 218
5. Perth Railway Station : 217
6. Aberdeen Railway Station : 204
7. Paisley Gilmour Railway Station : 119
8. Stirling Railway Station : 104
9. Inverness Railway Station : 97
10. Dalmuir Railway Station : 101

(7th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 22nd August 2019 author Jemma Carr)

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A dawn police raid smashed a county lines drug gang that forced 40 kids from one school to deal cannabis and cocaine.

The teens, some as young as 14, had been supplied with drugs and dealing kits including deal bags and scales.

It is thought that girls as young as 14 at Kingsdown School in Swindon, Wiltshire, were pestered for sex in exchange for cocaine.

Police say adult dealers had a network of 40 pupils dealing at the school which has just over 1,200 students in total.

This is the equivalent of one dealer per classroom.

A police raid at dawn on Wednesday - the day before GCSE results - discovered the extent of the teens coerced into the operation.

During the raid, a 27-year-old man was arrested by Wiltshire Police on suspicion of possession of class B drugs with intent to supply and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

He has since been released under investigation.

A pair of older teen boys, both 16, are believed to have been supplying a network of up to 40 children in their mid-teens at the Swindon school.

Sergeant Nathan Perry, who planned the 7am raid, said: 'We found the person we're looking for, we've managed to safeguard the children who were at risk and we've found drugs.

'We all know about County Lines and the risks associated with that.

'The difficulty with this type of drugs operation is that it's specifically targeting very young children in order to get them to deal drugs.

'Some of the information we've been passed is that children are not only being coerced into this activity, but they're also being physically threatened.

'If they go to police or teachers they'll be harmed.'

Police were said to have been alerted to the gang at Kingsdown School.

The raid came as Swindon police focused their sights on modern slavery.

Nationally, police have increasingly turned to modern slavery laws to target drug dealers who force children and vulnerable adults to peddle their product.

Sgt Perry said those convicted could expect sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment.

He said: 'You've got children being exploited and young kids being forced to run the drugs.

'We will take it seriously.

'The sheer nature of the exploitation of these young people is unacceptable.

'If we don't do something to stop that they're potentially going to be at risk for the rest of their lives.

'Unfortunately, those children that are at risk now become the suspects of tomorrow and we lose them completely.

'They need that positive engagement and we're not going to be able to do that until we remove their handlers, for want of a better word.'

If children start becoming more withdrawn, secretive about their possessions and start acquiring cash and expensive clothes without explanation, it could be a sign they are being exploited by the gangs.

Children as young as seven are being lured into county line drug dealing

Ruthless drug dealers are 'scouting' for 'naughty' primary school children who are being persuaded to steal fruit as a gang initiation before climbing the ranks and being forced to peddle drugs hundreds of miles from their home.

A disturbing report by the Children's Society has warned that gangs are 'casting their net wider' to target even younger children, picking on those who 'throw stones at windows' or are easily led.

Youngsters are being instructed to 'act out' in school, such as flouting uniform rules, so they can purposely be excluded from classes to do 'shift work' dealing drugs in cities, towns and villages across the UK.

The report by the influential charity, which provides services for children at risk of exploitation, warns of the terrifying speed at which young children are being lured in.

A slick grooming process may start with the children being offered pocket money to watch out for police, before escalating with requests to stash drugs, weapons or money.

uaware comment

Only 2,000 more "county lines" gangs to go then !

This should not be news, it should be business as usual.

(7th September 2019)

(Independent, dated 22nd August 2019 author Anthony Cuthbertson)

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A new Fortnite cheat that improves the aiming accuracy of players is actually a dangerous type of malware, security researchers have discovered.

The aimbot hack promises players of the popular video game a way to shoot competitors without having to take careful aim. It also claims to offer 'ESP', meaning the location of other players is easily visible.

Cyber security firm Cyren found that the free cheat is in fact ransomware in disguise, meaning anyone who downloads it will put all of the files on their PC or other device at risk of being encrypted or even deleted.

"A new ransomware auto-denominated 'Syrk', built with tools available on the internet, has been found to be masquerading as a game hack tool for Fortnite," the researchers wrote in a blog post detailing their findings.

"We expect it to possibly be distributed via an upload to a sharing site and the link posted by Fortnite users in forums."

Once downloaded, the malware disables any anti-virus security and infects various locations of the device. Files within Pictures, Desktop and Documents folders are automatically encrypted and a timed deletion is activated.

A message on the victim's screen states: "Your personal files are being encrypted by Syrk malware. Your photos, videos, documents, etc."

The hacker requests payment through a semi-anonymous cryptocurrency like bitcoin in order for files to be released and the ransomware to be removed.

"After paying, you will be sent a password that will be used to decrypt your files," the message states. "If you don't do these actions before the timer expires your files will start to be deleted.

It is not the first time cyber criminals have attempted to take advantage of Fortnite's record-breaking popularity. Since launching in 2017, Fortnite has grown into the world's most popular online video game, with an estimated 250 million players around the world

In 2018, researchers at the cyber security firm Zerofox discovered 53,000 different instances of online scams relating to Fortnite, many of which were shared across social media and player forums.

Beyond ransomware, other scams aim to trick players into sharing their login details for the game or other personal details like their credit card information.

Several security professionals have criticised Fortnite developer Epic Games for not doing enough to combat the scourge of scams targeting Fornite players, many of whom are under 18 years old.

Zerofox researchers warned at the time: "Despite Fortnite's best attempts to circumvent players from using these fraudulent websites through their forums and support, players continue to fall victim to these kinds of scams daily."

(7th September 2019)

(iNews, dated 21st August 2019 author Matt Allan)

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Almost 1,000 fake driving instructors have been reported in the last five years to the body which overseas lessons.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that 961 allegedly illegal instructors have been reported to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) since 2014.

Instructors must be registered with the DVSA and have passed a series of special test and background checks in order to charge for lessons.

Doing so without DVSA approval is a criminal offence under the Road Traffic Act.

Taking lessons from an unlicensed instructor either intentionally or unwittingly is also potentially dangerous and could prove costly.

Not only could you be missing out on key instruction and information but you have no guarantee that your "instructor's" vehicle is roadworthy and, should you be involved in an accident, you'll have no insurance.

You also run the risk of encountering an instructor who has not been subject to the proper police background and criminal record checks.

Low conviction rate

There are around 40,000 approved driving instructors registered with the DVSA and it says that it "investigates all reports of illegal driving instruction and seeks the strongest possible punishments".

However, the figures obtained by Hippo Leasing show that prosecutions are extremely low, with just 18 convictions since 2014.

Section 123 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states driving instruction for payment can only be given legally by registered or licensed persons but it can be hard to prove that money has changed hands between student and teacher.

How to spot a dodgy driving instructor

There are two types of licensed driving instructors - a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI) and an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) - and both can legally teach you how to drive.

Both types of instructor must clearly display a valid, in-date badge. For PDIs this is pink, while for ADIs it is green.


Both badges must carry the instructor's name, a photograph of them, a valid date and a unique instructor number.

If they don't have such a badge, they aren't a legitimate instructor, even if they have other elements such as a dual-control car, roof signs and branding.

PDIs can legally instruct you and are registered with the DVSA, however, to become an ADI, they must complete three tests set by the DVSA. The fact that potential driving instructors are only allowed three attempts to become licensed means some may resort to teaching illegally if they fail.

Learner drivers can find a DVSA-approved instructor by using this service on :

Threat to learners and the public

Tom Preston, managing director of Hippo Leasing commented: "Due to the nature of driving lessons, learners are in a particularly vulnerable position, alone in a car with a stranger for long periods of time. If a driving instructor isn't approved by the DVSA, there is no guarantee of personal or vehicle safety."

The DVSA's head of counter-fraud and investigations, Andy Rice added: "It's essential that all drivers demonstrate they have the right skills, knowledge and attitude to drive safely and the result of their test is entirely dependent on their performance on the day.

"Illegal driving instructors pose a threat to learners and the general public alike. They often use uninsured vehicles, lack the proper training or are otherwise unfit to instruct the next generation of drivers.

"We have stringent measures in place to detect fraud and bring offenders to justice, and DVSA will always seek the strongest possible punishment."

Anyone who believes illegal instruction to be taking place is encouraged to report it by calling 03001233248 or emailing

(7th September 2019)

(This is Money, dated 21st August 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

Car owners are more likely than ever to receive fines in the post from London authorities for traffic-related offences they haven't committed because someone else is using their vehicle details, according to a new investigation.

Cloning - when someone uses the same number plate that's registered to your car to avoid fines, road tax, insurance or engage in unlawful activity - has become one of the fastest growing types of motor-related crime, according to research by website Honest John.

A Freedom of Information request revealed the number of fixed penalty notices being cancelled due to cloning has soared in recent years, with one area recording a 697 per cent increase in binned fines compared to half a decade ago.

The motoring site sent requests to every borough in greater London regarding the volume of cancelled fines and found that cases of cloning had 'skyrocketed'.

Fraudsters are copying legitimate registration plates and using the fake identities to drive similar cars - almost always the same colour - that could have been stolen or are being used for criminal activity.

The criminals can then use the fake plates to avoid paying costs including car park fees, congestion charges and speeding penalties - in a growing menace costing millions of pounds a year.

Although the vehicles are often caught on camera or by traffic wardens, the penalty notices are posted to the original - and innocent - owner's address.

Of the authorities that could provide data, Hackney Council reported the highest number of cases involving cloned cars in a single 12-month period.

A staggering 1,160 instances were recorded between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, resulting in lost revenue for the council and wasted time for innocent drivers of the genuine cars who had to endure an extensive appeals process.

Harrow Council, which recorded 350 cases of car cloning in the same 12 months, said cases had increased by 91 per cent year-on-year while Waltham Forest confirmed that cancelled Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for duplicate vehicle details was up a staggering 697 per cent compared to five years previous.

And the issue could be far greater than the figures show, as fewer than half of the councils collected were able to report back on PCN cancellations due to cloning. 

Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Islington, Greenwich and Southwark were among the councils that were unable to respond to the FOI request because they do not specifically categorise PCN cancellations for cloning.

'As well as not recording cases of car cloning, it is also unclear if councils report the crimes to the relevant authorities,' Honest John's report said.

For instance, Tower Hamlets told the website that it had no system currently in place to report cloned vehicles to the DVLA.

Worryingly, the authority added that 'it does not contact the police, as no crime has been committed against the council'.

As well as evading penalty fines, duplicated motors tend to have have no road tax, no MOT and no insurance, too.

This cloning crimewave has been growing sharply in recent years, says the RAC.

As many as three million of the 40million vehicles on Britain's roads have cloned number plates, it estimates.

It is believed that in around two million cases the cloning is carried out by stealing a number plate from a parked vehicle or searching for a similar motor and paying a garage £20 to make a set of duplicates.

A further one million plates are believed to be doctored - with paint or black tape put over numbers and letters. 

According to figures revealed by Metropolitan Police, just 78 car cloning cases were investigated in the full duration of 2018, suggesting criminals are taking full advantage of a lack of enforcement.

In 2014, it had investigated just 29 cases.

Experts have previously calculated that insurance costs are rising by an average of £15 a year to help cover the charges being evaded by cloned vehicles using other people's registration numbers.

###What to do if you receive fine and it wasn't you - and how to avoid buying a cloned vehicle
(Mail on Sunday, author Toby Walne)

If a bill lands on your doorstep out of the blue the advice is not to pay up. It is vital to contact the police and motoring agency the DVLA immediately to explain the situation.

Private parking firms may continue to demand money but once you provide them with details from the police and the DVLA it should stop them in their tracks.

The DVLA says if there is evidence that someone has hijacked your number plate it will provide an alternative. But you will be charged around £20 for replacement plates.

A DVLA spokesman says: 'Any motorist who believes their vehicle has been cloned should contact the police. They must also contact the issuing authority of fines or penalties received with evidence their car was not in the area at that time.'

Luke Bosdet, of motoring organisation AA, added: 'Ensure your number plate is safely attached. Check that security screws have been used to fix the plate to your vehicle - as these require a specialist screwdriver to remove. A set of security screws can be purchased for less than £5.'

Bosdet adds: 'Also consider investing in theft-resistant plates for £40 that break apart if someone tries to remove them.'

Since the paper tax disc was scrapped in 2014 car cloning has nearly doubled.

Without the need for a tax disc to be displayed in a vehicle windscreen showing the correct registration plate number it is simpler for a crook to disguise a stolen car using fabricated number plates already being used on a legally taxed vehicle - ideally for the same make, model and colour of car.

If you are looking to buy a second-hand car it is crucial to carry out a pre-purchase investigation - known as an HPI check.

This will reveal if the car registration plates have been cloned. Firms that carry out the check include Experian AutoCheck and HPI Check.

It may cost £20 but also includes details of whether the car has been stolen in the past or there is money still owing on it from a previous purchaser.

The check looks at the logbook (known as a V5C form), and finds out whether the vehicle registration number (VRN), engine number and vehicle identification number (VIN) stamped on the car match with records held by the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency.

London boroughs that cancelled the most PCNs due to cloning last year
(Source: HonestJohn)

1. Hackney - 1,160
2. Haringey - 842
3. Barking & Dagenham - 804
4. Waltham Forest - 654
5. Ealing - 503
6. Brent - 410
7. Camden - 386
8. Westminster - 379
9. Harrow - 350
10. Lambeth - 306

London Borough with the largest annual increase in PCN cancellations due to cloning

(Source : Honest John)

Harrow     : 91%
Waltham Forest : 88%
Barnet : 73%
Lambeth : 61%
Hackney : 43%

Biggest increase in car cloning cases over the last 5 years
(Source : Honest John)

Waltham Forest : 697%
Westminster : 434%
Harrow : 422%
Wandsworth : 340%
Hackney : 282%

(7th September 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 20th August 2019 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

Tasers will be issued to every frontline officer in a police force in response to a "sickening trend" of attacks on the emergency services.

Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley, who served in the Royal Navy before joining the police, said the weapons would be issued to all officers who want one.

His is one of at least seven forces who have seven of the 43 forces in England and Wales including Surrey and Devon and Cornwall who are introducing Tasers for all their frontline officers who want them - as revealed by The Daily Telegraph last month.

Mr Adderley said: "I can't sit here and preside over a situation where my officers are exposed to increasing levels of violence when at my disposal is equipment that could save an officer's life.

"There are people out there who are prepared to seriously injure, or worse. We haven't moved with the times and we have to move with the times to combat the threat we are facing daily from those who simply have no respect for law and order."

Mr Adderley has previously called for Tasers to be standard issue within three years, but said he was "not prepared to wait" and that Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold was "fully supportive". The force has just over 1,000 frontline officers.

It will take 18 months to train and equip the officers and cost around £220,000. In a tweet, Mr Adderley said risks to officers had "changed dramatically", adding: "Our officers have a right to feel safe, supported and adequately equipped to tackle this sickening trend."

The announcement follows the death of Pc Andrew Harper in Berkshire last week as he responded to reports of a burglary, the latest incident where an officer has been harmed while on duty.

Earlier this month, Pc Stuart Outten was attacked with a machete in Leyton, east London, and used a Taser despite being stabbed in the head, while West Midlands Police Pc Gareth Phillips was run over with his patrol car in Birmingham.

Issuing Tasers is a matter for each individual police force, but Police Federation of England and Wales national chairman John Apter said: "We should ensure every officer who wants to carry a Taser can do so. Officer safety should never come second to balancing the books."

Kent is spending almost £1 million to increase its Taser-trained officer force from 330 to 1,500. Any of its frontline officers likely to face violence will be able to be trained in their use.

The Metropolitan Police is increasing its Taser-trained officers by 75 per cent to 6,830 by next March, West Midlands is going from 600 to 1,440 and Greater Manchester is doubling its force to 1,100 of its 6,300 front-line officers.

Police are also deploying a more powerful version of the Taser, the X2, which can disable two suspects at once with two 50,000 volt shots without having to be reloaded. It also has greater velocity to penetrate thick clothing. A third generation Taser is about to be evaluated by police.

A review of the police's frontline workforce by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the Home Office found that officers felt more or all of the "should be issued with Tasers, especially when single crewing."

Other methods of restraint such as incapacitant spray were felt to be less effective while police chiefs argued that it could defuse violent situations, often without being fired.

(7th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 20th August 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

Ford may be the country's favourite car brand - but they are also the motors that are most commonly stolen, a police commissioner has warned owners.

The number of Fords taken in the West Midlands so far this year - 1,557 - has more than trebled from the 489 in 2015 following the spate of keyless car crime that's become an industry epidemic.

David Jamieson, the region's Police and Crime Commissioner, said a total of 5,527 vehicles in total had been stolen in the area in 2019 so far - twice the amount of motor thefts recorded just four years earlier - blasted car makers for being 'far too slow' to introduce systems to prevent remote vehicle thefts.

Mr Jamieson released a list of the brands that have been targeted most commonly by thieves in the West Midlands so far in 2019 in a bid to shame manufacturers for not doing more to block so-called 'relay' crime.

He hopes the stats will encourage the motor industry to increase measures to tackle keyless thefts - where a key or key card may only need to be in the vicinity of a vehicle, not in the ignition, for thieves to access the car.

Fords topped the list, with a 218 per cent increase in thefts in the four-year period.

The stats suggest that a huge number of drivers across the country should be concerned, with Ford being the nation's favourite car brand in recent history.

By the end of July, a total of 144,838 new Fords have been registered in the UK, latest market figures show.

Of these, 48,943 were Fiestas and 36,102 were Focus models - making them the two most-bought new cars of the year so far.

The addition of keyless entry and keyless ignition across Ford's range - even the small and affordable Fiesta, which has been the best-selling model in the UK for over a decade - means they are just as susceptible to remote thefts as luxurious SUVs and pricey luxury motors.

PCC PROMISE: "I won't let up on car manufacturers until theft levels return to those last seen in 2015".... Fords are most stolen car brand as police chief calls for motor industry to do more to tackle crime

- WestMidsPCC (@WestMidsPCC) August 20, 2019

And owners of premium brands are equally as vulnerable to the keyless crimewave.

Mercedes owners have becoming increasingly under threat, with 529 stolen from owners in the West Midlands so far this year, as opposed to the 114 taken from the area in 2015.

Mr Jamieson also revealed that 432 Audis have been stolen in 2019 to date, against 199 four years ago, with criminals targeting the high-value motors to order.

According to the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics, car thefts in England and Wales rose by by nine per cent in 2018.

A total of 113,037 cases of stolen vehicles were reported to the police last year, the ONS confirmed as part of its full-year crime figures.

'I won't let up on car manufacturers until theft levels return to those last seen in 2015', the police commissioner said.

'I've been saying for a long time now that manufacturers have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to vehicle security.

'It's a disgrace that buyers are being sold cars with nineteenth century levels of protection.

'The progress which car manufacturers are taking to prevent keyless thefts is far too slow.'

Ford responded to Mr Jamieson's comments, saying: 'We have new security on the Fiesta and Focus keyless fobs which block illegal hacking.'

Audi also responded. 'We are continually working on improving our security measures,' a spokesperson said.

AA president Edmund King said the rise in vehicle thefts was 'very worrying'.

'One area of concern is the increase of cars with keyless entry being stolen,' he added.

'When it comes to stealing cars, thieves have changed their tactics from 'smash and grab' to 'bounce and roll', as they bounce the radio signals off the key to unlock the car and roll away with it.

'Having access to your keys is the easiest way for a thief to steal your car, so drivers need to ensure they protect them properly.'

How you can protect your car from keyless car thefts
(by Grace Gausden, This is Money Reporter)

The ABI provided some tips on how you can keep your car safe:

Car security basics

Ensure your vehicle is parked in a well-lit or secure area, properly locked and all valuables are removed.

Once in your home or office, ensure your car keys are as far away from doors and windows as possible, preferably shut inside a drawer.

Signal-blocking Faraday pouches

Don't assume that wrapping your key in foil will do a good enough job.

As keyless car crime has spiked, several anti-theft pouches have hit the market that are designed to block signals emitted by the key.

The idea is simple - keep your key inside the Faraday pouch when not in use, and special material will prevent a relay amplifier from picking up its unique signal and transmitting it.

We'd recommend only buying these from a reputable outlet, however, and looking for reviews and accreditation to ensure it will work.

Switch off the key

The wireless signal from some keyless fobs can be turned off, although the feature isn't always obvious and can require a combination of button presses.

Consult the manual or contact the manufacturer to find out if this is possible for the keys to your car.

Switching off the key should certainly thwart keyless car thieves, and could also be recommended when heading off on holiday.

It's also worth checking with the manufacturer if any software updates are available, as it may be that a system for preventing keyless car theft has been developed since you got your car.

Physical security measures

As criminals turn to technology, many owners are resorting to low-tech physical security devices like steering wheel locks and driveways with locked gates or barriers.

Make life difficult for thieves in this way and even if they can unlock the car, hopefully they won't be able to drive away in it.

Many criminals will also move on to an easier target when faced with extra security that's time consuming and noisy to defeat.

Tracking devices

It's possible to subscribe to a security company like Tracker, which can fit a tracking device to your car and use it to trace its location if it's stolen.

According to the company, 96 per cent of cars fitted with its technology are recovered when stolen, compared with just 50 per cent in other cases.

Some of the newest cars can be stolen in less than 10 seconds...

Some of Britain's newest and most popular car models with keyless entry systems are at risk of being stolen in record time - with some tested models being driven away in just ten seconds, according to a new investigation.

Criminals carrying out relay thefts work in teams of two, using equipment to capture electromagnetic signals emitted by keyfobs, with one thief standing by the car with a transmitter, while the other stands by the house with device that picks up the signal from the electronic key, opening the vehicle's door.

Seven models with keyless entry and start technology - from Land Rover, DS, Ford, Mercedes, BMW and Audi - were tested by What Car?, who tasked two security experts from Edilock with entering and driving away the vehicles to test their vulnerability to potential criminals.

What Car? reported that the security team gained access to a DS3 Crossback Puretech 155 Ultra Prestige in just five seconds, and drove away in the same amount of time, using the relay attack technique.

(7th September 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 20th August 2019 authors Martin Bentham and Tristan Kirk)

Full article [Option 1]:

Barristers today warned that a decision to allow dozens of crown courtrooms in London and elsewhere to stand idle is inflicting a "devastating blow" on victims of crime waiting to see offenders brought to justice.

The rebuke came as a snapshot survey showed that as many as half the courtrooms in the capital and other major cities and towns are not in use this week, despite the record levels of knife crime and high rates of other violent offending.

The Old Bailey and crown courts in Southwark, Snaresbrook, Wood Green, Kingston and Croydon were among the locations with half or more of their courtrooms unused yesterday.

The overall number of closures nationwide revealed by the survey, compiled by a senior criminal barrister using submissions from colleagues, totalled 127 out of 260 of the courtrooms which could have be in action.

Richard Atkins QC, chairman of the Bar Council, called for the recent extra funding announced by the Prime Minister for policing to be matched with more money for the courts. He said: "The news that so many crown courts are sitting empty will come as a devastating blow to those victims of crime who are waiting for justice to be done."

Chris Henley QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: "This is nothing to do with a lack of work. Cases are being listed well into next year because of the squeeze on capacity."

Evening Standard analysis of recent trends in London shows that Wood Green crown court used an average of just over half its courtrooms through July. Even the Old Bailey, the country's top criminal court, had an average closure rate of almost 20 per cent.

A spokesman for HM Courts and Tribunals denied that cost-cutting or a shortage of judges was to blame and insisted that courtrooms were being closed because of the decline in prosecutions reaching crown court. "Last year saw a 12 per cent reduction in crown court trial cases and the allocation of sitting days reflects this.

"Waiting times for these cases are the shortest since 2014."

(7th September 2019)

(PC Mag, dated 16th August 2019 author Rob Marvin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Cybercrime is inevitable. No matter where you are, the odds are better than not that you'll eventually be the victim of some strain of malware, affected by a data breach, or have a digital device compromised through any number of hacking methods.

The Why Axis BugWhen dealing with cybercrime on a national or global scale, the question is whether the target-be it a financial hack, a ransomware attack on critical infrastructure, or an attempt to disrupt election systems-is prepared for what needs to happen next.

While countries including Singapore, the US, France, Canada, and Japan have among the highest Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) scores, readiness goes only so far in the ever-evolving cyberattack-threat landscape.

Cybercrime is inevitable. No matter where you are, the odds are better than not that you'll eventually be the victim of some strain of malware, affected by a data breach, or have a digital device compromised through any number of hacking methods.

The Why Axis BugWhen dealing with cybercrime on a national or global scale, the question is whether the target-be it a financial hack, a ransomware attack on critical infrastructure, or an attempt to disrupt election systems-is prepared for what needs to happen next.

Virtual private network (VPN) provider NordVPN aggregated threat-report data from Securelist, including Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) scores for cyberattack readiness. Developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), GCI scores countries' cybersecurity readiness on a scale of 0.0-1.0 based on a composite of five key factors:

Legal: Legal institutions and frameworks for dealing with cybersecurity and cybercrime.
Technical: Technical institutions and frameworks dealing with cybersecurity.
Organizational: Policy coordination institutions and strategies for cybersecurity development at the national level.
Capacity Building: Research and development, education, and training programs; certified professionals, and public sector agencies dedicated to cybersecurity.
Cooperation: Partnerships, cooperative frameworks, and information sharing networks.

Unsurprisingly, the countries that scored highest were those with more developed infrastructure and technical capabilities. In the top 10, Singapore scored highest at 0.925, followed by the US at 0.919 and Malaysia at 0.893. France and Canada round out the top five at 0.819 and 0.818, respectively.

Russia, Colombia, Japan, the UK, and Sweden also scored well. At the other end of the spectrum, some of the worst-prepared countries include Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Tanzania, Slovakia, and Peru.

Preparedness goes only so far. Cybercrime and large-scale (often nation-state-sponsored) cyberattacks are only growing in frequency and severity, and even with more sophisticated infrastructure in place, the businesses, governments, and organizations at highest risk are almost always playing catch-up and running damage control.

The best thing users can do is protect your own security, don't sleep on the basics when it comes to protecting yourself online, and encrypt everything.


Singapore : 0.925
United States : 0.919
Malaysia : 0.893
France : 0.819
Canada : 0.818
Russia : 0.788
Columbia : 0.788
Japan : 0.786
UK : 0.783
Sweden : 0.733


Ecuador : 0.466
Pakistan : 0.447
Algeria : 0.432
Indonesia : 0.424
Sri Lanka : 0.419
Peru : 0.374
Slovkia : 0.362
Tanzania : 0.317
Uzbekistan : 0.277
Vietnam : 0.245

(7th September 2019)

(This in Money, dated 16th August 2019 author George Nixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

The US company that runs the call centre for the UK's national fraud reporting centre will have its contract with police reviewed after an investigation that provided a damning insight into how the firm treats scam victims.

An undercover investigation published by The Times yesterday revealed that call handlers for Concentrix mocked fraud victims as 'morons', 'psychos' and 'screwballs' and were trained to mislead them into believing they were talking to police officers.

Commander Karen Baxter of the City of London Police, who run Action Fraud and outsource the running of the call centre to Concentrix, told The Times today 'it would be stupid and irresponsible' not to review the firm's contract after the revelations.

She said: 'We will look at the contract and quality of service. I am angry, disappointed, appalled and it won't be tolerated.'

Fraud victims are supposed to contact Action Fraud when a scam happens, with more than 500,000 people doing so each year.

Call handlers employed by Concentrix decide whether to file cases as 'crime reports' or 'information reports', with the latter unlikely to be investigated.

Victim's cases are only filed as crime reports if their bank details are stolen and the bank refuses to reimburse them, while a cold call is only filed as a crime report if the victim has lost money or called the company back.

Last year, Action Fraud filed 270,000 crime reports, only 10,000 of which led to the catching of criminals.

An exclusive joint investigation by This is Money and sister title Money Mail three years ago revealed four in five fraud cases sent to the Home Office funded reporting centre were binned, with just two in every 1,000 cases acted upon.

Insiders told us at the time that cases were thrown out if the money was sent overseas, as it was 'harder to trace'.

The Times reported that four of Concentrix's employees have been suspended following its investigation, with Ms Baxter saying the police 'have to' review its contract with the US firm.

She also revealed that Police Scotland have pulled out of the fraud reporting service and will now compile its own database, after refusing to pay £450,000 towards the running of Action Fraud.

Police Scotland said: 'Earlier this year Action Fraud indicated it was not sustainable to provide the current level of service to Police Scotland without a financial contribution. Police Scotland has maintained its position not to join Action Fraud.'

Concentrix said it would never support staff misleading fraud victims and that all employees were meant to follow police training.

A spokesman told The Times: 'We take these allegations extremely seriously. A number of alleged isolated incidents have been raised which are not a representation of the operating culture of our organisation.'

Why was 'aggressive' US firm hired?

MPs are demanding an urgent inquiry into why Britain's official fraud reporting hotline was outsourced to a controversial US firm.

Concentrix, a private company, was recruited by City of London Police to run its Action Fraud helpline in August 2015 despite its reputation for aggressive practices.

The firm had been hired by HM Revenue and Customs in 2014 to root out tax credit fraud and complaints were already flooding in.

In September 2016 the taxman cancelled the contract, worth up to £75million, following reports of a 'guilty until proven innocent' approach to claimants.

It emerged that tens of thousands of people were sent threatening letters and unfairly stripped of their benefits.

In one case a claimant was accused of living with Joseph Rowntree, a philanthropist who died in 1925, while another was told she was cohabiting with RS McColl, a chain of newsagents.

Yesterday Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee, said he was 'speechless' over the decision to appoint Concentrix to run the Action Fraud call centre and demanded an inquiry.

He said: 'Who are these supposed grown-ups making these decisions? It really is a case of the blind leading the blind.'

(7th September 2019)

(Mirror, dated 16th August 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

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The past year has seen a 2% rise in vehicle offences, with 8% more cars stolen, according to latest Government figures.

The Office for National Statistics said in the year to March, the public fell victim to 814,000 instances of "criminal damage to cars".

On stolen vehicles, it said there were also 114,656 offences related to "theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle".

And one insurer puts this down to the rise in criminals targetting keyless cars.

LV= General Insurance said its claims data suggests a correlation between thefts and the rise in the smart devices.

It told the Mirror this trend is particularly present in Birmingham, where findings show a 3% increase in the past four years.

And it's not alone either.

Analysis of 2018 theft activity by Tracker, a car security company, also suggests "keyless" car thefts are on the rise.

These occur where the car owner has locked a "keyless" car (one that can be unlocked when it senses the key fob is nearby, and which will then start on a button).

Tracker said that 88% of stolen vehicles that were fitted with one of its devices last year, were taken without using the owner's keys. That represents another rise from the 80% stolen by this method in 2017, up from 66% in 2016, partly mirroring the increasing application of this technology, especially in high-end models.

"While it may be presumed that a new car, with the latest automotive technology, would mean it's less likely to be the victim of theft, keyless cars can leave themselves vulnerable to technology savvy criminals," explained at LV.

"Criminals use widely available signal relay devices to 'trick' the car into thinking the correct key is present by amplifying its signal and as soon as the thieves get access, all it takes is a touch of a button to start the engine and drive away." 

On Board Diagnostic (OBD) port theft uses technology plugged into an OBD port to disarm the alarm and immobiliser - allowing the car to be started by the push button start (keyless start).

 Heather Smith at LV= GI Direct , said: "If you have a keyless car, w e'd definitely recommend the use of Faraday bags and other traditional types of car security for prevention.

"Some thieves will be willing to go to extreme lengths to get access to a vehicle, and as the summer holidays are a prime time for thieves, it's important to protect yourself as much as possible."

But while the simplicity of accessing a car can seem alarming, here are some of LV's tips to help prevent this from happening.

Protect your vehicle

1. Invest in a Faraday bag: A Faraday bag is a simple but highly effective way of stopping thieves amplifying your key's signal.
This handy pouch is lined with a conductive fabric mesh, which stops your car key fob's digital signals hitting the outside world once placed inside.
These are widely available online for under £10 and experts say they're a "must-have" in the defence against relay theft.

2. Keep your key fob stored away: It may seem like an obvious one but keeping your key fob (and the signal thieves want to amplify) away from doors and windows will make the process much tougher for them.
Find a suitable spot , perhaps a kitchen drawer or the like, to store your fob away, including any spare keys.

3. Traditional car security is still a safe bet: While perhaps seen as a bit 'old hat' in today's technology driven world, a steering wheel lock is still a highly effective last line of defence.
Choosing a brightly coloured, good quality lock should be enough to make thieves think twice. This is definitely something to consider if you are going on holiday for an extended period of time. You can buy one for around £25 on Amazon .

4. Fit a tracking device: If your preventative methods haven't been enough to stop thieves getting away with your car, the next best thing is to find out where they've taken it. Trackers can help you locate the vehicle quickly and easily if the worst should happen.

5. Get the right car insurance: Having the right car insurance is perhaps the most important security measure of them all - especially in light of worrying car theft figures.

(7th September 2019)

(Independent, dated 16th August 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Court cases and criminal investigations are being delayed because of a cyberattack on a firm that carries out forensic testing for British police forces.

Eurofins Forensic Services has seven laboratories in England, which examine blood and DNA from suspects and crucial evidence from crime scenes.

Parent company Eurofins Scientific was hit by a "sophisticated" ransomware virus in June, disrupting its operations in several countries.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) stopped police forces in England and Wales submitting samples to the firm to safeguard data and evidence.

The contingency caused a backlog of about 20,000 samples, which has been reduced to 15,000 in recent weeks.

On Friday, the NPCC announced that Eurofins had been allowed to resume forensic work for British forces.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Gibson, the police body's national lead for the forensic marketplace, said: "We will continue to monitor and assess the impact on the marketplace, but the backlogs held by forces will be cleared over the weeks to come as we start to gradually restore capacity.

"This will regrettably mean some delays to both investigations and court cases, but I want to assure the public we will continue to work diligently to mitigate the impact upon the criminal justice system and try to ensure that samples can be processed as quickly as the system allows."

Mr Gibson said restrictions had been imposed to protect the integrity of the British criminal justice system.

"We had to take stringent steps to ensure that police data had, firstly, not been manipulated or changed and, secondly, was suitably protected for the future," he added.

"There is still significant work to do, but we have approved Eurofins' return to the marketplace and have removed the restrictions placed on forces over the last few weeks."

The National Crime Agency is investigating the cyberattack, with the support of the National Cyber Security Centre.

The BBC previously reported that Eurofins had paid a ransom to regain access to its systems, but the company said it could not comment.

A statement issued by Eurofins in June described the cyberattack as "sophisticated" and said staff had attempted to contain it and mitigate the impact.

"We are continuing to work intensively with leading cybersecurity experts to further secure our current systems and infrastructure and to add enhanced security features and measures to protect our systems and data," a spokesperson added.

"Eurofins profoundly apologises to the customers of those of its laboratories and sites that have been impacted by the consequences of this sophisticated attack."

The attack came almost exactly two years after the WannaCry ransomware outbreak infected up to 70,000 NHS devices, causing chaos in hospitals and forcing ambulances to be diverted.

The attack, which was followed by other major international ransomware incidents, sparked renewed warnings over the potential impact of cyberattacks on critical national infrastructure.

In March, the Police Federation - which represents rank-and-file officers - was hit by two cyberattacks that forced it to cancel its annual conference.

(7th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 15th August 2019 author Jamie Grierson)

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The number of people being prosecuted or handed out-of-court warnings or fines fell to its lowest level since records began, as recorded crime continued to rise, official figures have shown.

There were 1.59 million people formally dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales between April 2018 and March 2019, a fall of 2% on the previous period, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

The number of people prosecuted across all courts fell by 1% overall, although the number of defendants brought before magistrates courts remained broadly the same as the previous year, according to the figures.

But the number of people taken to court for indictable offences - serious crimes dealt with by a crown court - dropped by 8%, which is similar to the fall in the number of offences being charged by police.

This was set against a backdrop of an 8% rise in police recorded crime to 5.3m offences, excluding fraud, and a 3% increase on the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which records people's experiences of crime, to 6.4m incidents.

Figures released in July also showed fewer than one in 12 offences (7.8%) resulted in a charge or summons in the year to March, compared with 15% in 2014-15.

Richard Atkins QC, the chair of Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, said: "Criminals up and down the country will be rubbing their hands with glee knowing that even if their crimes are detected and they are caught by the police, the chances of them being prosecuted or jailed are slim.

"These statistics make for grim reading. However, the state of the criminal justice system is far worse than the figures show. The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service said recently that overall police [crime] detection rates nationally are woefully low and that the courts are emptying, not filling.

"If crime is not detected, it cannot be recorded, investigated or prosecuted, so the official figures are just the tip of an iceberg. Criminals are going about their business unchallenged: fraud goes virtually unpunished and is not even included in the statistics."

He added: "The recent focus on the state of the criminal justice system by the government is welcome, as are the additional resources, but the whole system is broken or breaking and the focus needs to be on every part: legal aid and access to legal representation, prosecution, courts, forensic science, probation, as well as police and prisons."

The number of people on police bail fell by 16%, while there fewer out-of-court disposals (pdf) used, with a 22,300 (9%) drop to 215,000, continuing a steady decline over the past 10 years. Only the use of community resolutions increased, by 3% to 105,600.

About two-thirds of prosecutions are brought to court by authorities other than police, such as councils or the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

Last week the government announced an additional £85m for the Crown Prosecution Service.

A MoJspokesman said: "We are doing more to restore public confidence in the justice system - investing in police and prison places, and reviewing sentencing to make sure violent and sexual offenders are properly punished."

(7th September 2019)


(Guardian, dated 13th August 2019 author "Editorial")

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Arguments about surveillance and privacy are usually framed around Big Brother - the overweening state. But the widespread use of facial recognition in private hands suggests a more urgent danger: that not just Big Brother but anyone in the family can watch, and profit from, our faces. The private landlords of the King's Cross development in London are using facial recognition now in their CCTV surveillance. It is not clear whether this is entirely legal, partly because the owners have been reluctant to disclose what it is they're actually doing.

This is a development that looks like the worst of all possible worlds. Visual recognition boosted by AI is cheap, widely available and easily programmed - one hobbyist has used it to train his catflap to open only when his cat was not trying to carry prey into the house - but it is also worryingly inaccurate. Recent trials by police forces in London and south Wales, among other places, have shown a high rate of false positives, and the rate of inaccuracy is much higher with black faces than with white. A technology that cannot in real life discriminate between individuals will only tend to increase the amount of discrimination in society as a whole. It will spread false confidence and real fear.

So Liberty and other privacy pressure groups have called for a moratorium on the use of these systems by the police. But this could only be a temporary solution. The technology has been steadily improving, and it is not unreasonable to expect that within five years it will be acceptably reliable as well as ubiquitous. This will pose a different set of problems to the obvious ones raised when it doesn't work, and these will not be solved by an attempt to ban it altogether: even if governments are constrained, private actors will run ahead. It offers, for instance, huge advantages to retailers trying to curb shoplifting without much assistance from an overstretched police force. And, as the example of King's Cross shows, significant parts of modern cities are now in fact private property, even when they appear to be public.

The dangers then will lie not only with the collection of data, which may be unavoidable, but also with its subsequent hoarding. The cameras themselves, like most of the so-called internet of things, will present endless vulnerabilities to determined hackers. So will the databases where their information is stored. Even when it is not hacked, the recombination of facial data with material collected in other ways offers disquieting possibilities. It has been claimed that cameras can detect emotion from the way that people walk.

The possible uses of that technology for manipulation is obvious - but the real problem is that it is as bogus as a lie detector. Imagine a surveillance system that falsely identifies a black man from his face and then just as falsely attributes to him aggressive intent from his expression and the way he is standing. The dangers are obvious in countries where police routinely carry guns; but even if the system doesn't summon armed force, it could still place a damning mark against the record of the victim it believes it has identified. The legal and institutional framework within which these dangers must be managed is still unclear; the urgency of the problem, though, is obvious.

(7th September 2019)

(BBC News, dated 13th August 2019 author Zoe Kleinman)

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There is growing pressure for more details about the use of facial recognition in London's King's Cross to be disclosed after a watchdog described the deployment as "alarming".

Developer Argent has confirmed it uses the technology to "ensure public safety" but did not reveal any details.

It raises the issue of how private land used by the public is monitored.

The UK's biometrics commissioner said the government needed to update the laws surrounding the technology.

Argent is responsible for a 67-acre site close to King's Cross station.

While the land is privately owned, it is widely used by the public and is home to a number of shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as considerable office space with tenants including Google and Central Saint Martins College.

There had been nothing to suggest that facial recognition was in use until the fact was revealed by the Financial Times.

UK biometrics commissioner Prof Paul Wiles has called for the government to take action over the use of facial recognition technology by the private sector as well as by law enforcement.

Facial recognition does not fall under his remit because current legislation only recognises DNA and fingerprints as biometrics.

While Argent has defended its use of the technology, it has repeatedly declined to explain what the system is, how it is used or how long it has been in operation.

"I have no idea what they're trying to do in King's Cross," Prof Wiles told the BBC.

"There's no point in having facial-matching tech unless you are matching it against some kind of database - now what is that database?

"It's alarming whether they have constructed their own database or got it from somewhere else.

"There is a police database which I very much hope they don't have access to."

"Historically an area like that would have been public space governed by public control and legislation," Prof Wiles added.

"Now a lot of this space is defined as private but to which the public has access."

Silkie Carlo, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said she had identified an Avigilon H4 camera at King's Cross which, according to its website, comes with "a sophisticated deep learning artificial intelligence (AI) search engine for video" enabling the rapid identification of a specific person or vehicle.

Camden Council told the BBC it was unaware of the tech in use at King's Cross and another regional council said it would be a matter between a private developer and the information commissioner.

Facial recognition officially falls under the information commissioner's office under its remit to police data privacy.

The ICO has expressed concerns about its use and under European data protection law GDPR, firms must demonstrate they have a "legal basis" for adopting it.

Pace of change

Others have called for a change in the law but there is a sense of frustration about the challenge of generating that debate at government level.

Prof Wiles says he has only been granted one meeting with a minister in the three years since his appointment as biometrics commissioner.

Tony Porter, the surveillance camera commissioner, said he had made "repeated calls" for regulation to be strengthened.

Last month, MPs on the Commons Science and Technology Committee called for the police and other authorities to stop using live facial recognition tools, saying it had concerns about accuracy and bias.

"We need to have laws about all biometrics including ones we haven't even thought about yet," said Stephanie Hare, an independent researcher.

"We need to future-proof it. We need to discuss hugely its role in the private sector. The police and the government is one thing, we need to know if the private sector is allowed to do this and if so, under what conditions?"

(BBC News, dated 12th August 2019 author Zoe Kleinman)

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The developer behind a 67-acre site in the King's Cross area of central London has defended its use of facial recognition technology.

Under data protection laws, firms must provide clear evidence that there is a need to record and use people's images.

A spokeswoman said the tool was used to "ensure public safety" and was one of "a number of detection and tracking methods".

The local council said it was unaware that the system was in place.

It was first reported by the Financial Times.

In a statement, developer Argent said it used cameras "in the interest of public safety" and likened the area to other public spaces.

"These cameras use a number of detection and tracking methods, including facial recognition, but also have sophisticated systems in place to protect the privacy of the general public," it said.

A spokeswoman declined to say what those systems were, how long the facial recognition had been in operation or what the legal basis was for its use, as is required under European data protection law.

Potential for inappropriate use

In addition to the National Rail, London Underground and Eurostar stations, King's Cross is home to a number of restaurants, shops and cafes, as well as offices occupied by Google and Central Saint Martins college.

The college told the BBC it had "not been made specifically aware" that the tech was in use in the area and added that it does not use it inside its own buildings.

According to the King's Cross website, planning permission for new additions to the site, granted in 2006, included:

- 50 buildings
- 1,900 homes
- 20 streets
- 10 public parks

The BBC has confirmed that London's Canary Wharf is also seeking to trial facial recognition tools, as reported in the Financial Times.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it had general concerns about the potential for inappropriate use of the technology.

"Organisations wishing to automatically capture and use images of individuals going about their business in public spaces need to provide clear evidence to demonstrate it is strictly necessary and proportionate for the circumstances, and that there is a legal basis for that use," it said in a statement.

"The ICO is currently looking at the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement in public spaces and by private sector organisations, including where they are partnering with police forces.

"We'll consider taking action where we find non-compliance with the law."

South Wales Police faced a legal challenge to its use of facial recognition in 2018.

Despite this it is currently undergoing a three-month trial of a new app.

Chancellor Sajid Javid gave his backing to the police in their trials of facial recognition cameras last month, while he was home secretary.

However, privacy groups have also voiced concerns about the implications of facial recognition on privacy rights.

"Facial recognition is nothing like CCTV - it's not an accurate comparison," said Stephanie Hare, an independent researcher and tech commentator.

"It allows us to be identified and tracked in real time, without our knowledge or our informed consent.

"We recognise the power of DNA and fingerprints as biometrics and their use is governed very strictly under UK law. We do not apply the same protections and restrictions to face, yet it is arguably even more powerful precisely because it can be taken without our knowledge."

(7th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 13th August 2019 author Daily Mail Reporter)

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An average of 28 police officers are injured in assaults every day, figures reveal.

In the year to March 2019, 10,399 incidents of police officers being assaulted and injured were reported.

A further 20,578 assaults did not lead to injury, according to the Home Office data.

Police officers in London were the most at risk with 2,319 injured last year - the equivalent of six each day, the Daily Express reported.

National chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said: 'We believe these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.'

He called for tougher sentences for thugs who assault officers and said courts needed to 'use the full force of their bolstered powers to reinforce the message that these acts are unacceptable and should never be considered "just part of the job".'

It comes as The Times revealed 1,607 criminals with 26 or more criminal convictions or cautions were not sent to prison after assaulting police last year. This is more than double the 828 prolific offenders who dodged jail for the same offence in 2008.

None of the 44 offenders with 101 or more previous offences were sent down for assaulting officers.

(BBC News, dated 16th August 2019)

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PC Andrew Harper was killed while attending a burglary on Thursday - the third serious attack against an officer on the job in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, a Met police constable was stabbed in the head just days before a West Midlands Police officer was run over with his own vehicle.

But are police officers facing more violence? The BBC's Ella Wills spoke to one serving officer, who asked not to be named, about life on the frontline.

These are his own words.

'Violence is rife'

I've been spat on, I've been bitten, I've been punched and kicked. I know officers who have been stabbed. Any one of us could be attacked on any one day.

I have 15 years' experience as an officer including armed response and the Roads Policing Unit. In that time I've noticed an increasing propensity for violence against police by criminals.

It's absolutely rife in the UK and it can make cops scared to do their job.

The last 10 years have been a nightmare. We have lost around 22,000 staff and criminals know that we are spread more thinly, with officers often out alone and back up further away.

I've been in some nasty fights with suspects. A few years ago I was out with my colleague when he was strangled.

We were called to a maze-like inner city area at 02:00, following reports of a bloke banging outside a window. When we arrived he was throwing stuff around and it quickly descended into a battle.

My mate tried to take hold of him but the suspect just threw him straight off.

We ended up in a heap on the floor with my friend on the bottom. The suspect got his hand round his throat and was squeezing.

I pressed the emergency button on my radio for urgent assistance. However, it was a few minutes before other officers managed to find us and we arrested the suspect.

We still talk about it now when we go for coffee. He suffered bruising on his neck, but it had more of a mental impact on him.

Other colleagues who have been badly attacked have either had to step back from a front-facing role, or leave work entirely.

You can forget how vulnerable you are in the job. I don't want to lose anybody at work, and I want to go home to my family.

Situations like that leave you thinking it could be you.

In the Roads Policing Unit, I will patrol by myself and often chase highly dangerous individuals. I have to wait for back up if I come across an incident.

I aim to dominate suspects from the outset, either verbally or physically.

They have to know that I am in control because they will be willing to take a chance against me if they sniff out weakness.

Do I feel scared sometimes? Of course I do, but I use bravado and subterfuge while waiting for my colleagues to arrive as back up. If the suspect resists they will be dealt with robustly.

I sometimes let them think they are going to be let go and say it's just a routine check, to pass time until my mates have arrived.

I don't want to get into a fight, but if it has to go that way I'm prepared to do so.

'Risk averse' officers

I've noticed a huge increase in weapon carrying since I joined. People used to attack us, but they would use their fists.

Now we are confiscating machetes, baseball bats, crowbars, knives and firearms.

The increased violence can make officers risk averse. You are left with those that are prepared to get stuck in and those who stand aside and let the suspect go.

If we don't get stuck in, we are not doing what we get paid to do.

More police officers would help because forces would be able to send officers out in pairs. There would also be greater resources to investigate crime thoroughly.

It's not possible to offer the same service on the frontline after losing so many officers.

When it takes us up to four days to respond to a house burglary, it's clear that we do not have the staff to do our job.

(7th September 2019)

(The Sun, dated 12th August 2019 author Emily Prescott)

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CRAFTY con artists are swindling thousands of pounds out of London tourists using a scam involving three cups and a ball.

Swathes of gangs operate on Westminster Bridge and use the devious "three-cup" trick to cheat unsuspecting victims out of £50 a time.

Con artists hide a ball under one of three cups and then move the cups around swiftly before getting hopeful tourists to bet on where the ball has ended up.

Often the ball has been manipulated and removed to somewhere else.


Nick Stein, magician and scam-game expert told The BBC: "It is in fact quite an evil scam to take people's money."

He explained: "They will move these cups but when it comes to the time of betting, people find they have manipulated the ball to be somewhere else.

"The main problem with it is that people think that this is a harmless thing"

"And they think it might be a game or they misunderstand that maybe it's a performance when in actual fact they are taking hundreds and hundreds of pounds at any given time."

Secret filming by the BBC showed as many as 14 gangs at one time occupy the bridge and try to trick tourists.

The 'magicians' often have a number of accomplices who act as audience members to make it look more convincing.

They encourage and clap and try to entice people into betting more money.

One person said on Twitter: "I saw a young mum falling for the three cups scam on Westminster bridge today. She lost £20. Such a shame."

In a bid to stop the criminal activity, Priest, Fr Chris Phillips made a plea to the police on Twitter, he said: "The number of illegal gaming scams on Westminster Bridge is totally out of hand. @westminstercouncil @MPSWestminster when do you plan on doing something about it? It's not a good look for all our visitors."


The Met says it has been taking action, with 30 people arrested so far this year for involvement with gambling.

Those who were convicted were either fined, given exclusion orders, tagged or given suspended prison sentences.

In March Strand and Whitehall Police seized £650 from one scammer who was arrested on Westminster Bridge.

In a statement, the Met said: "We remind the public that these games are a con and that the person running the con always wins."

Meanwhile, Lambeth Council said they have issued over 290 fixed-penalty notice to offenders since February 2019.

Cllr Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster City Council, said: "There has got be a concerted effort from Scotland Yard because this is organised crime.

"I promise you I will take this up with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner".

In 2016 the council tried to pass a public spaces protection order to stop illegal gambling on Westminster Bridge but the scammers are still rife.

(7th September 2019)

(Mirror, dated 10th August 2019 author James Walker)

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Poor Alexa, she keeps being dumped after a short relationship. More and more people are snubbing Siri too.

Resolver is starting to hear from increasing numbers of people who are falling out of love with the automated assistant sat in their living rooms or pockets, listening in.

People regularly tell me that a conversation they had with a friend resulted in targeted advertising on Facebook , or Google - and they don't like it.

Technology is great - imagine a world without online shopping or GPS, because it wasn't that long ago when these things were in their infancy.

But the next big battleground for complaints looks like it will be about what the big 'disruptor' companies are up to not just with our data, but with the intimate details of our private lives.

So how do we stop this from happening to us? Here are a few tips to help you trust your tech:

Turn off the mic

Most phones are sold with the microphone enabled but you can turn it off if you're worried about who's listening in. All the info will be in the 'settings. It's not always obvious where but persevere. If in doubt, a search online will give you all the info you need in seconds.

Keep up to date with online tips

There are a ton of online suggestions for turning off Alexa's mic and cameras. Go online and find out the most up to date privacy tips from independent sources. Bear in mind that updates to software often mean that you have to update your privacy. So if the spy in the living room can listen in or watch, assume that it is doing so and disable those features if you have privacy concerns.

Question the big tech companies

Why does Google need to know where you are when you've searched for something on your phone? What does Apple want with those reports it keeps nagging you to send? Wanna do a Facebook quiz? We're so used to using the big tech companies that we often don't question what they're up to. Be suspicious, don't click yes on requests for information and lock down your privacy and advertising settings on all these sites.

Protect your face

The recent craze for the ageing/sex swapping photo apps revealed a wider truth to people. These apps aren't just there for the lols. They're stealthily improving their facial recognition software. This is a new frontier for tech firms - and the software is already being sold commercially (albeit controversially). Don't download or use the apps, but make it clear to your friends and family that you don't want them to use them on pictures of you too.

Dumb toys are fine

There's a bumper batch of "smart" kids toys that form part of the 'internet of things' - an increasingly popular phrase covering things that connect to the internet. These can seem like great fun or an entertaining novelty. But bear in mind that opening the door to the internet means a risk - however small - of people exploiting the link. So before you connect up, read the instructions, check with parent's websites online and don't leave your child unattended with internet connected toys unless you're sure they're secure.

Keep on top of your passwords

If you're using fingerprint ID or 'keychains' to remember your passwords for you, don't get complacent. Recent hacks of Ticketmaster, British Airways, Facebook and many other companies have resulted in fraud on people's accounts. I've seen countless examples of fraud where just one successful hack has given an email, password and card information. The fraudsters have then tried that combo with every big firm they can think of. Beat them at their own game by having separate passwords for banking and credit, shopping, social media and other interests. I know it's a drag, but it will save you a fortune.

Watch your Wi-Fi

Make sure your home WiFi is secured so no-one else can see it or use it. You might have thought it was cute to put 'Ted and Suz' years ago when you set it up but lock it down now! Change the default password too. Remember when you find a WiFi spot for that 'on the go' working or chatting vibe that most external WiFi networks are not secured. So think twice before logging on to one and don't stay logged in.

Create a guest network

Worried about your fridge freaking out? What if the toaster has a tantrum? You can set up a guest network for all your connected devices, so if they do get hacked, they aren't linked to the main network. There are loads of online tips to help you do this for free.

(7th September 2019)

(The Times, dated 9th August 2019 author Tom Knowles)

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Intimate video calls made on Skype are often recorded and listened to by staff without the users' knowledge, according to a contractor working for Microsoft, which owns the company.

They said that recordings of people having phone sex, discussing relationship problems or talking about personal issues such as weight loss had been captured and were being listened to by staff working from home.

The recordings are being sent to Microsoft contractors to test the app's translation service, which allows users to speak in one language and the other caller to hear an almost simultaneous translation. Artificial intelligence handles the bulk of the work.

Skype's terms and conditions say that the company may analyse some phone calls to verify how well translations are working, but it does not say that this will be done by people.

The contractor told Motherboard, a technology website, that a number of staff worked from home, and said that "random people sitting at home in their pyjamas...could be joking online with friends about the stuff they had just heard".

Microsoft contractors also listen to recordings of the voice commands that users give to Contana, Microsofts voice assistant. "I've heard people entering full addresses in Cortana commands, or asking Cortana to provide search returns on porngraphy queries," the anonymous contractor said.

The company said that it collected voice data on an opt-in basis. However this permission from customers to opt in appears to happen as soon as a user selects the translation service.

The spokeswoman added that contractors could not identify who the caller was and that all its contractors had to sign non-disclosure agreements and adhered to strict EU privacy standards.

In April, it was reported that Amazon staff were transcribing and joking about the conversations and commands customers were giving to Alexa on smart speakers.

Apple has suspended its practice of letting contractors listen to recordings made on Siri, while Google has also suspended its own programme in Europe for listening to recordings on Google Assistant.

This week privacy campaigners criticised Google's monitoring of users spending. The company detects transactions based on receipts found in Gmail and other Google services, then stores a list of spending in Gmail's "payments & subcriptions" section.

Googl says the data is not used to target adverts and is intended to help people keep track on their spending and subscriptions in a "private destination that can only be seen by you". It adds that details of each transaction can be deleted.

(7th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 9th August 2019 author Mattha Busby)

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Knives can be purchased on Facebook Marketplace without age verification despite a recent law requiring checks, the Guardian can reveal.

In May, the UK government made it illegal to send knives sold on the internet and elsewhere to homes without ensuring the buyer was over 18 as part of reforms to strengthen existing legislation.

However, the Guardian was able to purchase four sets of knives from sellers on Facebook Marketplace without age checks. The knives were then sent to a residential address.

It is the job of councils' local trading standards departments to enforce knife sales laws, while the onus for verifying buyers' ages on Facebook ultimately lies with the individual sellers - often members of the public - in the absence of a regulated age-checking system.

A wide selection of culinary knives are available on the social media site, including nine-inch cleaving knives, as well as a limited number of non-culinary knives which are not allowed to be sold on the platform.

Facebook said it worked quickly to remove any such items, and invited the Guardian to highlight adverts which did not conform to its policy. It subsequently removed one item, a culinary Damascus steel chef knife which came with a free non-culinary knife.

"We take safety very seriously, which is why you have to be 18 or older to use Facebook Marketplace," a spokesperson said. "We do not allow the sale of non-culinary knives on Marketplace and work quickly to remove these items."

Facebook ascertains the age of its users by asking people to provide their date of birth. It recognised it could do more to ensure children could not access inappropriate content.

Patrick Green, the chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust, said retailers had age checks which could not be circumvented and that Facebook and its online marketplace had a legal and moral responsibility to keep knives "out of the hands" of young people.

"Without the need to employ much subterfuge to disguise their age, large knives can be purchased from this site and delivered without robust checks taking place," he said. "Facebook not only have a moral duty to bring this site up to standard, but a legal one too."

The Home Office said it was an offence to sell any bladed article to a person under 18 and that the Offensive Weapons Act, which passed into law in May, bans online sellers from sending knives to residential addresses unless age verification checks are in place.

"It is totally unacceptable for social media companies to allow the illegal sale of weapons on their platforms and they must do more to stop this practice, as well as reporting it to the police," a spokesperson said. "We are making it harder than ever for young people to purchase knives, including online."

Although the Home Office has supported "enforcement activity" in more than 1,000 cases of physical retailers selling knives to children, it said the laws around everyday knife sales were for trading standards departments to enforce.

National Trading Standards (NTS) has urged retailers and online marketplaces to strengthen their approach to illegal weapon sales. It said that local trading standards departments were ultimately responsible for policing the sales.

"Our findings from a new programme of test purchasing has identified a number of retailers selling knives without undertaking required age verifications," a spokesperson said.

"The programme, which is funded by the Home Office and started in October 2018, has revealed a 41% failure rate among online retailers. Enforcement action is ongoing, so we can neither name retailers who failed the checks or comment on potential enforcement measures at this time."

The Conservative MP Ross Thomson, an officer with the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on knife crime, called for the government and police to urgently investigate any evidence that knives were being sold illegally on Facebook.

"There is little point in passing legislation if it is not being upheld," he said. "Facebook must be challenged on the ease with which people are able to purchase these items online."

Recently drafted government legislation has proposed the establishment of an independent regulator to hold online companies to account over the sale of illegal goods and make them more responsible for children's safety online.

A number of high street and online retailers have restricted access to knives in their stores, or stopped selling them altogether, as knife crime surges across the UK, particularly in London.

(7th September 2019)

(The Times, dated 9th August 2019 author Boer Deng)

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State-backed Chinese hackers are running highly lucrative sidelines in attacking big corporations for cash, online security experts have said.

One group, called Advanced Persistent Threat 41 (Apt41), has been identified as one of the most effective Beijing-backed operators carrying out worldwide cyberespionage for the state.

However, security experts say that the group, while spying on global tech, communications and healthcare providers for Beijing, has been using technology against gaming companies and attacking cryptocurrency providers for personal profit.

The blurring of state-sponsored espionage with freelance moonlighting suggests that the Chinese government does not have full control of its powerful cyberoperations. The unauthorised cybercrimes appear to have been carried out for the personal gain of individual members of the hacking team, according to FireEye, the security company that identified the group this week.

Apt41 has targeted organisations in 14 countries over seven years since its founding in 2012, including organisations in the UK and US. The attacks have focused on breaching the data systems of companies in the healthcare, high-tech, telecommunications, education, video gaming, travel, and news industries.

The group appears to have been used to gather intelligence on pro-democratic demonstrators in Hong Kong, and allegedly stole intellectual property from pharmaceutical companies.

Described as "creative and well resourced", the group began to carry out financially motivated attacks in 2014 targeting the video gaming industry.

"This is remarkable because explicit financially motivated targeting is unusual among Chinese state-sponsored threat groups, and evidence suggests these two motivations were balanced concurrently from 2014 onward," FireEye said.

The hackers successfully breached the systems of games including Path of Exile, League of Legends and Fifa Onine3, which collectively attract millions of players. At least one attack generated millions of dollars in virtual currency for the hackers. Some even advertise their availabilit to hack for hire.

The disclosure comes as the US has stepped up prosecutions against state backed hackers amid a trade war in which President Trump has accused China of rampant theft. It also shows the danger that hackers poe to companies not traditionally targeted by state-backed cyberespionage. In July another Chinese state-backed group, Apt10, was linked to an attack on three US utility companies.

(7th September 2019)

(The Times, dated 9th August 2019 author Hannah Lucinda Smith)

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Three big cannabis plantations have been discovered in a week in Albania as police battle to stamp out a resurgent drug industry that has flourished since the collapse of communism.

The farms were in the south, close to the Greek border, a region that has long been a centre of marijuana cultivation. Police say that drug trafficking is the most prevalent cross-border crime in the area.

Cannabis cartels once operated across large parts of Albania, often recruiting impoverished pensioners to grow the plants on their smallholdings. They exported most of their crop to neighbouring Greece or across the Adriatic sea to Italy, where some of it was then trafficked on to the UK.

A decade ago, half of the cannabis sold on British streets was was grown in Albania. At its height it was estimated that Albania was exporting cannabis worth £3.7 billion a year - more than twice the value if its official exports.

The authorities have had to crack down as Albania seeks membership of the European Union. When Edi Rama, the prime minister, first came to power in 2013 he focused attention on the trade. The most infamous busts happened around the village of Lazarat, which produced abot 500 tonnes of marijuana a year and had grown so wealthy that some of the children attended private schools in the UK. The police were attacked by locals who used rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds. The gunfights went on for days.

In other operations the police have targeted the pensioners growing the plants for the mafia, prompting many to flee their villages and hide in the forests.

By 2017 the industry had gone in may areas, including Lazarat. Aerial monitoring found almost no open-air cannabis cultivation in the country over the past two years. Now, however it appears to be booming again.

In March the US State Department listed Albania as a "source country" for cannabis, and noted that "corruption at every level" hindered the country's fight against the trade.

The move to join the EU is also stalling. In the bloc's latest progress report on Albania, it noted that improvements still needed to be made in tackling organised crime and money laundering and securing fundamental rights.

Albanian gangs in the UK have shifted to producing cannabis here, operating cannabis farms inside suburban homes and forcing trafficked migrants to work in them to repay their debts.

(7th September 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 8th August 2019 author Lizzie Roberts)

Full article [Option 1]:

Keyless cars can be unlocked by thieves up to 100 meters away, experts warn, as they say parking away from you home won't stop your car being stolen.

The hardware allows you to unlock your car without pressing a button, and is intended to only work when the fob is within two meters of the vehcile.

But criminals have technology which is capable of relaying a signal between the fob and your car even if they are 100 meters apart.

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer of Thatcham Research, who test car safety and security, told The Telegraph two criminals working together are able to trick the technology.

"It needs two of them, one has to be close to the key and the other one by the car.

"The thing to take away is that parking down the road isn't necessarily going to stop this from happening," Mr Billyeald said.

When the two thieves are in place they can then send a signal to the fob to make it believe it's near the car, Mr Billyeald said.

"As long as the criminal equipment can throw the signal, if it's 80 meters or 100 meters, then the car will still unlock because it's still within range of your key fob," he said.

The rate of car theft in England and Wales has risen in recent years and in 2018 more than 106,000 vehicles were stolen, according to police figures.

Research by What Car? Magazine found some keyless models can be stolen within 10 seconds.

(7th September 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th August 2019 author Edwina Langley)

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If there is one major obstacle facing British businesses today it is this: cyber crime.

A report published by Hiscox insurers earlier this year uncovered that 55% of UK firms surveyed had reported cyber attacks in 2019 - a 15% leap on the year before.

Not only that, but over 70% of those businesses were classified as 'novices' in cyber readiness, meaning most were simply not well enough prepared for what was to come.

"We firmly believe the overwhelming majority of cyber crime can be prevented by taking a few simple steps to protect your organisation," says Hannah Khoo of the London Digital Security Centre.

Such steps can include honing digital skills, such as mastering online tools that scan your network and report back on any weaknesses. "We would encourage all businesses to obtain the Government-backed [scheme] Cyber Essentials," Khoo advises.

Then there is ensuring employees are skilled at identifying perhaps the most common way in which businesses find themselves victims of cyber crime: phishing emails.

"Phishing emails are increasingly more sophisticated, compelling victims into clicking malicious links and revealing information," says Khoo. "The smallest bit of knowledge about the business, staff and supply chain supports the plausibility of such emails, making it difficult to distinguish from [those that are] genuine. Consequences include spread of malware, loss of money, loss of data [and] compromised credentials."

And when it comes to passwords, forget your surname plus '1234'. It's all about irregular phrases. "Three random words takes trillions of years for a computer to crack and is surprisingly easy to remember," Khoo explains. "Simply looking at three objects in a room could help you form your password, for example: TableFireSamsung."

In essence, protecting your business from cyber crime doesn't have to be complicated. And it needn't be expensive either. What it is, though, is imperative. If you want to know how your business can be best protected from a cyber attack, see the London Digital Security Centre's top tips below.

1. Always use strong passwords and enable multifactor authentication

A strong password will increase the time taken for it to be discovered by a computing algorithm. A passphrase is a recommended option, as it is easy to remember and takes trillions of years to crack, strengthening the security of important business information. Enabling multifactor authentication where possible provides that extra layer of security should the password become compromised (for example, using a passcode and fingerprint).

2. Keep your software up to date

When vulnerabilities surface, manufacturers create a fix and distribute them to the end user as updates (these are known as patches). Installing patches significantly improves your overall security. The WannaCry ransomware (for example) only affected outdated software because it is unsupported by the vender and patches are no longer available, leaving vulnerabilities open to exploitation.

3. Install antivirus

Antivirus identifies and removes malware (malicious software) from devices, amongst other capabilities depending on the subscription (including safe web browsing, password managers and removable media scans). It is imperative your antivirus is up to date to ensure the latest threats are detected.

4. Backup your data

In the event of an attack or loss of service, backing up data supports efficient business continuity, to reduce the time lost from running your business. Consider the consequences if all your information becomes unavailable. It could disrupt service, damaging your reputation; cost you time and money; and leave you, your customers and supply chain exposed to secondary attacks.

5. Training and awareness

Training staff to identify suspicious activity and increasing their awareness of the latest threats will reduce your vulnerability. However, mistakes are inevitable so it is important to encourage staff to report an incident immediately and adopt a culture where there is no consequence of them doing so.

6. Develop an Incident Response Plan

An incident response plan guides staff on the procedures they should follow during an incident, to maintain a consistent approach and reduce further damage. The plan should include important contact information and delegated responsibilities. Being organised in a crisis is key to effective recovery. Test and review your plan regularly to keep it relevant for your business.

Remaining organised and being prepared reduces further repercussions. It is advisable to have at least one person in your organisation who is responsible for managing your cyber security. Alternatively, have contacts for an IT management company who can support you.

Once issues have been resolved, do not assume that the threat has gone completely. Remain vigilant of follow-up attacks such as phishing attempts claiming they can fix your latest breach. Refrain from using your backups on the infected network until you are clear of the threat, as they will also become compromised. Use a clean device in a different location and on a separate internet connection if needed.

7. Develop an Organisation Wide Cyber Security Policy

A policy will highlight why cyber security is important and document consistent measures that are/should be in place. This should also outline requirements, behaviours and responsibilities that staff need to adopt when working on an online environment.

(7th September 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th August 2019 authors Tristan Kirk and Nicholas Cecil) [Option 1]

A specialist police unit is stepping up action against gangs who promise cash and designer clothes on social media sites such as instagram to lure children as "money mules".

The City based squad of detectives dedicated to tackling banking fraud is targeting criminals wh post images of wads of cash online to recruit young people into their scams.

Those posts, promising "instant jobs, no dodgy stuff", offer rewards of up to £5,000, with slogans including : "If you wanna get paid, bring me those bank cards". The mules are used to launder fraud profits in their bank accounts, in exchange for keeping a percentage of the stolen money. The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, a 40-strong team, has already smashed 13 organised crime groups in the first half of this year, twice as many as in all of 2018.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson said it is "stepping up" collaboration with social media firms. "The criminals involved are becoming increasingly organised and dangerous," he said.

"We are seeing gangs involved in drug trafficking and firearms offences turning to fraud … These criminals are exploiting new technologies, posting adverts on social media to try and recruit money mules. It's particularly shameful that young people are being targeted. We will be stepping up our engagement with social media companies to identify and take down profiles used by fraudsters, and working closely with telecoms firms to combat scam techniques."

He added: "We're showing criminals fraud is not a soft target by tracking them down and bringing them to justice."

Fraudsters deposit criminal profits in a mule's account, then it is swiftly transferred or withdrawn as cash. Recruits are often young, with no criminal convictions, and are offered small payments.

An Instagram spokesman said: "Our community guidelines clearly state people must follow the law. We encourage anyone to report content they think is against our guidelines."

Six members of a south London gang were jailed in February for a total of more than nine years for a £200,000 fraud involving bank card details, after a DCPCU probe. Four mules were convicted of money laundering after admitting they had agreed to help hide the stolen cash. Nearly 10,000 under-21s acted as money mules in 2018, up 26 per cent on the previous year, according to anti-fraud agency Cifas.

Katy Worobec of UK Finance, which works with City of London Police, and the Met on DCPCU, said: "Through this unique partnership between law enforcement and the finance industry, we are disrupting the gangs behind this devastating crime, making sure they have nowhere to hide."

(7th September 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 7th August 2019 author Natasha Bernal)

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British police are to start using facial recognition technology on their smartphones for the first time, in a move that privacy experts have branded a "gross abuse of power".

South Wales Police confirmed 50 officers will be given the app in a three month trial. It will allow them to snap a photo of a suspect and analyse it immediately using facial recognition software. An instant alert will then inform them if the subject appears on a list of wanted suspects.

South Wales Police has been a leader in the use of facial recognition technology, which can scan faces and match them against a criminal database in real time.

Police and crime commissioner Alun Michael defended the trial, claiming that it was necessary to improve efficiency after severe budget cuts.

He said: "This is about doing more with less after we have lost a third of the money to employ police officers that used to come from the Home Office and it is absolutely not about Big Brother taking over."

The introduction of the app comes as the force is facing a legal challenge from Liberty, the human rights group. Liberty brought a court action earlier this year over the "intimidating and intrusive" collection of data on members of the public.

The new app will allow officers to confirm the identity of a wanted suspect almost instantly even if the suspect provides false or misleading details, ensuring faster arrests, the police claimed on Wednesday.

South Wales Police also claimed that cases of mistaken identity will be easily resolved without the need for a trip to a police station or custody suite.

Richard Lewis, deputy chief constable, said: "This new app means that, with a single photo, officers can easily and quickly answer the question of 'Are you really the person we are looking for?'

"When dealing with a person of interest during their patrols in our communities, officers will be able to access instant, actionable data, allowing to them to identify whether the person stopped is, or is not, the person they need to speak to, without having to return to a police station."

The three month trial will  allow 50 officers under "careful supervision" to use the technology. The results will be shared with senior police officers and other partners, a statement said.

Hannah Couchman, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said it was "shameful" that portable facial recognition technology was being rolled out to individual officers while their proposals are being challenged by Liberty in court.

She said: "It's a gross abuse of power for SWP to roll out routine, on-the-spot biometric checks, and especially in circumstances where a person isn't suspected of committing any crime at all. This technology is intrusive, unnecessary, and has no place on our streets."

Four cities in the US have already banned the use of facial recognition technology over privacy concerns, but there has so far been no action in the UK pending the outcome of the South Wales police case and a probe launched by the Information Commissioner.

Facial recognition technology - At a glance

What is facial recognition?

Facial recognition uses computers to correctly identify faces. It has been used to match things like photographic IDs to people by looking at features on the subjects face. Software is being developed that can identify single faces out of tens of thousands of potential matches by tech companies.

History of facial recognition

Research into began in earnest in the 1960s. University professors discovered they could use computers to identify faces more accurately than people could by using them to match key characteristics and features to faces. It has been widely used since the early 2000s and has grown increasingly accurate. It has been used at security gates and airports.

Why is it controversial?

While recognising a single image and matching it to a human is not too hard for a computer, scanning tens of thousands of images, say from CCTV, can yield less accurate results that need to be checked by a human. Tech companies have been training artificial intelligence software to recognise faces from massive data sets.

There are concerns from pressure groups like Big Brother Watch that facial recognition used by police and tech companies will lead to mass surveillance, while the systems have been found to be less accurate at detecting people of colour.

(7th September 2019)

(This is Money, dated 7th August 2019 author Rob Hull)

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Almost 800,000 Britons who travel across the Channel by car this year are at risk of being caught by speed traps due to a lack of knowledge, the AA has claimed.

These UK drivers in France, predominantly visiting for summer holidays, could be caught out because speed camera allowances in France are much lower, according to new estimates by the AA.

While most UK speed cameras have a tolerance of 10 per cent plus 2mph, cameras operated by France only allow for motorists to exceed the limit by half as much - meaning a fine from the gendarmes could be on the way for the unwitting.

A recent investigation found that most police-operated cameras in Britain had the same tolerances, with a handful also allowing for drivers to exceed the limit by 10 per cent plus 3mph.

But cameras in France are not nearly as forgiving, triggering when a driver is five per cent over the limit.

A survey of 19,350 AA members found that one in five (21 per cent) were not aware that speed camera tolerances across the Channel are half what they are in the UK. 

Nine per cent of respondents told the motoring organisation that they are going to be driving in France before the end of the year, the AA extrapolated this to suggest 3.7 million of the 40.8 million current UK licence holders would hit the roads on the other side of the Channel.

It claimed that 21 per cent risked setting off a speed trap due to their lack of knowledge about camera allowances in France, meaning the gendarmes - as the French police are known - could issue fines to some 777,000 British speeders by the end of 2019.

And now that new rules give foreign police greater powers to pursue UK drivers for motoring offences committed in their countries, the chances of escaping these fines and much slimmer than before.

In fact, French speed limit enforcers have already requested 240,000 UK driver details from the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) this year under the Mutual Legal Assistance agreement.

The UK signed up to the MLA scheme in May 2017, which requires all members to co-operate and share details about drivers who have broken laws in nations they don't live in.

A foreign police force can apply to the UK authorities for the driver information and under the MLA system the DVLA must supply their details.

Automated fines are then sent to motorists in the post. 

AA president, Edmund King, warned that French police are 'on a mission' to pursue law-breaking motorists and said all those planning journeys through Europe need to research driving rules in the countries they're visiting.

For instance, UK drivers need to be aware of France's lower speed limits in bad weather, which are 20 km/h lower on high speed roads.

And when visibility is less than 50 metres, the speed limit becomes 50 km/h.

'Year in and year out, UK holidaymakers driving abroad are advised to mug up on the road laws they are visiting. But too many don't,' he said.

'And now we know from official statistics that the French police are on a mission to chase up fines from British drivers before Brexit.

'Whether you're driving in the UK or France, if you stay within the limit you'll keep out of trouble.'

There are more than two thousand stationary speed cameras on France's roads and motorways - and a number of unmarked mobile speed camera vans.

French speed cameras are not painted bright yellow, as they are in Britain - instead, they are usually grey, more hidden away and less obvious.

They do require a sign before the camera to warn one is coming up - but there is no regulation distance between that and the camera.

Speed camera warning devices in cars were also banned in 2011 in France - and those caught using one can be liable of a fine up to €1,500. 

And it's not just speeding that could land UK drivers in hot water when driving overseas.

A new study by dashcam manufacturer Nextbase said that two thirds of Britons don't understand European road signs. 

A panel of 2,000 motorists were shown a variety of European road signs and asked what they mean.

Worryingly, just two in five instructions were interpreted correctly on average, meaning many will be flouting rules when they're driving on the continent.

uaware additional information

International Road Sign Guide :

USA Road Signs :

(7th September 2019)

(Wiltshire Times, dated 6th August 2019 author John Baker)

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 MORE than 190 items were handed into Wiltshire Police during the National Firearms Surrender.

The two-week surrender finished on Sunday with 65 firearms, 24 flares and 21 rounds of ammunition being handed in.

The firearms surrendered included: air rifles, a deactivated AK-47, shotguns, BB guns, starter pistols and a Mauser Machine Pistol.

There were also two First World War bolt-action rifles and even a few even older muzzle-loading rifles.

The surrender also saw members of the public handing in items that could be considered dangerous in the wrong hands, including 82 knives, two pepper spray canisters, mace spray and black powder propellant.

Inspector Paul Saunders, said: "I would like to say thank you to those members of the public across Wiltshire and Swindon, who have surrendered items during the past two weeks.

"Wiltshire continues to be one of the safest counties to live in the country, and thankfully incidents involving firearms remain low."Overall, we have had a really positive response from the public and it means there are 65 less unwanted firearms and unlicensed firearms in our community.

"As well as asking people to consider surrendering their firearms, it has given us an opportunity to talk about them.

"Wiltshire is largely a rural county, we know there are people who legally own or collect firearms, so during these two weeks we have been appealing to them to think about the safety of their guns.

"How they store them, who could have access, where they are using them and how they are transporting them.

"The items handed in during the surrender have demonstrated how air guns, something you do not ordinarily require a license for, are designed to look very similar to live firearms and, if not handled carefully or seen by the public, could trigger a full police firearms response."

The majority of firearms collected will be destroyed. However, some will be kept for training purposes and other antique items are likely to be passed to museums for them to display.

Inspector Saunders added: "Although this firearms surrender has now finished, I would like to remind members of the public that guns, knives and ammunition can be handed in at police enquiry offices at any time.

"Many firearms are held without awareness of their legality or may be overlooked or forgotten in people's homes. I would urge the public that if you are not using your firearm, or if you have found an old one when tidying out the loft or shed, please take responsibility and safely dispose of it by handing it in to us.

"Firearms can have devastating consequences in the wrong hands, whether that is the hands of criminals, children, or vulnerable people."

If you know of illegal firearms activity call 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or 999 in an emergency.

Every call to Crimestoppers is anonymous and potentially vital to preventing or solving serious crimes; removing an illegally held firearm may just save someone's life.

(7th September 2019)

(Which?, dated 6th August 2019 author Stefanie Garber)

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Monzo has urged 480,000 customers to change their secure Pins, after this information was made available to more than one hundred staff members.

Up to one in five of the digital bank's 2.6 million customers were affected. While no fraud was detected as a result of the glitch, customers should take precautions to protect their accounts.

Find out how Pins were left exposed and what you need to do if you bank with Monzo.

How were Monzo Pins exposed?

Monzo generally stores Pins in a secure part of its internal system, with 'tight controls' over which staff members can access the information.

Last week, however, Monzo discovered that hundreds of thousands of Pins were also being recorded in a separate section of the internal system, as part of the log files. These 'log files' record events on the company's operating system.

While this data was protected by encryption, up to 110 Monzo engineers had access to it, despite having no authorisation. These files have now been deleted.

With most banks, Pins are used primarily to authorise transactions on your debit card. At Monzo, however, you use the same Pin to authorise transactions via the app. Monzo has confirmed it will continue using the same Pin for the app and cards.

Monzo confirmed that all accounts have been checked for fraud, and that none was found as a result of the glitch.

Monzo chief executive Tom Blomfield said: 'We've deleted the data and done a full review of our systems and are confident this information hasn't been accessed or used in a fraudulent way.'

How to change your Monzo Pin

Monzo has contacted any customers who were affected via email, urging them to change their Pin 'as a precaution'.

To do this, you'll need to take your card to a cash machine and enter your old Pin. You should then select the option 'Pin services', and 'select a new Pin', to enter a new number.

Customers who are abroad, or can't easily access an ATM, should get in touch with Monzo through in-app chat.

Monzo also asked customers to update their app by downloading the latest versions from the App Store or Play Store.

If your contact details aren't up-to-date with Monzo, or you have other concerns, you should contact the bank through the in-app chat or the phone number on the back of your debit card.

Am I at risk of fraud?

No customers have suffered fraud as a result of what happened, Monzo has confirmed. Indeed, in order to make a transaction on your account, Monzo staff would also have required access to your card, unlocked mobile phone or email account.

Nonetheless, if you're worried, it's worth monitoring your transactions over coming months for any suspicious activity.
If you notice an unauthorised transaction, you should report it to Monzo as soon as possible.

Like other banks, Monzo will refund unauthorised transactions on your card, provided you haven't been careless. While it hasn't yet signed up to be a signatory to the new code on bank transfer fraud, it has committed to upholding its principles.

Is Monzo safe to use?

Monzo is one of the fastest-growing banks in the UK, with around 2.6 million customers.

The bank's main draw is its instantaneous updates. As soon as a transaction is made, you'll get a notification, making it much easier to spot fraud the moment it happens.

If your card goes missing, you can freeze it via the app. Or, if you lose your phone, you can login via the Monzo website and freeze your account.

iPhone users can also turn on a location-based security feature to block potentially fraudulent transactions. For example, if your phone is at your home in London but the payment is being made from abroad.

In our most recent banking survey, Monzo Bank was named a Which? Recommended Provider, topping our table with an 86% customer score.

How secure is my Pin?

Any time you set a Pin, you should make sure it's not easy to guess - avoid, for example, using your birthday or 1234.

While your bank should offer refunds for unauthorised card transactions, you may not be protected if you carelessly shared your Pin with the fraudster.

For this reason, you should never use your Pin for any other type of secure code, like a gym locker or bike lock, where someone could easily watch you. Cover your hand when entering your Pin at a till or ATMs, and be wary if anyone is standing close behind you. And, of course, don't leave your Pin written down anywhere, even as a reminder.

(7th September 2019)

(Mirror, dated 6th August 2019 author James Andrews)

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Drivers can be hit with a £1,000 fine and three penalty points if they are caught with an air freshener on hanging from their rear-view mirror.

Why? Well the Highway Code and the Road Traffic Act dictate a driver is not allowed to use a vehicle if their view of the road is obstructed "in any way".

And it's not just air fresheners that count - stickers, sat navs, phone holders and more could see you in trouble too.

The fine if you're caught is £100, but it can rise to £1,000 and 3 points if you dispute it in court and lose.

And even if you're not pulled over, you could end up in hot water with your insurer in the case of an accident - as they're unlikely to cover damage or injuries sustained in a crash if your vision was impacted by decorations.

But despite all this, a 2017 study by found it's something one driver in 11 admits to doing .

It's not technically against the law to drive with air fresheners or other decorations hanging from your mirror, but there has been a crackdown.

In the past 10 years rules have become stricter, following a fatal crash accident involving a taxi driver and a pedestrian in 2008, seeing the driver fined for having fluffy dice and two air fresheners danging in front of him.

The rules you're at risk of breaching are the Road Traffic Act and the Highway Code.

In full, the Road Traffic Act states "no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is in such a position that he cannot ... have a full view of the road and traffic ahead".

The Highway Code reads: "Windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision."

And that means the fine and points could apply to anything and everything from a mobile phone holder to dirt or stickers on ANY of your windows if they're considered to be obstructing your view.

Oh, and when we say the windscreen and windows need to be clear from obstructions - that includes the sections the wipers don't reach.

Rebecca Ashton, IAM RoadSmart head of driver behaviour, said: "Anything hanging from the rear-view mirror or anything placed on the windscreen could restrict the drivers view, things people use tend to vary from air fresheners and dice hanging from the mirror to fans, large sat-navs and even using the navigation on an iPad.

"Missing something because you had something obscuring your view could potentially be extremely dangerous, good driving involves exceptional observation skills, seeing things early allows you to anticipate and plan how you deal with hazards.

"We would suggest it is placed low on the windscreen, on the right hand side and if possible within the area where the windscreen wipers don't clear. The main thing to remember is you should always try to avoid the drivers field of vision."

(7th September 2019)

(Guardian, dated 5th August 2019 author Frances Perraudin)

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Rural crime has hit a seven-year high, costing the UK £50m in 2018, a report says. In its annual study of offences against farmers and rural businesses, the insurer NFU Mutual found rural crime in 2018 was up 12% on the previous year.

The insurer said farmers and country people were having to deal with "repeated thefts by gangs who take advantage of farms' isolated locations to steal machinery, raid tool stores and even butcher sheep in the fields".

The report says the sharp rise was driven mainly by the theft of tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles, which was up 26% in 2018. The cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims to NFU Mutual rose by 26% to £7.4m in 2018.

Quad bike and other vehicle theft claims rose from £2.3m in 2017 to £2.6m in 2018. Claims for stolen livestock increased from £2.4m to £2.5m.

Tim Price, a rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said the last time rural theft reached such levels was in 2011 when international gangs "took advantage of a largely unsecured countryside".

"Today, we are seeing another rise as organised criminal gangs with links to money laundering and drugs find ways to beat security and steal farm vehicles," he said.

The biggest increase in rural crime was in Scotland, up 62%, although its rural crime cost remained below the UK average.

The north-east had the second highest regional rise, at 25%, and East Anglia the third highest, 22%.

The cost of rural theft fell in two regions: Wales, down 7%, and the south-west, down 1%.

"In a single generation, country people have seen rural crime change from the opportunist theft of a single lamb to brazen heists of tractors worth over £100,000 and rustlers stealing hundreds of sheep," Price said.

"We are even seeing agricultural vehicles being stolen to smash into village shops to rob cash machines. As well as causing huge structural damage to buildings, these raids can lead to shop owners not replacing ATMs for fear of further attacks."

(7th September 2019)

(The Sun, dated 4th August 2019 author Debbie White)

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Councils across England reaped £376million in parking fines - about a quarter of the total £1.6billion in fines last year - reports the Express.

The bulk, though, came from motorists being stung while caught driving in bus lanes, or flouting time restrictions.

As a result of a freedom of information request, a survey of councils found that Bank junction in London brought in nearly £11million in fines for the City of London - with 175,660 tickets issued.

Two years ago, The Sun Online reported that unlucky drivers had been hit with almost £7m in fines at this six-way intersection, which has strict restrictions to improve safety.

Tougher constraints were put in place as the accident black spot was known for its high collision and casualty record, according to a spokesman for the City of London Corporation in 2017.

The Express reports that motorists in the capital are the hardest hit by penalties, with the likes of Barking Road in Newham earning more than £1.5million, thanks to vehicles stopping illegally in a yellow box junction.

Its findings are in line with a BBC report in June, that said councils in England look set to make a record surplus of £1billion from parking charges and penalties in 2019.

This was on the back of analysis from RAC Foundation, which found that local authorities expected to benefit from a total surplus of £913m from parking infringements over the year.

Hugh Bladon, a founder member of the Alliance of British Drivers, pointed out that motorists are often caught unawares because of poor signage on roads, which makes schemes "very easy to miss".

He added: "The people who end up getting caught a lot of the time are not the locals, who are aware of the schemes, but visitors concentrating on being safe on the roads.

"It is grossly unjust that in the majority of cases people are being fined for what is a simple mistake. All these things are sent to extract money from motorists."

However, a City of London Corporation spokesman said that the organisation's priority at Bank junction was to improve safety.

Describing the £130 penalty charge as a "deterrent", he said that money raise via fines would go towards highway or road maintenance.

Outside of London, Brighton and Hove's Western Road reaped £205,790, while High Street in Slough saw 5,400 being dished out - bringing in £123,387 in fees.

Ten UK streets outside London where drivers are most likely to get parking fines (by offenders)

1. Liverpool - Prescot Street : 8,495
2. Brighton - Western Road : 7,628
3. Slough - High Street : 5,400
4. Newcastle - Shakespeare Street : 3,244
5. Southend - London Road : 2,841
6. Leeds - Great George Street : 2,315
7. Bradford - Piccadilly : 2,264
8. Leicester - London Road : 1,896
9. Thurrock - Parkway : 1,693
10. Bristol - Gloucester Road : 1,276

Ten UK streets inside London where drivers are most likely to get parking fines (by offenders)

1. City of London - Bank Junction : 175,660
2. Kingston upon Thames - Surbiton Crescent : 36,864
3. Barking and Dagenham - Barking Road : 26,304
4. Haringey - High Road : 17,961
5. Kensington and Chelsea - Butterwic Road : 16,595
6. Barking and Dagenham - Ripple Road : 14,934
7. Ealing - New Broadway : 11,610
8. Harrow - Station Road : 8,968
9. Hounslow - Lionel Road North : 8,776
10. Havering - Horns Road : 7,850

(7th September 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 1st August 2019 author Larisa Brown)

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The Army has created a division of more than 14,000 soldiers to tackle threats such as cyber attacks and propaganda spread online.

Soldiers from the secretive 77th Brigade disinformation unit will combine forces with electronic warfare and intelligence specialists to create the new 6th Division.

Based at Upavon in Wiltshire, troops will carry out tasks such as jamming enemy signals and disrupting communications.

It will also include soldiers on computers working with GCHQ spies to take out internet trolls and wage its own offensive cyber attacks - such as erasing propaganda.

The 14,500-strong force is the first division dedicated to tackling the blurred boundaries between conventional and unconventional warfare.

Lieutenant General Ivan Jones, who in his role as Commander Field Army has responsibility for preparing for new threats, said: 'The character of warfare continues to change. The Army must remain adaptable and evolve as a fighting force.'

He said the intention was to 'rebalance' the Army's formations to meet the challenges of 'constant competition'.

Lieutenant General Jones added: 'The speed of change is moving at a remarkable rate and it will only get faster and more complex.' The 6th Division, established today, will focus on cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence, information operations and unconventional warfare.

It will include 1st Signal Brigade, 11th Signal Brigade, 1st Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade, 77th Brigade and the Specialist Infantry Group.

Army chiefs were disturbed in June when Russian outlets spread fake information about British troops behaving badly during airborne exercises in Croatia.

Under the changes, the 1st Division will take on responsibility for national contingencies, including the evacuation of British nationals from war-torn areas. The 3rd Division will remain the Army's primary armoured fighting force. 

(7th September 2019)

JULY 2019

(Daily Mail, dated 1st August 2019 author Steve Doughty)

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The number of teenagers under state care has shot up due to the rise of criminal gangs and drugs, it was revealed yesterday.

The count of children aged over 13 living in homes or with foster parents rose more than a fifth in five years, the Children's Commissioner said.

Among key reasons for the surge was the disruption brought by the growth of gang culture such as the county lines drug dealing trade.

The report by the commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, found the number of children over 13 in the state care system went up by 21 per cent between 2013 and 2018. Meanwhile the number of young children aged five and under fell by 15 per cent. The biggest increase was among teenagers over 16, rising by 25 per cent between 2014 and 2018.

Older children in care included asylum seekers under 18 as well as those affected by family and gang pressures.

County lines cases are a growing issue, with city gangs expanding their operations into towns and often using vulnerable young people to move and sell narcotics.

Social workers are dealing 'with growth of teenagers being taken into care because they are experiencing issues such as criminal or sexual exploitation, going missing from home, and parents being unable to protect them', the report said.

It added that the greater needs and vulnerability of older teenagers - including those committed to the care system after sentencing by criminal courts - meant they are much more likely to be living in institutional homes rather than with foster parents.

The document said: 'Changes over the last five years have transformed the children's care model from one based on very young children living in foster homes to one where more and more older children are entering care and needing more specialist homes.'

There were 21,430 children aged 12 to 15 among the 75,420 in the English care system at the end of March 2018, Whitehall figures show. A further 17,410 were aged 16 to 18 and there were just over 14,000 children under the age of five.

The report found that older teenagers in care are five times more likely than children under 13 in the care system to have been identified by social workers as gang members and four times more likely to have been involved with drug abuse.

They are also 12 times more likely to have been involved in criminal trafficking; seven times more likely to have gone missing from their homes and six times more likely to have been caught up in child sexual exploitation. Miss Longfield said: 'It is clear that we have a care system which is playing catch up.'

She added that teenagers often have 'the most complex and expensive needs', and that in one local authority '20 per cent of the entire children's services budget is being spent on just ten children'.

The report also said teenagers are particularly exposed to the enduring failures of the care system which lead to them repeatedly relocating. Over three years, it said, just over half of children in care moved home at least once, and one in ten moved more than four times.

Miss Longfield said: 'These children are being denied the chance to put down roots, to feel part of a family and to settle at school. It is not surprising that they are often the ones most at risk of exploitation.'

Ringleader Rolexes to be auctioned

Flashy watches worth £27,000 and a collection of designer trainers costing nearly £13,000 are just some of the goods seized from a prolific county lines drug dealer.

Stefan Miller, 30, lived in Wandsworth, London, but was the ringleader of an operation using boys aged 14 to 16 as 'drug runners' around Gloucestershire. He made £175,000 from dealing and spent his money on items including Rolexes and 44 pairs of shoes by designers including Dolce & Gabanna and Gucci. One of the watches, an 18 carat Rose Gold Daytona, was worth £27,450.

Miller, who was jailed for 11 years in March, was found to possess more than £100,000 worth of heroin and crack cocaine. He appeared before Gloucester Crown Court, where he admitted conspiracy to supply the drugs. He was also convicted of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.

His total realisable assets, worth £63,594.80, have now been confiscated by police and the items will be sold at auction on August 14.

(1st August 2019)

(Express, dated 1st August 2019 author Jess Sheldon)

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Never get into this habit - 'significantly higher risk of fraud'

ONLINE banking is something which many of us do in the modern day. However, one expert in information security has shared a word of warning for Britons who are using technology to access their finances.

From checking the balance of an account to making a bank transfer, online banking is something which many people use on a daily basis. However, whether one is banking on the internet or in-branch, keeping well clear of the likelihood of falling victim to a financial scam is no doubt the priority. And, while many people may think they're taking precautions in order to reduce the risk of compromising the security of their finances, some may be doing that very act - without even knowing it. That's according to Head of Information Security at Atom bank, Jon Holden, who has shared some words of warning.

While many financial apps may use sophisticated technologies and security processes, which include data encryption and biometrics, that rely on face and voice for identification, that's not to say that there aren't other ways which users can improve their security.

And, it seems this could be achieved by implementing just a few simple safeguards.

Stop saving cards to online browsers

While it may be a habit which brings ease to an individual's online shopping experience, Mr Holden has warned against saving bank account details to an internet browser.

He said: "There are loads of browsers available these days, but some are more secure than others.

"The majority regularly update to ensure they're not at risk of hacking or malware from fraudsters, but if yours doesn't update, then it can leave you vulnerable to an attack.

"For this reason I would never advise anyone to save their card details onto their internet browser. Although it may be convenient, it puts you at a significantly higher risk of fraud.

"Although verification is still required to use these details for transactions, if your device is hacked or has a virus then you could end up losing money."

Stay away from public networks

From transferring funds on the go to checking up on finances while travelling, there's many reasons why a person may access their finances while in public.

However, for the Information Security expert, this act could potentially be a cause for concern.

"They might be convenient, but accessing your finances on a public WiFi network, such as in a cafe or a hotel, can be very risky," he said.

"The clue is in the name, they're public. This means there are no guarantees that your connection is encrypted, putting you at risk.

"Some fraudsters even create their own public networks using the name of well-known shops or banks, giving them access to anything travelling through the network that is unencrypted."

Sometimes, using an online banking system isn't entirely avoidable - and there is good news for those in this position, Mr Holden said.

"The majority of online banking sites and apps are heavily encrypted and will automatically log you out after a short while, but I would always advise avoiding public networks where possible.

"Always use a trusted network or your cellular data as these are safer, and always use your mobile app where possible."

Check your phone's fingerprint access settings

Mr Holden explained that who has been granted fingerprint access could be something to watch out for.

"Unfortunately, financial fraud can be carried out by someone we know and it's wide to keep a close guard of who has access to your phone," he said.

"At Atom, we use sophisticated biometrics that doesn't rely on the security of your device, instead using your voice, face and eyes to recognise you, making it very unlikely you'll be compromised.

"However, giving anyone access to your phone or data does put you at a heightened risk of fraud, no matter how good the security."

Be careful how you communicate

"I always advise customers to think about how they communicate with their financial provider; if anything seems out of the blue or unusual, don't chance it," the Security Information expert said.

"The beauty of using your financial app is that all communication should be in-app, and therefore, if you receive anything by the way of phishing emails and SMS messages, it should be an obvious red flag."

Don't use common passwords

Cryptic passwords may be more of a challenge to remember, but it seems that it could be worthwhile opting for.

"It might seem obvious, but many people still use simple and straightforward passwords that are easily guessed by fraudsters," Mr Holden said.

"Hackers usually work through lists of common passwords searching for the right combination, and once they've guessed your log-in details for one account, they could use your credentials to access multiple websites.

"If it's possible, use a banking app that uses biometrics to log in.

"This sophisticated method is the most secure way of accessing your finances, but if you do use passwords, make sure they don't include names or key dates, like your birthday, as this could put you at risk.

"Make it hard to guess by using upper and lower case letters, special characters and numbers, but not so hard that you won't remember and have to write it down."

Stay statement safe

And, while many may be opting for paperless statements, documents received in the post or which have been printed out can still pose a risk.

Mr Holden explained: "Although this sounds like an old fashioned hacking tactic, fraudsters can still use old paper documents and bank statements for impersonation.

"The majority prefer to target businesses as it's more lucrative, but not destroying your statements is still an unnecessary risk.

"Make sure you dispose of them correctly, ideally in a shredder.

"Failure to do this could result in someone acquiring your sort code and account number which will put you at risk of fraud.

"If you use your app to view your statements, it's a good idea to keep them saved there and not download them to your device.

"Banking apps are heavily encrypted so it's a lot safer remaining within an app than on your desktop."

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 1st August 2019 author Sophie Borland)

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Attacks against British Jews have soared to record levels, a charity warned yesterday.

A total of 892 anti-Semitism incidents were reported in the first six months of the year to the Community Security Trust - 10 per cent more than the total recorded for the whole of 2018, and the highest for any six-month period.

The charity, which protects the Jewish community, said the rise partly reflected the news being dominated by anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which had prompted others to carry out copycat abuse, usually name-calling and racist posts on social media sites.

By comparison, 810 anti-Semitic incidents were reported to the charity during 2018 as a whole.

Chief executive David Delew said: 'The problem is spreading across the country and online, it reflects deepening divisions in our society and it is causing increasing anxiety in the Jewish community.'

He added: 'It will take people of all communities and backgrounds standing together to turn this tide of hate around.'

Part of the increase is likely to be explained by improved recording of incidents and victims being more willing to come forward.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman on hate crime, said: 'There are still far too many who are prepared to act illegally, fuelled by global events, divisions in society or bigoted ideologies. It is always concerning to see indicators of increased hate crime.'

(1st August 2019)

(Independent, dated 31st July 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

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Tens of thousands of rape cases have been dropped by victims because police investigations are worsening their trauma, new research has suggested.

A review of cases in London found that 58 per cent of complainants withdrew their allegations, while police took no further action on 29 per cent of reports and only 3 per cent resulted in a conviction.

The London Rape Review, conducted by the mayor of London's Office for Policing and Crime and the University of West London, found that the most common reasons for victims withdrawing were "stress and trauma caused or exacerbated by the investigation", a desire to move on from the rape and concerns for their own safety.

Researchers sampled 500 cases that were initially reported to the Metropolitan Police in April 2016 for in-depth analysis, which predates the mounting controversy over demands for complainants' phones and medical records.

Claire Waxman, the London victims' commissioner, told The Independent the findings would be "far worse" for current cases.

"Victims of rape are almost being put on trial," she added. "They are not getting timely updates on investigations, not getting clear information, not getting access to the support needed to keep them engaged in this difficult process.

"What makes it worse is their treatment from start to finish - the way they're being questioned - all of this needs to shift towards a more trauma-informed approach."

A woman who was raped by a stranger in London last year told The Independent she dropped her case after police demanded access to her mobile phone.

"It made me very angry, it made me feel like I was the one on trial and they were trying to seek out ways it was my fault," Sarah* said, adding that she was concerned evidence of past one-night stands could be used against her in court.

Another who faced the same demand despite the Metropolitan Police identifying her attacker using DNA told The Independent the investigation felt like "one intrusion after another".

Jane* said: "I'm not actually sure I would have gone ahead with the case if I'd known what was part of the process."

Bonny Turner, who waived her anonymity to reveal how her alleged attacker was not prosecuted after appearing to "confess" to raping her in a Facebook message, described the City of London Police investigation as "completely re-traumatising".

Ms Waxman said that although the review was of London cases, the same "general picture would be similar everywhere else about victim withdrawal".

"It's not a choice - they are being pushed out of the process," she added.

"Everything works against them, it's such a difficult and brutal process to navigate. We're doing this to people who are very traumatised and not giving them the help needed."

The most recent figures for England and Wales show that only 1.5 per cent of almost 59,000 reported rapes are now resulting in a prosecution.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition has written to the prime minister over plummeting prosecutions, saying the figures amounted to a "decriminalisation of this extremely harmful crime".

The most common outcome recorded in the year to March was "evidential difficulties - victim does not support action", in 39 per cent of cases or 23,110 in real terms.

Another 15 per cent of investigations (8,900) were closed for other evidential difficulties and in 9 per cent (5,200) of cases no suspect was identified.

Almost a third of reported rapes were still being investigated and it now takes an average of four months for an outcome to be assigned - the longest wait for any crime type.

In the London sample, the average length of time from a rape report to the end of a trial was 18 months.

Ms Waxman said complainants were waiting for charging decisions "for far too long" as police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) play "ping pong" with cases.

The London victims' commissioner said investigations were "getting stuck" as prosecutors ask for more evidence before progressing to a charge.

"CPS blame police and police blame the CPS, and at the moment we can't get who is at fault here," she added.

The report called for "excessive intrusion" into victims' phones, records and personal data to be ended, and for the government to fund legal support for complainants to have independent advice and legal representation.

It recommended a new law to ensure rape and domestic abuse suspects are subject to bail conditions, rather than being released under investigation, so victims feel safe enough to continue their cases.

The review called for a three month cut-off period for third-party evidence requests to speed up investigations, and for police and CPS staff to undergo trauma training and draw up new guidance on how it may affect evidence.

The Information Commissioner's Office is currently investigating allegations of disproportionate intrusion into complainants' privacy and the government is conducting a separate review of the way sexual violence cases are handled across the criminal justice system.

The Metropolitan Police said it would review the recommendations and continue working with partners to "make the process as comfortable for victims as possible".

"We know that there is more we can do with partners in the criminal justice system to improve the experience for victims who show great bravery in reporting offences committed against them to police, and bringing more offenders to justice," said Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons.

"We recognise the distress a prolonged investigation can cause and officers endeavour to keep victims updated."

The CPS said new guidance was being developed with the NHS, voluntary groups and police to improve complaints' access to therapy and allow them to give their best evidence in criminal proceedings.

A spokesperson highlighted that only 14 per cent of cases in the sample were passed to prosecutors for a charging decision.

"All charging decisions are taken by specialist prosecutors, who are highly trained to understand victim vulnerabilities and the impact of rape, as well as consent issues, rape myths and stereotypes and other challenges," she added.

"The CPS is clear that police and prosecutors must only request data in order to follow a reasonable line of enquiry, and when it forms an essential part of a fair investigation and prosecution."

The Independent has changed victims' names to protect anonymity

(1st August 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 1st August 2019 author Anthony France)

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Children as young as 11 are being encouraged to give information about crime to stop London's violence  epidemic.

Fearless, the youth version of Crimestoppers, has launched a programme in London schools to encourage more children to report crimes via its service. A recent survey found just a fifth of young theft or violent crime victims report it to police.

Knife crime is a major concern, as well as county line dealers who often recruit 12 to 17-year-olds to move drugs and money from one city to another. Many are threatened or beaten into "debt slavery", forcing them to work in order to pay off a debt.

Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick says the capital's drug trade is a key driver behind stabbings on the streets.

Fearless already has 13,858 users and has passed information to police about weapons, drugs, county lines, fraud and joyriding. Scotland Yard murder appeals now plug Fearless. Anyone aged 11 to 16 can report names of drug dealers or those with guns or blades via the Fearless website.

Secure online forms remove details such as age or gender which could identify the source.

Twenty Fearless workshops with 600 children have been held in London so far as part of the school engagement programme.

Senior outreach worker Jade, 31, has started workshops at schools in Hackney, Brent, Hammersmith, Enfield, Fulham and Haringey.

Stressing the organisation is not the police, she said: "Fearless encourages young people to give information about crime both anonymously and in a safe way.

"It's not snitching or grassing, I explain that we all want to live in a safe city and need to look after our families.

"Fearless also provides an educational tool, giving youngsters non-judgmental facts about crime and criminality."

Visit or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

(1st August 2019)

(Mirror, dated 31st July 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

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Summer is high season for burglars, with criminals using the six week school break to cash in on families abroad for the holidays.

But what should you be doing to protect your property - and all the valuables inside it?

Locking doors and windows is the obvious first step, while experts also say you should trim trees and keep any valuables out of view from windows - especially on the ground floor.

Alarm systems are also effective - as can be asking your neighbour to keep an eye on your property while you're away.

But where should you hide the things you don't take with you?

To help you make better decisions, John Lewis Home Insurance asked a group of ex-offenders for their advice on where people should - and absolutely should not - hide items such as jewellery and other small valuables while away.

'Children's bedrooms are a no-go area'

Burglars said families should avoid hiding valuables in living room drawers and dressers, pots and pans and locked safes that are not secured to the floor or wall - as these are the places thieves search first.

Instead, you should opt for the not-so-obvious, such as hiding items in cereal boxes, packets of pasta and children's toy boxes.

When asked what room holidaymakers should store their valuables in, criminals said children's bedrooms - which many burglars rule a no-go area - as well as under sofas.

One offender said they never entered children's bedrooms or playrooms when they broke into homes, calling it an 'unwritten rule'.

"Children's bedrooms wouldn't be a bad place to hide belongings. Ideally something of high value would be hidden in a toy or a toy box," they explained.

"Most people have got a 'bits and bobs' cupboard in their kitchen where they often keep their keys.

"Instead, I would hide my car and house keys in the food cupboards if I was going away - rice packets, cereal boxes. They are not going to go through all your food packets. DVD cases are another good place to hide valuables because they are harder to find."

How criminals know when you're on holiday

The study revealed that parcel deliveries left on doorsteps are one of the biggest clues that someone is on holiday.

Letters and leaflets sticking out of letterboxes and on doormats were seen as the biggest giveaway that someone was away - even more so than leaving lights on, curtains closed, or having no car on the driveway.

"The increase of online shopping has made it easier - if you're walking down the road and see a parcel on a doorstep there is a good chance someone is not in," explained one offender.

"I would suggest not ordering parcels if you won't be around when they arrive and getting neighbours to check for parcel deliveries regularly while you're away."

Leave a light on

The best room in the house to leave lights on when you go away is the hallway, half of those questioned revealed - but timer switches were deemed the best option because it creates a better illusion that someone is at home.

Using security cameras - including smart doorbells with cameras controlled from your phone - was considered the best deterrent, even beating burglar alarms.

The research revealed that burglars can spend up to two months watching a house before burgling it - but would spend as little as five minutes inside before fleeing.

One ex-burglar said they targeted homes between 4pm to 5pm during the 'school run' when many houses were empty, while others chose night time, with one saying they chose 3am when most people were asleep.

Dr Claire Nee, director of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology at Portsmouth University, said: "Identity documents are very valuable at the minute due to identity theft for fraud and people trafficking.

"We also know from both our research and criminal statistics that burglars are going for small, valuable items - jewellery, electronics and cash.

"Finally, be careful about your conversation on the way to the airport. Talk loudly about your house sitter for instance, not about how you are looking forward to your fortnight away."

Protect your home from thieves this summer

1. Keep curtains and blinds open but move expensive items out of view

2. Set up smart home security such as doorbells with cameras so you can monitor your property even while you're away

3. Use an alarm system - some even link directly to security firms

4. Use timer switches on indoor and outdoor lights to ensure your home looks occupied

5. Ask a friend to move your post or use the Royal Mail Keepsafe service

6. Don't advertise your departure on social media, your voicemail message or out-of-office email

7. Lock up your valuables using a secure well-hidden safe

8. Label your luggage - but do not put your landline phone number or address on it

9. Inform your neighbours you are going away so they can keep an eye on your property

10. Check your insurance policy to confirm what you're covered for - especially if you're away for more than 60 days

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Star, dated 31st July 2019 author Anders Anglesey)

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The stats have been slammed by criminal justice campaigners who said rapists have been treated "lightly" after going on to commit similar offences.

One sex beast even went on to attack another victim despite having three similar convictions.

Last year, England and Wales logged a total of 57,204 rape attacks - almost three times the 20,751 recorded

There were also 48 repeat rapists last year and a further 73 men who committed rape after having another type of sex attack on their record.

The harrowing issue came into focus earlier this year when vile black cab rapist John Worboys had his release from prison overturned by the High Court.

David Spencer research director at the Centre for Crime Prevention said a review of the system had to be carried out.

He added: "While the criminal justice system treats such offences lightly, they always have a devastating effect on victims and a sentencing review is long overdue.

"There should be a presumption that those convicted of rape and sexual assault should serve their full sentence.

"Once they are released, monitoring needs to be improved to try and bring down the number of repeat offences currently being seen."

Priti Patel MP, who found the data following a written Parliamentary answer, said at the time: "The criminal justice system is failing to protect victims and the public from dangerous and vile sex offenders.

"The courts need to impose longer and tougher sentences on sex offenders and there needs to be a full review of the system of releasing offenders early under licence."

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 30th July 2019 author Sebastian Murphy-Bates)

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A learner driver who spoke little English tried to cheat on her theory test by hiding a Bluetooth headset under a specially made hijab, a court heard.

Hatice Sadir, 41, was fed the right answers by a 'facilitator' she planned to pay £300 but officials questioned her after the exam when they found the concealed device.

The Turkish mother of three was caught out at the Southwark Theory Test Centre on January 9 last year, prosecutor Rajesh Pabary told City of London Magistrates' Court.

'A bluetooth receiver was found in her possession used for the purposes of fraud related to a driving theory test,' he said.

'One has to book a theory test on a specific date at the test centre and provide personal details such as email address, date of birth and address.

'During the course of booking, a voice over can be booked in English or Welsh - if a person has difficulty reading they can request a voiceover.

'They are given a set of headphones when they arrive at the centre and the questions are read aloud. The person attending is not allowed assistance during the test.'

After several cancellations Sadir's theory test was scheduled at Southwark for 9 January 2018 and a 'voice over' was requested.

'When she attended the centre she was wearing a big head scarf,' said Mr Pabary. 'She was recognised by a member of staff from two weeks before - on the previous occasion she was not wearing a headscarf.
How do Bluetooth cheats beat the driving theory test?

The driving theory test has two parts, the first of which involves a series of multiple choice questions about the Highway Code.

For example: You've been involved in an argument that has made you feel angry. What should you do before starting your journey?

    Open a window
    Turn on your radio
    Have an alcoholic drink
    Calm down

Other questions give you examples of common signs or road markings you might encounter while driving, or they may provide you with scenarios and ask you how you should react.

For the scam, the cheater has to use tiny Bluetooth earpieces linked to a hidden mobile phone. They can then hear someone from outside the test centre telling them information to help them pass the test.

The Bluetooth devices are generally hidden in glasses, headbands and hair-clips as they can be positioned over the ears with ease.

Test takers don't usually wear headphones, but you are allowed to request them to complete the test with a voiceover if you have reading difficulties, so in some cases cheaters will use these to hide their Bluetooth device.

'This, coupled with the fact that she spoke very little English, aroused suspicion. She answered the questions very fast and the test was successfully passed.'

After the test Sadir was confronted by staff, who searched her headscarf and found the Bluetooth device, City of London Magistrates' court heard.

Mr Pabary explained that the bluetooth receiver connected her phone to a 'facilitator who overhears the questions being read and then provides the answers. The usual fee for this type of service is between £400 and £800.'

Sadir admitted using the device to cheat on the test, but refused to reveal the identity of the facilitator.

'She admitted she was provided a specifically adapted scarf and was going to pay £300 for the service,' said Mr Pabary.

'The test was booked some distance away from where she resided - this is usually done to avoid detection.

'This offence deals with potential risk. Ms Sadir could have obtained a full UK driving licence.

'If the device had not been found she would have gone on to take and potentially pass a practical test.

'There is a risk to other road users from someone who does not understand the rules and regulations of the road.

'It undermines the integrity of the test - people who use the UK roads expect to share the road with competent drivers.

Magistrate Jacqueline Jenkins told Sadir: 'We see this as a serious matter and one that has passed the custody threshold.

'However, since you pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, we will suspend the sentence for 12 months.'

Sadir, of Kidbrooke, southeast London, admitted fraud and was sentenced to 20 weeks jail suspended for 12 months. She was also ordered to pay £2,115 in costs.

Learner driver, 29, used Bluetooth headset and human 'plant' to cheat written test

A woman has appeared in court for using a Bluetooth headset and a human 'plant' to cheat and get answers for the written part of her driving test.

Ipswich Crown Court heard told how Kewstan Abdulqadir, 29, smuggled a phone into the test centre and paid a man between £250 and £300 to stand outside and secretly relay answers to test questions to her phone via Bluetooth.

Abdulqadir, of Nicholson Close, Ipswich, admitted possessing a device for the use of fraud.

She got a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, a 13 week curfew and 150 hours unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay £210 costs.

An earlier hearing at Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard that on September 14, 2017, she was due to take a driving theory exam at Ipswich test centre after having failed several previous tests.

At the centre, she signed an agreement to take the test fairly and to turn off any electronic devices, placing them in a locker provided.

She was asked to turn out her pockets and an examiner looked inside her headwear to check for any device.

The court heard that, inside the test room, she was seen on CCTV taking out a small object from inside her dress and appeared to connect it to the

Bluetooth device, at which point the alarm was raised.

Challenged by examiners, she admitted using the device to help with the test.

Interviewed by police, she said she had failed her previous attempts and needed to pass so that she could take her two children to nursery.

She admitted buying a phone especially for the cheating plan.

Kashif Khan, prosecuting, said the crime was 'sophisticated' with a lot of forethought and planning.

Had she passed the test and driven when she had not reached the required standard, she would have put other road users' lives at risk.

How do Bluetooth cheats beat the driving theory test?

The driving theory test has two parts, the first of which involves a series of multiple choice questions about the Highway Code.

For example: You've been involved in an argument that has made you feel angry. What should you do before starting your journey?

- Open a window
- Turn on your radio
- Have an alcoholic drink
- Calm down

Other questions give you examples of common signs or road markings you might encounter while driving, or they may provide you with scenarios and ask you how you should react.

For the scam, the cheater has to use tiny Bluetooth earpieces linked to a hidden mobile phone. They can then hear someone from outside the test centre telling them information to help them pass the test.

The Bluetooth devices are generally hidden in glasses, headbands and hair-clips as they can be positioned over the ears with ease.

Test takers don't usually wear headphones, but you are allowed to request them to complete the test with a voiceover if you have reading difficulties, so in some cases cheaters will use these to hide their Bluetooth device.

'Alarming' cheaters are tying to beat the driving theory test
By Dianne Apen-Sadler For MailOnline

A driving theory test scam that involves cheaters using hidden Bluetooth headsets so they can be 'fed' answers has been slammed by a court after a kebab chef admitted cheating using the scam twice.

Turkish national Isa Yazgi, 23, admitted cheating in his theory test on two separate occasions at the North Staffordshire Justice Centre.

Yazgi was caught by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) using a Bluetooth device linked to a mobile phone to get the answers.

His defending solicitor said the scam was set up by Turkish fraudsters in London, who Yazgi had agreed to pay £1,000 if he passed. Yazgi - who owns a Turkish driving licence but was after a UK one - admitted two charges of possessing or controlling an article for use in fraud.

The takeaway chef narrowly avoided jail and instead was slapped with 12-month community order and 180 hours unpaid work.

Yazgi, of Cobridge, Staffordshire, must also pay £185 court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

The Bluetooth earpieces recommended by the London crooks can be very small and generally go undetected. Yazgi said that he was advised by 'his Turkish community' that the 'best way to pass his theory was to arrange a Bluetooth cheat'.

The court heard another man that he knew had arranged with the London fraudsters for them both to cheat in the test.

He said he had not been able to get a mobile phone connection during the Chatham test, and therefore subsequently failed.

In 2016 the DVSA has investigated 467 cases of fraud using wireless technology - a rise of 52 per cent from 308 in 2015.

Since 2016, 50 people have been handed prison sentences for fraud during their theory test.

(1st August 2019)

(Wales Online, dated 30th July 2019 authors Bronya Smolen and Neil Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

Travel advice and warnings for a wide range of countries popular with UK tourists have been updated by the Government.

Advice on terrorism threats, crime and health are among those issued by the UK Government for countries including Spain, Egypt, Greece, Tunisia and Thailand.

They form part of the Foreign Office advice handed out by the Government for 225 destinations across the Globe.

Here are the most up to date warnings, correct as of today (July 30), according to EssexLive .

The full list of 225 destinations can be viewed here :



The UK Government warns: "Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Spain."

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on   staying safe abroad   and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

A spokesperson warns: "Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. The Spanish authorities take measures to protect visitors, but you should be vigilant and follow the instructions of the local authorities.

On 17/18 August 2017, there were 2 terrorist-related incidents where vehicles were driven directly at pedestrians, resulting in injuries and loss of life. These were in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona and Cambrils, near Salou (100km southwest of Barcelona).

"There's a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time."

Natural disasters

Anyone travelling to Spain should be aware of forest fires.

You are advised to be careful when visiting or driving through woodland.

Make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished, don't light barbecues and don't leave empty bottles behind. You should be aware that causing a forest fire is treated as a criminal offence in Spain even if unintentional. If you see the on-set of a forest fire, call the emergency services on 112.


Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, but you should be alert to the existence of street crime, especially thieves using distraction techniques. Thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports. Don't carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.

Many people have their passports stolen while passing through airports, either on arrival in or departure from Spain. Take extra care to guard passports, money and personal belongings when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and while arranging car hire.


New advice on vehicle hire

Make sure any vehicle you hire is in good condition and check that you're insured. When renting mopeds or quad bikes, insurance sold by the hire company usually only provides third party insurance, which only covers the cost of damage to another vehicle. Any damage sustained to the rental vehicle in many cases may need to be paid for by you, or you may face arrest if you do not pay and the hire company decide to press charges.


A reported 5.1 magnitude earthquake occurred on 19 July in Magoula, Attica region, and was felt strongly in Athens. Local authorities are responding. If you're in the region you should follow the advice of local authorities.

Further information is available on the Greek General Secretariat for Civil Protection website :

Travel restrictions

As of April 7, 2019, the Hellenic Police will begin implementing systematic passport control checks for all European citizens travelling to/from destinations outside the Schengen area (including the UK).


There were a number of cases of West Nile virus in Greece in 2018. You should consider preventative measures to minimise exposure to mosquitoes, for example using mosquito repellent when outdoors and closing doors or windows or using screens.

Cash restrictions

Greece has capital controls in place. You can withdraw cash using a UK card up to the daily limit imposed by the Greek banking system (usually €600) or the daily limit imposed by your UK card issuer - whichever is the lower amount.


The Greek police won't accept rowdy or indecent behaviour, especially where excessive drinking is involved. Greek courts impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently.


Another one with bags of history and great weather, Tunisia also has some areas you should avoid.

- No go areas
- Terrorism

A state of emergency is in effect in Tunisia, imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus on 24 November 2015. It's been extended a number of times, most recently on 6 April 2019 by one month.

Since the terrorist attack in Sousse in June 2015, which targeted tourists, the UK government has been working closely with the Tunisian authorities to investigate the attack and the wider threat from terrorist groups. The Tunisian government has improved protective security in major cities and tourist resorts.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

- the Chaambi Mountains National Park and the designated military operations zones of Mount Salloum, Mount Sammamma and Mount Mghila
- the militarised zone south of the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba
- within 20km of the rest of the Libya border area north of Dhehiba
- the town of Ben Guerdane and immediate surrounding area


A 99% Islamic country, homosexuality is a criminal offence in Tunisia. You can see specific advice from FCO here :


No go areas

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to areas within the provinces on the Thai-Malaysia border, including:

- Pattani

- Yala
- Narathiwat
- Southern Songkhla province. Our advice against all but essential travel does not include areas north of and including the A43 road between Hat Yai and Sakom, and areas north-west of and including the train line which runs between Hat Yai and Pedang Besar.

Air quality

Urban areas across Thailand, especially in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, can experience poor air quality and high PM 2.5 counts, occasionally entering the unhealthy and hazardous levels. This may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions.


It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes per person into Thailand. This is enforced at customs on arrival. Those who exceed the limit may be fined ten times the value of the items.


If you are found guilty of possession of marijuana you could receive a long prison sentence and/or a heavy fine. If you're found guilty of being in possession of 20 grams of a Class A drug on exiting Thailand you risk receiving the death penalty.

Social media

Be aware that posting images on social media of people drinking alcohol or wearing inappropriate clothing can result in fines and/or imprisonment both for the person who uploaded the images and the people in them.


Violent sexual assaults and unprovoked attacks have been reported in tourist destinations across Thailand. Drink spiking and date rapes have been reported in tourist destinations, with both male and female victims.

Be on your guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers, especially from thieves on motorbikes or when travelling in open transport like tuk tuks.

(Wales Online, dated 29th July 2019 author Adam Aspinall)

Full article [Option 1]:

Magaluf is an instantly recognisable name, a tourist destination which attracts thousands of young British tourists every summer.

Many will be looking for fun, sex and sunshine - often fuelled by alcohol and drugs - but violent crimes, including stabbings, are putting them at risk.

One British man in his 20s, who was on holiday in the resort on the Spanish island of Mallorca, is recovering in hospital and lucky to be alive after being stabbed in the ribs with a screwdriver.

In an exclusive look at what was happening in Magaluf, a reporter for The Mirror visited the Punta Ballena strip, where he saw people fighting and vomiting in the street and people "led off into the shadows by scantily-clad prostitutes".

A police source told him: "Stabbing has become a problem here in recent years there is no doubt about it. Parents need to warn their youngsters before they get on the plane to be sensible.

"Soon we will have an influx of French-Algerians and they never mix with the English, they always fight but they do so with knives. We wear stab vests as standard, but so do the bouncers. It is just sensible these days."

Resorts like Magaluf, as well as many similar places like Aiya Napa, Ibiza and Malia, are famous for their bar crawls, which are still going strong despite threats of a ban. They involve large groups of people, again often very young, being led through the streets from bar to bar by reps, where they will usually get free shots, Jägerbombs for as little as €1 a shot or deals like €7 for All You Can Drink in an Hour.

Vodka and coke served by the pint costs as little as €5. And drugs are freely available on the streets, as are fake designer goods like sunglasses and watches.

The Mirror saw "multiple acts of violence" on the streets. They ranged from "brief scuffles to full-on brawls" and one involved a female British tourist hitting her boyfriend in the face with her stilettos, leaving him bloodied and bruised.

But there are very few police officers on patrol and security is mainly dealt with by nightclub bouncers who "take no prisoners". Like the police, they also wear stab vests for fear of being attacked.

One nearly lost his sight after he was stabbed in the eye with broken glass while another was left with a broken cheekbone after being hit with an empty whiskey bottle. Apparently, certain nationalities like to target British revellers, leading to ugly scenes.

Although a new and visible police post at one end of the strip has recently opened, with heavily armed officers from the Guardia Civil, Spain's national guard, sometimes seen out patrolling, the violence does not seem to have dimmed.

And a police source told The Mirror that it is difficult to police the area, saying: "There are only four officers to patrol 500m of the strip. Wherever we are is safe."

According to The Mirror article, by 4.30am each morning the centre "has a lawless feel - the hard-pressed police were nowhere to be seen and the gangs of prostitutes and touts took control... luring vulnerable tourists off with the promise of sex before roughly rummaging through their pockets for cash and valuables".

In strip clubs and backroom brothels, a common sight, doormen push sex "without a condom" for as little as €30 and a gram of cocaine for €50.

During the course of the week, at least 85 different prostitutes and touts, known locally as "looky looky men" operating on and around the strip, were spotted and a senior local police source admitted it was "a big problem".

"The prostitutes are aggressive. They only want to mug the tourists. They are run by the Nigerian gangs. They operate in the shadows," the source said.

"We close the brothels then more arrive. But we can close them whenever we want, we know who runs them. No one should be going anywhere near those places. Many tourists do not trust them and the bar owners want them gone because they say they bring crime and just want to steal from drunk tourists."

Magaluf made outraged headlines around the world in 2014 after footage of a British woman performing sex acts on a number of men in exchange for free drinks went viral.

Its mayor, Alfonso Rodriguez-Badal, has repeatedly said he wants to clamp down on the cheap drinks and debauchery and have put in place restrictions aimed at curbing drunken behaviour, like banning alcohol at all-inclusive hotels between certain times and imposing rules for behaviour on the strip.

But the violence, and concerns around it, did not seem to bother British tourists spoken to by The Mirror.

Abby Stein, 20, admitted the strip could be a bit scary at times but it did not put her and her mates off from going out.

She said: "You never get any bother in the clubs but it feels like it is different on the strip, we have seen some lads fight and it was a but scary to be honest."

Josh Olney, 19, from Hull, said: "I've seen loads of scraps mate, not bothered us, we have just kept away from it, they're morons who can't handle their drink. I would not let it put me off coming out here again, the bouncers deal with it all well anyway."

A group of men from London, said they were having the 'time of their lives'.

One said: "We love Maga, where else can you get a tattoo at 2am in the morning?"

Another, who was celebrating finishing his A-levels with friends, said: "Nobody is worried about stabbing at all mate, we are just here for a piss-up, if that stuff happens then it is just proper morons being melts isn't it? You just have to have your head screwed on."

A PR for a bar, who did not want to be named, said: "It can get a bit fighty at night, the police do what they can, but the bouncers deal with most of it.

"You've got to put it in perspective though: the majority of people are here for a good time and have a good time, you're always going to get your idiots though. It's true some nationalities don't mix that well but that's not just a Magaluf thing, is it?"
(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 30th July 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

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Austerity-driven cuts that have left disadvantaged children vulnerable to gangs must be reversed to repair Britain's "social fabric" and reduce crime, a police chief has said.

In a damning indictment of the effects of years of austerity on crime, Jon Boutcher, the chief constable of Bedfordshire, called for police to be freed up to focus on hardcore criminals and not victims of social "circumstance".

In an interview with the Guardian, the former national police lead for race said that no number of extra police officers would make the streets safer if the heavy impact of the cuts continued to weigh on officers across the UK.

Last week Boris Johnson took office as prime minister and announced plans to hire 20,000 officers, in effect reversing cuts made to frontline law enforcement since 2010, when the Tories came to power.

But in an interview to mark his retirement, Boutcher said: "Twenty thousand more police officers is essential, but to allow those police officers to do the job the public want, don't distract us by us having to repair and look after those that are not adequately supported because of the lack of investment in their public services, particularly mental health provision. We need to repair the social fabric."

He said the "conveyor belt" of the criminal justice system was not working and significant numbers of offenders could be diverted from crime with a bigger investment in social services, education and mental health. Picking up demand from the crumbling mental health system was a big issue for policing, he said, and from the education sector, with schools excluding children who end up on the streets.

"The first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens. That comes about in a number of ways. Policing is a core part of that, but other public services have to be properly funded to ensure we all feel safe," he told the Guardian.

Boutcher's force covers Luton, where he said swingeing cuts had left children vulnerable to exploitation.
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"There has been a 50% cut in the funding of youth services in Luton as the council could not afford it. You take those services away, kids go in the parks and hang around the streets and are vulnerable to gangs and others who will exploit them, as a consequence of failing to properly fund those services."

He added: "Twenty thousand [more officers] is the recovery of what we lost since 2010, but we also lost 20,000 police staff who do key jobs. We've also seen an increase in demand, and 999 calls have gone through the roof."

Boutcher is a former a senior Scotland Yard counter-terrorism detective, who led the hunt for the men who attempted to bomb London on 21 July 2005.

His public comments echo private sentiments among some police chiefs that a significant proportion of crime is linked to social conditions.

"There are so many areas where we could improve the life chances of people, rather than arresting them and putting them into a conveyor belt of the criminal justice system, which often leads to them becoming harder and harsher criminals," Boutcher said.

"Our prison service - again underfunded - does not provide the rehabilitation and support for those offenders to change their ways. Policing is a blunt instrument. For some, a hard response from policing is what is needed. We are failing too many people who, given the opportunity and choice, would not go into crime.

"There are a significant number of people who are lost in our society and create a demand for today's policing. That is due to other services not providing for their mental health, wellbeing or life chances."

Boutcher added: "I'm not a liberal-hearted, lefty softy. But let us police those who want to damage our society and choose to damage our society. But provide the support for those who are caught by circumstance and give them pathways away from crime. That needs more money. Let us concentrate on those who choose to be criminals."

He also said thousands of the new officers promised by Johnson would be stripped from the frontline because of a new "academic" training regime for recruits that he and other chiefs opposed. Instead of 16 weeks' training, they will study a three-year course involving significant periods of time off the frontline.

"The PM wants his 20,000 cops to keep people safe and protect communities. He does not want them in the classroom," he said, adding: "Have I used a protractor in the police? No."

Boutcher levelled strong criticism at the service for its record since it vowed to radically change after the 1999 Macpherson report found it was institutionally racist.

He said: "Some chiefs get it; too many do not because it is not a priority for them and their force. Race rises and falls on the agenda of policing and society."

Just 6.6% of officers are from a minority ethnic background, compared with 14% of the population as a whole. The Metropolitan police, which covers London, estimates at the current rate of progress it will take another 100 years to reflect in its makeup the communities it serves.

Boutcher said low minority ethnic recruitment was a result of continuing problems within policing deterring people from joining.

"They do perceive we are racist. They do not see policing as an organisation they can join. People's perceptions are often their reality. It's not good enough saying we are not racist - we have to demonstrate it."

(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 30th August 2019 author Associated Press)

Full article [Option 1]:

A hacker gained access to personal information from more than 100 million Capitol One credit applications, the bank said on Monday as federal authorities arrested a suspect.

The data breach has affected around 100 million people in the US and 6 million in Canada.

The hacker got information including credit scores and balances plus the social security numbers of about 140,000 customers, the bank said. It will offer free credit monitoring services to those affected.

Paige A Thompson, who also goes by the Twitter handle "erratic", was charged with a single count of computer fraud and abuse in US district court in Seattle. Thompson made an initial appearance in court and was ordered to remain in custody pending a detention hearing Thursday.

The FBI raided Thompson's residence Monday and seized digital devices. An initial search turned up files that referenced Capital One and "other entities that may have been targets of attempted or actual network intrusions".

A public defender appointed to represent Thompson did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Capitol One, based in McLean, Virginia, said on Monday it found out about the vulnerability in its system on 19 July and immediately sought help from law enforcement to catch the perpetrator.

According to the FBI complaint, someone emailed the bank two days before notifying it that leaked data had appeared on the webhosting site GitHub.

And a month prior, the FBI said, a Twitter user who went by "erratic" sent Capitol One direct messages warning about distributing the bank's data, including names, birthdates and social security numbers.

Capital One said it believes it is unlikely that the information was used for fraud, but it will continue to investigate.

Capital One Financial, the nation's seventh-largest commercial bank with more than $370bn, is the latest US company to suffer a major data breach in recent years.

In 2017, a data breach at Equifax, one of the major credit reporting companies, exposed the social security numbers and other sensitive information of roughly half of the US population.

Last week, Equifax agreed to pay at least $700m to settle lawsuits over the breach in an agreement with federal authorities and states thatincludes up to $425m in monetary relief to consumers.

(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 30th July 2019 author Dan Sabbagh)

Full article [Option 1]:

British, American and other intelligence agencies from English-speaking countries have concluded a two-day meeting in London amid calls for spies and police officers to be given special, backdoor access to WhatsApp and other encrypted communications.

The meeting of the "Five Eyes" nations - the UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand - was hosted by new home secretary, Priti Patel, in an effort to coordinate efforts to combat terrorism and child abuse.

Dealing with the challenge faced by increasingly effective encryption was one of the main topics at the summit, officials said, at a time when technology companies want to make their services more secure after a range of security breaches.

The meetings, however, were held in private with no agenda being made public, making it difficult to conclude exactly what had been discussed by the ministers, officials and intelligence agencies from the countries involved.

However, British ministers have privately voiced particular concerns about WhatsApp, the widely used Facebook-owned messenger service, which was used by, among others, the three plotters in the London Bridge terror attack.

"We need to ensure that our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies are able to gain lawful and exceptional access to the information they need," the Home Office said in a statement.

GCHQ, the UK agency which monitors and breaks into communications, has suggested that Silicon Valley companies could develop technology that would silently add a police officer or intelligence agent to conversations or group chats.

The controversial so-called "ghost protocol" has been fiercely opposed by companies, civil society organisations and some security experts - but intelligence and law enforcement agencies continue to lobby for it.

Police said they had not been able to see or crack open hundreds of WhatsApp messages sent by at least one of those involved in the London Bridge attacks because an acquaintance of theirs had refused to hand over his phone.

WhatsApp has also been improving its security after it emerged earlier this year that a flaw had been exploited by an Israeli spyware company, which allowed special software used by intelligence agencies to covertly take control of a person's phone.

Ministers attending the event included Patel and the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, who is the government's most senior law officer. Also present was his US counterpart, William Barr.

Barr attracted controversy last week when he said the proliferation of what he described as "warrant-proof encryption" was making it easier for criminals to evade detection.

Patel described the summit as "an exciting moment for the UK" and said the UK was "a global leader on national security and child protection and we are committed to working with our close partners on shared challenges".

The Five Eyes summit is an annual event, first held in 2013. The anglophone security network has become increasingly important at a time when the UK is planning to leave the European Union.

(1st August 2019)

(Coventry Telegraph, dated 29th July 2019 author Naomi de Souza)

Full article [Option 1]:

Warwickshire Police have launched a unique Rural Crime Advice app to help support officers and staff deal with rural crime incidents.

It is believed they are the first force in the country to develop a Rural Crime Advice app.

Inspector Allison Wiggin said "We serve a largely rural community in Warwickshire and when an incident occurs officers staff can be deployed to remote locations.

"The secure app helps and supports them in a number of ways to improve their response to incidents and enquiries on rural and wildlife crime."

CoventryLive has previously reported on how rural crime is affecting local communities in Coventry and Warwickshire.

How will the app help reduce rural crime?

PCC Philip Seccombe said: "The app is a great tool for assisting officers and staff in policing rural areas and supporting them when dealing with rural and wildlife crime."

"By equipping our officers and staff with quick and easy access to all the information they may need when dealing with a rural crime incident, officers can check the details of a suspected stolen agricultural vehicle, firearms legislation or offences relating to wildlife for example.

"[This will lead to] greater protection for our rural communities. It is hoped this will also act as a deterrent to would be thieves in our rural communities."

The app provides easy access to advice and guidance on a wide range of information relating to livestock, wildlife crime, fishing, agricultural vehicles and plant, firearms, dangerous dogs, poisons and heritage crime.

As well as contact details for key organisations, partners and internal force departments, it also has a report function for sending information directly to the Rural Crime Team.

A direct link to Warwickshire Rural Watch provides the opportunity for people to sign up for Rural Alerts and be provided with relevant crime prevention advice.

Funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, the app was produced by Rural Crime Officer Carol Cotterill following the successful launch of the Rural Crime Patrol Book.

Carol said: "We are grateful to the Police and Crime Commissioner and to partners that have assisted us including Datatag, Trading Standards, Historic England, and the Safer Roads Partnership as well as various departments within Warwickshire Police such as firearms, and the dogs section."

(1st August 2019)

(The Sun, dated 29th July 2019 author Sun Reporter)

Full article [Option 1]:

MILLIONS of Brits have gambled with their personal data by blindly accessing "fake Wifi hotspots", according to a study.

One in five have taken "significant risks" by failing to check if public Wifi connections are legitimate - instead using hotspots which are free, seem to be credible and offer fast speeds.

Worryingly, users could be connecting to "fake Wifi" hotspots which can appear to be reputable but allow cybercriminals to eavesdrop on users and steal usernames, passwords and bank details.

These Wifi connections, which often have innocuous sounding names such as "airport Wifi" or "hotel Wifi", can also redirect victims to malicious malware sites and phishing sites.

Commissioned by cybersecurity company, BullGuard, the research of 2,000 adults found seven in 10 have used free public Wifi.

And of those who have done so, more than a third have entered passwords, a fifth have used credit cards and 31 per cent have accessed online banking - all data hackers are after.

Paul Lipman, CEO at BullGuard, said: "Consumers are choosing convenience over safety when using public Wifi.

"Hackers can easily set up malicious hotspots which appear to be legitimate and yet can intercept and record people's personal data.

"This allows them to steal usernames, passwords, credit card details, bank account information and more."

The research also found two thirds of public Wifi users have set up their devices to automatically connect to the nearest hotspot - putting their personal details on the line.

Paul Lipman added: "If your device is set up this way, and if you're not paying attention when you first choose a hotspot, even once, and you accidentally choose something malicious, your device will automatically select it every time it is within range."

Further to this, four in 10 users habitually connect to hotspots with a name reflecting the location they are in such as "library Wi-Fi" or "restaurant Wi-Fi" - again this could be a risky move.

But despite taking gambles like these when using public Wifi, the BullGuard study carried out through OnePoll found 62 per cent are "afraid" their devices will be hacked.

The biggest worries are theft of bank details (68 per cent) and passwords (56 per cent) - followed by personal emails being accessed (27 per cent).

Paul Lipman said: "The findings show that respondents do not feel safe online, yet they are ignoring their fears and are using hotspots without checking they are safe."

The research also identified confusion around staying safe when using public Wifi - almost half are mistakenly under the impression antivirus software will protect their data.

Paul Lipman added: "Although essential for detecting and removing malware from your device, antivirus offers no protection at all from having your data intercepted by a malicious hotspot.

"But a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an effective way of keeping you safe online when using public Wifi.

"It creates a secure connection tunnel between your device and the websites and services you are accessing to keep you safe whether you're using a smartphone or laptop on public Wifi in a café, or if you want to check online banking accounts from an airport or hotel."

Amid this, six in 10 admitted they don't use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) when connecting to hotspots and 57 per cent believe they are "too complicated" to use.

How to protect yourself from fraudsters

ACTION FRAUD recommends taking the following advice to stay safe:

- When making a purchase, be suspicious of any requests to pay by bank transfer or virtual currency instead of safer methods, such as credit card or payment services such as PayPal.
- Listen to your instincts: If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. Don't pay for goods or services unless you know and trust the individual or business.
- Personal information obtained from data breaches is making it increasingly easier for fraudsters to create highly targeted phishing messages and calls - watch out for these.
- You shouldn't assume the caller is genuine just because they're able to provide some basic details about you.
- Always be suspicious of unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information.

(1st August 2019)

(Dutch Daily News, dated 29th July 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

n 2018, 8.5 percent of Dutch internet users aged 12 and over indicated they had fallen victim to computer-oriented crime in the previous twelve months. This is equivalent to over 1.2 million people, mainly under the age of 25. Crimes against property were most common. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on a recent survey on cybersecurity and cybercrime.

The Cybersecurity & Cybercrime survey is a new pilot study conducted by CBS in collaboration with the Dutch national police force at the end of 2018. In total, 100 thousand people were approached for this research, of whom more than 38 thousand participated.

At 12 percent, young internet users between the ages of 12 and 25 were most likely to fall victim to cybercrime. Among the over-65s, this share was less than 4 percent.

Property crimes - crimes relating to money or property theft - affected 4.6 percent of the internet users. Hacking affected 1.8 percent. Another 1.4 percent of internet users were victims of interpersonal incidents with no sexual connection while 0.7 percent fell victim to such incidents with a sexual connection. These included incidents of a personal nature, such as defamation, bullying, stalking or threats. One percent fell victim to identity theft without incurring financial loss.

Within the category of property crimes, online shopping fraud was most prevalent among cybercrime victims: 2.7 percent. Victims paid for services or goods that were never delivered. In 0.5 percent of the cases, money was taken from the victim's bank account or victims ended up paying a fake invoice. Cybercrime cases further included 0.5 percent incidents of Wangiri fraud - a type of phone fraud.

(1st August 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 27th July 2019 author Patrick Sawer and Imogen Horton)

Full article [Option 1]:

Theatre staff have called for abusive members of the audience to be thrown out of venues in response to growing levels of aggressive behaviour.

Front of house staff in some of the country's most famous theatres are reporting an increasing amount of unacceptable behaviour by audiences, ranging from verbal abuse to outright physical confrontation.

They are now calling for greater support and protection from theatre management in confronting bad behavior, including bans on individuals shown to have been abusive.

Theatre staff say ushers are increasingly finding themselves on the receiving end of verbal abuse, threats and actual physical violence.

Accounts include a theatregoer telling an usher for Wicked, at the Apollo Victoria, that they hoped he would die of cancer; a late-comer for The Ferryman, at the Gielgud, threatening to get an usher sacked because she was not allowed into the venue until a suitable break in the show; and an usher being pushed up against a wall because queuing audience members were only being allowed into the Lyceum, for The Lion King, one at a time.

It comes after it emerged that ushers have begun wearing body cameras to record aggressive incidents.

The Society of London Theatres (SOLT) and UK Theatre have introduced body cameras for front-of-house staff, with trials taking place at eight venues in London as part of a broader strategy to tackle the problem.

But staff say more needs to be done to ensure their safety at work.

One usher for Wicked said: "Theatres need to ensure that when people misbehave they are asked to leave. It's all well and good giving an usher a body camera, but the only way to ensure safety is to make sure that any person being aggressive to any member of the public or staff is immediately removed from the venue."

Revealing some of her worst experiences for a survey carried out by The Stage magazine, the usher said: "A show got cancelled one day due to a fault with the automation on the set. As you can imagine, we had angry patrons everywhere, but one particular patron decided to tell a colleague of mine: 'I hope you die of a brain tumour.'"

Bectu, the trade union which represents entertainment staff, said more needs to be done to protect ushers and called for a zero tolerance approach to abuse of staff.

Philippa Childs, the head of Bectu, told The Telegraph: "These stories of ill-treatment of staff by customers in theatres are really shocking. It's also worrying that there doesn't seem to be much consistency in how management deal with these issues when they arise.

"Employees have a right to carry out their duties safely and free from abuse - that includes from customers. We will be pushing theatre managers across the West End to adopt clear processes for dealing with abuse, and for protecting their employees in the course of their work. Buying an expensive ticket does not give people the right to treat staff like dirt.

"Where a customer is abusive that should immediately mark the end of the assumption that 'the customer is always right'."

The situation has become so bad that some theatres, including the Lyceum in Covent Garden, home to The Lion King musical, have employed security staff to control audiences queuing for entry.

An usher said: "You have to stand outside the Lyceum and filter people in. It's one at a time, and quite often it tends to be a boyfriend getting protective about a girlfriend and saying: 'No, she's coming in with me.' And that's when they get aggressive, and push you out the way, or in my case, pushed up against a wall.

"I have had members of staff who have had homophobic slurs thrown at them."

One former usher said he was spat at by an audience member at the Royal Albert Hall for asking them not to hang their feet over the edge of the circle.

Evan Garrett, a dance tutor who worked front of house at various venues, said: "Any issues of aggression I encountered came from white, middle-class patrons both male and female. For me it stems from a feeling of entitlement and superiority."

Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, which owns the Gielgud, says it trains all front of house staff in security, conflict resolution and how to deal with aggressive behaviour.

The Royal Albert Hall said that while negative incidents involve only a tiny percentage of the 1.8 million people who visit each year, it took them "very seriously".

Anthony Winter-Brown, Director of Visitor Experience at the RAH, said: "We have a structure and escalation process in place to deal with any incidents at an event, with highly-trained duty managers and security personnel who can deter and effectively deal with any inappropriate behaviour."

The Ambassador Theatre Group, which operates the Lyceum and the Apollo Victoria, did not respond to requests for comment.

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 27th July 2019 author Amelia Clarke)

Full article [Option 1]:

Only one in 65 rapes reported to the police lead to suspects being charged or summonsed, Home Office figures show.

The latest statistics show a worrying decline in rape prosecutions in England and Wales in recent years, according to analysis by the Guardian.

This comes as it is suggested that CPS prosecuting policies change and rows over the disclosure of evidence storm on.

The drop coincides with an increase in victims reporting attacks. Four years ago, one in seven - or 14 per cent - of cases led to a suspect being charged or summonsed. A total of 4,908 cases resulted in this kind of action in 2015-16.

However last year, fewer than one in 65 reports of rape led to a charge or summons. This amounts to 1.5 per cent - or only 886 cases in 2018-19.

Separate figures also revealed that victims of sexual assault were being forced to wait longer to receive justice in the crown court.

This figures from the Ministry of Justice were revealed in response to a question by the shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon.

The numbers showed the average time a sexual offence victim had risen by four week since 2011.

The average waiting time between a defendant's initial not guilty plea at magistrates court and a crown court trial being heard has extended to seven months.

These delays vary depending on location, with complainants in Leeds crown court now waiting 43.1 weeks rather than the 17.8 weeks they did in 2011 - more than twice as long a wait.

Mr Burgon told the Guardian: 'These are deeply troubling figures. Victims of sexual offences should not have to wait so long for their day in court. This will only add to concerns that the chaos the Conservatives have created in our courts and wider justice system is letting down victims of the most serious crimes.'

Paul Maynard, justice minister, said: 'The overall median waiting time in crown courts for defendants in sexual offence cases tends to be higher than that for other offences due to a lower guilty plea rate for these cases.

'Demand [for court use] has been falling in recent years and sitting days have been reduced accordingly. Waiting times for trials in the crown court for 2018 have been the lowest since 2014, despite the challenge of increasingly complex cases.'

The rise in the numbers of people reporting rape to the police may be attributed to #MeToo movement. Police in England and Wales saw a 61 per cent spike in the number of rape claims made between 2015 and 2019.

(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 27th July 2019 author Daniel Boffey)

Full article [Option 1]:

Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) is harvesting information from EU databases, including 54,000 files covering criminals, terrorists and missing persons, in an attempt to mitigate the heightened risks of a no-deal Brexit, according to a leaked document.

The report, seen by the Guardian, suggests EU alerts have been transferred to the Police National Computer (PNC) to give UK forces access after 31 October but that key strands of British policing remain "in jeopardy" because of the growing danger of a no-deal exit since Theresa May's resigned as prime minister.

On Friday, her successor, Boris Johnson, announced plans to recruit 20,000 police officers "to tackle the scourge of crime". Johnson has made strengthening attempts to fight criminality a plank of his administration.

But the report, commissioned by the International Crime Coordination Centre (ICCC), a Brexit-focused unit of the National Police Chiefs' Council, warns that the "internationalisation" of criminality is making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies to be effective on their own.

"Undoubtedly, uncertainty about the UK's future relationship with the EU has increased, due to the resignation of the PM and the ensuing leadership contest," the report by the former NCA deputy director general David Armond says.

"All Brexit scenarios are now back on the table, including exiting the EU with or without a deal, a further extension to the process and a second referendum. A no-deal Brexit at the end of October is now a possibility, which means that the priority for ICCC, the [International Crime Bureau] and police forces should be to focus on the mitigation of increased risks due to the loss of access to SIS II alerts." SIS II is the Schengen Information System database.

Once the UK leaves the EU, police forces will not have access to European arrest warrants, European investigation orders or the Schengen Information System II, which allows officers to enter and consult alerts on persons or objects.

The report notes that the NCA "ably assisted by [the Criminal Records Office], has transferred the details of 54,000 alerts from the EU on to the PNC and the Warnings Index".

A spokesman for the NCA declined to comment on the "leaked document" but denied that alerts on the SIS II database had been transferred directly into UK systems as part of Brexit preparations, a potentially illegal act.

EU member states are instead being encouraged to share SIS II alerts with Interpol from where the information could still be legally accessed by the UK once the country is out of the bloc, it was said.

The report further suggests that UK forces have "cut and pasted" copies of SIS II alerts in order to send them to Interpol. The NCA declined to comment.

The EU has long been privately concerned about the handling of their SIS II database by UK law enforcement agencies. This week, the European security commissioner, Sir Julian King, refused to confirm the existence of a classified EU report which is said to have made allegations of illegal copying. "Those are meant to be confidential discussions that we have with the individual member states," King said.

The Home Office has made available £5.6m to a Brexit contingency unit because of the dangers involved in a cliff-edge loss of access to EU security and criminal databases. Ormand's report warns that "a key feature of crime, particularly serious organised crime, is that the perpetrators, the victims and the commodity are in different jurisdictions across the globe.

"Money movements are increasingly difficult to track and funds perpetrated through fraud via internet scams can be moved through multiple accounts and beyond the reach of law enforcement in seconds with a few keyboard clicks.

"Increasingly, traditional means of investigation are being thwarted by technology (eg telephone interception and conventional surveillance). Organised criminals exploit our borders and judicial differences and increasingly relocate from jurisdictions where law enforcement capabilities are strong to reduce the chance of detection.

"An increasing percentage of crime is cross-border and cross-jurisdictional and ever more complex to investigate and detect.

"Increased migration into the UK, allied to cheaper international travel has naturally led to an increase in foreign national offenders being detected … This all leads to the obvious conclusion that the maintenance of comprehensive and effective police cooperation across the globe is essential if we are to respond to current and future threats."

An NCA spokesman said: "As part of the NCA's Brexit planning, we have placed all EU Interpol notices and diffusions [sent to the UK] on to PNC and border systems.

"This activity strengthens the UK border and inland in the event of the loss of SIS. There has been no transfer of EU SIS data into UK systems as part of the NCA's activities to prepare for EU exit.

"The UK has the right to use the data in this way and this has been completed with the assistance of Interpol secretariat general in Lyon.

"In addition, the NCA have been tasked with circulating UK police data on the Interpol system. This data covers travelling sex offenders, missing persons and persons who are wanted for judicial or police purposes. This data will still be available to all EU member states in the event of the loss of UK data on SIS."

(1st August 2019)

(The Sun, dated 27th July 2019 author Michael Hamilton)

Full article [Option 1]:

FOUR in five paedophiles caught downloading child sex abuse images were spared jail last year.

A total of 2,967 perverts were convicted of having obscene videos and pictures relating to children but only 562 received prison sentences.

A further 1,106 got a suspended jail sentence, 596 were given community punishments, 25 were fined and 28 got a conditional discharge.

Another 382 were let off with a caution - meaning they did not even have to attend court.

The remainder were "otherwise dealt with" by the Ministry of Justice, official figures show.

David Spencer of the Centre for Crime Prevention said: "Everyone will rightly be horrified that the Ministry of Justice has decided to go soft on paedophiles in this way.

"It is time for the MoJ to ensure everyone caught viewing child abuse images end up where they belong. In a prison."

Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000, said: "It's an indefensible betrayal of our children."

Experts say viewing images can be a "gateway" crime that leads to attacks on children.

Mark Bridger, who killed April Jones, five in 2012, was obsessed with images of abuse.

In 2013 the trial of Stuart Hazell, jailed for the murder of 12-year-old Tia Sharp, heard he searched online for abuse images.

Details by year

n = cautioned / sentenced; (n) = % sent to jail

2013 : 2,368 (21%)
2014 : 2,448 (22%)
2015 : 3,122 (21%)
2016 : 4,180 (19%)
2017 : 4,024 (19%)
2018 : 2,967 (19%)

(1st August 2019)

(Sky News, dated 26th July 2019 author Jon Craig)

Full article [Option 1]:

A national recruitment campaign will be led by the Home Office - and further moves are planned to tackle the surge in knife crime.

Boris Johnson's leadership election pledge to recruit 20,000 extra police officers over the next three years will be put into action within weeks, he is claiming.

The prime minister says his drive to deliver more frontline officers - which he has made a top priority - will start in September with the launch of a national campaign led by the Home Office.

Mr Johnson plans to create a national policing board, chaired by new Home Secretary Priti Patel and including senior police chiefs, to make sure forces meet the recruitment target on time.

In a further move to tackle the surge in knife crime, Mr Johnson is pledging to give police greater stop-and-search powers, which were reduced by Theresa May when she was home secretary in 2014.

The new PM says the government will urgently review seven current pilot schemes, which make it simpler for officers to use the powers, with a view to extending stop and search to all police forces.

Downing Street says Mr Johnson has been clear he fully supports the police's use of stop and search to tackle and disrupt those carrying knives.

Ahead of a regional visit to launch the police recruitment drive, Mr Johnson said: "My job as prime minister is to make our streets safer.

"People want to see more officers in their neighbourhoods, protecting the public and cutting crime. I promised 20,000 extra officers and that recruitment will now start in earnest."

Ms Patel, a controversial choice for home secretary after her previous backing for capital punishment, said: "Officers up and down the country put themselves in danger every day to keep us safe, they deserve our support.

"The rise we've seen in serious violence is deeply worrying. An additional 20,000 officers sends a clear message that we are committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime.

"This is the start of a new relationship between the government and the police working even more closely together to protect the public."

The PM has appointed a close ally, Kit Malthouse - who was deputy mayor for policing during Mr Johnson's first term as London mayor - as policing minister at the Home Office.

Asked whether the pledge on police numbers was part of a drive towards a coming general election by the new government, Mr Malthouse told Sky News: "I don't apologise for agreeing with you that fighting crime achieves approval with the public.

"We're all here as politicians to try and achieve our best for the public and do what they want, and we certainly think this is going to appeal."

Mr Malthouse estimates the recruitment of thousands more police officers will cost £500m in the first 12 months, with discussions to be held with the Treasury on funding the rest of the three-year plan.

Former chancellor Philip Hammond ring-fenced £26.6bn in the public finances to deal with a possible no-deal Brexit, with Mr Malthouse suggesting some of this "headroom" would be used to fund the policing numbers pledge.

"We still do have capacity within our borrowing to address some urgent needs and he [the prime minister] has identified policing and crime as one of those urgent areas for attention," Mr Malthouse said.

He also revealed Mr Johnson was planning an "emergency budget in the autumn which will be designed to stimulate the economy", although both he and Downing Street later played down that prospect.

Mr Malthouse clarified that a spending review and budget are already planned for the autumn.

Number 10 sources highlighted that the announcement of fiscal events would come from the Treasury.

Other Johnson allies rewarded in the prime minister's continuing reshuffle of government ranks include Nigel Adams, who scored 125 not out captaining the Lords and Commons Cricket team against MCC at Lord's in 2013, who becomes sports minister.

Mr Johnson's long-serving parliamentary aide Conor Burns becomes an international trade minister.

But Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister and leading campaigner against Theresa May's deal, turned down a job at the Cabinet Office.

(1st August 2019)

(Gloucstershire Live, dated 25th July 2019 author Leigh Boobyer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Gloucestershire police fail to record nearly 8,000 reported crimes every year, a report has concluded.

Gloucestershire Constabulary's crime recording arrangements have been rated 'inadequate' by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) after an inspection was carried out into its procedures.

The crime data integrity report, released today, said the 7,900 reported crimes which go unrecorded a year "deprives many victims of the services to which they are entitled".

Of the 7,900 unrecorded reports a year, 4,200 of them were reports of violent crime.

The constabulary's chief constable Rod Hansen said the incidents are "predominately a recording failure not a service failure".

He added there has been a "lack of understanding of the importance of crime recording but I want to stress we are fully committed to protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities and keeping everyone safe".

Some of the crimes which went unrecorded include serious crimes such as sexual offences, rape and violence - many of which involved domestic abuse, the report found.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: "The force has demonstrated strong performance in other areas of policing, but must make immediate improvements at almost every stage of the crime recording process, otherwise victims will continue to be let down.

"Even when it has enough information from which to record a crime following an initial call, there are unnecessary and unacceptable delays. Call handlers obtain the information they need from victims in an empathetic manner and document it on the incident log.

"But the force doesn't make enough use of it within subsequent crime-recording decisions. Too often this means it doesn't record reported crimes at all. And on occasion this can lead to victims disengaging.

"However, it is important to acknowledge that our inspection did reveal some areas of good practice. The force has improved its recording of modern slavery offences. We were also impressed with the force's Initial Investigations Team, which should provide a firm platform for improving the service to victims of crime.

"We hope that this report will act as a catalyst for improvement in how the force records crime."


Twelve inspectors assessed the force's crime data reporting over two weeks for the first time since 2014.

They examined crime reports from July 1 to December 31 2018, and estimated that the force fails to record more than 7,900 reported crimes each year.

As a result the force must make "immediate improvements", the report said.

The report found:

- 81.6 per cent of all crimes reported are recorded leaving 7,900 reports a year not being recorded.
- Violence against the person - 69.2 per cent of reported crimes are recorded leaving 4,200 reports a year not being recorded.
- Sexual offences: 83.3 per cent of reported crimes are recorded leaving 210 a year not being recorded.
- Rape: only 87 of the 117 audited rape reports were accurately reported.
- Only 22 of 41 reported vulnerable victim crimes were recorded.
- Gloucestershire Constabulary needs to improve its strategic governance of crime recording standards.

It continued: "Even when it has enough information from which to record a crime following an initial call, there are unnecessary and unacceptable delays.

"Call handlers obtain the information they need from victims in an empathetic manner and document it on the incident log.

"But the force doesn't make enough use of it in subsequent crime recording decisions. Too often this means it doesn't record reported crimes at all. And on occasion this can lead to victims disengaging.

"When officers and staff attend incidents or re-contact victims, they don't fully understand their crime recording responsibilities.

"And when a victim doesn't wish to pursue a report, often officers fail to record the crime.

"These mistakes are compounded by insufficient supervision, which limits the opportunities available to correct these decisions as soon as possible, combined with a lack of effective strategic governance arrangements."


The report highlighted the constabulary is "failing vulnerable victims of crime".

Of 397 crimes related to domestic abuse the force had not recorded 145, including 127 offences of violence, one sexual offence and 17 other crimes, the report said, adding failure to record domestic abuse crimes meant "many of them did not get investigated".

A constabulary spokesman said the force has reviewed these cases and "in the vast majority a level of safeguarding was put in place".

The report said: "Many of the unrecorded crimes were of a serious nature. The potentially harmful situations that some victims were left in without safeguarding from the police are unacceptable.

"These failings were compounded by a lack of supervision of crime recording decisions both within the force control room and at a local level. The lack of such supervisory intervention, and the subsequent lack of accountability for crime recording standards, significantly contribute to the force's poor crime recording accuracy.

"We have serious concerns about the lack of understanding of the full extent of domestic abuse crime, the under-recording of these crimes and the absence of satisfactory services that should be provided to victims. Domestic abuse often involves victims who are particularly vulnerable to further offences being committed against them.

"The force's under-recording of crime reports is partly due to its crime recording processes, its workforce's poor comprehension of crime recording and a lack of supervisory intervention. The lack of senior level leadership and governance of crime recording arrangements has resulted in a lack of focus on improving crime recording."

In total, 87 out of 117 audited rape reports were accurately recorded, the report said, branding it a "cause of concern".

Of the 30 unrecorded rape reports, six were incorrectly classified as other crimes, 13 had not been recorded at all, and the remaining were incorrectly given a certain classification.

And 13 of 19 unrecorded crimes relating to vulnerable victims were child victims, including one rape, three other sexual offences, seven violence offences, one offence of child neglect and one offence of sharing indecent images of a child.

The constabulary said it accepts they should have been recorded but added "many of them could not be investigated as they were anonymous reports from victims who did not want to be identified to police.

A spokesman said: "They contained little or no detail of the incident - often no times, no circumstances and no location.

"The Sexual Assault Referral Centre will have provided care and support in many of these cases and tried to encourage victims to speak to us in the future.

"Where the constabulary does have information it will now ensure a proportionate investigation takes place."


- "A sexual assault in which one child kissed another on the lips. Both were under ten, which is the age of criminal responsibility. A log was created and all partner agencies were informed for safeguarding purposes but the officer did not deem it appropriate to create a crime record as there would be no further action and they thought it wouldn't be in the best interests of the children.
- "A person reported an incident where the circumstances were recorded as a sexual assault when it should have been recorded as an attempted rape according to Home Office Counting Rules. Irrespective of this a full investigation took place and safeguarding was put in place as appropriate.
- "A victim told another emergency service that during an assault they may have been raped. When officers attended the incident and interviewed the person no complaint of a rape was made. All the relevant physical assault crimes were recorded but the rape was not.
- "The constabulary recorded a crime of harassment but as part of the victim's allegations there was also a crime of malicious communications that an officer logged details of but mistakenly did not record as a crime. All relevant material, including details of the malicious communications, was still passed to the CPS, who could have decided to charge for the offence irrespective of it not being recorded as a crime. The constabulary has now created a crime record for the malicious communications offence.
- "A person called us to report a family member had severe dementia and was lashing out. They did not wish to pursue criminal charges and the officer made an assessment that it was a medical issue rather than a criminal one. Safeguarding and appropriate care was put in place but under Home Office Crime Recording Rules it should have been recorded as a domestic assault.
- "A person alleged multiple people sexually assaulted them during an incident but did not know exactly how many. The officer mistakenly recorded all details of the incident in one crime record, rather than multiple crime records.


The report concluded: "Gloucestershire Constabulary's crime recording arrangements are inadequate.

"It must now work hard to make the necessary improvements so that victims of crime can be confident their reports will be taken seriously, recorded and investigated.

"The force must improve its crime recording processes, make sure that officers and staff fully understand the standards expected of them, and supervise these standards effectively."


The report makes a large number of recommendations on how the constabulary can improve its crime data recording.

It said: "We expect the force urgently to make progress with implementing the recommendations made in this report.

"The serious causes of concern found during this inspection are such that we will re-visit the force to assess progress."

Mr Hansen said: "A full plan to address these shortcomings has been prepared and much has already been implemented."


Responding to the report, chief constable Rod Hansen said: "We welcome the scrutiny of the report from the HMICFRS and like many other forces that received a similar grade or required improvement following their first inspection, are disappointed with the findings.

"We would like to reassure people that we have reviewed all the incidents raised in the report and can say that this is predominately a recording failure not a service failure. That means in many of the cases identified by the HMICFRS a good level of service was given to a victim, even though we didn't create a crime report for it.

"It's also important to explain that when you make contact with Gloucestershire Constabulary we always record what you tell us, we assess every call and deploy when you need us.

"Where we have let ourselves down is that we have not always complied with national recording standards by making a separate crime record where appropriate.

"This is not the same as letting down a victim or failing to safeguard them.

"In terms of context only about 24 per cent of all calls for service to us relate to crime - the rest are other important matters like collisions, missing people and mental health crisis incidents, where someone's safety can be in jeopardy. Equally, some reports come to us which are not police specific so need rerouting to another agency to respond to - but that still takes time.

"The national rules around which incidents must be recorded as crimes run to over 100 pages and equipping a busy workforce to be compliant in every aspect is challenging.

"It took 12 inspectors 14 days to establish how we were doing as a relatively small Constabulary, which gives some indication of the complexity of it.

"In 2014, I had four members of staff helping to ensure crime recording was at a high standard (acknowledged by the HMIC at the time) and due to austerity and a need to bolster the frontline we had to reduce that to one person - part-time, trying to audit the whole force.

"In May 2019, the Constabulary was graded "good" across the board by HMICFRS including its ability to investigate, tackle vulnerability and act in an ethical and legitimate way.

"We have tried hard to balance our investments and focused on investigation and frontline services. A consequence has been that we have underperformed in this area. This has been compounded by some technological shortcomings that cost a great deal of money to resolve.

"However I take responsibility for the Constabulary`s need to improve in this area. I have commissioned a review to find out how we got into this position and what we can learn from that.

"A full plan to address these shortcomings has been prepared and much has already been implemented, including additional supervisors being put in post, specialist training for front line staff starting next week and a staff member in our public protection bureau designated to recording third party reports of crime. We have also started the recruitment process for a deputy Force Crime Registrar.

"In their PEEL report in May, HMICFRS praised our officers for understanding the importance of vulnerability and I am pleased to say that there were some positive findings by the Inspectorate in this report, including how we deal with victims during first contact and our work to record modern slavery offences.

"There has been a lack of understanding of the importance of crime recording but I want to stress we are fully committed to protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities and keeping everyone safe. We will investigate crimes and bring those who commit them to justice to the best of our ability.

"Our officers and staff understand the needs of the communities they serve and many go above and beyond the call of duty in sometimes very difficult circumstances. I am proud of them and the work they do, and I know that they will remain committed as we move forward."

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 25th July 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

The AA has called on newly-appointed Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, to increase efforts to cut the number of people killed on British roads after figures revealed that no significant reduction in traffic deaths since 2012.

The Department for Transport has today (Thursday) released the Road Casualties Report for 2018, confirming that 1,782 were killed on Britain's roads last year.

That's down from 1,793 - a fall of just one per cent - on the previous year. Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, said the stats were 'disappointing' and that tackling the figures should be 'one of the new Transport Secretary's top priorities'.

While the death toll has remained consistent for the past seven years, the country does have one of the best safety records across Europe, with UK roads named Britain's safest by a European Commission report earlier this year.

The DfT's latest report showed that there were a total of 160,378 casualties of all severities last year - including deaths, serious injuries and slight injuries.

That is six per cent less than in 2017 and is the lowest level on record. Compared to a decade ago, it's a reduction of almost a third (31 per cent).

That's despite a higher volume of traffic on Britain's roads in the year, the report said.

The rate of fatalities per billion vehicle miles fell by one per cent to 5.38 in 2018 from 5.43 the proceeding year, DfT numbers claim.

The report stated: 'The trend in the number of fatalities has been broadly flat since 2010.

'Previously, and particularly between 2006 and 2010, the general trend was for fatalities to fall. Since that point, most of the year-on-year changes are either explained by one-off causes (for instance, the snow in 2010) or natural variation.

'The evidence points towards Britain being in a period when the fatality numbers are stable and most of the changes relate to random variation.'

The AA said this wasn't good enough and the government, now spearheaded by new Prime Minster Boris Johnson, needs to do more.

Jack Cousens said reducing road deaths should be at the top of the list of things to tackle for newly appointed transport boss, Grant Shapps, and called for a return of safety targets to help cut casualties.

Mr Cousens said: 'It is disappointing to see that the flat-line in road accident fatalities continues with the number of road deaths virtually unchanged since 2012.

'One death on our roads is one too many and reducing the number of road-accident fatalities must surely be one of the new Transport Secretary's top priorities.

'When the Government had clear and challenging road safety targets there were significant improvements in road safety, but since their removal in 2010 progress stopped.

'These should be reinstated as Britain sets out to have the safest roads in the world.'

While there are no plans to reintroduce targets, the government did announce earlier this month an updated road safety action plan as part of efforts to make Britain's roads safer.

The headline change being considered - among a total of 74 actions to improve road safety - was to introduce penalty points for motorists who are caught not wearing a seatbelt.

That's after the 2017 road casualty stats showed that more than a quarter of those killed in cars that year were not buckled up.

The proposals also include in-car breathalysers for known drink-drivers, which will not let a vehicle start if they are over the limit.

And graduated licences - banning young drivers from the road at night or from taking passengers under a certain age - are part of the Department for Transport plans that could come into force from next year.

But despite the failure to reduce road deaths and plans for tougher penalties for those who ignore rules, it's key to point out that Great Britain's roads are among the safest in Europe.

European Commission statistics for 2018, released in April, showed Britain as having the safest roads in Europe, with 28 deaths per million inhabitants, compared to an EU average of 49.

In this report Britain was ahead of Denmark, Ireland and Sweden at the top of the road safety league.

In a separate study, using data from 2016, the World Health Organisation found that Russia has the deadliest roads in Europe, with more than 20,000 road traffic fatalities throughout the year, averaging at 18 deaths per 100,000 people.

Of those deaths, almost a quarter (23 per cent) involved alcohol.

In comparison, the UK's death toll was 3.1 per 100,000 people in 2016.

Norway and Switzerland were found to have the safest roads.

Just 135 road traffic casualties were reported for Norway, working out at 2.7 per 100,000 people.

Switzerland, with 216 deaths on roads in 2016, had the same amount of casualties per 100,000 people, according to the WHO's calculations.

The European Transport Safety Council also recently published a report showing the reduction in road deaths in countries since 2001.

Great Britain scored among the highest, with fewer than 30 deaths per one million inhabitants.

Fatalities by road user type

(n) = percentage of total road deaths

Car : 777 (44%)
Pedestrian : 454 (25%)
Motorcyclist : 354 (20%)
Cyclist : 99 (6%)

Road fatality comparison with Europe per million inhabitants by country (Extract)

Note : orginal article shows complete list

(n) = position on full table

UK : 28 (1)
Denmark : 30 (2)
Ireland : 31 (3)
Netherlands : 31 (3)
Sweden : 32 (5)
Malta : 38 (6)
Spain : 39 (7)
Germany : 39 (7)
France : 48 (12)
Italy : 55 (15)

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Post, dated 24th July 2019 author Elwyn Roberts)

Full article [Option 1]:

A former health board worker who sold his employer's laptops on eBay has been locked up.

It was originally alleged that Neil Stephen Roberts, who was jailed for 20 months, had been responsible for a loss of £40,000 to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board .

But his basis of plea that the fraud was valued at £18,000 was accepted at Mold Crown Court.

The court heard that Roberts, who worked at Wrexham Maelor at the time, had taken advantage of the system in place and replaced computers with used ones and sold the new ones on eBay.

The 38-year-old, of Oak Meadows in Tanyfron near Wrexham, worked as a desktop support technician and took advantage of a vulnerability he spotted in the audit system.

Judge Timothy Petts said it was not a victimless crime and took money away from patient care directly.

The cost and time of the investigation itself could clearly have been better spent on caring for patients, he said.

While the investigation had taken time, he had not admitted his guilt until a month before his trial was due, the court heard.

Prosecuting barrister Sion ap Mihangel said audit procedures were tightened up in April 2015, after there had previously been a greater reliance on individual trust.

When asked about a missing computer, Roberts said he had used it the previous day and had given it a reference number, but checks showed it related to another computer.

He said he had got confused and, when further checks were carried out, it was found that he had replaced computers with used computers and sold the new ones on eBay.

A total of seven computers were found to be missing and were valued at just under £5,000.

A search warrant was carried out at his home and a number of electrical items were recovered.

Roberts gave a no comment interview, but it became apparent that he had sold a large volume of computer hardware online from July 2013 to December 2016.

Individuals who had purchased computers from him were contacted and 27 of them belonged to the health board. The retail value of them was more than £13,000.

Further interviewed, he said items found at his home had been taken from the "beyond economic repair" pile, which he said he had permission to take from and used then to improve his IT skills.

He denied that he had taken new computers and sold them on, which the prosecutor said was clearly a lie in view of his pleas.

It was the prosecution case that he had taken advantage of the poor auditing system previously in place, he said.

Defending barrister Andrew Green said the case clearly crossed the custody threshold but he suggested it could be suspended.

t was conceded that it involved a significant breach of trust.

Probation officer Andrew Connah said the defendant described his own behaviour as "inherently stupid".

Roberts was consumed with guilt and was concerned of the effect a prison sentence would have on his daughter, the court heard.

The defendant had lost his career and his good name and the case had been hanging over him for two years.

A reference from his former partner described him as well liked, well respected and devoted to his daughter.

He admitted that, between June 2013 and March 2017, while occupying a position of trust as a desktop support technician, in which he was expected to safeguard the financial interests of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, that he dishonestly abused his position.

Mr Green said the money lost in the fraud would be recouped from the defendant's NHS pension.

(1st August 2019)


(Bristol Post, dated 23rd July 2019 author Emma Flanagan)

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A bank employee who pocketed £100,000 from his Bristol branch has been jailed.

Father-of-two Benjamin Thornton worked as a customer services advisor for Royal Bank of Scotland in Baldwin Street.

But Bristol Crown Court heard he took cash from tills and the safe and carefully topped up deficits to try and cover his tracks.

Thornton, 32, of Edgar Close in Clevedon, pleaded guilty to fraud.

Judge Euan Ambrose jailed him for three years and four months.

He told Thornton: "You repeatedly took cash from tills and the safe at the branch.

"This created a deficit in the cash reserve which grew.

"You avoided detection by repeatedly moving the deficit.

"Therefore it was elsewhere and went unnoticed, exploiting lax cross-checks."

Enquiries showed that Thornton alone would be involved in the daily running of the bank, including counting cash at the end of the day; counting cash for audit checks; and even coming into the bank to continue the procedures when he was supposed to be on annual leave.

A hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to recover Thornton's ill-gotten gain, was set for December.

James Tucker, prosecuting, said Thornton took the money between June 2012 and December 2015.

Mr Tucker said an investigation by the bank uncovered the fraud and duration of it, and established Thornton was responsible via his computer log on details and presence on CCTV.

When interviewed Thornton said he was innocent and pointed out difficulties and flaws in the bank's systems.

When it was pointed out to him his user ID had been established in the fraud, he said it must have been someone else.

Nicolas Gerasimidis, defending, said his client had pleaded guilty, showed genuine remorse and was a good father.

He told the court: "His fall from grace has been enormous.

"He has wrestled with the shame and degradation as to the appalling way he treated his employers."

Mr Gerasimidis said his client crossed a line by taking money, the line became erased and he continued to offend to achieve a certain standard of living for his family.

Mr Gerasimidis said: "His income barely covered the mortgage for a family home which was too big and too great."

(Manchester Evening News, dated 24th July 2019 author Andrew Bardsley)

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A mum who worked at a bank call centre passed on security codes allowing fraudsters to withdraw £47,000, a court heard.

Nafeesa Shabbir, 27, from Oldham, narrowly avoided jail after appearing before a judge at Manchester Crown Court.

She worked for Co-op Bank as a customer adviser in a call centre.

During her time working for the bank, only a matter of weeks, she helped criminals fraudulently withdraw £47,902 from four business accounts.

After a period of training, she started working for the bank in August 2017.

Her fraudulent behaviour lasted until the end of September that year, when she was found out and was later sacked.

Police were called in and found a handwritten notebook in her car, containing bank security codes belonging to 37 different customers.

She was prosecuted for taking part in the fraudulent withdrawal of money from four accounts.

The court heard Shabbir would speak to the genuine account holder, take them through the usual security process, but then take a note of their account details.

Criminals would then call Shabbir at the bank at a later date when money would be fraudulently transferred, prosecutor James Preece said.

The first offence involved £5,000 being withdrawn from an account belonging to a security firm.

A total of £19,000 had tried to be withdrawn, but this was blocked.

The second offence involved a total of £15,440 being fraudulently taken from another firm's account.

Then £20,000 was withdrawn from the account of a jewellers.

A further £7,462 was withdrawn from another firm's account.

There were two further attempts to withdraw a total of £10,000, but these were blocked.

Shabbir, who has no previous convictions, was prosecuted for fraud totalling £47,902. All the money was refunded to customers.

She was arrested in October 2017.

The court heard Shabbir had taken part in the fraud after being promised 'one off payments', which she never actually received.

It was also heard that no other arrests have been in relation to the criminal operation, which involved 'others higher up the hierarchy'.

Defending, Erimnaz Mushtaq told the court that there was a 'degree of naivety' in the offending by Shabbir, a single parent to a seven-year-old boy.

Ms Mushtaq said Shabbir 'understood what she was doing' and wasn't 'coerced', but said her role was a 'small one'.

The barrister said Shabbir, who has now found work as an assistant manager at a tutorial company, was of 'limited means' and was attracted by the offer of 'quick money', which she never actually received.

Ms Mushtaq said that Shabbir, who the court was told had been in an 'abusive relationship', took the risk in the fraud, but 'gained none of the benefit'.

She argued that sending the defendant to prison would cause 'irreparable damage' to Shabbir's son.

Shabbir is an 'invaluable member of staff' in her new job, and has 'genuine remorse and shame' for her offending, the court was told.

Her barrister appealed for Shabbir to be spared jail.

Sentencing, Judge David Stockdale QC told the defendant: "Your role was low down in the criminal hierarchy.

"You were simply passing on the code numbers. But this is serious offending, as you now know.

"You were a trusted bank employee.

"Bank employees obviously have access to confidential information such as security codes.

"If they pass the confidential information on to others with criminal intent, then that is a serious breach of the trust placed in employees such as you.

"Conduct of this kind looked at more widely undermines the banking system.

"Customers trust banks to look after their money and they trust employees of banks.

"It is conduct of people like you that undermines that trust."

The judge said he was satisfied her offending was not 'sophisticated', and spared her jail.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Shabbir must complete 60 hours of unpaid work and 25 days rehabilitation activity requirement.

Shabbir, of Oldham, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud.
(1st August 2019)


(Birmingham Mail, dated 24th July 2019 author George Makin)

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Some 40 council houses were recovered by Sandwell last year following fraud investigations into right-to-buy applications.

An annual report to the council's Audit and Risk Assurance Committee meeting says its counter fraud team has investigated 218 cases were tenants get discounts of up to £82,800 when applying to buy their homes.

The recovered properties - valued at £3,720,000 - were taken back into public ownership as part of the authority's counter-fraud programme.

In addition, some 54 applications to buy homes were cancelled and officers calculated in total tax payers were saved £3,894,960.

A council spokesman explained while in certain cases inquiries overlapped a number of years, the report's figures related to those investigations concluded during 2018/19.

Warning right-to-buy fraud is a national issue which takes money from taxpayers but also denies homes to people on council's housing list, the report says: "This area continues to be a large issue for councils to deal with, both nationally and locally, due to the demand for social housing.

"Pro-active work is undertaken to identify potential fraudulent applications to avoid them entering the allocation process while we continue to investigate reports from neighbourhood offices and members of the public.

"Identifying fraudulent applications not only reduces the demand for social housing and the strain on the council's waiting list, but also reduces the time and cost of having to evict fraudulent tenants once they have been awarded a tenancy."

The report also highlights wrongful and fraudulent claims for single person discount when individuals living on their own are awarded 25 per cent off their council tax bills.

After investigations, over £55,000 in awards were removed and £70 penalties were issued for every year of a fraudulently claim - in total £7,560 was imposed on claimants.

The report highlights other areas of fraud such as tenancy subletting, housing benefit and claims for allowances for personal care for the elderly or ill which is not needed - including cases where carers pocketed the money or continued to claim after the person they had cared for died.

(Stoke Sentinel, dated 26th July 2019 author Phil Corrigan)

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Nearly 30 council tenants were evicted from their homes last year after committing fraud - saving taxpayers an estimated £2.5 million.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council's corporate fraud team dealt with 141 cases in 2018/19, including 27 which ended in tenancy terminations due to housing tenancy fraud.

The authority estimates that this action saved it £93,000 per property, based on the costs it would have accrued over an average four-year tenancy if the fraud had not been uncovered.

These costs include temporary accommodation for genuine applicants, legal costs to recover property and re-let costs.

The team also uncovered 24 cases of fraud relating to Right to Buy, 42 involving the council tax reduction scheme, 46 involving the single person discount and two relating to discretionary housing payments.

All this work saved the council £3.3 million, compared to the team's annual budget of £228,200. The savings relating to the Right to Buy cases include both the RTB discount and the loss of rental income, which the council would have incurred if the sales had gone through.

An audit committee report states: "These outcomes clearly demonstrate the value provided to the council and the citizens of Stoke-on-Trent by the corporate fraud team."

Council officers say that housing tenancy fraud is a particular problem due to the shortage of social housing in the city.

This type of fraud can involve sub-letting a council property for profit to people who are not allowed to live there; providing false information in a housing application; or failing to use a property as the principal home.

The report states: "The council has approximately 3,000 people on the housing waiting list. A significant number of these include families being housed in bed and breakfast accommodation.

"Housing Benefit payments do not cover the full cost of this outlay and so the excess amount has to be met directly by the council. These costs can be reduced by dealing robustly with tenants (and potential tenants) who make false representations or who fail to tell us their true circumstances so as to ensure that only those in genuine need receive what is fast becoming a scarce and valuable commodity."

Jim Gibson, a member of Stoke-on-Trent's tenants board, welcomed the action taken against housing tenancy fraud.

He said: "This sort of fraud can affect genuine people, and unfortunately everyone can get tarred with the same brush.

"Twenty-seven cases doesn't sound like many when there are 18,000 council homes, but you don't know how many others there might be."

The team also recorded one successful prosecution for Blue Badge fraud in 2018/19, which resulted in a six-month conditional discharge, £500 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

And five internal fraud cases were investigated on a disciplinary basis.

A recent study found that fraud cost local authorities in the UK £7.8 billion a year, which equates to around one-fifth of the country's defence budget.

(1st August 2019)

(ZD Net, dated 24th July 2019 author Charlie Osborne)

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The first time I walked into a UK courtroom with teenage hackers standing to face charges, I was taken aback by their age.

LulzSec members, ranging from 18 to 26 years old, were sentenced in 2013 for their roles in compromising the computer systems of organizations including Sony, Nintendo, News Corp., the CIA, and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Some of the teenagers turned up suited and booted, whereas others appeared in jeans and casual clothing, looking somewhat bewildered at the situation they were in.

It is ironic that while the cybersecurity industry as a whole is generally short-staffed, kids are learning from the sanctity of their bedrooms how to cause utter chaos for enterprise companies with lax security -- and these teenagers may not realize the full impact of their activities, or the potential consequences. 

However, it is these teenagers who have an interest in hacking and cybersecurity that might also be encouraged to turn their talents to white, rather than black, activities.

At least, that is what law enforcement in Europe hope is the case.

On Tuesday at the International Conference on Cybersecurity at Fordham University, police officers from the UK and the Netherlands described a new campaign aimed at first-time offenders in cybercrime. 

As reported by Cyberscoop, the "Hack_Right" campaign is geared towards hackers between 12 and 23 years of age who may -- or may not -- be aware they are committing crimes, and it is hoped that educating these teens might keep them from one day ending up behind bars.

Over 400 youths in the UK have received a form of intervention since last year when the pilot launched.

Officials say that it is often the case that teenagers want to learn hacking tricks to impress their friends, and while their intentions aren't malicious, they may still be criminal -- but these kids do not necessarily understand the social context which turns these activities illegal.

Gregory Francis from the National Crime Agency (NCA) told attendees that the aim of the scheme is to find these teenagers before they need to be "locked up" and the emerging field of cybercrime is a "societal problem" rather than strictly a law enforcement challenge.

Teenagers suspected of conducting cybercrime can be entered into Hack_Right if it is their first offense and they are willing to change their behavior. Rather than threatening criminal action, police will visit the suspect, and should they confess, the teenager will be made to undergo up to 20 hours of ethical computer training.

If this form of 'rehabilitation' is completed, the teenagers are rewarded by being connected to cybersecurity professionals who can discuss potential career paths with them.

It's an interesting idea and one that might become crucial in the future given a generation growing up with digital identities and mobile technology. We need white hat cybersecurity professionals both now and to fulfill future roles, and so giving these kids a chance before their potential is wasted could be a way not only to reduce cybercrime but also to fill the gaps in recruitment. 

The key point here is that only the first offense will be treated with leniency. This could also prove to be a warning shot across the bow, but should hackers -- no matter their age -- persist, there will be criminal consequences.

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 23rd July 2019 author Alex Ward)

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Police are using children to shame drivers pulled over for speeding by getting the youngsters to give them a ticking off.

Under a volunteer scheme, pupils are standing outside their school gates next to officers armed with a speed gun.

Motorists who are stopped are given the option of accepting three points on their licence or facing a talking to from children as young as eight.

They are asked questions such as 'Why do you think the speed limit is 20mph on this road?' and 'Are you aware of the consequences of speeding?'

Police say the 'Mini Police' initiative, which is run in conjunction with local authorities, is more likely to put motorists off speeding in future.

In trials so far, the vast majority of drivers choose the option of talking to the primary school children.

Those caught driving at excessive speed are not given the option and still face traditional penalties.

The scheme, also known as Junior Roadwatch, was first launched in London in 2017 and has now spread to 19 of the capital's boroughs as well as further afield to Hertfordshire, West Yorkshire and Northumbria.

Children spend a day or two out of lessons in which they go out on patrol with regular officers.

In one scheme last week, pupils from Winterbourne Junior Girls' School in Thornton Heath, south-east London, stopped 28 drivers for speeding over the two days they took part. All chose to have a roadside conversation.

In another Year Six children from Northaw Primary School near Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, stood on a road outside their school with a handheld speed camera.

PCSO Deborah Rogers, who leads the Mini Police scheme at the school, said: 'The children were doing speed checks and giving big thumbs-up to all those driving within the limit but were shocked to discover how many people still drove through at above 30mph, even with all of us outside in high-vis jackets.

'They have all been busy designing posters to try to encourage drivers to slow and to try and help improve the parking at school pick-up and drop-off time.

'Their enthusiasm has been great and we are all looking forward to seeing what impact their work has.'

The Junior Roadwatch scheme was developed as part of an effort to slash the number of road deaths and injuries.

From 2015 to 2017, 1,381 children were injured in traffic incidents while travelling to school in the capital. The Mini Police initiative is also designed to raise awareness among children of the job the police do and the issues they face.

Heidi Alexander, London's deputy mayor for transport, said Junior Roadwatch would 'raise awareness of the dangers of speeding, making our streets more welcoming places to spend time'.

Tony Mannakee, of the Metropolitan Police's roads and transport policing command, said the hope is 'pupils engaging with motorists caught driving dangerously outside their schools will make them consider the implications of excessive speeds and encourage safer driving'.

Sam Nahk, of road safety charity Brake, said: 'Children are among our most vulnerable road users and speeding on the roads around schools presents a serious danger to them.

'Having the consequences of their dangerous actions explained to them by schoolchildren will hopefully make drivers aware of the dangers of excessive speed.'

There were 1,770 road deaths in the year ending June 2018, a number which has remained almost constant since 2012.  

In the capital, the scheme is joint funded by Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police, and was first piloted in the boroughs of Kingston and Hackney in 2017.

As of this summer, 19 boroughs have now either trialled the scheme or are setting up their first sessions.

Just last week the scheme was in use in Croydon with year four, five and six pupils - aged between eight and 11 - from Winterbourne Boys' Academy in Thornton Heath taking part.

A day later, pupils from Winterbourne Junior Girls' School repeated the exercise, with 28 drivers stopped for speeding over the two days.

All of them chose to speak to the children rather than accept a fine and penalty points on their licence.

Councillor Stuart King, Croydon Council's cabinet lead for environment and transport, said: 'The Junior Road Watch scheme can have real benefits, discouraging motorists from speeding while teaching them and the children important lessons about road safety.

'Working with school children and the police we're able to make a real difference by explaining the human impact speeding can have on communities.'

Pupils from Our Lady Immaculate Primary School in Surbiton also took part in June while a similar scheme was trialled at the English Martyrs School in Southwick near Sunderland in February.

And earlier this month, kids from Morley Victoria Primary School in Leeds worked with officers to use a speed gun and those drivers who were over the speed limit were sent a specially-designed ticket drawn by the kids to remind them to go slow.

Meanwhile last week Year Six children at Northaw C of E Primary School near Potters Bar, Herts, were also tasked with using speed guns as part of a 'mini police' scheme.

The volunteering opportunity sees children aged between nine and 11 support their local police force through participation in community events.

PCSO Deborah Rogers, who leads the school's Mini Police scheme, said: 'The children were doing speed checks and giving big thumbs up to all those driving within the limit but were shocked to discover how many people still drove through at above 30mph, even with all of us outside in high viz jackets.

'They have all been busy designing posters to try and encourage drivers to slow down past their school and to try and help improve the parking at school pick up and drop off time.

'Their enthusiasm has been great and we are all looking forward to seeing what impact their work has.'

The idea of getting kids involved in stopping speeding drivers has been welcomed by road safety campaigners.

Sam Nahk from road safety charity Brake said: 'Children are amongst our most vulnerable road users and speeding on the roads around schools present a serious danger to them.

'By having the potential consequences of their dangerous actions explained to them by schoolchildren, this novel approach will hopefully make drivers aware of the dangers of excessive speed and encourage safer driving.

'We still, however, need a strong enforcement presence on our roads and call on the Government to provide the police with the resources they need to ensure that dangerous speeding drivers know that if they break the law they will be caught and punished.'

And RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams said the scheme was a 'powerful way of bringing about a positive behaviour change'.

He added: 'Speed is associated with far too many road casualties so a scheme like this which personalises the potential consequences of not sticking to the 20mph speed limit outside a school is very welcome.'

(1st August 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 22nd July 2019 author Martin Bentham)

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The effectiveness of the Serious Fraud Office in fighting corporate crime is being undermined by "unacceptable behaviour" and "neglectful management", a watchdog warned today.

The Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, Kevin McGinty, highlighted staff complaints about perceived "favouritism" and allegations that not enough is being done to promote "zero tolerance of bullying".

He said that some feel a culture of "do as I say, not as I do" exists at the "top of the office", with managers whose conduct failed "to meet expectations" escaping action.

The findings of today's report follow a request by SFO director Lisa Osofsky for Mr McGinty to carry out an independent assessment of staff engagement.

She admitted today that the report "doesn't make comfortable reading" but that it had been "necessary to understand where we are" as she sought to improve performance.

"A number of initiatives are already under way to address some of the concerns identified," she added.

The report warns that a "culture of delivery" has "led to tolerance of neglectful approaches to management or … unacceptable behaviours."

It says some of the problems have been caused by the "fear of losing talented and experienced staff from long-running cases" as well as a previous failure within the SFO to address "cultural challenges".

The report adds that some managers were seen as "approachable" but staff questioned how much others were committed to "SFO values", warning of "perceived favouritism".

The findings follow scrutiny of the SFO's effectiveness. It has recently had mixed results, with some convictions for bribery and corruption counterbalanced by several high-profile acquittals.

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Echo, dated 22nd July 2019 author Alex Winter)

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 KEEP an eye out for signs of exploitation this summer holiday - children are being drawn into the drug gangs flooding Dorset with class As.

That's the message from police and council officials as part of a new campaign cracking down on 'county lines' dealing.

The practice sees gangs from large cities use dedicated phone lines to supply drugs to smaller towns. The issue is an increasing concern in the county, with many neighbourhood policing teams listing it as one of their top three priorities.

According to reports, a spike in county lines dealing in Dorset has led to an outbreak of violent crime, including a rape, a shooting and even an incident in which a victim's fingers were maimed.

Now a new campaign spearheaded by police, the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, Public Health Dorset, the Youth Offending Service and Dorset Council calls on residents to report any concerns they might have about a child during the school break.

Some of the signs of exploitation and county lines involvement are:

- A child or young person going missing from home or significant changes in emotional well-being

- A person meeting unfamiliar adults or a change to their behaviour

- The use of drugs and alcohol

- Acquiring money or expensive gifts they can't account for

- Lone children from outside of the area

- Individuals with multiple mobile phones, tablets or 'SIM cards'

- Young people with more money, expensive clothing, or accessories than they can account for

- Unknown or suspicious looking characters coming and going from a neighbour's house

- Relationships with controlling or older individuals or associations with gangs

- Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries

 Superintendent Caroline Naughton from Dorset Police said: "Keeping our communities safe from county lines is a priority for Dorset Police throughout the year - but it can be particularly challenging during the summer months due to the sheer numbers of people visiting our county during the holiday season.

"Dorset remains one of the safest places in the country to live, work and visit and we are asking the public to help us to keep it that way."

If they spot any of the signs of county lines, then we ask them to let us know by calling 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

Sarah Parker, executive director for children at Dorset Council, said: "County lines can have a devastating impact on children and families' lives, so we need to all stand together to try and stop it.

"It's really important that people know what to look out for and who to contact, so agencies can act and protect children and young people from being exploited."

(1st August 2019)

(Mirror, dated 21st July 2019 authors Anita Merritt and Pippa Allen-Kinross)

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A young family have been left frustrated and confused after being caught in a "legal minefield" when a stranger parked a car on their driveway and left it there.

Kieran and Danielle Luxton left their home in Exmouth for a four day break on July 10, and were told the next morning that a car had appeared on their driveway.

It was still there when they returned home on July 14, leaving them unable to park themselves, a situation made worse by the face they have one young child and Danielle is heavily pregnant. They have been unable to locate the owner.

As the car was parked on private land and the vehicle was not registered as stolen, police said it was a civil matter and there was nothing they could do.

The couple posted a picture of the car on a community Facebook page in the hope someone might recognise it, and by looking up the license plat number one social media user was able to confirm it was up-to-date with MoT and tax but had no insurance. However, the owner could not be identified.

Kieran and Danielle then discovered it was illegal for them to park behind the car, because it would be blocking it in. Their only options were to pursue the matter through civil courts or pay to have it professionally towed off their driveway.

However, if the car was damaged during its removal, the Luxton's would have been liable to pay for it.

Kieran, 24, told Devon Live: "It was an awful situation. I thought you could just ring the police and they would speak to who owned it when they tracked them down, but they don't do that.

"I was told we couldn't block it in as it's illegal, and if you pay for someone to pull it off your land, any damage done you are liable to pay for it. Had we taken it to court we would have had to pay court fees.

"I was shocked, as I expected there to be some sort of law to help with matters like this, as I assumed it would be trespassing.

"As it is classed as a civil matter, the police can't do anything about it. I was told by them more and more of these incidents are going on."

The couple managed to get a friend who is in the trade to pull the car off their land on July 18, a week after its mysterious arrival. Their friend charged them £30, instead of the £100 they had been quoted.

It was pulled onto council-owned grass near the driveway, and had vanished by the next morning.

Kieran said he has since seen the car parked on a public road in another street, but still does not know who it belongs to.

Kieran, a production assistant analyst at the Met Office, said: "I'm just glad it's gone by as day by day I was getting more and more frustrated. My wife was more angry than me, which she didn't need as she is heavily pregnant.

"I would definitely say people need to read up on what they can and can't do because it is a legal minefield so you have to be careful."

What can you do if someone leaves a car on your land?

If the car is in a dangerous condition, such as leaking petrol or it contains dangerous items like gas bottles, the police recommend you contact your local police via the non-emergency 101 number, or 999 if an emergency response is required.

Councils must remove abandoned vehicles from both land in the open air and roads, including private road. However, policies differ between local councils. If you think the vehicle is abandoned, you can contact your local council here.

If the vehicle isn't abandoned or in a dangerous condition, you can seek legal guidance from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.  You can either get a court order from a civil court for the removal of the vehicle, or pursue civil action for nuisance against the driver/owner. However, taking legal action can be a long and sometimes expensive process. House insurance may cover some of this.

The police do not advocate pushing the vehicle onto a road under any circumstances, as this could be committing offence. If you clamp or damage the vehicle or have it removed by a third party without seeking legal advice, you could be committing a criminal offence and the owner could pursue a civil action against you.

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 20th July 2019 author Toby Walne)

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Wireless internet is a modern marvel that allows us to surf the internet wherever we are.

But after spending a day out with a hacking expert, The Mail on Sunday's Toby Walne discovered that public wi-fi is a dangerous place to go online surfing.


Sitting in the foyer of Stansted Airport Novotel - with three smiling receptionists just 30 feet away - it feels a secure place to dig out my laptop.

This is a great vantage point for watching the hustle and bustle of travelling businessmen and holidaymakers - and gives me a chance to catch up with emails. The Novotel home page appears as I search on my settings for wi-fi.

It cursorily mentions the network is 'unsecured' but this means nothing to me - other than it cuts out the hassle of creating a password or tiresomely tapping in my personal details.

One of the passing businessmen politely asks if the neighbouring seat is taken and whether he might use the wall socket to charge his computer. His disarming manner puts me at ease - but it is nothing but a ruse.

This is cyber security expert Colin Tankard and he is about to share the secrets of how hackers routinely hijack computers and smartphones of innocent people without them even knowing.

Tankard whips out a black box the size of a cigarette packet with two antennae on top. He tells me this is a 'pineapple'. It resembles no fruit I have ever seen. Although it looks pretty innocuous it has the ability to spy on my every move.

This £200 gadget is designed to imitate the signal of the wi-fi that I wish to join - tricking me into using its internet service rather than the real thing.

While I use it to check my emails and surf the net it is tracking everything I do - picking up details I tap in, such as passwords and credit card numbers, which can later be used to rob me blind.

In just a few minutes, Tankard has gained access to all the contacts on my computer - a goldmine for future phishing expeditions. This is where crooks send out scam emails to try to trick recipients out of cash.

Next, Tankard pulls out a silver 'range extender' from his pocket that is the size of a box of matches. This £30 device looks harmless enough but is an extra weapon in the hacker's spy armoury.

Tankard says: 'Walking past I get a sense of whether you might be a target worth hacking. This booster allows me to then go and hide out at the other end of the hotel - or sit in a car 100 feet away - to crack your computer.'

I am told that hotel chains have become a magnet for hackers, with big names such as InterContinental, Marriott and Hyatt on the radar of criminals. Part of the problem is a desire by hotel groups to make their wi-fi easy to access for the convenience of guests. Tankard informs me that by digging a bit deeper hackers can even use wi-fi spyware to plug into hotel systems to find reservations, room key details and more stored credit card numbers.


On escaping the hotel I take solace with a latte at a coffee shop in my nearby hometown of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. Gingerly opening my laptop I am now far more wary of Tankard and his underhand tricks.

I try to log on to the cafe wi-fi. It seems easy to spot as the free internet connection has the cafe's name 'NERO' in capitals.

Yet unbeknown to me this wi-fi has absolutely nothing to do with the coffee chain. It is a fake put there by Tankard who is broadcasting the signal from his pineapple hacking device. The signal on an imposter wi-fi can often be stronger than the authentic public system. Many people - including me - wrongly equate this increased strength as a sign it is the genuine source.

But the coffee shop's real wi-fi uses 'The Cloud' and requires an email address and password. To access this I must first register - providing my name, address, phone number, date of birth and even my mother's maiden name.

Now Tankard starts to play a popular hacking game called 'man-in-the-middle'.

He watches me as I go on an online shopping expedition using Amazon - spying as I obliviously tap away on the website in search of a good summer read.

Like any self-respecting hacker he has previously downloaded software on to his computer that alerts him with a pop-up window when a victim - it could be anyone in the coffee shop that mistakenly latches on to his sham wi-fi source - taps into one of hundreds of websites on his hit list. This includes high street banks, popular shopping websites and utility firms from which he hopes to steal details and money.

My laptop shows a bogus Amazon home page - a carbon copy of the real thing - that his computer has automatically sent via his hoax wi-fi.

It enables him to harvest my log-in details and password. Tankard says he can use these at his leisure to go on a shopping spree at my expense arranging for purchases to be sent to another address by later tampering with the delivery settings.

The beauty of this hack is that with my log-in and password he does not even need to know my credit card number - as this is already stored on my Amazon account.

Bought items can be posted to a vacant home where they are picked up - leaving victims none the wiser until they get round to checking their bank statement. Having stolen my personal information the page then freezes in front of my eyes.

But I do not worry too much as it just looks like the internet connection has simply dropped out. I log in again - this time to the authentic cafe website - but by now the fraudster has long gone with his 'loot'.


It's not just airport hotel and coffee shop wi-fi that is vulnerable. Other public areas that provide free internet, including trains, pubs, restaurants and hospitals also leave you at risk from hackers. To combat the threat of online fraudsters when you are out and about you can protect yourself with something called a 'virtual private network' (VPN) that includes anti-virus software.

This allows you to use public wi-fi without a fraudster being able to get into your account. The VPN encrypts what you are looking at on the internet - making it gobbledegook to prying eyes that might try spying on you from another computer.

Tankard points out that although such software can be purchased for a few pounds a month it can be worth trying a free VPN like those offered by software firms Avira or Sophos.

By trying it for free first you can always later upgrade to a paid-for version with additional features, such as offering security for several devices. Getting the protection installed is straightforward.

You simply visit the company website and download the version you need - either for a PC or Mac. After initially tapping in a username and password the computer should automatically use the VPN when you join any public wi-fi.

(1st August 2019)

(Oxford Mail, dated 20th July 2019 author Pete Hughes)

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TEACHERS and youth workers across Oxfordshire are to be trained in how to spot whether a young person has been recruited into a gang.

Social workers and police officers will also get 'gang awareness training' to encourage them to identify and help those at risk of exploitation.

Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld has launched the scheme as part of force-wide efforts to tackle gang culture and county-lines drug dealing.

 He explained: "The main aim of this training is to help protect young people from a life of violence, exploitation and criminality.

"To do this we need to give front-line workers the awareness to be able to recognise issues being faced by young people who are at risk of exploitation into gangs and provide them with the practical skills to help safeguard them. I hope that's what this training will achieve."

A key part of the training will be personal testimony from ex-gang members who draw on their own experiences, sharing specialist knowledge and focussing on practical elements of supporting vulnerable young people.

A total of 26 training sessions will be delivered across the Thames Valley by Reach Every Generation, an organisation working to transform the lives of young people caught up in gang culture.

 Gavin McKenna, director of Reach Every Generation said "This is a great opportunity for all those booked onto this training and shows the forward thinking of the office of the PCC in Thames Valley and their desire to equip frontline staff.

"The issue of serious youth violence, criminal exploitation and county lines is not a new phenomenon, however it is devastating our communities in and out of London and other major cities.

"As society seek answers to the problem, we aim to equip those on the frontline with the knowledge and insight into what works. We all know the problem we just need to go on Twitter or watch the news; what we want to do is look not at the problems, but the solutions.

 "We are honoured to be part of this work and want to thank the PCC for the opportunity to offer our services across Thames Valley."

Other activities being delivered as part of the Early Intervention Youth Fund project include a 'County Lines' play touring secondary schools, workshops for young people on gangs and knife crime, youth work to tackle school exclusions, detached youth work in the community and intensive interventions with those already involved in criminality or exploitation.

(1st August 2019)

(Mirror, dated 20th July 2019 author Alan Selby)

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Troops have been drafted in to help police tackling county lines drug dealers.

The Army have been tasked with supporting routine patrols and helping searches at two of Britain's busiest train stations.

British Transport Police have recruited the extra manpower from the Royal Military Police as they crack down on rail-enabled crime.

The partnership has helped snatch hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and drugs back off our streets.

The news comes as it emerged knife crime rose by up to 50 per cent in parts of Britain in a single year fuelled by county lines drug gangs.

Weapon offences hit an eight-year high, official figures revealed this week.

After an increase in violent crime sweeping out of major cities the partnership, understood to be the first of its kind, was agreed last year.

British Transport Police said it had led to a series of operations in which 160 Provost Company and 156 Provost Company of the Royal Military Police had shadowed its officers.

After successes at London's Waterloo Station BTP said the scheme had been expanded to Liverpool Street station.

This means the first and third busiest stations in the country have seen patrols from RMP wearing fatigues, while smaller stations around Greater London have also seen activity.

BTP Superintendent Matt Allingham said more uniforms at major transport hubs helped fighting crime.

He said: "There are clear benefits brought by the increasing uniformed visibility at our key transport hubs in relation to crime prevention.

"The uniqueness of having joint military and police personnel on patrol also provides a conversation starter with the travelling public and assists with engagement in line with NPT principles.

"Our initial pilot based at Waterloo was a big success and we're pleased to be able to expand the scheme so more officers can get involved and hope to roll the scheme out even further in future."

May this year saw a detachment support BTP at Waterloo Station, during a week in which County Lines teams nationwide snatched 500 men and 86 women, while 519 vulnerable adults and 364 children were safeguarded.

The relationship between the police and military police was revealed in a Freedom of Information Request.

A copy of the MOU reads: "160 Provost Company were approached by the Waterloo Hub of the British Transport Police with regards to members of 160 Pro Coy participating in work attachments as part of BTP routine patrols and initial response to incidents.

"It was proposed that 160 Pro Coy personnel would work alongside BTP Officers in a 'shadowing' capacity observing the working practises of and providing additional support where required within their powers and remit.

"160 Pro Coy are actively seeking opportunities to provide greater policing and investigative exposure to its personnel. This link to the BTP presents an excellent opportunity to achieve the latter."

It says RMP officers must not carry firearms, drive RMP vehicles or take part in vehicle pursuits during their attachments.

A video clip of policing at Woking Station in May shows military police officers in fatigues searching suspects.

Major Michael Boyd, Officer Commanding 156 Provost Company, 4 Regiment Royal Military Police said: "This partnership expands the ability of our organisation to effectively support the service community using these transit links, whilst providing our personnel with exciting professional development opportunities alongside our BTP colleagues."

An MoD spokesperson said: "The Royal Military Police (RMP) has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the British Transport Police (BTP) to permit short workplace attachments. Lasting two weeks, these attachments are conducted throughout the year

"The purpose of this MoU is to enable members of the Service Police to learn best practice from our Home Office Police Force colleagues, supporting the significant joint work already undertaken across the country where soldiers work and live.

"Personnel are not present in an active policing capacity and have no additional policing powers.

"They are present purely to learn, support and observe the BTP conducting Stop and Search activity.

"On occasion members of the Service Police have been required to undertake searches of members of the public; they have done these at the request of the BTP, under their supervision, and are authorised to do so in accordance with sect 24A of PACE 84.

"On occasion, the RMP support the BTP on their county line operations, as long as they are in an area that has a military connection.

"Over the last few months, the RMP has supported five of these operations and is working with BTP to identify opportunities to support future operations."

(1st August 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 20th July 2019 author Megan White)

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The Metropolitan Police was left red-faced after pranksters apparenlty targeted its Twitter account in a late-night hack.

Messages including "what you gonna do phone the police?" and "no comment get my lawyer" appeared on the London force's social media and news pages on Friday night.

Some of the posts also linked to false press releases expressing anti-police sentiments and calling for drill artist Digga D's release.

The account has more than 1.2 million followers.

Superintendent Roy Smith warned social media users of the security breach, saying it had been subject to "unauthorised access" and telling followers to "ignore any tweets until we verify that it is back under official control."

Scotland Yard said in a statement there had been no "hack" of its IT infrastructure and the security issue had only affected its MyNewsDesk account, which it uses to issue news releases.

They said: "The Met Police Press Bureau uses an online provider called MyNewsDesk to issue news releases and other content.

"When a story is published via MyNewsDesk, it appears on the Met's website and Twitter accounts and generates an email to those who've subscribed to receive our news updates.

"Last night, Friday 19 July, unauthorised messages appeared on the news section of our website as well as on the @metpoliceuk Twitter feed and in emails sent to subscribers.

"While we are still working to establish exactly what happened, we have begun making changes to our access arrangements to MyNewsDesk.

"We apologise to our subscribers and followers for the messages they have received.

"At this stage, we are confident the only security issue relates to access to our MyNewsDesk account.

"There has been no 'hack' of the Met Police's own IT infrastructure.

"We are assessing to establish what criminal offences have been committed."

(1st August 2019)

(Lincolnshire Live, dated 20th July 2019 author Matthew Lodge)

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The number of serious crimes involving knives and sharp instruments in Lincolnshire has risen to its highest point on record.

Lincolnshire Police recorded 266 serious crimes in 2018/19 - up 15 per cent from the year before, and the most since records began in 2010/11, when police recorded 172 such crimes.

The offences include attempted murder, threats to kill, assault with injury and assault with intent to cause serious harm, robbery, rape, and sexual assault where the offender used a knife or sharp instrument.

However, other offences that might have included knives are not included, so the true figure could be higher.

It comes as the number recorded crimes rose by 31 per cent to 53,127.

 Among knife-related crimes recorded last year were two murders, including the killing of mother-of-two Marie Gibson.

The number of rapes and sexual assaults rose from four to six, while knifepoint robberies rose from 49 to 73.

Stalking and harassment was up 271 per cent, violence against the person was up 97 per cent, and public order offences were up 127 per cent.

However vehicle offences were down 15 per cent and burglaries were down 7 per cent.

The increase in knife-related crime in Lincolnshire was more than double the eight per cent increase which also brought national levels to a record high.

Crime as a whole - measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales - has remained steady.

Increases are believed to be due to improvements in police recording of crime, as well as more victims reporting - especially in cases of stalking and harassment, public order, and some sexual and violent crimes.

(1st August 2019)

(Independent, dated 13th May 2019 author Zamira Rahim)

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Azerbaijan is the worst place to be gay in Europe, according to LGBT+ rights group ILGA-Europe.

The campaigners ranked countries along a scale, in which zero indicated gross human rights abuses and 100 per cent represented the greatest degree of equality.

Now in its 10th year, the ranking analysed laws and policies governing LGBT+ matters across 49 European countries over the past 12 months.

Marks were given across 69 individual categories, such as employment rights and marriage equality.

Azerbaijan scored just 3 per cent in the survey, while Turkey and Armenia were awarded 5 per cent and 7 per cent each.

In 2017 reports emerged of an alleged crackdown on LGBT+ people in Azerbaijan.

Human rights groups condemned news of mass arrests and abuses and urged authorities to release those who were jailed.

Azerbaijan's Ministry of Internal Affairs has responded to criticism by activists in the past by claiming that such raids are not a specific attack on LGBT+ people but instead a crackdown on prostitution.

The countries that did well in ILGA's ranking include Malta, which came first with 90 per cent.

Belgium and Luxembourg were ranked as the second and third best European countries for LGBT+ rights.

"Those countries that continue to do really well and go up are those that ... clicked quite some time ago that the agenda was more than marriage equality," said Evelyne Paradis, the campaign group's executive director.

Due to a shift in the number of categories included in the survey, several countries that had formerly been seen as leaders of LGBT+ equality, such as the UK, saw their overall percentages slip between 2018 and 2019.

Last year, Britain scored 73 per cent and was ranked equal with Finland and France at fourth.

The UK fell to 66 per cent in the 2019 index, tied at seventh with Portugal.

Further information (uaware)

Sexual orientation laws map :

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association :

(Independent, dated 14th May 2019 author Alessio Perrone)

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The UK has dropped another three places in a Europe-wide rank of the best countries for LGBT+ people, after being ranked first just five years ago.

Rainbow Europe, an index put together by campaign group ILGA-Europe, ranked how each European country's laws and policies impacted on the lives of LGBT+ people, with zero indicating gross human rights abuses and 100 per cent the greatest degree of equality.

Between 2018 and 2019, the UK slid from fourth to seventh place.

In 2018, the UK scored 73 per cent and was tied with Finland and France just below the top three countries.

The 2019 ranking, announced in Oslo on Monday 13 May, saw the UK slide to 65 per cent, tied with Portugal.

Malta ranked first, followed by Belgium and Luxembourg. Norway, Denmark and Finland also ranked higher than the UK.

Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia were the bottom three countries for LGBT+ people in 2019, with a score of 3 per cent, 5 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

Due to a shift in the number and weighing of categories included in the survey, several other countries that had formerly been seen as leaders of LGBT+ equality saw their overall percentages slip.

Germany, France and Norway also saw their percentages fall over the past 12 months.

"Sadly, this year, we see concrete evidence of roll-back at political and legislative levels in a growing number of countries," said ILGA-Europe's Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis. "There is no more time to waste."

A spokeswoman for Britain's Government Equalities Office said in an email: "The UK has a proud record of promoting equality for LGBT people and we continue to be recognised as one of the leading progressive countries in Europe for LGBT rights."

(Independent, dated 20th July 2019 author Rick Noack)

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Upbeat '80s pop music accompanied about 1,000 rainbow-draped activists as they embarked on this city's first-ever LGBT+ rights march last weekend.

But the music could barely drown out the boos from bystanders.

The marchers proceeded past banners that compared gays to paedophiles.

They pressed on in the face of counter-protesters making threatening gestures and Catholics praying on the sidewalks in silent protest.

The scene reflected a growing tension in this country - between a burgeoning rights movement and a conservative backlash.

It's a tension that the Polish ruling party has been accused of fuelling and exploiting.

Ahead of parliamentary elections this autumn, the Law and Justice party has thrown the full weight of its party apparatus behind a campaign that is marginalising Poland's LGBT+ community, its critics say.

The party's new focus on countering what its officials call Western "LGBT ideology" has largely replaced its prior rallying cries against migrants, said Michal Bilewicz, a researcher at the University of Warsaw who tracks the prevalence of prejudices against minorities in public discourse.

In 2015, anti-migrant rhetoric helped the right-wing populist party come to power, according to data gathered by Mr Bilewicz.

But even at the height of Europe's surge, Poland never saw many non-European migrants, and public attention became more difficult to sustain once the flow to the continent diminished.

This spring, as Law and Justice was gearing up for European Parliament elections, its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski highlighted another supposed foreign danger.

Warsaw's mayor had recently advocated integrating sex education and LGBT+ issues into school curriculums, in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines.

In Mr Kaczynski's telling, this was "an attack on the family" and "an attack on children".

He called "LGBT ideology" an imported "threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state".

(1st August 2019)

(Examiner Live, dated 20th July 2019 author Robert Sutcliffe)

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Eight shops in Huddersfield town centre were raided and 10,000 illicit cigarettes seized during a joint operation with police and West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

Police were joined by the detection dog team from BWY Canine (specialist tobacco detection), Kirklees Council licensing officers, officers from the Special Constabulary, PCSOs and British Gas.

The premises were visited during the operation that had been highlighted through intelligence from the community and partner agencies.

Of these eight shops, officers uncovered three dangerous abstractions of electricity, which was a danger to the premises, staff, customers and the nearby area.

An emergency call-out was made to Northern Power Grid to ensure the premise supply was safe.

Results of the operation:

- Eight premises visited - significant quantity of illegal tobacco seized from four of them

- Three stores were found to be abstracting electricity, the power was disconnected

- One male immigrant arrested for illegal working and being an immigration absconder;

- One offensive weapon (extendable baton) was found behind the counter which was seized by police

- The passport and suitcase for a female, believed to have been trafficked for prostitution recovered from one of the stores

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: "llegal tobacco is often less than half the tax-paid price of legally sold tobacco, and this maintains smokers in their habit and encourages young people to start smoking.

"Far from being a victimless crime illegal tobacco trading creates a cheap source for children and young people and encourages adults to continue smoking by eroding cost motivation to quit.

"It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds."

Three Kirklees councillors from Newsome, Clr Andrew Cooper, Clr Karen Allison and Clr Susan Lee-Richards also joined the night operation.

Clr Allison, said: "It was great to see first-hand the work done by Kirklees Licensing, West Yorkshire Trading Standards and the Police in tackling the criminal activity in our town.

"It was certainly an eye opener into the world of organised crime and one I won't forget."

(1st August 2019)

(Wiltshire Times, dated 18th July 2019 author John Baker)

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 WILTSHIRE is one of a few police forces nationwide where the number of overall reported crimes has fallen, according to crime statistics out today.

For the period March 2018 to March 2019, burglaries and vehicle crime dropped by 23 per cent and 28 per cent respectively.

With vehicle crime, that's more than a thousand fewer cars, vans and trucks being broken into.

Angus Macpherson, Wiltshire and Swindon's Police and Crime Commissioner, welcomed the latest figures, which are bucking the national trend.

He said the day-to-day crimes which people often experience are being dealt with effectively by a comparatively small, rural force where the staff and officers work hard to deliver the best service possible within the funding given.

He said: "As we know, Wiltshire is a safe county and I am pleased to see these latest figures highlight the on-going work being done by this Force to continually prevent crime and protect our communities.

"Our improved recording practices, which Wiltshire Police has been focusing on 18 months ahead of most other forces, has helped with the accuracy of these figures.

"In the last set of ONS statistics, burglary and vehicle crime had dropped and it is heartening to see that this continues - a result of me challenging the Chief Constable and his team on the improvement on burglary and vehicle crime numbers.

"This type of scrutiny from me and my office is crucial to ensure Wiltshire Police continues to deliver for the communities it serves."

Crimes involving a knife were stable for Wiltshire year on year compared to a national increase of eight per cent for this quarter.

However, recorded robbery increased by 7 per cent in 2019 compared to the 2018 figure (that's an increase of 21 incidents), alongside a 42 per cent increase in stalking and harassment. The robbery figure is still lower than the national average of 11 per cent.

He added: "I am pleased to see the strong preventative work carried out by the teams involved in the knife crime awareness Op Sceptre campaign and the on-going proactive work around County Lines is making a difference to our knife crime stats.

"The increase in robbery and stalking and harassment is concerning for me but I am aware that a rise in the latter is primarily due to the way stalking and harassment is now recorded separately to other crimes.

"This reflects how seriously it's being taken by the police; this is the same for robbery - I am aware the work which is being carried out to try and combat this crime with the Force not sitting back on its laurels and tackling a crime which is just awful for the victim."

Superintendent Sarah Robbins said: "Knowing we are one of the few Forces in the country where overall reported crime has dropped is good news but we are never complacent and remain focused when it comes to tackling all crimes and offenders.

"In relation to the increase in stalking and harassment offences, the jump comes after a change in the way this type of crime is now recorded separately to other crimes.

"We take this very seriously which is reflected by how we follow stringent national guidelines which gives clarity to what this type of abuse is.

"Also, our officers are receiving on-going and in-depth training helping them to understand and deal with these cases and the often innocent people who find themselves on the receiving end of what can be a very frightening experience.

"With robberies, it is always concerning to see a rise in an offence which can increase the fear of crime in communities.

"However, we need to put some context around this, as a small force with a large rural footprint, robbery offences are generally low which means that when there is a small increase in numbers of recorded crimes, as we have seen here, the percentage increase can appear high - it looks far more alarming than it is and let's not forget it is still lower than the national average.

"However, we will never be blase about this and we continue to address this type of crime and its causes.

"Examples include: the on-going preventative work around knife crime and the tackling of organised criminal gangs linked to drug supply and County Lines through the proactive work by our Dedicated Crime Teams."

(1st August 2019)

(Reuters, dated 18th July 2019 Michael Holden and Costas Pitas)

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British police said on Thursday they had used anti-graft powers in a serious organized crime case for the first time after freezing assets owned by a businessman with suspected links to gangs involved in armed robberies and drug trafficking.

The National Crime Agency said it had secured an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) to force the man to reveal the source of funds used to kickstart his 10 million-pound ($12.5 million)property empire, suspecting that the money came from criminal associates.

Interim freezing orders mean eight properties he had bought across the country cannot be sold or transferred while the police carry out their inquiries.

UWOs were brought in mainly to force foreign officials suspected of corruption and their families to account for their wealth, in a bid to stem dirty money flowing through Britain.

The anti-corruption powers were used for the first time last year against Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of the jailed former chairman of Azerbaijan's largest bank, to seize a property and a golf course worth about 22 million pounds.

"These orders are a powerful tool in being able to investigate illicit finance generated within, or flowing into the UK and discourage it happening in the first place," said Andy Lewis, Head of Asset Denial at the NCA.

(1st August 2019)

(Euronews / Reuters, dated 18th July 2019 authors Tom Pollard, Panu Wongcha-um and Clarence Fernandez)

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Transnational crime syndicates are growing more powerful in Southeast Asia and raking in profit by exploiting rampant corruption, weak law enforcement and lax border controls, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Such groups generate profit of tens of billions of dollars each year from a rising trade in drugs, counterfeit goods and medicines, people-smuggling, and trafficking of wildlife and timber, it added.

"In many parts of Southeast Asia, the systematic payment of bribes at borders is as regulated as the payment of fees in official bureaucratic systems," the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report.

Many of the cartels, based in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Thailand, are "outpacing the ability of law enforcement to respond, while posing serious threats to public security and sustainable development," it warned.

Rapidly expanding and poorly regulated casinos also offer crime syndicates an easy way to launder illicit earnings. Proceeds of crime are also laundered through the formal banking system in Singapore and Hong Kong, it added.

Responding to the report, a Thai senator offered to join hands with the agency and other nations to fight the menace.

"We are ready to take a leadership role and work with UNODC and international partners to build resilience and address cross-border trafficking," said Prajin Juntong, who is also a former deputy prime minister.


As evidence of the rise of organised crime, the report highlighted an explosion in production of the drug methamphetamine in Myanmar and its distribution across the Asia-Pacific, often concealed in tea packages.

"The Asia-Pacific meth market is now the biggest in the world," Jeremy Douglas, the agency's representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, told Reuters.

"Of all the organised crime types, meth trafficking is the most dangerous and the most profitable. It underpins the growing power of these transnational crime groups."

The trade was worth between $30.3 billion and $61.4 billion last year, up from $15 billion in 2013, the agency said.

The most valuable markets in Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea make up $20 billion, or a third of the high-end estimate, it added.

More than 12 million users in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand consumed about 320 tonnes of pure methamphetamine last year, the bulk from industrial-scale labs in northern Myanmar, it estimated.

A record 120 tonnes was also seized by law enforcement, but falling prices show more reaches users than is impounded.

Crystal meth, mostly consumed by middle-class party-goers in developed countries, is ingested in poorer countries as tablets mixed with caffeine, often to help users cope with gruelling work in factories and construction sites.

The purity of crystal meth, the most potent form, ranges between 50 and 90 percent, but in tablets it ranges from 15 to 25 percent.

(AP News, dated 18th July 2019 authors Pitcha Dangpasith and Kaweewit Kaewjinda)

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Organized crime syndicates in Southeast Asia are flourishing in the illegal trafficking of drugs, wildlife, counterfeit goods and people, a U.N. report said Thursday.

The 179-page report from the United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime said that corruption and freer movement of people and goods have facilitated the trafficking, adding that organized crime groups in the region are becoming more mobile as they exploit areas with weak border control and use advanced logistics to move products.

"Southeast Asia has an organized crime problem, and it is time to coalesce around solutions to address the conditions that have allowed illicit businesses to grow, and to secure and cooperate along borders," said Jeremy Douglas, a regional representative of the UNODC.

Douglas said cumulative value of the methamphetamine market is more than $60 billion this year. Facilitated by organized crime, the market has expanded since a 2013 study found the accumulated value was $15 billion.

He said accessibility and the price of methamphetamine enables the market to thrive.

"The groups that are manufacturing methamphetamine are literally flooding the region for the purpose of building demand, and they're making it accessible at any price points," Douglas said. "So you can buy methamphetamine in Bangkok for $2 a pill. It's basically a price of a quart of milk."

To tackle the growing drug problem, the report said law enforcement and forensic drug laboratories should be supported to identify shifts in the illicit drug market as organized crime groups diversify chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine.

It says the region should also adopt measures to prevent trafficking of equipment used in manufacturing illicit drugs.

Human trafficking is another major issue for Southeast Asia and the report said it largely stems from differences in economic development and demand for cheap labor.

The report said "migrants are often subjected to debt bondage, physical violence, and other forms of exploitation" and it noted that there are "gaps in the official data."

Douglas said governments in Southeast Asia should implement more effective recruitment and migration management systems.

"Governments of the region haven't properly developed the system to gather the data of the victims of human trafficking, and that needs to be changed," he said and added that governments should also raise awareness of vulnerable populations at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking.

On the illegal wildlife trade, the report mentions that Laos has become "a major global hub for the trafficking of high value and highly threatened species into other Asian markets, and the country has been identified as the world's fastest growing ivory market."

"Governments in Southeast Asia should review their criminal legislation to ensure that law enforcement agencies are fully authorized to follow the financial flows related to wildlife crime and to prosecute money laundering offences," the report said.

Another thriving trade among crime groups which the report identified as counterfeit goods - including apparel, watches, perfumes, alcohol, electronics and pirated movies and software - makes up a $33.8 to $35.9 billion market. It urged authorities to seize illicit gains from offenders and said internet platforms such as search engines, online market places, trading platforms and payment service providers should cooperate, and take responsibility for the illicit activities that take place on them.

(Reuters, dated 18th July 2019 authors Tom Allard, Panu Wongcha-um and Clarence Fernandez)

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Transnational crime groups are trafficking vast quantities of methamphetamine made in Southeast Asia, the United Nations said on Thursday, putting the value of the Asia-Pacific market for the drug between $30.3 billion and $61.4 billion.

The explosion in the meth trade, from an estimated $15 billion in 2013, comes as powerful syndicates exploit endemic graft, weak law enforcement and lax border controls, the United Nations added.

"In many parts of Southeast Asia, the systematic payment of bribes at borders is as regulated as the payment of fees in official bureaucratic systems," the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report.

The cartels, based in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Thailand, produce most of the meth in northern Myanmar in industrial-scale labs and distribute it as far away as Japan and New Zealand.

"The Asia-Pacific meth market is now the biggest in the world," Jeremy Douglas, the agency's representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, told Reuters.

"Of all the organized crime types, meth trafficking is the most dangerous and the most profitable. It underpins the growing power of these transnational crime groups."

The most valuable markets in Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea account for $20 billion, or a third of the high-end estimate of the trade, the agency added.

More than 12 million users in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand consumed about 320 tonnes of pure methamphetamine last year and a record 120 tonnes was seized by law enforcement.

Crystal meth is mostly consumed by middle-class party-goers in developed countries. In poorer nations, users take it as tablets mixed with caffeine, often to help cope with grueling work in factories and at construction sites.


Mushrooming poorly regulated casinos in Southeast Asia offer criminals an easy way to launder illicit earnings, the agency said, and such funds can go through the formal banking system in wealthy Singapore and the financial hub of Hong Kong.

"There has been a proliferation of casinos, something that is rarely talked about and deserves attention," said Douglas, adding that Southeast Asian casino numbers have swelled to 230 after a money-laundering crackdown in the gambling hub of Macau.

Responding to Thursday's report, a Thai senator offered to join hands with the agency and other nations to fight the menace.

"We are ready to take a leadership role and work with UNODC and international partners to build resilience and address cross-border trafficking," said Prajin Juntong, who is also a former deputy prime minister.

Organized crime groups also fuel a rising trade in counterfeit goods and medicines, people-smuggling and trafficking of wildlife and timber, the report added.

"Wildlife and timber trafficking is also an emergency," said Douglas, calling for a joint combat effort. "Extinction is on the horizon."

(1st August 2019)

(The Sun, dated 18th July 2019 author Faye de Silva)

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According to new figures a total of 104,768 thefts were reported per capita over the last 12 months in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The university cities of Cambridge and Oxford ranked in second and third place respectively.

Despite few people living in the City of London area, the number of reported thefts has increased by the thousands of people cycling to work in the area.

Last year the Met Police alone received 21,945 accounts of bikes being stolen with British Transport Police reporting 6,395 - highlighting how transport hubs are a popular spot for thieves.

Other top cities for bike theft were revealed as Newport, Chichester and Warwick.

Leading cycling insurance provider Yellow Jersey worked alongside British Transport Police to reveal the stats across 351 districts.

And they provided heat maps of bike theft in the UK, to find out if your area is affected.

Emily Conrad-Pickles, head of marketing at Yellow Jersey said: "It's a sad reality that people are put off cycling due to the levels of theft, in particular at a time where society is trying to encourage greener methods of transport - both for the environment and public health.

"Home insurance is often insufficient cover if your bicycle is stolen outside of the home and cyclists should consider getting specialist cover for their bicycle if they are looking to leave them locked up outside of the home to take away the worry of theft - which will likely also cover them for Public Liability.

"We require all our policy holders to use either Sold Secure Gold or Silver standard rated locks to help reduce their risk of becoming a victim of bike crime in the first place.

"These theft maps will allow people to look at the crime hot spots near to where they live and work and perhaps help them to plan a safer place to leave their bike."

Meanwhile, the areas with the lowest number of stolen bikes are West Devon, Torridge, in North Devon, and the Forest of Dean.

A supporting study of 2,000 Brits carried out by Yellow Jersey found more than one quarter of the nation have had a bike stolen.

Of those, six in 10 never managed to get their bike back, and one in 10 who did said the bicycle was in an unusable condition.

One quarter had their bike stolen from their own garden while one in 10 found their bike pinched from outside their workplace.

Superintendent Mark Cleland, national lead for cycle crime said cyclists should be aware of where cycle crime is prevalent and us the best rated "secured by design" locks.

He said: "We are currently working with our partners on a number of initiatives that will contribute to reducing cycle crime across the UK.

"Prevention is always better than cure."

Cleland added: "Don't forget that by registering your bike, if it is lost or stolen, there is a greater chance of it being recovered."


There is a lot of data on the map, so do be patient if it takes a couple of seconds to load!

The heatmap displays every instance of bicycle theft with a valid GPS location reported to the police for the six months from November 2018 to April 2019 in England Wales and Northern Ireland. The raw data is available to download from

(1st August 2019)

(This is Money, dated 18th July 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of vehicles stolen from railway station car parks has almost trebled in four years, according to exclusive data sourced from British Transport Police figures.

Some 414 vehicles - including cars, motorcycles and scooters - were pinched from train stations from April 2018 and March 2019, This is Money can reveal.

That compares to just 138 thefts from railway car parks in the same months between 2014 and 2015 - a massive 198 per cent rise.

The spike has been driven by a surge in scooter thefts, which are easy for criminals to target, according to, which compiled the exclusive data for us.

The car buying comparison website issued a Freedom of Information request to the British Transport Police, having identified a rise in railway station crime as part of wider vehicle theft research it conducted earlier in the year.

The figures showed that - unsurprisingly - it is London's commuter belt stations that are being hit most often by criminals.

In fact, all top ten stations for thefts from car parks are within an hour of the capital.

That will be a bitter pill for many to swallow, especially considering that most are being stung by higher travel costs and increasingly expensive season tickets.

Sevenoaks has the worst record of all UK train station, with 14 vehicles stolen from the car park in the last year, the data shows.

Brighton was second, recording 10 thefts during the same period followed by Ebbsfleet International and Haslemere with eight each.

But data going back another year indicates measures can be taken to stop thefts

In the 12 months before last year, St Albans City was officially the worst station, with 22 recorded vehicle thefts, but it seems security improvements have been made as motor crime figures have shrunk 77 per cent, according to British Transport Police records.

Commuters will be hoping similar measures will be in operation at their stations too, with many locations now using CCTV to crack down on thefts from car parks.

Network Rail, which owns and operates the railway infrastructure in England, Scotland and Wales, is responsible for the 20 largest stations.

However, the remaining train stations - of which there are more than 2,500 - are managed by the train operating companies, which are responsible for surveillance and security.

Alex Buttle, director of, said the figures make 'depressing reading for commuters' and said the rise in railway station thefts had been 'turbocharged by the growth in popularity of scooters and mopeds', which are easy to steal for seasoned thieves.

Stolen mopeds are also attractive to criminal gangs who use them because they allow for a quick getaway and are better for evading the police than cars.

That might help explain why more than a third (39 per cent) of all vehicles stolen from train station car parks in the last year were two-wheeled.

The data shows that Honda is the most stolen brand, with 67 vehicles - cars, motorcycles and scooters - being taken by crafty criminals.

Fords (47) was the next most commonly targeted brand, though Yamaha (46), Piaggio (32) and Vespa (17) - both of which are two-wheeled vehicle manufacturers - were among the manufacturers that are most frequently being nicked.

The data showed that car thieves are going after some expensive models, too.

Some 18 Land Rovers and 12 Range Rovers have been stolen from railway station car parks in the last year, as have 11 Audis.

While 414 thefts is a significant number, it's only a fraction (0.4 per cent) of the 110,500 vehicles stolen every year in England and Wales.

For instance, Home Office data shows that four in 10 nicked vehicles during 2018 were reported by the Metropolitan Police (30,752) and West Midlands Police (11,140).

Nonetheless, Buttle warned that motorists need to take extra precautions when leaving their vehicles in railway station car parks, even if the area is being monitored by Big Brother cameras - especially as figures show that police fail to recover more than half of all motors that are nicked from their owners.

'Although most, if not all, stations car parks will have CCTV cameras, that doesn't mean your vehicle won't be targeted,' he told This is Money.

'Seasoned criminals know how to quickly gain access to cars, and many aren't bothered by on-site security.

'Motorbikes, mopeds and scooters are particularly vulnerable, so ensure you have multiple security measures in place; such as wheel locks and clamps plus heavy-duty chain link or brake disc locks to make your vehicle less appealing to opportunistic criminals.'

Railway stations with the most vehicle thefts (April 18 - March 19)

Sevenoaks (Kent) : 14
Brighton (Sussex) : 10
Ebbsfleet International (Kent) : 8
Haslemere (Surrey) : 8
Godalming (Surrey) : 7
Hildenborough (Kent) : 7
Beaconsfield (Buckinghamshire) : 6
Cambridge (Cambridgeshire) : 5
Farnborough (Hampshire) : 5
Harlow Town (Essex) : 5

(1st August 2019)

(The Times, dated 18th July 2019 author Jonathan Ames)

Ful article [Option 1]:

An airline has billed a passenger £85,000 for allegedly storming the cockpit of a jet that had to be escorted back to Stansted Airport by RAF Typhoon fighters.

Chloe Haines, 25, was said to have tried to open the cockpit door 45 minutes into a Jet2 flight to Turkey. She allegedly sent an attendant "flying across the plane" before she was restrained.

Steven Brown, 58, a passenger, told The Sun: "She was punching, kicking and screaming at the stewards. They were trying to stop her but they had no chance. It was like she was possessed." On landing at Stansted the woman, from Maidenhead in Berkshire, was arrested on suspicion of assault and endangering an aircraft.

The airline issued a statement saying that Ms Haines, who has been banned from the airline for life, "must face up to the consequences of her actions".

Steve Heapy, the chief executive of Jet2, said: "We will vigorously pursue to recover the costs that we incurred as a result of this divert, as we do with all diruptive passengers. We take a zero tolerance approach to diruptive behaviour, and we hope that this incident provides a stark warning to others."

Ms Haines was approached for comment but did not respond.

(1st August 2019)

(BBC News, dated 17th July 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

Older people who are victims of crime are being let down by police and prosecutors in England and Wales, a report has concluded.

The joint report by two watchdogs has looked for the first time at the treatment of victims aged over 60.

It found that care was not good enough in 101 of the 192 cases examined.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it accepted the findings. The College of Policing said it aimed to improve the protection of vulnerable people.

The report highlighted "grave" concerns regarding safeguarding measures and said: "Much work is needed".

Inspectors found 153 cases in England and Wales where a safeguarding referral should have been made by police to the local council.

But there were no such referrals in about half (77) of the incidents.

Police forces in Greater Manchester, North Wales, Dorset, Humberside, Cambridgeshire and Gloucestershire were examined for the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI).


The report said: "Crime against older people isn't well understood, despite the vulnerability of older people and the importance that society attaches to looking after people in their old age."

Although police forces recognised fraud was an "increasingly common concern" for older victims, forces had only a "superficial" understanding of other problems, the report added.

Officers struggled to deal with the complex needs of older people and did not always take measures to keep them safe after they had reported a crime, the report found. Referrals to victim support services were also branded "too inconsistent".

In one example, a 75-year-old man who was said to be traumatised after being attacked and threatened was not contacted by police for three weeks after reporting the crime.

Another case concerned an 83-year-old robbery victim who lived alone and had mental health problems.

Inspectors said he was given no opportunity to record his evidence in advance of the trial. The case was later dropped because he was unable to testify in person in court.

The College of Policing, which sets standards for the police, said it would work to improve the protection of vulnerable people, whatever their age.

HM Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams, said older victims of crime presented a "unique challenge" to police officers.

A spokesperson from the CPS said it accepted all of the report's recommendations.

(Independent, dated 17th July 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police are failing to solve crimes committed against elderly people and letting perpetrators walk free, watchdogs have warned.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate found that care for older victims was not good enough in more than half of cases examined.

In one case, a man pushed off his mobility scooter by masked youths was not visited for a day by police officers, despite being left "shaking, fearful and scared to go out at night".

In another, a woman with Parkinson's disease alleged that she had been attacked by nursing home staff but the defendant was acquitted at trial after police failed to film her victim statement or give her an intermediary to help giving evidence.

Officers also failed to take a statement from a 70-year-old woman with learning difficulties who had money stolen after asking an acquaintance for help with her finances and giving them her bank details. No-one was arrested.

Another case was closed because an 83-year-old man with mental health issues was unable to give evidence in court after he was violently attacked and robbed.

The watchdogs warned that a lack of understanding about how they could find it difficult to fully remember events or give evidence in court was causing investigations to be dropped.

Wendy Williams, an HM inspector of constabulary, told The Independent that the number of cases referred by police to the Crown Prosecution Service involving victims over 60 had fallen, as well as the number of charges. Police officers just didn't seem to be alive to the vulnerability [of older victims] and how it could affect the way they dealt with cases," she said.

"We were concerned that it could be damaging investigations and the likelihood of prosecution. There were case studies where failures to build the case had an adverse impact on the outcome."

Previous inspections have found that police forces are failing to respond to "lower-level" crimes because budget cuts and the loss of 20,000 officers since 2010 are forcing them to prioritise resources.

Ms Williams said some of the offences being de-prioritised, including fraud, criminal damage and minor thefts, also "tend to involve older victims".

"The types of crimes that are committed against older people also involve things like cybercrime, so given the prevalence of that if we're not careful we could be storing up problems for the future as the population ages," she added.

Older people account for 18 percent of the population, but over eight out of ten victims of doorstop scams are elderly, and they also comprise a quarter of domestic homicide victims, the report said.

Inspectors found that while the response to crimes reported by over-60s was broadly good, officers did not always offer victims appropriate support or prevent the investigations being hampered by issues including memory loss, illness and mobility issues.

It said that because there is no national definition of older victims or specific guidance, police have only a "superficial understanding" of the nature and extent of crimes against older people and give them a poorer service.

The watchdog said older people were not referred to councils for protection in more than half the cases they should have been, while the use of victim support services were "too inconsistent".

Pensioners were not always offered the support of intermediaries, or helped to give their best evidence with measures like video statements and using hearing loops.

Louise Haigh, Labour's shadow policing minister, said: "The police and local authorities, creaking under pressure of Tory cuts and soaring demand, are unable to meet the need of vulnerable adults whenever and wherever they need it. While it is clear that consistent arrangements and a national focus on vulnerable adults are needed, this will only be effective if local authorities and the police are properly resourced to meet the demand."

Inspectors called for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the CPS to agree a definition of older victims and take a coordinated approach to understand and respond to the problem.

They recommended that within six months, the NPCC should establish a standard for victim needs assessments and draw up a strategy for responding to older victims with the College of Policing.

The report called for "urgent" guidelines and training for adult safeguarding procedures, to bring it up to the standard used for children at risk.

The inspectors examined 32 cases from each of six police forces, 16 charged and 16 not charged. The forces were: Greater Manchester, North Wales, Dorset, Humberside, Cambridgeshire and Gloucestershire.

Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick, from the College of Policing, said its updated vulnerability training had been made available to all police forces in England and Wales.

"It is concerning the inspectors found the service to some elderly people fell below expected standards and we will be working with agencies, including the National Police Chiefs' Council and Crown Prosecution Service, to examine the report and its recommendations in detail and continue to support policing to improve the protection of vulnerable people, whatever their age," she added.

The CPS said it had published updated policy and legal guidance for our prosecutors that addressed many issues in the report.

"We have accepted all the inspectorates' recommendations," a spokesperson said. "Over the next six months we will improve how we identify cases where older people have been deliberately targeted and consider if they need assistance such as intermediaries or interpreters in court.

"We will also make better use of restraining orders and other ancillary measures that further protect victims beyond any sentence given to offenders."

(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 17th July 2019 author Louise Donovan)

Full article [Option 1]:

Tucked behind a busy north London road, the UK's first "safe space" for child sexual abuse victims is an oasis of calm. Set over two floors, the building is airy and light.

The toxic legacy of child abuse gets minimal attention, yet the problem amounts to a public health challenge, say experts. Although we don't know exactly how many children in the UK experience sexual abuse as it's hidden from view, research suggests one in 20 children have been sexually abused, yet many more incidents go undetected, unreported and untreated.

The Lighthouse hopes to help change that. Launched in October 2018, the £8m service provides a space to support young people up to the age of 18, and 18- to 25-year-olds with learning disabilities. When a child or young person discloses sexual abuse, they are often left to navigate the system by themselves and will have to retell the story several times to different professionals. The experience can be traumatic and lengthy, and it leads to few convictions.

In the Lighthouse, however, all the services needed - medical, social care, advocacy, police and therapeutic support - are housed under one roof.

Nine months into a two-year pilot, the centre has the capacity to support 500 young people each year. Available to families in five north London boroughs, the services are provided by the University College London Hospitals (UCLH) trust in partnership with The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, NSPCC, Metropolitan Police, domestic violence charity, Solace, and Camden council, and the centre receives around 35 referrals per month from social care, schools, police and parents. Young people over 13 years can also refer themselves, though the numbers are low.

"We're nimbler, and much more responsive," explains Emma Harewood, the Lighthouse's delivery and service manager , and the mastermind behind the project. While demand for child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) has increased, the government has cut almost £500m since 2013 from services providing early intervention support. Even if you report sexual abuse, you're likely to have to wait months for therapy and support.

Yet the Lighthouse can see children in a matter of weeks. This is largely due to its multi-agency approach and funding. More than half (£4.5m) came from the Home Office, while the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, NHS England and the Department for Education also contributed. Additional services are provided by the NSPCC through partnership funding with Morgan Stanley.

Each child's route through the service will vary. Lucy, 17, was referred by children's services after finally telling her mum about the long-term rape and sexual assault she'd been subjected to at home by her dad. She met the Lighthouse's in-house social workers to relay her experience.

"At the first assessment, we make sure we've got the core people in the room and aim to minimise retraumatising the child," explains Martin Slack, the centre's social care liaison officer.

Lucy will also meet an advocate, whose job is to guide her; whether it's help with the court process or support around housing. "When you've been violated, your autonomy is compromised," explains Anna Weedon, one of the first advocates at the Lighthouse. "We give the young person a bit of control back and make sure they're being heard."

Next is the interview, which is often the only source of evidence in sexual abuse cases. They are typically led by police officers in settings that are rarely child-friendly. At the Lighthouse, however, young people are interviewed by clinical psychologists, which is "really quite radical," says Harewood.

It follows a model known as Barnahus (child house), pioneered in Iceland 20 years ago and then launched in Sweden, Norway, Greenland and Denmark. The system is recognised as international best practice because it's child-centric and achieves the most effective results.

In Iceland, the change has been startling. The number of convictions doubled between 1995-97 and 2011-13, and the system is proven to reduce children's trauma and gather better evidence from interviews for court.

In the UK, the Lighthouse has taken elements of the model such as the psychology-led interview. The discussion is filmed by discreet cameras, and watched by the police officer leading the investigation from a connecting room. To get the best interview, the psychologist will ask open, non-leading questions. They'll also say things like: "Remember, I wasn't there" to signal to the child that they - not the adult - are the expert here.

"You're having to ask questions that can feel difficult, but if you don't ask them the defence will," explains Anna Churcher Clarke, a clinical psychologist at the Lighthouse. "If there were other adults in the house, for example, and the child is saying they didn't want the abuse to happen, you might ask: You didn't leave the room at that point, why was that? It can feel like you're asking questions which imply 'I don't believe you' while letting the child know that you're with them."

The final steps include medical and therapy support to help young people recover fully. Although still in the early stages, the feedback from children has been promising. "It feels like I'm organising my brain," said one 13-year-old girl after her 10th therapy session. "It was all a mess, but I can see things are getting tidied up."

Before the Lighthouse opened its doors, four child sexual abuse hubs and a children's haven operated across north London, which brought together agencies and practitioners once a week on existing health premises.

Since the five-day-a-week safe space launched, referrals have shot up, from 80 to 264 cases a year, with an expected 425 by year-end.

Based on the pilot's success, Harewood hopes more centres will open. "There's a lot of interest nationally - we've had inquiries from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland," she says.

The Home Office has not ruled out the possibility of similar centres being set up. In a statement, a spokeswoman said: "This government is committed to doing all it can to tackle child sexual abuse. We hope the project will lead to improved health and wellbeing and criminal justice outcomes for victims of child sexual abuse."

In terms of future funding, there's no "magic solution", says Harewood. The Lighthouse is fully supported by the government, but is not a statutory service as the Barnahus are in Iceland and Scandinavia. Still, it's hard to ignore the maths. Child sexual abuse is estimated to cost the UK £3.2bn a year - it can be associated with eating disorders, self-harm, addiction to alcohol or drugs, PTSD, depression and suicide. In the US, for every dollar spent on child advocacy, research shows a further three are saved.

Harewood is well aware of the cost-saving benefits, but for her it's about more than that. "I've met a lot of adult survivors still struggling with significant mental health problems who say to me: 'if only someone had listened when I was young,'" she says.

"I realised we can change people's life course. If you can support a child so they don't feel worthless, guilty or vulnerable, you can protect them from future abuse. You're breaking the cycle - and that's so important."

(1st August 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 17th July 2019 author Mark Blunden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Bike-share firms face being fined up to £500 a time in an effort to stop dockless cycles being left strewn around London under plans being considered by town halls.

A new by-law is being drawn up which would make tech start-ups such as Mobike, Lime and Uber-owned Jump responsible for ensuring their cycles are left inside designated spaces.

It would be an offence for an operator to "cause or permit their dockless vehicle to be left on the highway or public place other than in an approved location", punishable by a fine up to £500.

Every bike would be tracked using a signal from a device on the frame, with riders expected to be prevented from checking in to end journeys outside the agreed parking zones.

Thousands of cycles have flooded central London in the pay-as-you-ride boom, pitched as an eco-alternative to short-hop bus, Tube or cab trips.

Users download an app which employs GPS to show where the nearest available bicycle can be found. They then scan a QR code to release the lock. But photographs on social media show hire bikes dumped in canals and the river, on railway tracks and pavements and in gardens.

Last month, the Standard pictured five bikes in mud along the foreshore outside Parliament.

Local authorities have been powerless to regulate the schemes beyond impounding bikes blocking roads or considered a danger.

The new proposal, drawn up under a 1972 law to "suppress nuisance", is being circulated around every council in the capital for approval before going back before London Councils' transport committee in October.

If approved, each area would be able to decide on appropriate parking zones, or to opt out and provide no parking.

It would also apply to electric scooters or other micromobility vehicles in the event these become road-legal. Kensington and Chelsea council welcomed the proposed rule.

It has already asked operators not to deploy their bikes in the borough, but has been unable to prevent cycles being left there by customers.

Officials say this has led to complaints of "inappropriate parking" blocking pavements for wheelchairs, pushchairs and the visually impaired.

A London Councils spokeswoman said the by-law would bring greater clarity and a pan-London approach.

A spokeswoman for Uber, which launched Jump with 350 electric bikes in Islington in May, said: "All Jump bikes are GPS-tracked and have built-in cable locks which can be locked to street infrastructure.

"Together with councils, we're providing clear guidelines in-app and on all bikes, to help avoid cluttering and ensure responsible use and parking."

(1st August 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 17th July 2019 author Hayley Dixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

Rape and sexual assault reports from university students have risen tenfold with Cambridge University seeing some of the highest number of complaints in the country, an investigation has revealed.

The "black-out drinking" culture is partly to blame, victims have warned as they reveal that they have been let down by a lack of systems in place to investigate and suspend alleged attackers.

The number of allegations made to universities per year rose from 65 in 2014 to 626 in 2018, Freedom of Information requests by Channel 4 News show.

It is feared that this could be the "tip of the iceberg" as campaigners warn that universities are not equipped to with the flood of complaints and risk leaving a "generation betrayed".

Among those who says they have been let down by the system is a Cambridge student who says that her college tipped off her alleged attacker when she grew frustrated at their response and called the police.

The Crown Prosecution service and the police actively encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward, despite the fact that prosecution rates are falling.

Allegations involving alcohol, which is often the case in reports of attacks on campus, are notoriously difficult to prove and are among the more difficult cases being dropped by prosecutors, charities have warned.

The figures show that the University of East Anglia had the highest number of reports - at 281 since 2014 - whilst Cambridge, which only  provided figures for the last three years, received 165 and the University of Birmingham recorded 87.

Each university stressed that the number of reports included historic allegations, many of which may have occurred off campus and did not reflect the number of incidents at the universities themselves.

The universities with the highest number of reports said that this was a "positive indicator" and reflected the fact they had improved awareness, reporting techniques and support for students.

Katie Russell, a spokeswoman for Rape Crisis, said that the figures mirror increases in reports to police and the charity's crisis centres, though the number of victims who come forward remains low at around 17 per cent.

She said that many universities are taking positive steps in dealing with sexual misconduct but they need to "take responsibility and adopt zero tolerance approach to any kind of sexist or abusive behaviour".

Dr Emma Chapman, member of the 1752 Group which campaigns against sexual misconduct in higher education, added that encouraging reports is not enough and universities are not putting the required resources into supporting alleged victims after they have made a complaint.

"I have seen nothing which has increased my faith in universities to deal with the people coming forward," Dr Chapman said.

"I am really pleased that more people feel able to report but I hope that trust is not misplaced or we could leave a whole generation feeling betrayed - and what would that mean for the next generation watching?"

A Birmingham University student who alleges she was drugged and raped on a night out is among those who believe that free alcohol and the culture of getting "black-out drunk" in fresher's week is contributing to the issues.

A woman who made rape allegations to Cambridge said that she was "shocked" when she was referred to numbers in the fresher's book.

When she did call the police the college warned the accused, she claims. He was detained but the case was dropped before trial.

Cambridge, which has previously admitted that it has a "significant problem" with sexual misconduct, said that cases such as this were "exactly" why they had pushed for change. 

Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Graham Virgo said that they have made a number of big changes since the woman made her allegations, including an anonymous reporting tool and a campaign to raise awareness.

He said: "I know from listening to students that no matter how well an investigation is handled it can be an extremely difficult experience. We are doing everything we can to make sure students feel supported.

"Sexual harassment is an issue for all universities, and for society - 1 in 4 UK women between the ages of 16 and 24 are subjected to some form of sexual violence.  It is one of the most underreported crimes as a result of stigma and victim blaming attached to it. We have to continue to address this and we will."

A spokesman said that when they launched an anonymous reporting tool in 2017 they knew that they would attract negative headlines as the University with one of the highest number of complaints, but it was "worth it" to encourage students to come forward.

Some of the universities included sexual harassment in the figures provided for Channel 4 News' Rape On Campus which will be broadcast on Thursday.

The University of Birmingham was among those to stress that some of the reports were historic and could come from any point in a student's life.

Not all complaints were formal and many were recorded anonymously. Birmingham, for example, said that they had only received 14 formal reports in the last five years whilst Cambridge said that of their reports only 12 were formal.

 A spokesman for  Universities UK said: "Universities are working hard to ensure that no student or member of staff is subjected to sexual assault or any form of harassment. This is a pressing issue across society, including within the UK's university student population of over 2 million, and we have called on university leaders to provide active senior leadership in this area.

"Our progress report found that although there is more work to be done, universities are making progress in tackling student sexual misconduct and there has been an increase in disclosures, which is considered a positive indication of cultural change where people feel comfortable reporting."

A spokesman for the University of Birmingham said: "We commend the incredible courage of all victims of sexual assault or rape and recognise the strength it takes to speak out about their experiences.

"The safety and wellbeing of our students is of paramount importance and we have invested significantly in taking a proactive, wrap-around approach to supporting students in reporting any incidents whenever and wherever they may have occurred - including during childhood, prior to attending university, while on vacation or overseas, or away from university. "

A spokesman for UAE said: " Over the past five years, UEA and the UEA Students' Union have worked together on a Never OK campaign to encourage students to report sexual harassment or improper sexual conduct and to build a culture of zero tolerance towards issues of harassment."

"The fact that students increasingly report incidents of sexual harassment is a positive indication that the work the University and the UEA Students' Union have done together over recent years to tackle issues of sexual misconduct is working."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Sexual violence and harassment is disgusting. It can have a devastating impact on victims and is completely unacceptable - they should always be reported so action can be taken.

"That's why we asked Universities UK to establish a specific taskforce to tackle Sexual violence and harassment and tasked the Office for Students (OfS) to work with institutions to implement its recommendations.

"Additionally, the OfS and its predecessor body have invested £4.7m to support projects focussed on tackling sexual and gender-based violence, online harassment and hate crime in higher education."

(1st August 2019)

(Independent, dated 17th July 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police are testing technology that aims to "assess the risk of someone committing a crime or becoming a victim" in the UK.

The government has pledged £5m of further funding to develop the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), which it hopes will be ruled out across England and Wales.

The system is entering its second year of testing by West Midlands Police and has so far used police data on knife and gun offences to identify patterns and common traits among perpetrators.

"NDAS analyses large volumes of police-held data to assess the risk of someone committing a crime or becoming a victim," a Home Office spokesperson said. "The programme is designed to support police officers and does not replace their decision making."

Officials said it was also processing crime reports and intelligence on modern slavery in an attempt to identify risk factors and networks.

The Independent understands that West Midlands Police are not yet using the technology as a basis for making arrests or interventions.

The campaign group Big Brother Watch said the technology risked "criminalising innocent people" and undermining the presumption of innocence.

"It's shocking that the Home Office is squandering millions from the public purse on this dystopian predictive policing system," said legal and policy officer Griff Ferris. "There is no public appetite for Minority Report-style policing in this country. It should be scrapped immediately."

Mr Ferris highlighted data showing that black people are already nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people and said West Midlands Police's ethics committee had raised "serious legal and ethical concerns" about the new technology.

The Home Office said the force was working with experts and non-governmental organisations to ensure "robust ethical oversight" in the wake of legal challenges and investigations over police trials of automatic facial recognition.

"Once fully tested, it is hoped NDAS would be made available to forces England and Wales who want to use it to improve their performance and to protect the public," a spokesperson added.

The programme was awarded £4.5m government funding in 2018-19 and is now being given another £5m from the Police Transformation Fund.

Superintendent Nick Dale, who leads on NDAS for West Midlands Police, said officers were still at an early stage in identifying how best machine learning technology can be used.

"This technology has the potential to help us understand modern slavery networks - the hidden crime within our communities - so much better, as well as the problems that lead to serious violence that blights communities and affects the lives of victims and perpetrators," he added. "It is really important that our work is scrutinised independently from an ethical point of view, and that technology will never replace professional judgement or affect the police's accountability for our actions."

A 2017 report by the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) said British forces already have access to huge amounts of data but lack the capability to use it.

But the report warned that machine learning can "reproduce the inherent biases present in the data they are provided with" and assess ethnic and religious minorities as an increased risk.

"Acting on these predictions will then result in those individuals being disproportionately targeted by police action, creating a 'feedback loop' by which the predicted outcome simply becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," RUSI warned.

Some forces have been testing different software and artificial intelligence tools, but have been hampered by outdated technology, fragmented national systems and a lack of national leadership on the controversial issue.

Greater Manchester Police developed its own "predictive crime mapping" software in 2012 and Kent Police has been using a system called PredPol since 2013.

The programmes aim to identify where and when offences will take place, causing officers to be send on targeted patrols aiming to prevent them.

Durham Constabulary has been developing an artificial intelligence-based system to evaluate the risk of convicts reoffending, called the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART).

It puts information on a person's past offending history, age, postcode and other background characteristics through algorithms that then classify them as a low, medium or high risk.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, said: "I fully support the police embracing innovative new technology in the fight against crime and to protect the most vulnerable victims. Anything we can do to stay one step ahead of the criminals should be welcomed - providing it is rigorously tested and ethically sound."

uaware comment

Let me guess, the AI system will initially be programmed with the following profile parameters :

- Afro-Carribeans will commit knife crimes
- White people are prone to racism.
- Women will be shop lifters
- People suffering from Asbergers or Autism will commit computer crimes.
- Teenagers who play "Fast and Furious" computer games will steal cars
- People who watch erotic video's will commit rape
- Loners will commit murders
- Stock-brokers will commit financial crimes
- Workers at call centres will commit phone scams
- Doctors will be mass murderers
- People with Northern accents are all honest.
- People from Essex all lie
- Police officers who commit crimes only represent the communities they serve.

Oh my, we are all guilty !

(1st August 2019)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

A British woman has escaped a forced marriage after raising the alarm with Border Force officers at Heathrow as she returned from honeymoon.

The woman is believed to have been married in Britain under pressure from her family. She told passport officers about her plight as she returned to the UK alone in recent weeks and is now receiving support and protection.

Her husband, who was met as he returned to Britain later, has also been offered "safeguarding" assistance because of concerns that he could also have been forced into the marriage.

The woman's rescue was revealed as Met officers and the Border Force carried out a day of action at Heathrow today in the latest phase of Operation Limelight. It seeks to prevent and detect forced marriage, female genital mutilation, honour-based violence and other practices such as breast ironing, by targeting flights to high-prevalence countries such as in Africa and the Gulf.

Those departing the UK are warned at the airport that such practices are illegal and told about the damaging health and psychological consequences for victims. Inbound flights are also monitored for signs of potential victims with air crews asked to report any concerns ahead of landing.

Official figures show the number of suspected forced marriage victims rose by 47 per cent last year to a record high of 1,764. But Amanda Read, the Border Force national lead on safeguarding and slavery, said the increasing willingness of victims and others to report cases was a key reason for the rise.

Ms Read said the woman at Heathrow "felt able to come and talk to us, we're in uniform, that's pretty key that she felt able to do that … It was the first time I'd seen that. For somebody actually to come back from honeymoon."

She added: "We knew when the husband was coming back so we made steps to intervene for him. He may equally need safeguarding."

Figures from the Government's Forced Marriage Unit show that Pakistan, Bangladesh, India , Somalia , Afghanistan and Romania account for the largest number of cases although the unit has identified victims from more than 110 countries since 2011.

Forced marriage survivors were at the day of action at today to provide advice. Staff from Hillingdon Children's Services and Barnardo's also attended.

- Victims or others seeking help can call the Forced Marriage Helpline on 020 7008 0151 or visit forcedmarriage

(1st August 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 16th July 2019 author Charles Hymas)

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Domestic violence victims in rural areas stay with their partners longer than their city counterparts because their abusers exploit the isolation of being in the countryside, says a report.

Research by the National Rural Crime Network found victims stay with their abusive partners on average 3 years before seeking help compared to 2.6 years in urban areas.

It claims that while the number of domestic violence offences recorded per 1,000 people in rural areas is lower, this is because victims are less likely to report the crime to police.

The report said it was more difficult to access support services in the countryside, which often had poor public transport, and that abusers were drawn to rural areas so that they could keep their victim isolated.

It concluded: "Rurality is a weapon that increases isolation, stigma and shame in small, often closed communities, and which creates barriers that, without pro-active intervention, will prevent many victims accessing support.

"The implications of this are serious. Victims and survivors are being let down, and are lacking support that could mean the difference between life and death.

"There is an urgent need for change, which needs to be considered seriously by policymakers and commissioners, and by frontline agencies and services in rural communities."

The researchers interviewed 67 victims from seven different areas of England, as well as reviewing existing literature on domestic violence.

Luke Hart, whose controlling father murdered his sister Charlotte, 19, and mother Claire, 50, in Lincolnshire in 2016, said: "Isolation was one of the key tactics our father used to control us.

"When I was three, he took us to the middle of nowhere into an old barn house where our parents didn't work for a decade. In fact, perpetrators will often move to rural communities precisely to isolate their victims

"Rural communities themselves don't have the same level of shared resources that urban communities do - such as public transport for example.

"Rural communities therefore offer a much easier opportunity for an abuser to economically abuse a victim and control their access to resources and their movements.

"Our father controlled the car and monitored exactly where our mother went and checked how many miles she drove.

"We never realised we were suffering domestic abuse because no one ever spoke about it in the area - most likely because people assumed, or didn't want it, to be a problem.

"Rural life is supposed to be idyllic and peaceful, so people often try to make it look that way, whether it's the case or not."

The report will be launched at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.

Chairwoman of the National Rural Crime Network Julia Mulligan said: "This report is clear - domestic abuse is hidden under our noses, hidden by abusers who like to keep it that way and on a scale of abuse hitherto unseen.

"All parties with a duty to help victims; the police, support services, charities, Police and Crime Commissioners, health services, and many others, need to understand that we have missed this. We have let victims and survivors down.

"We have collectively failed. We need to put that right. And for all of that, let me be the first to apologise to those we have failed."

The report includes 2016 crime data from 11 forces analysed by Dyfed Powys police which found that 9.23 domestic abuse offences per 1,000 people were reported in rural areas compared to 17.92 in cities and towns.

The report authors claim that the rates should be a similar number, and that the difference is because fewer victims in rural areas contact police.

Data from the 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales, based on victims' experiences rather than police figures, showed that rates were similar for urban and rural areas

By Richinda Taylor of Eva Women's Aid

Do you suspect that a friend or relative is being abused? These are the five questions to ask yourself:

- Has she withdrawn from social life?
- No longer welcoming visitors to her home
- She only ever leaves home with her potential abuser, or is always in a rush to get home with a curfew to stick to.
- Has her behaviour changed markedly?Is she routinely cancelling appointments? Or is her appearance different?
- Is she reluctant to discuss her home life, even when directly questioned about it?
- Have you noticed unexplained or suspicious marks? These could include 'accidental' bruises or grazes.
- Is there evidence that her spending is being controlled?
- Does she no longer carry money?

If you believe a friend is a victim, call the free, confidential 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 16th July 2019 author James Tozer)

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Nine out of ten car thefts go unsolved in one of the country's biggest cities, it emerged yesterday, fuelling fears that criminals have no fear of being caught.

A staggering 92 per cent of 7,755 car thefts in Greater Manchester last year did not result in court action - either because no suspect was identified or there was insufficient evidence for charges to be brought.

Vehicle thefts in the region have soared by 80 per cent in four years, with criminals increasingly using sophisticated devices to bypass keyless technology.

Luxury Audis and VWs worth £40,000 or more are stolen to order and shipped abroad or dismantled in illegal backstreet 'chop shops' before being sold piece by piece.

While the thieves may earn just £1,500 per vehicle, it remains a lucrative crime - and one which is increasingly unlikely to see them end up in court.

Police forces blame tight resources and cuts in officer numbers which have forced them to prioritise other types of crime.

The shocking Greater Manchester figures tally with analysis of crime figures across England and Wales for the 12 months to March last year.

Forces logged 106,334 offences of theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle, the highest tally for eight years.

In 77 per cent of cases, the outcome was categorised as 'investigation complete, no suspect identified'.

The highest levels of unsolved car thefts were in the big urban forces, with West Midlands Police failing to identify a suspect in 91 per cent of cases and the Metropolitan Police in 85 per cent.

All but five out of 44 forces closed more than half of these cases without identifying a suspect.

Superintendent Mark Dexter, of Greater Manchester Police, said: 'We understand that these figures may cause concern and we would like to reassure the public that we will always listen to the community and work with them to make Greater Manchester as safe as it possibly can be.

'We will always prioritise serious crimes and those that have the greatest threat, harm and risk to the public.'

Simon Williams, of RAC Insurance, said: 'Sadly, it seems car theft gangs in Manchester are able to go about their business with little fear of being caught.

'The only course of action left to drivers is to do all they can to make their vehicles harder to steal.'

(1st August 2019)

(Mail on Sunday, dated 13th July 2019 authors Jake Ryan and Stephen Adams)

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Foreign-trained doctors commit six in ten cases of sexual misconduct with patients, even though they make up only a third of NHS medics, shock new figures reveal.

They accounted for 23 of 38 proven incidents in the past three years, according to figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday. Allegations include indecent behaviour, sexual assault and even rape.

The alarming statistics have emerged just as the NHS has introduced targets to reduce the numbers of black and ethnic minority staff - almost two-thirds of whom trained abroad - being hauled before disciplinary hearings.

Britain's 95,000 doctors from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (BME) are more than twice as likely to be referred to the GMC as their white colleagues. There is a similar pattern with other staff such as nurses.

NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar, who recently joined from the United Nations, wrote: 'It is not acceptable that if you come from some backgrounds, you are more likely to enter the formal disciplinary process, stay in it longer and have more career-limiting outcomes. We must change this and quickly.'

A new document gives NHS trusts what it calls 'aspirational goals' to reduce the likelihood of BME staff being referred for disciplinary action, so the rates are more in line with white staff.

But there is concern that setting arbitrary targets could let medics who pose a real threat to patients escape investigation. J. Meirion Thomas, a retired consultant surgeon who worked in the NHS for 30 years, said: 'Complaints of sexual misconduct, and other matters against doctors, should be assessed irrespective of ethnicity. Applying any other criteria risks that some complaints may not be properly investigated.'

A recent GMC report found 'no evidence of [racial] bias' in its disciplinary procedures. Instead, it suggested not enough was being done to help BME doctors, with some feeling 'isolated' or as if they were 'treated as outsiders'.

An NHS spokesman said: 'Where allegations are made it is right that they are thoroughly investigated and any appropriate action taken, regardless of someone's ethnicity or where they trained. But it is also right that all NHS staff feel they will be treated fairly and not face discrimination, which is what this guidance sets out to achieve.'

The figures on sexual misconduct were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act following such high-profile cases as Czech-trained Anush Babu, who spent years secretly filming female patients.

(1st August 2019)

(Mirror,dated 12th July 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

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Drivers leaving their cars in East London are the most likely to fall victim to car theft, figures show, with Ilford and Romford topping a list of the riskiest regions.

That's according to a report on 5.9 million car insurance quotes - that looked at the locations of accident claims in the past five years.

It found 'IG' to be the riskiest postcode, followed by RM in Romford, Essex with Birmingham in third place.

Kirkwall, the largest town in the Orkney Islands in Scotland, was uncovered as the safest location, with the just 0.3 thefts for every 1000 quotes.

Fellow Scottish locations - the Outer Hebrides, Inverness, Galashiels and Dumfries - also featured in the safest locations in MoneySuperMarket's research.

"When it comes to car thieves, London is clearly the worst area for offences, with postcodes from the capital taking the top two spots - and featuring three times in the top 10," Rachel Wait, at MoneySuperMarket, said.

"Having the right level of insurance is key to minimising any cost, should your car get stolen. However, prevention is always better than cure. There are simple steps - like parking your car off the road and not leaving high value items on display - that can go some way towards preventing theft.

"Protecting your no claims discount will prevent any nasty hikes to your premium. If you do have to make a claim after a theft, make sure you shop around at your next renewal. Moving to a different insurer could save you up to £245 on your annual bills."

Top 10 most targeted postcodes for car theft

1. Ilford - IG
2. Romford - RM
3. Birmingham - B
4. Halifax - HX
5. Liverpool - L
6. Southend-on-Sea - SS
7. Stockport - SK
8. Dudley - DY
9. London E - E
10. Bradford - BD

Where you're least likely to have your car stolen

1. Kirkwall - KW
2. Outer Hebrides - HS
3. Inverness - IV
4. Isle of Man - IM
5. Galashiels - TD
6. Dumfries - DG
7. Perth - PH
8. Exeter - EX
9. Dorchester - DT
10. Dundee - DD

Protect your car from theft

Here are MoneySupermarket's tips to keeping your car safe from theft:

1. Unsurprisingly, the easiest way to steal a car is by getting hold of the keys, so make sure they're not easily accessible and avoid leaving them near your front door.

2. If you're able to, parking off road or in a garage can make it harder for criminals to steal your vehicle. Putting the car in the garage (if you've got one) can also help you save money on your car insurance.

3. Park in well-lit areas and if your car is on an incline, turn your wheels towards the curb to make it harder for it to be towed by criminals.

4. A large portion of car thefts are opportunistic, so make sure your car is fitted with an alarm and no valuables are in view.

5. Getting windows made from security glass or Enhanced Protection Glazing, which are designed to prevent 'smash and grab' attacks, can protect your vehicle against damage.

6. Additional security options, such as tracking devices and steering wheel locks, can act as good deterrents and methods to trace missing vehicles, minimising damage and increasing the chance of recovery.

(1st August 2019)

(Independent, dated 12th July 2019 author Kevin Maxwell)

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In my decade of service, I saw entrenched prejudice, open racism and discrimination, with no real intention to stamp out racism and change the culture for the better.

Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, has sensationally stated that the police force is no longer institutionally racist. As a black former police officer, I'd like to say I'm surprised by these comments, which I disagree with entirely, but sadly I'm not. Since her appointment, it has been clear that Dick was never going to be the person to revolutionise the police and bring about real change.

After Stephen Lawrence's horrific racist murder in the capital, Dick herself told a newspaper that, not only was the Met "institutionally racist", but it was "very difficult to imagine the situation where we will say we are no longer institutionally racist." Now, twenty years after the Macpherson report, having ascended the throne as Britain's top officer, Dick is saying something different. Something that, if you ask a black person on London's streets like young black boys and men, they are likely to give you the opposite answer to an older white woman in charge of law enforcement.

You only have to do a basic internet search to see numerous articles and videos about racism and the police in the UK. Right now, one of Dick's own senior Asian women officers, Parm Sandhu, is in the employment tribunal citing racial discrimination. Just a few years ago, the Met was found guilty of racial discrimination, harassment and victimisation towards me. So why is Dick saying all this?

Macpherson hit the nail on the head about the police's inability to admit racism when he said: 'There is a reluctance to accept that it is there, which means that it will probably never be cured'. Responding to figures about the disproportionate number of black and Asian people stopped and searched at the time, the Lawrence family's solicitor Imran Khan was also bang on when he said: "We may have individual officers who have taken on board the recommendations from the Lawrence inquiry - but it has not produced a structural change."

Either Dick is being disingenuous or wilfully blind to how deep police prejudices run. No wonder London's young black men feel frustrated. But then again, Dick has also spoken about how teenage thugs should face "harsher" prison sentences to deter other youngsters from turning to crime. Police tactics are one reason some young men of colour join gangs and rebel against society in the first place. They often see no value in themselves, that's why so many end up hurting each other. More than half of our young people in jail are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. Many of these young people of colour frame their understanding of, and interactions with, their country through the police.

In my decade of service, I saw entrenched prejudice, open racism and discrimination, but also the police's lackadaisical response to race equality. In my 11 years on the force, I saw no real intention to stamp out racism and change the culture for the better, but only to suppress it. This is why public statements like those of Dick baffle me, because they are untrue and help no one.

I'm not sure which "utterly transformed", non-racist police force Dick is talking about, but the one I served up until recently is still very much racist. Of course, not every police officer is a racist, but the institution as a system is. Dick's views are exactly why I believe that the very structure of the police leadership and archaic culture needs to undergo a transformation as quickly as possible.

(1st August 2019)

(The Register, dated 11th July 2019 author Gareth Corfield)

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A serving Metropolitan police officer who illegally accessed a police database to monitor a criminal investigation into his own conduct has pleaded guilty to crimes under the UK's Computer Misuse Act.

Sergeant Okechukwu Efobi, of Byron Road, Wealdstone, Harrow, was ordered to complete 150 hours of community service and pay a total of £540, comprising a £90 victim surcharge tax and £450 of prosecution costs.

Efobi, who remains employed by the Met and is currently on restricted duty, had been accessing a police database to view details of suspects in an ongoing criminal investigation.

Between November 2017 and October 2018, at the force's high security Empress State Building HQ in southwest London, Efobi trawled the unidentified database, sending himself documents from it and viewing details of other suspects in criminal investigations.

He pleaded guilty to three charges under sections 1(1) and (3) of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 last week at Westminster Magistrates' Court. An internal misconduct review into Efobi's actions is currently under way, the Met told The Register.

Police misuse of their access to internal databases continues to be an ongoing problem, quite separate from the one of British cops using Chinese-inspired mass surveillance tech whose legality has been repeatedly questioned by the public and the authorities alike.

Back in 2015, the Met recorded a tripling of computer misuse allegations over the year, with police employees alleged to have abused their privileges 173 times. That picture was mirrored more widely across the country in 2017, when it was found that police forces had investigated a total of 779 cases of potential data misuse within their own ranks. Even the police trade union confessed that same year that their members were "persistently" committing data breaches.

A few years ago HM Inspectorate of Constabulary discovered that a number of non-police organisations were merrily trawling through the Police National Computer at will. Legal agreements intended to regulate that access were vague and in many cases had been allowed to expire.

(1st August 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 10th July 2019 author Camilla Turner)

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Warwick University's vice-Chancellor has apologised over the institution's handling of the Facebook rape group chat scandal.

Prof Stuart Croft said the university has overhauled its disciplinary procedures following the backlash from students, staff and alumni over the incident and its aftermath.

The admission came after an independent review published on Wednesday found the incident had left a "legacy of mistrust" at the university.

Students had shared messages encouraging other members to rape their female peers at the university and also used anti-Semitic and racist language in a Facebook private message group chat last year.

It emerged after the investigation that two of worst perpetrators, who were initially given ten-year bans from campus, had had their sentences reduced on appeal to one year.

Victims of the chat learnt of the university's change of heart through the press. It was then announced  that they had volunteered to discontinue their studies.

The independent review, carried out by Dr Sharon Persaud, noted that the university's initial investigation was carried out by its director of press and media.

There was a "general sense" the university "had been more concerned with its own reputational interests than in a fair or just assessment of the case", according to the review.

The report also said that there was a "profoundly unsatisfactory outcome for almost every single person involved".

The review recommends that in future complaints of this nature are dealt with by more specialist investigators.

Earlier this year it emerged that the Russell Group university was forced to suspend its annual fund-raising drive after former students contacted for donations expressed their anger at its handling of case.

Prof Croft said: "We made mistakes in our handling of the situation, including in how we communicated with the victims and with our community.

"We wholeheartedly apologise. Everyone has the right to feel safe on campus. Sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind is completely unacceptable."

uaware comment

Are you fed-up with the term "lessons learnt". It has been one of the great phrases used over the last 10 years and mainly used by the current Government; and sadly the excuse has seeped into the mainstream. The Government, their Civil Servants and other organisations and institutions do not appear to carry out any form of risk assessment of new policies before implementation. They also neither seem to carry out an emotive assessment of policies; the "what if it was me" and "how would I feel" approach.

The end result is what is described in the article above, reducing police numbers, the Windrush scandal or the ridiculous Brexit agreement !

(1st August 2019)

(NewsMax, dated 10th July 2019 author Zoe Papadakis)

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More and more people are choosing city life. Over half the world's population lives in metropolitan areas, and that number is expected to rise dramatically over the next few years. As population sizes within cities grow, so do concerns over safety.

But safety means more than insulation from crime. There are several other factors that influence how safe a city is, and 24/7 Wall St compiled a list of the safest cities in the world. The rankings were based upon recent data presented in the Safe Cities Index 2017. In addition to average crime rates, the report took into account other threats to urban safety. Factoring into the equation is health security, which is determined by access to healthcare; public and pedestrian transport and traffic casualties; and cybercrime, which rises as cities adopt smart technologies.

Here are the 10 safest cities in the world:

10. Zurich, Switzerland
. Population: 1.4 million
When it comes to safety, Zurich scored top marks. The city has some of the least motor vehicle fatalities in Europe, largely due to the fact that 44% of trips are made either on foot or by bike.

9. Hong Kong. Population: 7.4 million
Income and crime tend to be related. As the richest city in the world, Hong Kong has seen a dramatic decline in its crime rate over the last 12 years.

8. Stockholm, Sweden. Population: 1.6 million
Stockholm is hailed as one of the most walkable cities in the word due to its low motor vehicle fatality rate.

7. Sydney, Australia. Population: 4.8 million
What makes Sydney one of the safest cities in the world is its health security. The city's average life expectancy, which is 83.8 years, exceeds the global average by 11 years.

6. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Population: 1.1 million
There are several factors that make Amsterdam one of the most livable cities in the world but when it comes to safety, its digital security is at the top of the list. Earlier this year, the Port of Amsterdam unveiled a network that was specifically created to detect cyberattacks across the North Sea Canal area.

5. Melbourne, Australia. Population: 4.8 million
Like Sydney, Melbourne also ranks high in health security and features an above-average life expectancy.

4. Toronto, Canada. Population: 6.1 million
Toronto is ahead of the curve with its digital security. First, the city launched a task force that specifically handles the policing of cybercrime. Then it expanded the initiative into an entire Computer Cyber Crime Section of the police department.

3. Osaka, Japan. Population: 19.3 million
In addition to influencing crime rates, wealth in a city also dramatically impacts the health of communities. Healthier populations tend to live in wealthier cities, as is the case for Osaka. As the 10th richest city in the world, Osaka is regarded as one of the best cities in the world in terms of health and personal security.

2. Singapore. Population: 5.8 million
Innovation is at the heart of Singapore when it comes to personal security and infrastructure. As the second safest city in the world, Singapore monitors crime via a network comprising thousands of police cameras, which have helped solve over 2,000 cases and significantly helped deter crime rates.

1. Tokyo, Japan. Population: 37.5 million
This is not the first time Tokyo has ranked as the safest city in the world and this is due to its low crime rates, which may partially be influenced by Japanese culture that is based upon core values of honesty and empathy. This was evident in 2018, when $33.7 million reported missing was returned by citizens.

Further information (uaware)

Information from the safe cities report :

12th : Madrid
17th : Brussels
20th : London
24th : Paris
27th : Rome

Bearing in mind that Chicago could be classed as the murder capital of the USA. It is classed as 19th on this table !

The report also states that the USA performed well in digital security. This also appears to be a little skewed as the major data breaches in the last couple of years have been in the USA.

(1st August 2019)

(iNews, dated 9th July 2019 author Lloyd Bent)

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Millions of pounds of public money has been stolen by fraudsters who have targeted the UK's main benefit scheme, Universal Credit.

Bogus claims for huge sums of money in advance loans have been given the green light due to a loophole in the system, with money being awarded to "staggering" applications.

Criminals have successfully applied for money using ludicrous ploys, such as claiming to be 19 years old with six blind children, and naming Tottenham and England football player Harry Kane as their landlord in their application.

A benefits official told the BBC that in one job centre a third of benefits claims are suspected to be fake. At another branch, £100,000 of fraudulent activity was reported each month. And another official estimated that 10 per cent of the 100,000 government payouts for Universal Credit were potentially bogus - four times the amount for any other benefit.

The government has said that it is committed to tackling fraudulent claims for Universal Credit, which was introduced by the Conservatives in 2010 in an attempt to tackle fraud and error like this and save a billion pounds.

How the scam works

Victims reported being contacted by people in JobCentre Plus badges, dressed smartly, who offered to arrange government grants or payday loans for them. The fraudsters take details of the person's driving license, bank card and a photograph and then make a Universal Credit claim on their behalf, sometimes without the victim knowing.

Once the DWP approves the claim, the money is transferred into the victim's account. However, the victim is usually charged by the fraudster for setting up the loan, and so only gets a fraction of the value of the so-called loan.

The first the victim usually knows of the scam is a letter from the DWP telling them they are now on Universal Credit, and that all other benefits are being stopped. Since the claim is for a loan, the victim ends up owing the full amount back after the fraudster has vanished.

In one case, the victim said she only realised it was fraud (and that she would have to pay back the full amount) when her tax credits stopped and she was told she had been put onto Universal Credit. The unexpected debt pushed her into arrears on rent and council tax.

The extent of the problem

The BBC also gained access to a DWP message board on which officials discussed the problem.

The messages said that the north west of England was where the scams were most rife, and that people were making up street names and listing names of Simpsons characters, or even just 'Ha, Ha and Ha' as their children.

Around 200 to 300 claims each day in the north west are thought to be fictitious. Another official wrote that they believed losses to the taxpayer could amount to £20 million as a direct result of these scams.

The DWP says it has had its first conviction for this kind of fraud.

DWP minister Baroness Buscombe added, "We're encouraging people to listen to their instincts. If someone offers you a low-cost loan from the government, they may be trying to steal your identity.

"Treat your personal information for benefits in the same way you would for your bank. And if you think you've been targeted, we urge you to report it urgently."

(1st August 2019)


(IT Proportal, dated 9th July 2019 author Sead Fadilpasic)

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Even though we've heard reports of ransomware attacks losing steam, a new report by Databarracks says that a third of UK organisations were victims to this type of an attack in the past year.

Databarracks polled 400 IT decision makers for the report and concluded that we're actually witnessing a rise in ransomware attacks, one which is not isolated to specific regions or sectors.

Responding to these findings, Peter Groucutt, managing director of Databarracks says: "The wave of attacks in US, combined with our own research, shows how common ransomware attacks have become. It's important organisations take preparative action.

The wave he's referring to includes more than half a dozen cities, and public service organisations across the US which have fallen victim to ransomware this year alone. The Administrative Office of the Georgia Courts was recently targeted, and before that - two separate cities in the state of Florida.

"While some public services have been forced to pay ransoms, we wouldn't encourage others to follow this example. Doing so, will not only incite further criminal activity but can lead to further repercussions for organisations and its employees. In some instances, paying a ransom may even be illegal. At best paying the ransom means funding cyber-criminals to carry out further attacks and at worst, potentially funding terrorism."

Groucutt continues, "Having a Cyber Incident Response Plan - including recovery from backup - is critical.

"A ransomware attack will ultimately leave a business with two decisions: recover your information from a previous backup or pay the ransom. But even if a ransom is paid, it's not certain your data will be returned. The only way to be fully protected is to have historic backup copies of your data."

Ransomware is a type of malware which encrypts all the information stored on machines and networks, and then demands bitcoin from the victim in exchange for the decryption key.

(IT Proportal, dated 10th July 2019 author Sead Fadilpasic)

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UK businesses have lost at least $37 billion (£32bn) in the past 12 months due to cybersecurity breaches and related security incidents, new research has found.

This is according to a report by Grant Thornton, which polled some 500 UK mid-market companies, with half of them reporting losses of up to 10 per cent of their revenue, due to a cyberattack.

Those hit by more severe attacks have lost up to 25 per cent of their revenue.

At the same time, boards remain ignorant to the dangers of hackers and confident in their ability to keep their organisations safe. Almost two thirds have no board member tasked specifically to tackle cybersecurity threats, and the same percentage doesn't review risks and management, at least not formally.

Training is also an issue, despite cybersecurity experts' daily pleas that employee education is the best way to tackle these types of threats. A third of polled organisations (36 per cent) have trained their employees in the last 12 months.

James Arthur, partner and head of cyber consulting at Grant Thornton, said boards had a key role to play in ensuring they had an effective cyber strategy in place.

"Putting cyber crime onto the board's agenda is one of the most effective ways to minimise the chances of a successful attack and reduce the financial impact if a breach occurs. With that in mind, it is worrying that almost two-thirds of the businesses we interviewed do not have a board member responsible for cyber security," he said.

(ZD Net, dated 15th July 2019 author Danny Palmer)

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Cyberattacks and data breaches have cost UK mid-market companies over £30 billion, yet organisations remain complacent about their cybersecurity capabilities - putting them at greater risk from hackers and cybercrime.

Business and financial adviser Grant Thornton surveyed hundreds of mid-market organisations - those with £15m and £1bn per year - and found that despite the threat posed by cyberattacks, boards aren't effectively prepared to manage the risks.

Of those companies surveyed for Grant Thornton's Cybersecurity: the Board Report, over half of companies (53%) reported losses of between 3% and 10% following a cyberattack or data breach. But the losses can also be much worse: 6% of businesses consulted in the report said they lost between 11% and 25% of revenue as the result of an incident.

But even though organisations are aware of the damage that can be done as the result of a cyberattack, almost two thirds (63%) of companies don't have a board member with a specific responsibility for cybersecurity.

The same number said the board doesn't formally review cybersecurity risks and their management, while over half of businesses surveyed (59%) say they don't have an incident response plan in place for cyberattacks.

Additionally, just one in three companies (36%) provided cybersecurity awareness training to all of their employees in the last year.

But despite this, almost 70% of those surveyed said they felt confident in their ability to respond to a cyberattack, suggesting a potential misplaced confidence in how they can deal with incidents.

"Whatever your sector, whatever type of business you are, assume that you are being targeted all the time. With the levels of volume cybercrime we are seeing now, you almost certainly are," said James Arthur, partner and head of cyber consulting at Grant Thornton.

In order to fully protect against attacks, organisations must ensure that cybersecurity is seen as an important issue throughout the organisation - from the board, all the way down.

"While commitment from the top is vital, ensuring your people are properly trained is also essential. Often, companies make themselves vulnerable to attack simply by failing to get the basics right. Training to raise employee awareness can have a hugely positive impact on cybersecurity," said Thornton.

To ensure boards are fully prepared to face the consequences of a cyberattack, the report recommends six key areas to focus on:

- Establishing a cyber-incident response plan
- Regularly rehearsing the response plan using a range of different scenarios
- Monitoring and managing the risk posed from their supply chain
- Ensuring they understand the terms of their insurance and what is covered
- Understanding what 'normal' looks like for their business, in terms of application usage, so they can identify any unfamiliar patterns
- Investing in regular training and raising their people's awareness of cybersecurity

"Effective cybersecurity does not need to cost the earth and goes beyond simply investing in new technology. There are simple, specific steps companies can take, such as implementing a meaningful cyber-response plan and understanding what is 'normal' for their business, to put themselves in a much stronger position," said Arthur.

(IT Proportal, dated 31st July 2019 author Chris Hodson)

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The UK's prominence as a world-leading digital economy has acted as a lure to cybercriminals, with the latest government report into cyber breaches underlining the threat of cybercrime to the country. As reported by the Public Accounts Committee, the last 12 months have seen a number of high-profile cyberattacks resulting from a range of complex and impactful vulnerabilities.

The report also uncovered an interesting dichotomy; while there is a wider awareness of the risk posed by cyberattacks to businesses, organisations aren't always aware of the existing vulnerabilities housed within their own ecosystems. So, what is causing this?

Evolving threat to businesses

The global volume of cyber-attacks rose 63 per cent last year according to some estimates. A large proportion of the high-profile attacks can be attributed to organisations who haven't shored up their defences across all parts of their ecosystems. This was unfortunately illustrated by the WannaCry breach and - more recently - the BlueKeep vulnerability. These 'wormable' flaws essentially need only one in-point into an organisation's unprotected device before being able to travel between one vulnerable computer and the next.  

Keeping an eye out for these vulnerabilities can be easier said than done. In companies with thousands of connected devices, you can easily lose track of the total visibility of your entire network. Our latest study discovered that a lack of visibility across endpoints - laptops, servers, virtual machines, containers, or cloud infrastructure - is preventing organisations from making confident decisions, operating efficiently, and remaining resilient against disruptions.

Almost a third (32 per cent) of CIOs and CISOs surveyed said that departments and business leaders work in silos, leaving them with a lack of visibility and control over IT operations. And this has directly affected the business, with the majority (80 per cent) of CIOs and CISOs having found out that a critical update or patch they thought had been deployed had not actually updated all devices, leaving the business exposed as a result.

CIOs and CISOs often battle to balance two core business requirements: system uptime and effective security.  However, many CIOs and CISOs just don't see the traceability between systems with vulnerabilities and the methods attacks take to cause business impact.

Whilst having the right security infrastructure in place is critical, businesses should first ensure they have complete visibility across their endpoints. True visibility across your business' entire technology landscape ensures that access points can be identified and security patches and updates can be made.

Getting your priorities right

I've spoken with many IT professionals during my time as a CISO and many of these leaders recognise the importance of implementing a strong IT security and operational strategy to minimise the impact of threats and technology-based disruption. However, many of these leaders experience challenges internally that cause them to make trade-offs in how well they are able to protect their network.

According to our research, 95 per cent of CIOs and CISOs in the UK have said they make compromises in how they protect the business. In fact, around 84 per cent of UK CIOs and CISOs said that they have refrained from adopting an important security update or patch due to concerns about the impact it might have on day-to-day business.

When asked about the key reasons for making these compromises, a third of those surveyed (33 per cent) cited pressure to keep the lights on, with almost a third (31 per cent) suggesting that a focus on implementing new systems takes precedence over protecting existing business assets. Otherwise, over a quarter (26 per cent) cited that being hamstrung by legacy IT commitments restricted their security efforts, and 23 per cent stressed that internal politics was the key driver.

Business-wide visibility and control is key

When you consider that a cyber lead at the City of London Police stated that cybercrime could cause the "most significant harm in the UK", organisations must ensure that IT security and operations are in place - from protecting against sophisticated attacks to ensuring basic IT hygiene processes to protect against future threats and disruption.

This report from the PAC starkly highlights what I've seen all too often in my own role - namely, that company-wide visibility and control of endpoints is the only way to truly stop cyber attackers firmly in their tracks and ensure resilience against business disruption. Without organisational-wide visibility of endpoint and infrastructure data in real-time, IT and security leaders will struggle to both keep complex systems running smoothly and appropriately assess cyber risk.

To protect against future threats and disruption, here are five steps organisations can take now:

- Assess your organisational obstacles: Are your security and IT operations teams working in tandem from a single, actionable data set? If not, where are the areas of friction and how can these be addressed?
- Know your environment: If you are asked how many total endpoints - patched or otherwise - are on your network, can you answer accurately? Will your answer be based on the current state of your dynamic environment, or on information you gathered a week ago?
- Eliminate fragmentation: The fragmentation of point solutions within IT security and operations teams has fundamentally broken many organisations, created by the implementation of a wide range of tools that are impossible to integrate. Make your business more secure by unifying endpoint security functions to reduce the likelihood of a breach and enable rapid response to halt attacks quickly.
- Declutter your infrastructure: One of the most cited issues throughout the WannaCry incident was the challenge of updating operating systems in an environment laden with legacy apps. If a business is running a critical application which requires keeping an outdated operating system on life support, it's time to rethink.
- Educate your employees: By various estimates, up to 83 per cent of ransomware attacks originate when an employee clicks on a malicious link, opens an infected attachment, or visits a compromised website. Investing in ongoing training for employees to protect against phishing attacks should be your first line of defence.

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 9th July 2019 author Rosie Taylor)

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When 87-year-old Michael Wallis calls his bank, he doesn't have to worry about remembering his password or security details.

When asked for his telephone banking password, he just replies: 'My voice is my password' - and he's logged in.

The great-grandfather is one of more than three million bank customers in the UK using the 'voice ID' system to access their accounts.

Unlike some new technologies, which many older people find complicated, the voice-recognition system is simple to use.

Once a customer has called their bank, sophisticated software takes just a few seconds to analyse more than 100 voice and background noise characteristics to check it's the genuine person.

Because these unique markers make each voice like a fingerprint, it is nearly impossible for fraudsters to copy.

The system can even identify if the phrase is a recording, so crooks will be unable to trick the system by playing back someone else's voice.

High Street banks, including Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander, offer - or are about to offer - voice ID.

Other organisations - telecoms companies Vodafone and TalkTalk plus HM Revenue & Customs - are following suit.

Banks say the number of older people signing up is rising, not just because it saves them from having to remember passwords, but also because it helps protect them from fraud.

Last year, before he started using voice ID, Michael fell victim to a scam. Criminals got hold of his log-in details and began taking small amounts of money - about £90 at a time.

Criminals often make low-value transfers like this to check they have the correct details before emptying an account.

Fortunately, his bank, Lloyds, spotted the unusual activity in time and blocked the fraudsters.

In February, Lloyds then recommended Michael sign up for voice ID to protect his savings.

Since then, the former music teacher from Hampshire has used the technology more than 100 times to check his bank balance and make payments.

Michael says: 'It means I don't have to go into the branch or remember a password, and I feel more reassured that people won't be able to get in to my account.

Although Voice ID is meant to be able to recognise a customer even if they have a sore throat or a cold, Michael has found it hasn't always identified his voice as it has been affected by a stroke.

'I have to get the tone right,' he says. 'Sometimes, it refuses and asks me to say it again. My voice does vary a bit every now and then as I'm not in good health.

'I worry that if my voice gives out, it won't work - but the bank said I can stop using [voice ID] if that happens.'

Michael is not the only one to have experienced a few hiccups with the technology. Some customers have also reported difficulties and have had to revert to the old password system.

In 2017, BBC reporter Dan Simmons found his non-identical twin brother Joe was able to hack into his HSBC bank account on his eighth attempt at mimicking his voice.

At the time, HSBC said it was reviewing its voice authentication system and told the BBC: 'Twins do have a similar voiceprint, but the introduction of this technology has seen a significant reduction in fraud, and has proven to be more secure than PINS, passwords and memorable phrases.'

The revelation failed to slow take-up of voice ID and, in April this year, HSBC announced it had been used 15 million times by 1.6 million customers since its 2016 launch.

HSBC claimed the system had prevented more than £330 million-worth of fraud, spotting almost 2,000 scam calls in January alone.

Other banks have reported similar results.

Martin Dodd, managing director of telephone banking at Lloyds, says voice ID has been so effective that not one fraudster managed to fool the system since its October launch. As of April, 1.2 million Lloyds and Halifax customers had used voice ID eight million times.

He says that if the system identifies a suspicious call, it automatically reroutes it to a member of the fraud team, who will question the person phoning to ensure they are genuine.

There is hope the technology could eventually lead to hard-to-trace scammers being caught, as their voice 'fingerprints' are recorded.

Mark Bramley, HSBC chief of staff and head of business management, says: 'The significant increase in fraudsters attempting to get unauthorised access to accounts means that we are continually increasing our library of voice prints, helping to keep customers' money safe.'

(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 8th July 2019 author Owen Bowcott)

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Police recruitment and use of child spies to penetrate "county lines" drug gangs and other criminal or terrorist organisations is lawful, the high court has ruled.

Rejecting calls for extra safeguards when handling underage informants, Mr Justice Supperstone acknowledged they were more vulnerable than adults but dismissed claims that their human rights were being breached.

The case was brought by the charity Just For Kids Law which argued that regulations governing recruiting and deploying children as covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) do not contain "adequate safeguards".

During the hearing last month, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, for the charity, said the government believed there was "increasing scope" for using children as informants because they were increasingly involved in serious crimes, both as perpetrators and victims.

Gallagher said the use of children in investigations and prosecutions of serious offences such as terrorism, county lines drug offences and child sexual exploitation, raised "serious concerns" about their safety and wellbeing.

But, delivering judgment on Monday, Supperstone concluded that the scheme was lawful. He said: "In my judgment, there is no unacceptable risk of breach of the … rights of a juvenile CHIS inherent in the scheme.

"I reject the claimant's contention that the scheme is inadequate in its safeguarding of the interests and welfare of juvenile CHIS."

The judge also found that it was "not irrational" for the scheme to ensure that an appropriate adult was provided for those aged 15 and under but not for those aged 16 and 17. Supperstone said his conclusions had been "reinforced" by confidential material he had seen.

Responding to the ruling, Just For Kids Law's chief executive, Enver Solomon, said the decision was disappointing and the charity was considering its options and continuing to crowdfund the legal challenge.

Solomon added: "The judgment acknowledges the 'very significant risk of physical and psychological harm to children' and a variety of dangers that arise from their use as covert informants in the context of serious crime.

"We remain convinced that new protections are needed to keep these children safe. The reaction we have had shows that despite the ruling, there is widespread concern among the public about the government's policy."

The security and economic crime minister, Ben Wallace, said: "The court recognised that the protections we have written into law ensure the best interests, safety and welfare of the child will always be paramount.

"Juvenile CHIS have been used fewer than 20 times since January 2015 but they remain an important tool to investigate the most serious of crimes. They will only be used where necessary and proportionate in extreme cases where all other ways to gain information have been exhausted."

(1st August 2019)

(UN News, dated 8th July 2019)

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According to a study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Central America is the most dangerous region to live, where the number of homicides - or unlawful killings - rises in some "hotspots", to 62.1 per 100,000 people. Some 464,000 people across the world were victims of homicidal violence in 2017, more than five times the number killed in armed conflict over the same period, UN researchers said on Monday.

The safest locations are in Asia, Europe and Oceania (Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia), where murder rates are 2.3, 3.0 and 2.8 respectively - well below the 6.1 global average, the UN agency's Global Study on Homicide 2019 shows.

At 13.0, Africa's homicide rate was lower than the Americas (17.2), which had the highest percentage in 2017 since reliable data-gathering began in 1990, UNODC said, while also pointing to significant data gaps for some African countries.

Organized crime accounts for nearly one in five murders

One constant since the beginning of this century is the link between organized crime and violent deaths, according to the report.

Crime alone was responsible for 19 per cent of all homicides in 2017 and caused "many more deaths worldwide than armed conflict and terrorism combined", said Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director.

Like violent conflict, organized crime "destabilizes countries, undermines socioeconomic development and erodes the rule of law", according to UNODC, while Mr. Fedotov insisted that unless the international community takes decisive steps, "targets under Sustainable Development Goal 16 to significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates by 2030 will not be met".

Young men at highest risk in all regions

From a gender angle, the UNODC report also finds that while girls and boys aged nine and under, are more or less equally represented in terms of victim numbers, in all other age groups, males make up more than 50 per cent of the toll, according to data from 41 countries.

In all regions, the likelihood of boys becoming victims of homicide increases with age, while those aged between 15 and 29 are at the highest risk of homicide globally.

In the Americas, for instance, the victim rate among 18 to 19-year-olds is estimated at 46 per 100,000 - far higher than for their peers in other regions, while firearms are also involved "far more often" in homicides in the Americas than elsewhere, the UN report maintains.

"High levels of violence are strongly associated with young males, both as perpetrators and victims," the report says, "So violence prevention programmes should focus on providing support to young men to prevent them from being lured into a subculture of… gangs (and) drug dealing."

Femicide 'too often ignored'

While women and girls account for a far smaller share of victims than men, they continue to bear "by far the greatest burden" of intimate partner and family-related homicide, the report finds, adding that more than nine in 10 suspects in homicide cases are men.

"Killings carried out by intimate partners are rarely spontaneous or random," Mr. Fedotov said, noting too that the phenomenon is often under-reported and "too often ignored".

In a bid to help Governments tackle homicide, the UNODC report identifies several drivers of the problem, in addition to organized crime. They include firearms, drugs and alcohol, inequality, unemployment, political instability and gender stereotyping.

'Targeted' anti-corruption policies needed

The study also underlines the importance of addressing corruption, strengthening the rule of law and investing in public services - particularly education; these are "critical" in reducing violent crime, it insists.

Highlighting the report's broad scope - which covers everything from lethal gang violence involving firearms to links with inequality and gender-related killings - Mr. Fedotov maintained that it "is possible" to tackle the threat from criminal networks with "targeted" policies.

These include community engagement and police patrols, as well as policing reform, whose aim is to strengthen trust in officers among the local population.

For those young men already caught up in criminal gangs, they need help "so that they can extricate themselves" through social work, rehabilitation programmes and awareness-raising about non-violent alternatives.

These efforts could be more effective if they took place in "certain countries in South and Central America, Africa and Asia" and "even in countries with high national rates of homicide", the report insists.

"Killings are often concentrated in specific states, provinces and cities," it says. "Bringing down overall homicide rates depends ultimately on tackling lethal violence in these 'hotspots'".

Although the UNODC study shows that the number of homicides increased from almost 400,000 in 1992 to more than 460,000 in 2017, it explains that the actual global rate has declined (from 7.2 in 1992, to 6.1 in 2017) when measured against population growth.

(1st August 2019)

(Cornwall Live, dated 7th July 2019 author Sarah Waddington)

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A Devon and Cornwall Police officer has handed in his notice after fearing his job would take over his whole life.

South West-based Detective Sergeant Chris Phillips has tweeted to say he has submitted his letter of resignation before he reaches breaking point with his work/life balance, like some of his other colleagues say they already have.

DS Phillips, who has two young children, says he fears they would grow up without him ever being there if he didn't quit now.

He also praised the force for supporting him, but added his "heart's not in it anymore".

The Twitter thread has gathered much attention and support, with many other former police colleagues coming forward to praise DS Phillips for making the tough decision.

One former officer said she was considering attempting suicide before she handed in her notice.

DS Phillips said: "I feel that I'm stealing the thunder of others today but I've submitted my letter of resignation 2 my force. For me I'm not at breaking point and feel that D & C are doing all they can. However having 2 very young children has brought perspective of having a work/life balance 1/4.

"I've been given an opportunity to tip that balance in favour of my family for the first time in years. My wife summed it up by saying that over the last couple of years when I'm home I've not been home mentally 2/4.

"I feel that the first two years of my Daughter's life have flown by, and I have been a spectator to this. I'm not repeating this with my son. I have seen colleagues and friends go off sick with stress related incidents. I don't want to be the next 3/4.

"I would like 2 put on record that bosses offered all they could do 2 support me, but my heart is not in it anymore. I have massive respect for every member of the police family who continue 2 do the best they can. For me my time is up as I want & have 2 put my family first 4/4."

Messages of support have flooded in, with many agreeing with DS Phillips and adding they too have thrown in the towel for similar reasons.

Spencer Dance replied said: "I did this six years ago. Never looked back. As a police officer there is absolutely no work life balance whatsoever. Some people looked down their noses at me, as if to say, bloody idiot. And yet since, hundreds have left. You HAVE to put you first, because the job won't."

Another wrote: "Brave decision- I wish I had done that rather than get to the point where attempting suicide seemed like the best option. Now I work part time in a totally different job and have my own small business too. Enjoy your time with your family and good luck for the future."

The Police Federation - representing rank and file officers - recently hailed a Plymouth Live investigation which exposed how majority of British police forces kept no records on how their officers had died - including those who had committed suicide.

In November 2017 Plymouth Live made a Freedom of Information requests which revealed that of the serving police officers in Devon and Cornwall who had died since 2009 -


uaware comment

- Who is there to clean up "the mess" when there has been a fatal road accident ?
- Who has to tell a family that a loved one has been killed ?
- When their shift ends and there has been a serious accident, do they just go home ?
- When a terrorist is walking towards you with a machete, who stands in there way ?
- Who has to make up for a loss of 20% of the workforce by doing extra overtime to deal with increasing crime ?

Well its not Theresa May, Sajid David or Sadique Khan.
But they ask why are Police Officers resigning, going sick or committing suicide.

(1st August 2019)

(Mail on Sunday, dated 7th July 2019 author Nick Craven)

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She is a devoted grandmother who has spent almost three decades working on the front line of Britain's benefits system, driven by a desire to help the vulnerable people who depend on state help to make ends meet.

But today, the long-serving official - who had been looking forward to a quiet, well-earned retirement - has turned whistleblower, feeling compelled to speak out over a new 'epidemic' of fraudulent claims following the introduction of Universal Credit.

It is an issue that her bosses are well aware of, says the woman, who we shall call Susan. Yet instead of clamping down on the flagrant, wholesale abuse of taxpayers' money, benefits chiefs are turning a blind eye to the cheats - because they are running sacred of being targeted by Left-wing critics.

A spate of stories from the BBC, Guardian and Mirror earlier in the year claimed that the new system was causing hardship and poverty - but many of the reports have subsequently been debunked by The Mail on Sunday.

However, senior managers at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have told staff to approve applications for advanced payments even when the claims are obviously fake, the whistleblower says, for fear of attracting more negative headlines.

The woman, in her 50s, has come forward to this newspaper to expose the wrongdoing after becoming sickened at what she saw. With her voice quivering with barely controlled fury, she told us: 'In all the years I've worked there, the level of fraudulent claims has never been this high, and instead of preventing them, we're handing out the money and making it so easy.'

In a disturbing account that will shock every taxpayer, she revealed:

- One man entered the names of three made-up children as Fish, Chips and Beans - yet still received his advance payment;
- Some fraudsters fleece the taxpayer for as much as £1,500 a time in advance payments
- Gangs of organised criminals are coercing vulnerable people into making fraudulent claims, then splitting the proceeds;

- Senior officials admit that a large fraction of claims are bogus, but say stopping the fraud is not 'a priority'.

Even though there is a legal protection for whistleblowers, the official fears the backlash from her bosses and has asked that we do not use her real name.

Universal Credit was conceived by former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to combine six separate benefits - including Jobseeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit-- into one single, efficient monthly payment.

Despite fierce criticism from the Labour Party, it was introduced last year as a lynchpin of the Government's welfare reforms, to run in parallel with the existing benefits system. New claimants - or those whose circumstances change - now automatically go on to Universal Credit.

But in March, amid a tide of stories claiming that the new system was causing hardship, the current Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd lifted a cap on claiming benefits for more than two children and allowed claimants to be given advance payments to ease the transition.

Almost as soon as the rules were relaxed, Susan saw a sudden upsurge in bogus claims - many of them blatant. It seemed that the DWP, stung by the avalanche of adverse publicity, had decided to open the taps and let the money flow.

Susan learned just how widespread such fraud was in a mass telephone conference - known in the DWP as a 'Telekit'. Hundreds of staff listened in as the North of England's operations director for Universal Credit, Colin Stewart, addressed them about the issue.

'At each desk in the open plan office there were three or four of us huddled around a phone on speaker,' recalled Susan.

'When Mr Stewart mentioned the massive rise in fraud levels, everyone looked at each other - not so much in astonishment, but nodding, as if to say, 'I thought as much'.

'I actually felt a bit pleased, because I thought that, at last, something would be done. But then he said it wasn't a priority to stop the payments going out ,which left everyone staring at each other open-mouthed.'

Senior officials claimed that, instead of stopping the money going out in the first place - which might cause hardship for genuine claimants - the strategy would be to pursue fraudsters once they had received the money.

However, the DWP has a woeful record in clawing back fake claims and bringing cheats to justice, with just five per cent of fraudsters going to jail in 2012.

Susan said that staff were told in the telephone conference that the fraud problem was worst in the North West and North East, but was spreading out across the country as people invented fictitious children and inflated their housing costs.'

Susan said she did not think that was an accurate appraisal, explaining: 'My theory is that the fraud is actually nationwide but it's been picked up more quickly in the North because the staff in that area tend to be longer serving, whereas in the South East there's a huge turnover in DWP staff and not as much experience to draw upon.

'Me and my colleagues have been there for decades and we know the signs to look for.'

Even more concerning than the individual fraudsters were the reports aired during the telephone conference about gangs of criminals coercing vulnerable people to make bogus claims.

The staff were told that the gangs would approach people in pubs, ascertain they had their own bank account, then persuade them to apply for what they would describe as a 'free loan' from the DWP by claiming that they paid a huge amount in rent or had a large number of fictitious children.

Susan said: 'If the criminals help them with their claim, the crooks then take a percentage of the money that comes in. For example, some people are making claims for housing costs when in fact they live with their parents so they don't have any rent to pay.'

A number of Susan's colleagues flagged up their suspicions about claims they believed to be fraudulent and requested an 'inhibitor' - a stop on payments. However, they were stunned to have their request turned down by senior officials.

'We asked why and we were just told, 'it's politics,' ' said Susan.

'Basically there had been so many negative stories about people waiting weeks and months for their payments when Universal Credit was first rolled out, that the department has gone completely the other way.

'Some of those stories were genuine, some exaggerated, but this was absolute madness. Staff have been becoming increasingly frustrated for quite a while, especially when you bear in mind that people are receiving advances which are more than their monthly wage.

'There is nothing to stop someone making more than one claim, believe it or not, and one particular claimant has had multiple advances in a very short time.

'The highest I've heard of is £1,500 in one go, but if you said you had eight children and very high housing costs, the sky is the limit.

'We see these claims coming in but when we flag it up to senior management we are told directly to do nothing about stopping it 'because of the politics' involved.

'We do report them to the fraud team, but I've no idea what action is subsequently taken.

'We could stop an advance on the basis that we suspected a person had money in savings because the benefit is means-tested. However, staff have been directed not to do that in the last month.'

Susan explained how ridiculously simple it was to make a bogus claim. 'When you go on the website to make your first claim, it calculates what would be due to you and tells you when you will get your first payment, usually in a month's time. But it also gives you the option to ask for an advance payment which will come to you in just three working days - and before any of the details you submitted online are verified. You can't even open a bank account these days without presenting several forms of ID and proof of address, and yet people are having advances of up to £1,500 without any verification.

'The staff are well aware of it when these claims come through the system.'

The shameless nature of the fraud is, in some cases, entirely transparent, with no attempt at all made to come up with a convincing story.

She said: 'One man claimed his children were called 'Fish', 'Chips' and 'Beans'. In other cases the children's dates of birth were so close together it would be a medical impossibility for them to have the same mother. But the system does not reject such daft claims - the money gets paid into their account nevertheless.

'It may well be that these people will be the subject of legal or criminal action further down the line if they don't progress their claim, but maybe people feel there's a chance they might get away with it.'

The DWP has an abysmal record for clawing back ill-gotten gains and bringing cheats to book that gives little hope that the millions of misspent taxpayers' money will be recovered, even though staff were told at the teleconference that the number of fraud investigators will rise by 30 per cent. Figures released last year revealed that benefit fraud cost more than £3.8 billion - up £200 million on the year before - with about 5,000 people convicted.

Susan fears that because Universal Credit operates online with little of the human element, it leaves it more vulnerable to fraud.

She said: 'Under the old system, before Universal Credit we had something called a short-term benefit advance, which was at the discretion of an adviser to discuss how much the person needed, and then decide on an amount.

'It would usually be for about £50 or so - not the huge sums which are going out now. The figures are higher because Universal Credit replaces six benefits - including housing, which is the biggest.

'The trouble is the calculation is virtually instant, but it's based entirely on the information the claimant is putting in, which only gets verified at a later stage.'

A DWP spokesman said last night: 'Benefit fraud is a crime that diverts money from those who really need it and we are determined to catch the small minority who cheat the system.

'We remain vigilant to all forms of fraud and investigate, and prosecute, where appropriate.

'We are constantly refining our processes to ensure Universal Credit remains both accessible and secure, with those who need support getting it.'

(1st August 2019)

(Independent, dated 6th July 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

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The introduction of elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) was a "bizarre policy" that left individuals with "unchecked power" over force budgets and policies, one of Britain's most respected former police chiefs has said.

Calling for the government's flagship policing reform to be scrapped as part of measures to stop a "feeling of lawlessness" in the UK, Sir Mark Rowley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We've had eight years of policy misdirection that has been characterised by parochialism, the weakening of powers and by the cutting of resources."

Sir Mark, who became the head of UK counterterror policing in 2014, two years after Police and Crime Commissioners replaced local police authorities. He served in the role until last year and now he has joined a group of retired senior officers demanding change after "eight years of policy misdirection" by the government.

They called for a royal commission to consider merging the 43 police forces in England and Wales, and for the government to reverse cuts that saw the loss of 30,000 officers and support staff.

"It's that combination of factors in a time when threats are more joined up and policing needs to be more joined up," Sir Mark said.

He added that the government needed to "have a really fresh look to set policing up to deal with the threats and challenges of today, as well as having the necessary resources".

A system of 43 regional police forces, governed by elected politicians, was "not the way to structure policing when we're dealing with global challenges" like cybercrime, online child abuse and terrorism, he said.

He was one of eight former commissioners of London's Metropolitan Police and chief officers who wrote a letter to The Times warning that police resources had been drained to "dangerously low levels".

They said the reduction of police officer numbers and "destruction" of neighbourhood policing had contributed to a "feeling of lawlessness generated by knife murders" and rampant drug gangs.

"Police and crime commissioners, however well motivated, do not have the skills or resources to address the emasculation of British policing experienced in recent years," the letter added. "It is the first duty of any government to protect its citizens from harm. The responses to terrorism, cybercrime and the restoration of police resources and confidence cannot be provided by a fragmented system comprising more than 40 territorial police forces.

"If ever there were a time for a royal commission on British policing, it is now."

The call came after an annual report by Sir Thomas Windsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, who warned that "profound and far-reaching reform" was needed to prevent "unacceptable compromises in both the quality of service the police can offer the public and the level of public safety and security the police can uphold".

Sir Thomas Winsor found there has been a real-terms reduction in police funding of 19 per cent since 2010-11, as officers are left to "pick up the pieces" of other public service decimated by cuts. He said there was a "pressing need for single-system operation" between police force areas.
Cressida Dick contradicts Theresa May over police cuts

"Localism has its place but we need to recognise that the 43 force model was designed and established when policing was very different to today," Sir Thomas added, and said that while local accountability was important, regional and national effectiveness was "just as essential".

Yvette Cooper, chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, accused the Home Office of a failure of leadership in the face of changing patterns of crime.

"Ministers still aren't responding to the gravity of the situation for policing because of the level of budget and staffing cuts and lack of leadership - especially as serious violence is continuing to rise," she added. "They cannot continue to stand back and leave the police to cope and manage alone."  

The comments have reignited longstanding tensions between police officers and PCCs, after years of attempts to foster mutual respect and collaboration. The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners said PCCs have an "important role within the wider criminal justice system", after a report last year found that some were "bleeding hopeless".

Performance lead Matthew Scott, the PCC for Kent, said: "They have responsibility for commissioning the majority of local services to help victims of crime, ensuring they are supported throughout the criminal justice process and are receiving their entitlements under the Victims Code of Practice.
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"In addition, the Ministry of Justice is developing new probation arrangements which will include a stronger role for PCCs."

The Home Office said chief constables and PCCs were collaborating with other forces across the country on a daily basis.

"We have already made progress reforming the police system but recognise there is still more to do and are working with policing leaders across the country to build a smarter, more efficient system with crime prevention at its heart," a spokesperson added. "Police funding has increased by more than £1bn this year, including council tax and money to tackle serious violence. PCCs have already indicated they plan to recruit over 3,500 extra officers and staff."

(1st August 2019)

(Mirror, dated 6th July 2019 author Nicola Small)

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Hundreds of blobby bobbies are not fit enough for the job, a Sunday Mirror investigation can reveal.

Our probe found that at least 852 cops in England and Wales flunked their annual fitness test.

That is despite being allowed a generous three minutes and 40 seconds to run 525 metres.

Specialist roles such as dog handlers and firearms officers required a higher level of fitness.

Worst failure rate in last year's test was in Durham Constabulary, where 14 per cent of those tested could not keep pace.

The real UK-wide figure will soar as only 27 out of 43 forces responded to our Freedom of Information request.

David Spencer, research director at the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: "It is deeply concerning. Fitness should be a prerequisite.

"The public will be concerned about how effectively police are able to discharge their duties if so many are unfit.

"These figures appear endemic of a worrying shift where more officers are sat in front of a computer policing comments on Twitter than are found on the beat keeping our communities safe. It is high time this trend was reversed."

Officers had to complete the bleep test, running 15-metre shuttles at a progressively faster speed.

The top speed is 6.46mph - equivalent to a mile in nine minutes and 17 seconds.

Nine of those who were not fast enough were inspectors.

Sixty per cent of those who failed were female.

The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for fitness, Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner, said: "The overwhelming majority tested were fit and met the standard required of them to protect the public."

Gary Ridley, Assistant Chief Officer at Durham Constabulary, said: "We take fitness seriously.

"All our trainers have qualifications which enable them to offer advice and support regarding nutrition, physical training and the anatomy."

(1st August 2019)

(Mirror, dated 6th July 2019 authors Dan Warburton and Matthew Davis)

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A woman has her drink spiked in a pub before she is bundled helpless into a taxi and raped.

Another is befriended by a couple at a festival - where they drug, strip and abuse her in the back of their van.

These are just two of more than 700 reported cases where people had their drinks spiked in the UK last year.

That is an increase of more than 150 per cent since 2015 as criminals use date rape drugs to abuse and rob their victims at record rates.

Detectives are investigating two ­incidents every day as sick criminals use chemicals like GHB, ketamine, Valium and Rohypnol to disable people.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg as many victims are too ashamed to report incidents or cannot remember because of the effects of the drugs.

Some thugs even use over-the-counter medication like Night Nurse in vile sex assaults and robberies.

Jim Campbell, a former Home Office forensic scientist who has been working on cases of drink spiking for 40 years, said: "It's extremely concerning. Now people are using these drugs to rob them, to carry out revenge attacks or just for a lark in the club or pub.

"But it's a nasty thing to do because people who get drugged remember ­nothing. And there are people who suffer serious sexual assaults.

"They struggle to come to terms with it. Police treat it purely from an evidential point of view, which doesn't help the victim."

Last year there were 724 drink-spiking probes launched by police forces, compared to 285 in 2015.

More than half of the UK's police forces responded to our Freedom of Information request - meaning the true total must be much higher.

The Sunday People also ­uncovered gruesome details of the twisted criminal acts being carried out by people who use chemicals in drinks to leave their prey helpless.

In some cases a victim's own partner has used poison to carry out terrifying sex assaults on them.

Our investigation comes just two weeks after black cab rapist John Worboys was told he could die in jail after admitting drugging four more women.

The 62-year-old Londoner, who now goes by the name John Derek Radford, used a "stupefying or overpowering drug" on women who had hailed his taxi.

He was originally convicted in 2009 of one rape, five sex assaults, one attempted ­assault and 12 drugging charges.

He used a "rape kit" complete with spiked champagne to drug his victims in the back of his black cab before he launched his sickening assaults.

Elsewhere, Grindr serial killer Stephen Port, 44, received a whole-life sentence for raping and murdering four young gay men with chem-sex drug GHB at his flat in Barking, East London in November 2016.

Katie Russell, a ­spokesman for Rape Crisis, said prosecutions were difficult in drink spiking cases because victims often report outside a 72-hour window and the drugs have left their body, meaning there is no evidence for prosecution.

She said: "All sexual ­offences are historically, chronically and continuously under-reported. We know rape victims and victims of sexual abuse don't report to the police.

"So it's safe to imagine that when someone's drink has been spiked and there's been a rape or sexual assault the ­reporting rates may have been lower.

"That's because the drugs used may impair memory and the survivor or victim may not have realised what's happened to them until some time later.

"Feelings of shame and self-blame feature very highly for victims. It means many won't report it."

She added: "The criminal justice system is doing very poorly around sexual offences prosecution. Outcomes are very low.

"More reporting of offences is a great start towards justice but only if the resources are there to ­properly charge, prosecute and convict these ­criminals."

A dossier of cases of men and women being raped and robbed after being drugged has been uncovered by the Sunday People.

The force that investigated the most incidents in 2018 was Hertfordshire, who had 129 cases. Kent and Avon & Somerset probed 87 each.

Lancashire had 65 and in Dorset there were 47.

In Hertfordshire a woman claimed she was visited by her former partner, who spiked her drink then sexually ­assaulted her in her bed.

A man in Cheshire suspected his drink was spiked in a ­nightclub while out with his wife and a friend. He later went for medical tests which uncovered morphine in his bloodstream.

A woman in Suffolk told a paramedic that her drink was spiked in a pub and she was manhandled into a taxi and raped.

In a separate incident, a medical professional raised concerns that a female patient was raped after having a drink spiked.

Two men in Wiltshire separately claimed they had their drinks spiked and then woke up later in pain believing they had been raped while unconscious.

The same force also had two separate accounts of women being sexually ­assaulted after drink-spiking incidents.

Devon and Cornwall Police ­investigated the case of a woman who was befriended by a man and a woman at a festival.

They invited her back to their van, where they gave her a gin and tonic, which she believed was spiked.

She recalls being kissed by both of them and her clothes were removed and her breasts groped. In Lancashire a woman claimed she was raped by a man she knew after her drink was spiked.

In a separate case, a man claimed to have been raped in similar circumstances. In Durham a victim fell unconscious after drugs were put in the vodka she was drinking.

She was later told by a friend the culprit ­admitted drugging her and then having sex with her while she was unconscious.

A dog walker in Nottinghamshire stumbled across a woman at 5am who was upset, screaming and shouting for help.

She said her drink had been spiked and her belongings stolen.

In another case, ambulance crews were called to an 18-year-old who said she had been sexually assaulted after her drink was spiked.

One teenager who had her drink tampered with in a Glasgow club said it was "terrifying".

She recalled: "I couldn't feel my legs, I couldn't feel my arms, I couldn't speak properly."

Student Cara Teven, 21, founded Girls Against Spiking after it happened to a close friend.

Cara said: "There is a lot of ­victim-shaming where people are told they drank too much or are just being dramatic."

Police have backed her ­campaign to get pubs and clubs to offer drinks with lids to make it harder for would-be attackers to get away with it.

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 5th July 2019 author Tim Collins)

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Hackers targeting St John Ambulance were able to penetrate the charity's IT defences, blocking its access to its online systems.

The ransomware, which saw unknown cybercriminals demand a cash payment to reverse their actions, lasted just half an hour before tech experts fixed the flaw.

St John Ambulance says that no ransom was paid and that no passwords or credit card details were taken.

MailOnline has contacted the charity to find out exactly how many people's data was caught up, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

A statement on their website says that data from anyone who opened an account, booked a training course or attended one before February 2019 was affected.

'This has not affected our operational systems and we resolved the issue within half an hour,' a spokesman for the charity said in the statement.

'This means that we were temporarily blocked from accessing the system affected and the data customers gave us when booking a training course was locked.

'We are confident that data has not been shared outside St John Ambulance.'

St John Ambulance has reported the breach to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the Charity Commission and the police.

A spokesman for the ICO confirmed to the British technology magazine the Inquirer that it had received the report and was working to asses the information provided.

St John Ambulance added that no immediate action was necessary on the part of affected parties.

This is not the first time that hackers have taken on a medical institution in the United Kingdom.

In May 2017, a massive ransomware virus attack called WannaCry spread to the computer systems of hundreds of private companies and public organisations across the globe.

That included the NHS, where hospitals and doctors' surgeries in England were forced to turn away patients and cancel appointments. 

The WannaCry virus targeted older versions of Microsoft's widely used Windows operating system.

It encrypts certain files on the computer and then blackmails the user for money in exchange for the access to the files.

It leaves the user with only two files: Instructions on what to do next and the Wanna Decryptor program itself.

Hackers asked for payments of around £230 ($300) in Bitcoin.

What is ransomware ?

Cybercriminals use 'blockers' to stop their victim accessing their device.

This may include a mesage telling them this is due to 'illegal content'  such as porn being identified on their device.

Anyone who has accessed porn online is probably less likely to take the matter up with law enforcement.

Hackers then ask for money to be paid, often in the form of Bitcoins or other untraceable cryptocurrencies, for the block to be removed.

In May 2017, a massive ransomware virus attack called WannaCry spread to the computer systems of hundreds of private companies and public organisations across the globe.

(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 5th July 2019 author Oliver Bullough)

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Kleptocrats, fraudsters and crooks steal hundreds of billions of pounds, dollars and euros from the rest of us every year, but that gives them a problem: how can they stop the rest of us knowing what they've done with the proceeds? They have to stop their haul looking suspicious, to cleanse it of any criminal taint, or face losing their hard-stolen cash.

Money laundering, as this process is known, is notoriously difficult to uncover, investigate and prosecute. Occasionally, however, an insider breaks cover - someone such as Howard Wilkinson, who blew the whistle on perhaps the largest money-laundering scheme in history, the movement of €200bn of suspect funds through the Estonian branch of Denmark's biggest bank between 2007 and 2015, most of it earned in the dodgier corners of the former Soviet Union, some perhaps belonging to Vladimir Putin himself.

"No one really knows where this money went," Wilkinson, a former Danske Bank employee, told Denmark's parliament last year. Once the money had got into the global financial system, "it was clean, it was free."

Britain's most famous money launderer is HSBC, thanks to its systematic cleansing of the earnings of the Latin American drug cartels over the second half of the last decade, for which it was fined $1.9bn by the US government in 2012. But that was a tiny operation compared to the Danske Bank scandal. If gathered together, the suspect funds moved through the bank's Estonian outpost could buy HSBC, with more than enough left over to buy Danske Bank too.

The scandal has been big news in Denmark and Estonia, but barely grazed public consciousness in the UK. This is strange, because Britain played a key role. All of the owners of the bank accounts that first aroused Wilkinson's suspicions had their identity hidden behind corporate structures registered in the UK - including Lantana Trade LLP, the one that may have been connected to Putin. That means this is not just a Russian, Estonian or Danish scandal, but something far closer to home. In November, Wilkinson told a European parliament committee that the countries hosting these companies are just as culpable. "Worst of all is the United Kingdom," he said. "The United Kingdom is an absolute disgrace."

The British government is supposedly committed to tackling grand corruption and financial crime, yet Britain's involvement in this mega-scandal has never been mentioned in parliament, or been addressed by ministers. It is far from the first time that British companies have been involved in high-profile money-laundering. Among the characters who have used British shell companies to hide their money are Paul Manafort, disgraced former chairman of Donald Trump's election campaign, and Viktor Yanukovich, overthrown president of Ukraine, among thousands of lower-profile opportunists.

It is increasingly hard to avoid the conclusion that Britain tolerates this kind of behaviour deliberately, because of the money it brings into to our economy.

That being so, why should hardened criminals be the only ones getting rich off Britain's lax enforcement? Here's how you too can use British shell companies to cleanse your dirty money - in five easy steps.

Uaware note - for details of these steps read the orginal article

Step 1: Forget what you think you know
Step 2: Set up a company
Step 3: Make stuff up
Step 4: Lie - but do so cleverly

Step 5: Don't worry about it (uaware note - this is really the summary of the problem)

I know what you're thinking: it cannot be this easy. Surely you'll be arrested, tried and jailed if you try to follow this five-step process. But if you look at what British officials do, rather than at what they say, you'll begin to feel a lot more secure. The Business Department has repeatedly been warned that the UK is facilitating this kind of financial crime for the best part of a decade, and is yet to take any substantive action to stop it. (Though, to be fair, it did recently launch a "consultation".)

Before 2011, only registered company-formation businesses could access Companies House's web portal, which meant there was a clear connection between an actual verified individual and companies being created, since you could see who had created them. There was still fraud, of course, but it was relatively easy to understand who was responsible.

In 2011, then-business secretary and Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable decided to open up Companies House, and everything changed. After Cable's reform, anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world, could create a UK company in about as much time as it takes to order a couple of pizzas, and for approximately the same amount of money. The checks were gone; there was no longer any connection to a verifiably existing person; it was as easy to create a UK company as it was to set up a Twitter account. The rationale was that this would unleash the latent entrepreneurship within the British nation by making it easy to turn business ideas into thriving concerns.

Instead of unchaining a new generation of British businesspeople, however, Cable let slip the dogs of fraud. At first, this rather technical modification to an obscure corner of the British machinery of state did not garner much attention, but for people who understood what it meant it was alarming. One such person was Kevin Brewer, a Warwickshire businessman who had been in the company forming business for decades, and who attempted to warn Cable of the potential risks inherent in the new policy.

The method Brewer chose to make his warning was perhaps slightly unwise. He registered a company - John Vincent Cable Services Ltd - with Vince Cable listed as the sole shareholder, then wrote to the business secretary to explain what he had done. It was intended as a demonstration of how easy it is to file unverified information with Companies House, but it failed to focus attention in the way he had hoped. Jo Swinson MP, who worked with Cable, wrote Brewer a stern letter, telling him he should not have done what he did, and assured him that the new system was very good. Brewer concluded that the coalition government was not going to take his concerns seriously.

In 2015, there was a general election, Cable lost his seat, the Conservatives formed a majority government, and Brewer decided to try again with the same stunt. He created Cleverly Clogs Ltd, a company apparently owned by three people: James Cleverly MP, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who was a minister in the business department, and a fictional Israeli called Ibrahim Aman. Brewer was no more successful in persuading Tories than he had been at persuading Liberal Democrats, however. At that point, he gave up on his attempt to show the government it was enabling limitless opportunities for fraud.

There is, it turns out, a simple explanation for why successive governments have failed to do anything about it. Last year, when challenged in the House of Commons, Treasury minister John Glen stated that Companies House simply couldn't afford to check the information filed with it, since that would cost the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year. This is almost certainly an exaggeration. Anti-corruption activists who have looked at the data say the cost would in fact be far less than that, but the key point is that the reform would pay for itself. As Brewer has pointed out, "the burden of cost is one thing. But the cost of fraud is far greater."

VAT fraud alone costs the UK more than £1bn a year, while the National Crime Agency estimates the cost of all fraud to the UK economy to be £190bn. The cost to the rest of the world of the money laundering enabled by UK corporate entities is almost certainly far higher. Spending hundreds of millions of pounds to prevent hundreds of billions' worth of crime looks like a sensible investment, however you look at the data, particularly since the remedy - obliging Companies House to check the accuracy of the information filed on its registry - would be so simple. (When I put this to Companies House, they provided the following statement: "We do not have the statutory power or capability to verify the accuracy of the information that companies provide. However, tackling abuse of the register is a key priority and that's why we work closely with law enforcement partners to assist their investigations into suspected cases of economic crime and other offences.")

That is not to say that the government has taken no action. It is illegal to deliberately file false information in registering a company, and punishable by up to two years in prison. In late 2017, Companies House at last alerted prosecutors to the activities of one persistent offender. The target of the prosecution was Kevin Brewer, for the crime of trying to inform politicians about how easy it is to create fake companies.

He was summonsed to appear at Redditch magistrates' court and, on legal advice, pleaded guilty in March 2018. After adding together his fine, and the government's costs, he is £23,324 the poorer - quite a high price to pay for blowing the whistle. He is paying it off at £1,000 a month, and remains the only person ever convicted of spoofing the UK's corporate registry, which is quite a remarkable demonstration of Companies House's failure to do its job.

Following his conviction, Brewer's company National Business Register was removed from the list that Companies House publishes of company formation agents, which had been a key source of new business for him. "There are company formation agents on that list who have permitted huge amounts of fraud, and I've been excluded for trying to expose it. I find it incredible that they should turn a blind eye," he told me. "Is it deliberate? Are they actually trying to get this money into the UK? I don't want to believe it, but I can't explain it any other way."

We don't know the answer to that, but it does give us lesson number five: don't worry about it. Commit as much fraud as you like, fill your boots, the only reason anyone would care is if you kick up a fuss. And what sensible fraudster is going to do that?

(1st August 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 5th July 2019 author Martin Evans)

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A leading forensic science firm, which is used by the UK police to help investigate major crimes, has paid a ransom to criminals after being targeted in a cyber attack, it is understood.

Eurofins Scientific, which is based in Belgium but has laboratories all over the world, was hit by a ransomware attack last month, which affected the firm's IT systems.

The National Crime Agency has been investigating the source of the attack, but sources claimed the company had already paid a ransom to recover its network.

It is not clear how much was paid and spokesman for the firm said: "With regards to any ransom payment we can't comment at the moment."

Eurofins, which helped catch the Babes in the Wood killer, Russell Bishop, accounts for more than half of the forensic science provision for UK forces.

Its scientists handle forensic evidence relating to around 70,000 criminal cases in the UK each year, carrying out DNA testing, toxicology analysis, firearms testing and other services.

But following the cyberattack a decision was taken by police leaders to suspend work with the firm.

It is thought the suspension of services has already led to a delay in some court cases with a number of trials having to be postponed.

In the wake of the attack, security minister Ben Wallace said immediate steps had been taken to minimise the impact on the criminal justice system.

He said: "The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is working to ensure all hearings remain based on reliable evidence.

"If prosecutors or the police believe that there may have been an impact, they will contact the victims or witnesses involved. But if any victims are concerned, national support services are also available.

"However, I want to stress that at present we have no reason to believe there has been an impact on the forensic evidence tested by EFS."

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) refused to comment on the ransom payment but sources said "excellent progress" had been made in dealing with the fall-out of the cyber attack.

Ransomware software is a virus that prevents the user from accessing their systems and can cripple an organisation.

The hackers then often send a demand for payment in order to unlock the frozen systems.

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre spokesman said: "It is a matter for the victim whether or not to pay the ransom."

But the decision to pay the hackers could lead to concerns that the firm could be targeted in the future.

The state run Forensic Science Service (FSS) was abolished in 2012 with the work being taken on by a number of private firms.

However the sector has been beset with problems with an alleged data tampering scandal at Randox Testing and the collapse of Key Forensic Services.

In May a House of Lords report warned that the provision of forensic science in England and Wales had reached breaking point, risking crimes going unsolved and miscarriages of justice occurring.

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 5th July 2019 author Sophie Borland)

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The public has lost confidence in the police and a 'feeling of lawlessness' pervades the country, five former Scotland Yard chiefs warn today.

They have banded together to denounce the 'emasculation of British policing' under Theresa May - and have urged her successor to focus on restoring law and order.

Writing in The Times, the officers, who led the Metropolitan Police from 1993 to 2017, argued that police resources had been 'drained to dangerously low levels'.

This left victims with 'perilously low expectations' of the police.

They wrote: 'The reduction of police and support staff by more than 30,000, the virtual destruction of neighbourhood policing and the inadvisable undermining of lawful police powers such as stop and search, have taken their toll.' They signed off by calling for an immediate royal commission on the state of policing.

The letter is signed by Lord Condon, Lord Stevens, Lord Blair, Sir Paul Stephenson and Lord Hogan-Howe, as well as other senior officers.

Their letter came after a scathing report warned that huge changes are needed to protect the public, with officers unable to stem a surge in violence.

'High harm' crimes, such as stabbings and child abuse, are on the rise at a time when forces are understaffed and inefficient, the police watchdog said in his annual review yesterday.

Sir Thomas Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said parents in some areas are afraid to let their children play outside. He also criticised officers for 'deprioritising' fraud even though it could have 'life-ending' consequences for a pensioner duped out of their savings. And he urged the Government to introduce major changes. These would include compulsory standards to drive-up efficiency, an obligation for forces to work more closely together and an investment in technology.

The Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson has promised an extra 20,000 officers within three years. But Sir Thomas said public safety was 'not just about police numbers'. He added: 'Leaders in central government, police and crime commissioners and chief constables will all need to make bold, long-term decisions.'

Policing minister Nick Hurd said: 'We are working with policing leaders to build a smarter, more efficient, system with crime prevention at its heart.'

(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 5th July 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

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Children as young as seven are being targeted for grooming, violence and exploitation by drug gangs enslaving them into criminality, says a report from the Children's Society.

The charity says the main age bracket for criminal exploitation of children is 14 to 17, but warns the age at which youngsters are being targeted for grooming is getting younger. "There is evidence that primary school age children - as young as seven - are targeted," states the report.

There can be a lack of recognition of criminal exploitation of younger children and so opportunities to protect under-10s can be missed, it added.

The number of children arrested for selling drugs outside their home area almost doubled beween 2015-16 and 2017-18
(Source: The Children's Society. From 11 out of 41 police forces that responded in England)

Children arrested outside area = n , Children arrested inside area = [n]

2017-18 Possession : 54 [121]
2017-18 Possession with intent to supply : 132 [214]

2016-17 Possession : 42 [129]
2016-17 Possession with intent to supply : 124 [180]

2015-16 Possession : 37 [100]
2015-16 Possession with intent to supply : 69 [148]

The report focuses on the criminal exploitation of children, best known via the "county lines" tactic, whereby drug gangs use children to break into new markets.

Children routinely suffer violence and threats of harm to themselves or loved ones, and sexual exploitation, to enforce compliance. Grooming involves physical and emotional exploitation of children from all backgrounds, mostly deprived or troubled, and including some from private schools, the report says.

Criminals change their tactics as police and the authorities become aware of their operations, the report says, for example by introducing "shift work" for the children under their control so they are missing for less time and less likely to arouse suspicion.

The Children's Society is calling for changes in law and policy and more resources to counter the threat, saying all children caught up in activities such as county lines operations should not be criminalised and should be treated as victims.

The report is based on the charity's own case studies, and freedom of information requests to police and local councils, which reveal inadequate information about the scale of the exploitation of children as well as drastically varying levels of awareness and resources in different areas.

The report says: "The vast majority of police forces and local authorities across England and Wales were not able to share figures of the number of children affected by criminal exploitation in their area."

The report cites as an indication of the scale of the problem large rises in the number of children being trafficked to sell drugs near their homes, which has has nearly doubled, from 69 in 2015-16, to 132 in 2017-18 across 11 out of 41 police forces.

Criminal exploitation was the primary type of slavery uncovered in 370 police operations in April 2019, an increase of 1,956% from 18 operations in April 2017, the report says.

The number of children affected is believed to run into the tens of thousands, with a Children's Society survey finding 40% of police officers believe child exploitation has been taking place in their area for five years.

A Manchester deputy headteacher, cited in the report, said teenagers were helping groom primary school children, with 10-year-olds being picked up after school by 14-year-olds, who in turn were involved with older teenagers, amounting to a "web of exploitation" cascading down the different ages of children.

Children start with smaller tasks, such as stealing from a shop, to show loyalty, and then the scale of criminality they are coerced into escalates.

One method of ensuring compliance is putting the child into "bondage" by faking a debt. The report says: "When on the periphery of the criminal group, they may be asked to carry or hold something of value - as a sign of trust.

"At this point, the young person will be robbed or jumped and unable to pay or give the item back, placing them in debt with the perpetrator. Unbeknownst to the young person these robberies are often contrived by the criminal groups as a way of debt bondage."

Children are made to insert packages into their own body cavities and then trafficked by the criminal group to the end marketplace.

The report warns criminals change their tactics: "We heard reports of children acting out in school so that they were excluded to be able to attend a shift - the fear of repercussion for not complying with their exploiter greater than that within school.

"We had a case where the young female would go to school not in the correct uniform - so school would send her home without informing the parents and then her exploitation would take place from going home from school to home."

The report adds: "These young people have been groomed, been told not to trust professionals, been told not to talk, will be silenced through threats of violence, death, sexual violence. We've worked with young people who have been raped, who have been forced to commit sexual acts."

The report says criminals use Snapchat or geo-tracking apps to monitor children they have enslaved.

A youth worker quoted in the report told of battling against the odds to help children: "You work behind the tide every single day. As soon as you think that you've understood something … it's changed. And because of the level of violence that's perpetrated towards our children, the fear and the threat that they live with makes it almost impossible for them to accept [support]."

Lucy Belcher, from the charity's Manchester-based project, which aims to disrupt child exploitation, told the Guardian most children they tried to help were aged 10 and at risk of exploitation, but some already are being exploited.

She said criminals groom youngsters, rather than adults, because they were less likely to be suspected of involvement in drugs and were easier to make compliant.

Belcher said the authorities should stop treating children being exploited to run drugs as criminals, rather than victims. "I don't think any child who is being exploited has a choice. It can appear consensual but they have been groomed and coerced into criminal activity by force and manipulation."

Her project began in January and what she has found has shocked and upset her. "What I find hard is the lack of support for young people. We need to get there earlier and need to support these young people before this is happening."

The charity is calling for changes in legislation. "The law should be clarified to ensure that all children who are groomed, coerced and controlled into committing crime are recognised as victims of exploitation."

It also says the government should consult on a new criminal offence to "outlaw the practice of making a child insert and carry drugs within their bodies".

Nikki Holland, the National Crime Agency's director of investigations and national county lines lead, said: "While we are making progress, an effective UK response to county lines requires a whole system approach. This means leaders in health and social care, education and the third sector working collaboratively with law enforcement to stop young people from being drawn into county lines activity and by identifying those vulnerable to or being exploited."

Quick guide - What is meant by 'county lines'?

Operations in major cities seek new markets outside urban hubs for their drugs, primarily crack cocaine and heroin. The expansion of their networks into the regions often comes with exploitation.

Who are the victims of these operations?

Children and vulnerable adults are often coerced into ferrying and stashing the drugs. They can be homeless or missing people, addicts, people living in care, trapped in poverty, or suffering from mental illness or learning difficulties. Even older and physically infirm people have been targeted and officers have observed a gang member attending drug rehab to find potential runners.

How do they target people?

Initially they can be lured in with money, gifts and the prospect of status. But this can quickly turn into the use of violence, sometimes sexual.

How prevalent are county lines?

National Crime Agency research shows police have knowledge of at least 720 county lines in England and Wales, but it is feared the true number is far higher. Around 65% of forces reported county lines being linked to child exploitation, while 74% noted vulnerable people being targeted.

How many children are at risk?

Children without criminal records - known in the trade as "clean skins" - are preferred because they are less likely to be known to detectives. Charity The Children's Society says 4,000 teenagers in London alone are exploited through county lines. The Children's Commissioner estimates at least 46,000 children in England are caught up in gangs.

See also

(Sky News, dated 5th July 2019 author Jason Farrell)

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(1st August 2019)

(The Register, dated 4th July 2019 author Kat Hall)

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UK businesses have reported a significant fall in cyber attacks over the last 12 months.

The proportion identifying breaches or attacks in the least year was 32 per cent, compared with 43 per cent in 2018 and 46 per cent in 2017, according to a survey of 1,566 businesses by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Those figures echo the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which found that between September 2017 and September 2018, the number of computer misuse incidents among individuals fell from 1.5 million to 1 million.

This was driven, according to Office for National Statistics data, by a significant reduction in computer viruses (down by 45 per cent over the same period).

However, the DCMS report said other factors could be at play such as more investment in cybersecurity, better compliance due to GDPR, or a change in attack behaviour.

For example, those carrying out cyber attacks could be focusing on a narrower (though still numerous) set of businesses.

This fits with another broad trend in the survey showing that, among the 32 per cent of businesses that did identify breaches or attacks, the median number they recall facing has gone up, from two attacks in 2017 to six in 2019.

Of those targeted, phishing attacks were the most common, with 80 per cent having been subject to email scams, while 27 per cent said they had been hit by viruses, spyware or malware.

However, Ken Munro of Pen Test Partners said there are too many variables to make the findings conclusive.

"Are the number of antivirus reports down because organisations (rightly) don't consider them to be attacks/breaches or incidents? Or is it because the antivirus products aren't detecting the types of malware that are being used now?"

He added: "Without analysing the quality of phishing attacks, the data is also meaningless. Are untargeted phishing attempts being filtered out upstream?

"I don't think anything can be concluded from the report other than that 'cyber stuff is still happening and some businesses are taking it more seriously'."

(1st August 2019)

(BBC News, dated 4th July 2019)

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Public safety could be at risk unless urgent reforms are made, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary has said.

In his annual report Sir Thomas Winsor also branded the criminal justice system "dysfunctional and defective" :

"Bold and long-term decisions" were needed to improve policing and forces need to work closer together, he said.

The Government said it was "working hard to address pressures" on the justice system.

In his annual assessment of policing in England and Wales, Sir Thomas said there had been a 19% drop in police funding since 2010-11.

"There are indications that some forces are straining under significant pressure as they try to meet growing complex and high-risk demand with weakened resources", he said.

His proposals to improve policing included "considerable investment in technology to keep up with and get ahead of emerging online offending".

t comes after Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said too many crimes are being left unsolved.

During a speech about the future of policing in England and Wales, Cressida Dick admitted that national detection rates for some offences were "woefully low".

She added: "The courts are emptying, not filling. It is not good and I am not proud of it."

'Continued controversy'

Sir Thomas also said rehabilitation of criminals needed to be taken more seriously, with people released from prisons being "guaranteed proper support" in dealing with benefits and finance.

In the report, Sir Thomas added that there was "continued controversy" about the 43-police force structure in England and Wales.

He also said there was a need for the police service to function as part of a single law enforcement system.

(1st August 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 4th July 2019 author Justin Davenport)

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The number of pickpocketing offences on the London Underground has more than doubled in the past two years.

Figures released by the Mayor show there were 5,128 offences on the Tube in 2018-19, compared with 3,485 the previous year, a rise of nearly 50 per cent. The number of pickpocketing offences has risen by 102 per cent since 2016-17, when British Transport Police recorded 2,532 offences.

There have been increases in the number of pickpocketing offences on the DLR and the Overground but the biggest rise was on the Tube.

Organised gangs of pickpockets from eastern Europe and South America are known to target the network, particularly in the summer when it is crowded with tourists.

The figures were revealed by the London Assembly Tory party in a question to the Mayor. Conservative Assembly member Susan Hall said: "With the number of pickpocketing offences across the transport network doubling since 2016, it is clear that Sadiq Khan's crime epidemic is spreading underground. This eye-watering surge will have a devastating impact on hard-working Londoners, with the theft of items such as wallets and phones costing victims hundreds of pounds and causing serious disruption to people's lives."

The figures come about two years after British Transport Police axed its specialist Tube pickpocket unit - the Dip Squad - and some commentators blame this decision for the increase.

A BTP spokesman said the force still had specialist undercover squads targeting pickpockets and other criminals. He added: "We are committed to reducing theft and pickpocketing."

Passengers can now report a theft by texting police on 61016.

In January, a pickpocket who was wanted throughout Europe was jailed after being spotted by undercover officers on the Tube. Romanian Catalin Copaie, 40, was tailed by a plain-clothes team as he moved between stations on the Piccadilly line in December.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said that there were 3,000 officers "dedicated to patrolling and investigating crime on the transport network. Officers are targeting the known organised criminal networks operating in busy places and making arrests".

(1st August 2019)

(Register, dated 4th July 2019 author Kat Hall)

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Facial recognition technology trialled by the Metropolitan Police is highly inaccurate and its deployment is likely to be found "unlawful" if challenged in court, an excoriating independent report has found.

Researchers from the Human Rights, Big Data & Technology Project, based at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre, identified significant flaws with the way live facial recognition (LFR) technology has been trialled in London by the Metropolitan Police Service.

So far the Met has used the controversial technology on 10 separate occasions in the last three years, including twice at Notting Hill Carnival.

In May, the Met fined a man for covering his face while conducting a test of the technology in London.

Professor Fussey and Dr Murray were granted unprecedented access to the final six trials, running from June 2018 to February 2019.

From those, the authors found that just eight correct matches were made out of 42 suggested in total.

LFR technology allows for the real-time biometric processing of video imagery to identify particular individuals

The software processes the images in order to identify any faces, creates a digital signature of identified faces, and then analyses those digital signatures against a database referred to as the "watch list". An alert is then issued by the police control room and may be available on officers' portable devices.

However, accuracy of the watch list data also remains a challenge. Legacy data-handling systems meant data relevant to watch lists was spread across different databases and each watch list entry needed to be assembled by manually extracting and merging records from each of these locations, the Uni found.

The report noted it is possible for LFR software to be integrated into police body-worn cameras. That could be used to create a database of individuals' movements within a city, which in turn could be automated to identify any unusual patterns.

Professor Fussey and Dr Murray are calling for all live trials of LFR to be ceased until these concerns are addressed. They noted it is essential that human rights compliance is ensured before deployment, and there be an appropriate level of public scrutiny and debate on a national level.

Murray said: "This report raises significant concerns regarding the human rights law compliance of the trials.

"The legal basis for the trials was unclear and is unlikely to satisfy the 'in accordance with the law' test established by human rights law.

"Ultimately, the impression is that human rights compliance was not built into the Metropolitan Police's systems from the outset, and was not an integral part of the process."

In January this year, it emerged that the Met had blown more than £200,000 on facial-recognition trials with little or no arrests to show for it.

The Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball sent us a stament:

"We are extremely disappointed with the negative and unbalanced tone of this report. The MPS maintains we have a legal basis for this pilot period and have taken legal advice throughout. We will again review this once we have the outcome of the South Wales judicial review. This is new technology, and we're testing it within a policing context. The Met's approach has developed throughout the pilot period, and the deployments have been successful in identifying wanted offenders. We believe the public would absolutely expect us to try innovative methods of crime fighting in order to make London safer.

"We fully expect the use of this technology to be rigorously scrutinised and want to ensure the public have complete confidence in the way we police London."

(1st August 2019)

(Brussels Times, dated 3rd July 2019 author Oscar Schneider)

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Most Belgians feel safe, especially in their neighbourhoods, much safer than police crime statistics might suggest, according to an extensive survey by the federal police on citizens' perceptions of their safety, their readiness to file complaints and their assessment of the services of the police.

Some 75% of Belgians said they always, or almost always, felt safe in their neighbourhoods. In fact, the things that seemed to worry Belgians most were excessive speeding by drivers and clandestine garbage dumps.

The Security Monitor survey, conducted among 168,206 respondents from March to May 2018, was the first such study by the federal police in 10 years.

When compared to crime statistics for 2018 compiled by the police, its results, published on Wednesday, give an idea of the impact of crime on the Belgian society.

A major finding of the Security Monitor survey is that Belgians tend to underestimate computer-based crime in particular.

According to the official data for 2018, acts of cybercrime registered by the police increased by 14.8% in one year. Phishing (stealing of users' data by using false Internet sites) seemed to be increasing at a particularly fast rate: 1,277 such cases were registered in 2018, up from 475 the year before.

On the other hand, the Security Monitor shows, only 14% of victims of data theft via computer or smart phone in 2018 actually reported these crimes to the police. For victims of online scams, intimidation or harassment, the proportion was barely higher, 22%.

"In other words, some 200,000 infractions committed via the Internet were not reported," the federal police noted.

Some 75% of Belgians said they always, or almost always, felt safe in their neighbourhoods. In fact, the things that seemed to worry Belgians most were excessive speeding by drivers and clandestine garbage dumps.

The number of offenses registered by the police last year was roughly the same as in 2017, with theft and extortion generating the most complaints.

(1st August 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 2nd July 2019 author Martin Evans)

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Vandals who damage war memorials, gravestones and buildings of historic importance are to face stiffer sentences under new guidelines being handed out to judges and magistrates in  England and Wales.

The move is intended to ensure that the full impact of such offences on the wider community is taken into consideration, rather than just the financial cost of their crime.

There are over 100,000 war memorials in the UK, but they receive no special legal protection and in the past louts who have daubed them with graffiti have often escaped with community sentences or minor fine.

But under the new guidelines, which will come into force on October 1, judges will have more discretion to jail offenders.

Courts will also be asked to take into account the impact on public services when important buildings such as schools and railway stations are damaged by vandalism and fire.

Another aggravating factor will be the strain put on emergency services when resources have to be diverted from other incidents in order to deal with deliberate fires.

In addition, damage caused to listed buildings and historically important objects, could lead to offenders receiving much tougher sentences.

The guidance includes a range of sentences depending on the severity of the crime, allowing judges to hand down life sentences for arson or criminal damage with up to eight or 12 years behind bars respectively.

Racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage in excess of £5,000 can also carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.

Mark Harrison, head of heritage crime strategy for Historic England - who also welcomed the move, said: "The impact of criminal damage and arson to our historic buildings and archaeological sites has far-reaching consequences over and above what has been damaged or lost."

Neil Odin, chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council prevention coordination committee, welcomed the changes, describing arson as a "blight" on communities.

He added: "It is worrying to see there has been an upward trend of arson since 2014/15 and while we will continue with prevention work to reduce these figures, it is important the courts can deal with criminal damage appropriately, sending a clear message to other people."

Sentencing Council member Judge Sarah Munro QC said: "The council's guidelines ensure that courts can consider all the consequences of arson and criminal damage offences, from a treasured family photo being destroyed to someone nearly losing their life and home in a calculated and vengeful arson attack."

Justice minister Robert Buckland said: "Beyond the financial cost to victims, arson and criminal damage are serious offences which can risk lives and leave lasting psychological harm.

"So it is right that courts have clear and consistent guidance when sentencing offenders to ensure punishments properly fit the crime."

(1st August 2019)

(iNews, dated 2nd July 2019 author Chris Green)

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Scottish Water, the nation's publicly-owned water provider, has been defrauded out of up to £500,000 after some of its employees used its vehicles to make cash on the side.

Four drivers hired by the company, which provides drinking water to 2.5m households across the country, took advantage of lax monitoring to use its waste tankers for their own personal gain.

The scam was only discovered when a member of the public called a Scottish Water call centre to express his concerns about the employees' unauthorised activities.

The four staff members left the company after the claims were substantiated by a whistle-blower, but it has so far not managed to recover any of its lost revenue.

Investigation launched

An internal investigation later concluded that the drivers had been given "too much flexibility" in scheduling their work and that their activities had not been properly monitored.

The incident emerged in a report by Audit Scotland, the nation's public spending watchdog, which detailed cases of fraud and financial irregularity in the public sector in 2018-19.

It said there had been 17 cases of fraud during the year amounting to a total loss of almost £674,000 for the public sector, with examples including misuse of assets and theft.

Another case saw Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which is responsible for famous buildings including Edinburgh Castle, lose £12,000 to credit card fraud.


Scottish Conservative local government spokesman Alexander Stewart said it was "staggering" that it had taken Scottish Water so long to discover the scam.

"A handful of employees have managed to carry out a significant level of fraudulent activity and go undetected for some time," he added.

"Given the sums involved there needs to be far closer monitoring of the activity of their drivers to ensure that this cannot happen again."

A spokesman for Scottish Water said: "As an organisation we take any allegation of fraudulent activity extremely seriously. This matter remains ongoing and as such it would not be appropriate to make any further comment."

Fiona Kordiak, director of audit services at Audit Scotland, said: "The level of fraud and irregularity we've outlined in this report is very small compared to the £44bn that's spent across Scotland's public sector each year.

"That shows that systems to avoid fraud are generally working well.

"However, there were avoidable weaknesses in all the cases we've highlighted, and it's important that all public bodies ensure that similar vulnerabilities don't exist within their own organisations."

A HES spokesman said: "Fraudulent card data was used on the HES ticketing web store. This did not relate to a security breach and subsequent loss of card data from any HES system.

"This data was then used to purchase tickets to our attractions. Since this came to light, we have introduced additional security and screening measures to prevent this happening again in future."

(1st August 2019)

(Guardian, dated 1st July 2019 author Jamie Grierson)

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New fears have emerged about the scale of abuse suffered by children and vulnerable adults after Scotland Yard revealed its officers were raising concerns with the safeguarding authorities on average 700 times a day.

Figures obtained by the Guardian show referrals relate to a range of alleged and suspected abuses, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage and bullying.

Data released under freedom of information (FoI) legislation shows that nearly 1.3m records were created in the capital over the past five years - an average of about 700 a day - informing local safeguarding authorities about officers' concerns for children and vulnerable adults.

The information is held on Scotland Yard's Merlin database, which was originally designed to record children "coming to notice" but later expanded to include vulnerable adults, allowing officers to flag up individuals at risk. Local councils are responsible for safeguarding through various mechanisms such as social services and children's services.

The figures underline the pressures safeguarding authorities are coming under daily as well as the demand on police forces to deal with issues beyond traditional policing at a time when police budgets and officer numbers are being squeezed.

Since 2014 nearly 1.3m records have been put on the Merlin database

(Source: Guardian FoIs)

2014 : 235626
2015 : 257519
2016 : 265830
2017 : 279132
2018 : 258930

Earlier this month, figures revealed the number of detectives investigating the most serious offences in England and Wales had fallen by at least 610, or 28%, between 2010-11 and 2017-18, while the detection rates for homicide, which includes the suspected offences of murder and manslaughter, fell by more than 10%.

Many factors affect crime outcomes, but one of the biggest has been the 19% cut in government funding since the Conservatives took power in 2010.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said: "The number of records created over the last five years is indicative of how seriously police take these matters. The Met will continue to create reports for any incident where a person may be at risk, or poses a risk to themselves or others, regardless of the situation."

But Almudena Lara, the head of policy at the NSPCC, said the safeguarding system was under excessive strain: "It is heartbreaking to think that every single day, police in the capital are coming across hundreds of vulnerable children and having to flag concerns for their safety.

"Many of these children could have been previously invisible to local children's services so it is a valuable tool. But if there aren't the resources in place to deal with these referrals, the children will just disappear back under the radar.

"The government needs to ensure local authorities are properly resourced so they are able to step in and support these children whenever and wherever they need it."

The largest number of records related to "child care/welfare", with 472,307 in the five years to the end of 2018, the data shows, while domestic violence led to 138,551 records. Missing persons generated 87,980 records in the period.

The highest number of records relate to 'child care/welfare' with nearly half a million created
(Source: Guardian FoIs)

2014 : 70923
2015 : 88940
2016 : 100035
2017 : 108205
2018 : 104204

Bullying concerns were the subject of 26,083 in the last five years, while child sexual exploitation generated 19,688 alerts to local safeguarding authorities. Forced marriage cases led to the creation of 390 records on the database, while concerns for the welfare of an unborn child led to 12,496.

Elsewhere, the data revealed that there had been 1,004 records over the five years for criminal activity committed by a child under 10, the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales. There had also been 555 records relating to female genital mutilation concerns.

Among adult-specific categories, 4,405 records for "adult welfare concerns" were made. A total of 3,526 were recorded separately as at risk of harm due to age, and 408 deemed at risk of harm due to disability. The total entered on the database rose steadily from 2014 to 2017, peaking at 279,132 before dipping to 258,930 in 2018.

Since 2010, when the Conservatives came to power in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the London mayor's office for policing and crime said the capital had lost 3,000 police officers, another 3,000 police community support officers and 5,000 civilian staff. The Met has made £850m in cuts, including selling its headquarters.

The data was provided to the Guardian after an FoI request about safeguarding referrals. Other forces provided some information, although it was not comparable on a like-for-like basis with the Met police data.

Sussex police made 63,259 referrals to child social services between 2014-15 and 2016-17 - 60 a day - while Cambridgeshire police made 47,988 for child protection in the five years between 2014 and 2018 - 27 a day.

South Wales police were able to show at least 8,214 child protection referrals between mid-2017 and early 2019, as well as 4,304 adult-at-risk referrals. Gwent police recorded 23,932 referrals between 2015 and 2018.

Last week, the Met police commissioner, Cressida Dick lamented the "woefully low" rates for solving crimes, adding that courts are "emptying" despite some offences rising.

Talking to an audience in London at the thinktank the Police Foundation, Dick said she was not proud of low detection rates for some crimes. Official figures for England and Wales show rape down to a 4% detection rate and an overall detection rate for all recorded offences of 9%.

(1st August 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 29th June 2019 author Andrew Young)

Full article [Option 1]]:

Millions of Britons may have had their mobile phone data exposed to Chinese hackers for up to seven years in one of the world's biggest cyber attacks.

The hackers, believed to be working for the Chinese government, placed espionage tools on the systems of at least ten unidentified mobile phone firms around the globe to spy on high-profile targets.

It allowed them to extract customers' details and information on calls and texts as well as the geo-location data of their smartphones to track their exact movements.

The revelation raises fresh concerns about the use of technology provided by Chinese tech giant Huawei in UK mobile phone networks, amid fears that it could be used for spying.

Sources at the Cyber Week security conference in Israel - where details of the hacking operation were revealed - suggested that one of the affected networks could be linked to the UK.

The hacking operation was apparently aimed at gaining the records of just a small number of suspected Chinese dissidents, effectively turning the smartphones in their pockets against them.

The hackers extracted hundreds of gigabytes of data from at least some of the networks, meaning that millions of non-targeted customers may have had their data breached.

The huge operation was uncovered by the US-Israeli cyber security firm Cybereason.

The attack was blocked by Cybereason which found that all the stolen data seemed to be aimed at getting the records of fewer than 30 people.

Cybereason chief executive Lior Div said the firm's investigation identified the hacking techniques used, suggesting with 'a high degree of certainty' that the attackers were affiliated with China. They were consistent with the shadowy hacking group APT10 which is believed to operate on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security.

Cybereason discovered that nine other networks had had their systems infected in the same way, with some possibly targeted for seven years.

Delegates at the conference included Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the UK Government's National Cyber Security Centre which has previously raised concerns about APT10.

Vodafone said: 'Vodafone has spoken to Cybereason to understand the threats that were reported, although we were not involved in their investigations.'

A spokesman for BT, which owns the EE network, said: 'We have seen no evidence across any of our network to suggest that BT has been compromised by a cyber attack [but] are currently investigating our estate to understand if there have been any attempts.'

Three refused to comment, but sources suggested the company was not affected.

O2 did not respond to requests to comment.

(1st August 2019)

JUNE 2019


I am referring to this kind of hatred as poison due to the way it hurts the victims and the distortion of views of the perpetrators who inflict that harm. Not meaning to belittle these incidents, I have tried to list the different types of hatred I have read about and personally experienced over the years. Sadly this is not an exclusive list and not in any particular order :

Hate of women (misogyny)
Hate of Men
Hate of Muslims
Hate of Christians
Hate of Judism
Hate of Black people
Hate of White people
Hate of Asians
Hate of Posh people
Hate of the poor
Hate of Gays
Hate of Lesbians
Hate of Transgender
Hate Remainers
Hate Brexiteers
Hate meat eaters
Hate vegan philosphy
Hate "fat cat" investors / bankers
Hate ##### Football team and supporters
Dislike the elderly
Dislike the disabled
Dislike of the Rich
Dislike of Socialism
Dislike of Conservatism
Dislike of the poorly educated
Dislike the educated

The use of the words "Hate" and "Dislike" in these examples are inter-changeable.


(Mirror, dated 1st July 2019 author Bradley Jolly)

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 A teenage boy with learning difficulties   is "scared to go outside" after he was "randomly attacked" by three thugs as he tried to get home from school.

Haydn Chambelton, 16, was punched to the ground and chased by the three yobs who set upon him last Tuesday.

He only managed to escape his attackers on his scooter, after they chased him down the road in Louth, Lincolnshire.

Grimsby Live reports Haydn's attack happened minutes after he had been dropped off at the Louth Bus Station, following a school trip to a wildlife park.

"My son usually gets the bus from Louth Bus Station on his way home from school, however this time he was an hour later getting the bus because he had been at a school trip," his angry mum Anita Sharmbers said.

"As soon as he arrived at the bus station he messaged me to let me know how long he would be and what was going on. Then a few minutes later, these teenagers came around the corner and one of them randomly punched him in the face.

"Haydn was knocked to floor, and one of them got on top of him and held him down, while they continued to attack him. He can't remember how many times he was hit, and he put his arms up to cover his face and protect himself. Thankfully he was wearing a leather jacket which helped to defend the blows."

But Haydn, who attends the Young People's Learning Provision, was subjected to further violence by the thugs.

Anita added: "He jumped on his scooter and tried to get away from them as they chased him down the road, and he tried to hide in the doorway of a shop. Luckily at this time his teacher that dropped him off spotted him with blood running down his face and brought Haydn into their car and took him back to the college so that I could collect him.

"Haydn is a very shy boy that struggles to communicate with others, but since he started attending the special needs school in Louth, his confidence has grown so much, and now this has knocked him back to square one. When I heard what had happened I just burst into tears.

"He is now scared to leave the house and even go to school, because this has really frightened him. I just can't understand why some people would want to attack him like that, it is disgusting."

Lincolnshire Police are now investigating the incident and are appealing for any witnesses.

A spokesperson for the force said: "Incident 351 of June 25th refers to a report that a teenage boy was assaulted by three men at the bus station at around 4pm.

"We are investigating this incident and would ask for any witnesses to contact us on 101, quoting incident number 351 of June 25th."


(London Evening Standard, dated 27th June 2019 author Harriet Brewis)

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The number of hate crimes against transgender people has risen by 81 per cent across England, Scotland and Wales, the latest police figures suggest.

Police records show the number of such crimes rose by 900 over the last financial year, to 1,944 compared with 1,073 in 2016-17.

LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall said the figures showed the "consequences of a society where transphobia is everywhere".

While the Home Office promised it was "committed to tackling hate crime".

The figures were obtained in a BBC freedom of information request, with 36 out of 44 police forces in England, Scotland and Wales providing their most up to date figures.

West Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police saw reporting of transgender hate crimes more than treble over three years.

Suffolk Constabulary and Merseyside Police were the only forces which recorded fewer crimes in 2018-19 than in 2016-17.

In Wales there were 82 transgender hate crimes in 2018-19, up from 37 in 2016-17.

Police Scotland recorded 92 crimes in the year to March 2019, compared with 76 two years earlier.

Sue Pascoe, who lives near York, was flagged as a vulnerable person by North Yorkshire Police for the amount of transgender hate abuse and threats she had received.

"It's a sad fact of life that this abuse is going to happen and I'll challenge it whenever it does," she told the BBC.

"The trend for the last five years is nothing but going up and those divisions are in our society generally. For me it's one of the scariest times I've lived through and I'm 59 now."

Stonewall estimated that two in five trans people had experienced a hate crime or incident in the past year.

Social housing worker Andi Woolford, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, said she was abused while sitting in her car.

"A guy came out of a block of flats, called me a paedophile, threatened to stab me, smashed my car up, held a dog chain up to my face, just really unbelievable," she told the BBC.

"Given what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic and the divisions with Brexit, everything seems to be kind of tribal - oh you're not in my tribe so therefore I must hate you."

Laura Russell, from Stonewall, said: "These statistics are the real life consequences of a society where transphobia is everywhere - from the front pages of newspapers, to social media, and on our streets.

"We need people to realise how severe the situation is for trans people, and to be active in standing up as a visible ally to trans people, in whatever way they can."

Many social media users have condemned the findings, offering their support to the transgender community.

"Really sad to see this today. With everything going on in the world, who has so much time to hate on people being who they want to be? Trans rights are human rights," posted one Twitter user.

While another commented: "This is what all decent people have to fight against: Hatred and bullying of people just because they happen to be different for some reason. In this case transgender. 

"And you don't have to be trans to care! You just have to be a decent person."

(Independent, dated 24th June 2019 author Helen Coffey)

Full article [Option 1]:

A black woman was subject to racial abuse on the London Underground after two men refused to believe she was from the UK.

Julia Ogiehor, a Lib Dem councillor for Muswell Hill, London, was heading home on the Northern line to High Barnet when the men started questioning her nationality.

"They really wanted to know where I was from and did not accept it when I said London," Ogiehor tweeted, alongside a photo of the men.

She added that they called her "uneducated" and suggested she didn't belong in the UK, despite the fact she was born and raised in the capital.

Ogiehor said the incident was "unprovoked" and that she had been "minding my business" listening to music when the men started questioning her.

According to the 32-year-old, who has a Master's degree in commercial law, four passengers intervened, including one man who walked down the carriage and sat next to her.

He asked the men, "Why don't you ask me where I'm from?" to which they replied, "We know where you're from - you're English," reports the Ham & High.

Ogiehor and several other travellers called the police to report the incident, which took place between Camden and East Finchley on 21 June.

After sharing her experience on Twitter in a post which garnered tens of thousands of likes and retweets, Ogiehor praised the support she had received on the social media platform.

"From the show of support on the Tube, that gave me confidence to stand up for myself, to the overwhelming support on Twitter, the message is clear: bigotry and racism is not welcome here," she wrote.

"Anyway, am off to the launch of #WindrushDay2019 in Haringey to celebrate the richness that migrants bring to our city and country."

A British Transport Police spokesperson told The Independent: "Officers from British Transport Police are currently investigating a reported hate crime on board a Northern Line train. The incident happened between Camden and East Finchley.

"A number of enquiries are being made, there have been no arrests at this stage. Anyone with information is asked to contact BTP by sending a text to 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 37 of 22/06/2019."

(Guardian, dated 14th June 2019 authors Sarah Marsh, Aamna Mohdin and Niamh McIntyre)

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Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, including stalking, harassment and violent assault, have more than doubled in England and Wales over five years, a Guardian analysis has shown.

The rate of LGBT hate crime per capita rose by 144% between 2013-14 and 2017-18. In the most recent year of data, police recorded 11,600 crimes, more than doubling from 4,600 during this period.

Transphobic attacks have soared in recent years, trebling from 550 reports to 1,650 over the period examined. Almost half (46%) of these crimes in 2017-2018 were violent offences, ranging from common assault to grievous bodily harm.

The findings come after two women were attacked on a bus in London for refusing to kiss in front of a group of men. The incident sparked widespread condemnation.

"When this happened, we were really angry," says Melania Geymonat, 28. "And we decided to tell the story, because this situation needs to change, and maybe this helps a little. For me, it was a moral obligation. Like, this needs to stop. This was a terrible episode, and maybe [if] we say something, we can contribute to something bigger."

In 2017-18, 40% of anti-gay and lesbian hate crime in England and Wales were violence against a person. And more recent data released to the Guardian by Essex, Kent and Merseyside police forces appears to show the trend continuing.

(Source: Home Office)

2013-14 : 4622
2014-15 : 5597
2015-16 : 7194
2016-17 : 9157
2017-18 : 11638

In Kent, police reported a 42% annual rise in the number of LGBT hate crimes in 2018-2019, while Essex and Merseyside reported increases of 35% and 25% respectively.

Campaigners said the rise could partly be down to better reporting but added that hatred was growing on British streets because of the rise of rightwing populism.

Taz Edwards-White, an alliance manager at Metro, an equalities and diversity organisation, said the hate crime figures were likely to be "the tip of the iceberg".

She added: "There is a tension, and even within our own LGBT community there is a tension. I believe it's a direct result of people feeling unsafe due to rise of the rightwing political movement.

"What we see in our services is lots of people experience day-to-day verbal attacks or violence and aggressive language and homophobic attitudes … We do believe the political climate has had an impact: people feel unsafe. What is happening in central government and all the scapegoating has an effect. We saw a spike [in racist attacks] after Brexit and there has been a steady increase since then."

Jessica White, who leads hate crime reporting work at the LGBT Foundation, an organisation based in Manchester, said the rise could be linked to an increased awareness of hate crime and its reporting.

(Source: Home Office)

2013-14 : 555
2014-15 : 605
2015-16 : 858
2016-17 : 1248
2017-18 : 1651

She said: "More and more, we are having people come to us who have been experiencing hate for a long period of time - prolonged abuse, often in their communities - who are finally coming forward to report. These will often be people who have been experiencing hate for years, see a poster on the tram, on the bus or on the train and realise that it's not okay and there is support there for them."

The biggest increase in hate crime was in West Yorkshire, with the rate increasing by 376% between 2013-2014 and 2017-2018. On a regional level, the rate of anti-gay and lesbian crime trebled in Yorkshire and the Humber and the South East.

The analysis excluded all police force areas where fewer than 100 sexual orientation hate crimes were recorded in 2013-2014, and worked out the increase in the rate of crimes per 10,000 people up to 2017-2018.

Nick Antjoule, the head of hate crime services at Galop, an LGBT anti-violence charity, said the Guardian analysis came as no surprise. He said: "We've seen a big spike in the scale and seriousness of hate crimes."

Antjoule called for more specialist services to support LGBT people who experienced hate crimes, pointing to previous research by the Metropolitan police that showed victims of homophobic hate crime were more likely to experience more serious violence than victims of other forms of hate crimes.

He added: "In the last several years, there's been a really huge spike in transphobic hostility that people are facing from their neighbours, public transport and online … It's something we need to see changed so people can live their lives openly."

Laura Russell, the director of campaigns policy and research at Stonewall, said the rise in hate crimes showed there was a long way to go before the LGBT community was accepted in British society. "We are still not living in a society where every LGBT person is able to achieve their potential and not have to live in fear of physical or verbal violence for being who they are," she said.

In Hampshire, where two actors were recently attacked in a high-profile homophobic incident, the rate of homophobic hate crime increased 189% in the last five years - significantly higher than the England and Wales rate.

Hampshire police recorded 424 crimes in 2017-2018, up from 143 five years previously.

Race has consistently accounted for the majority of hate crimes reported to police in England and Wales. In the most recent year of data, race was a factor in 76% of crimes, compared to just over 12% in the sexual orientation category.

(Daily Mail, dated 8th June 2019 author Connor Boyd)

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An horrific attack on a lesbian couple on a London bus which left an American woman with a broken jaw for refusing to kiss her partner has been filmed on CCTV.

Bus operator Metroline said it had the footage and was co-operating with police following the beatings, which have sparked a wave of homophobic abuse online.

The Met Police said a fifth teenage boy, aged between 15 and 18, had been arrested on Saturday morning.

Melania Geymonat, 28, and her American partner Chris, 29, were left bloodied and bruised after allegedly being punched and robbed following an evening out in West Hampstead, north west London, in the early hours of May 30.

Despite being just days removed from the attack, users took to Facebook and Twitter to leave vile comments, blaming the women for 'bringing it on themselves'.

'That's what you get for being gay', Ryan Bennett wrote underneath an article on Facebook.

Chisomo Chitete said: 'No wonder my brother still can't find a girl to marry. All the girls have been taken by girls'.

Danzil Denno, replying to a CNN story on twitter, wrote: 'Don't do that in public. See now the results of being silly?' 

But the defiant couple say, despite the attack and torrent of insults online, they 'are not scared to be visibly queer'. 

Chris described how a gang of young men saw they were a couple - as they were holding hands - and started to demand they kiss while making crude sexual gestures.

She told BBC London News: 'They got up out of their seats and walked over to where we were and started very aggressively harassing us. One of them stayed a couple of rows behind and was throwing coins at us.

'I did not engage with him at all. Initially Melania was trying to deescalate the situation. She was being friendly but trying to keep them at bay.'

When the couple refused to do as the gang asked, they were subjected to a vile attack. Both were left with facial injuries, and were robbed during the assault - which took place as the pair were travelling to Chris' home in Camden.

She continued: 'Fighting broke out and I don't know how we got from fighting on the top of the bus down to the lower deck but in that time frame they took my phone, her bag and they ran off the bus.'

Chris was left with a broken jaw following the attack, and Miss Geymonat sustained a broken nose. Their injuries were still visible a week on as they spoke on camera.  

It comes as figures from the Metropolitan Police show an 18 per cent rise in homophobic and transgender attacks on last year - from May 2017 to April 2018.

Chris continued: 'I was and still am angry. It was scary, but what is still making me angry is that this is not a novel situation. There are more hate crimes being committed. We're just one anecdote.'

And Miss Geymonat added: 'The violence is not only because we are women who are dating each other. It's also because we are women.'

Defiantly standing up for herself following the attack - and asked what people should take from the incident, Chris said: 'I'm not scared about being visibly queer. 

'There are a lot of people's rights at risk and people's basic safety is at risk.

'I want people to feel emboldened to stand up to the same people who feel emboldened. I want people to stand up for themselves and each other.'       

Scotland Yard confirmed it was investigating the 'homophobic attack' which saw a phone and bag stolen during the assault on the N31 bus at 2.30am.

Detectives said five teenage males, aged between 15 and 18, have been arrested on suspicion of robbery and aggravated GBH following the vile attack.     

Miss Geymonat, a young doctor originally from Uruguay but currently working as a stewardess on a sabbatical to Europe, also recalled the shock attack - moments after she refused to kiss for the gang.    

'The next thing I know is I'm being punched. I got dizzy at the sight of my blood and fell back. I don't remember whether or not I lost consciousness,' she said.     

Recalling the gang's demands Miss Geymonat added: 'They wanted us to kiss so they could watch us. I tried to defuse the situation as I'm not a confrontational person, telling them to please leave us alone as Chris wasn't feeling well.'

The gang began throwing things on the bus - which was travelling towards Camden, where Chris lives - and the couple told them to stop.

Both women were taken to hospital for treatment to facial injuries. Miss Geymonat said one of the men spoke Spanish and the others had British accents.

'The next thing I remember was Chris in the middle of them and they were beating her,' added Ms Geymonat, who is originally from Uruguay but now lives in the Essex village of Takeley.

'I didn't think about it and went in. I was pulling her back and trying to defend her so they started beating me up.

'I don't even know if I was knocked unconscious. I felt blood, I was bleeding all over my clothes and all over the floor.  We went downstairs and the police were there.' 

The pair had decided to sit at the front on the top deck because they both enjoy the novelty of a double decker bus.

But the journey turned out to be far worse than expected. Miss Geymonat is still waiting to find out if her nose was broken in the vile attack.

She said there were at least four of them and one spoke Spanish while the others had a British accent. The attackers allegedly robbed the couple before fleeing.

Miss Geymonat, who moved to the UK in February and is on a year's sabbatical from her medical studies, said she had felt safe as a gay woman in London.

But after being stunned by the attack, she released the picture to raise awareness of violence against women and gay people.

Miss Geymonat added: 'It's not something isolated, it's common. We were seen as entertainment, that's what makes me so angry.'

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's World At One programme today, she said: 'We tried to make them go away, but they didn't. They started throwing us coins. The next thing I know is that Chris is in the middle of the bus and they are punching her.

'I immediately went there just by impulse, I didn't think about it, and I tried to pull her out of there. So they started punching me, I don't remember if I was trying to get her out, or I punched somebody - I really don't.

'So they started beating me until I was bleeding. I was really bleeding. We went downstairs and the police were already there. They took our statements and they called the ambulance and everything.'

She added: 'It's a surprise to me. I know that there is a lot of verbal violence all the time, and that's the thing that made me tell the story. Even when these guys came, it was not the first situation when men see two women kissing and they start asking us if we were a show.

'I have gay friends who have been in the streets and they have been punched all over. Now, other people have told me a lot of violence is going on, that we were even lucky that we were on a bus, because if we were in the streets, nobody knows what could have happened.'

She said the police had been 'extremely good' in dealing with the incident.

Miss Geymonat shared about her experiences on Wednesday in a Facebook post which has now attracted more than 3,700 comments and 9,700 shares. 

Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both condemned the attack.

Mrs May said: 'This was a sickening attack and my thoughts are with the couple affected.

'Nobody should ever have to hide who they are or who they love and we must work together to eradicate unacceptable violence towards the LGBT community.'

Mr Corbyn labelled the attack 'absolutely shocking, saying: 'We must not, and will not, accept this homophobic and misogynist violence in our society.

'Solidarity to Melania and Chris, and to all in the LGBT+ community for everything they endure for simply being who they are.'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: 'This was a disgusting, misogynistic attack. Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London.' 

Constituency MP Tulip Siddiq added: 'Horrified to see this homophobic attack against two women simply trying to enjoy a night out in West Hampstead.

'There can be no excuses, no space, for such obscene behaviour. My full solidarity is with these women and the UK's LGBT community.'

And Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: 'This is appalling. Everyone has the right to love and I was proud to support equal marriage.'

Miss Geymonat graduated last year as a doctor at the Universidad de la República in Montevideo and had worked at the Hospital de Clínicas Montevideo before moving to the UK.

In an online profile, she said she had been 'motivated by telling stories' since she was a girl, and had also studied acting.

She originally comes from Palmitas, a small town of less than 3,000 people in Uruguay, but later moved to Montevideo. She has also lived in Barcelona, Santiago in Chile and on a boat in Greece. Miss Geymonat also spent time travelling Italy, where her family originally come from.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'Police are appealing for witnesses and information after two women were assaulted and robbed in a homophobic attack on a bus in Camden.

'The incident happened at approximately 2.30am on May 30 after the two women, both aged in their 20s, boarded a N31 bus in West Hampstead.

'As they sat on the top deck they were approached by a group of four males who began to make lewd and homophobic comments to them.

'The women were then attacked and punched several times before the males ran off the bus. A phone and bag were stolen during the assault. Both women were taken to hospital for treatment to facial injuries.'

Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing and on-street services at Transport for London, said: 'This sickening attack is utterly unacceptable. Homophobic behaviour and abuse is a hate crime and won't be tolerated on our network.

'All of our customers have the right to travel without fear of verbal or physical assault and we are working with the police to stamp out this behaviour on our transport network. We will do all we can to support the police investigation of this incident.'

(1st July 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 30th June 2019 author Harry Howard)

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Organised criminals are feared to have infiltrated the police force which inspired popular BBC show Line of Duty, by getting associates to apply for jobs to leak sensitive material.

West Midlands Police, the biggest force in England after the Met, is aware of at least 50 officers who have criminal associates, friends or relatives, and it has cited unauthorised disclosure of sensitive information to crime gangs as a big threat.

Crime syndicates have been trying to get information on police raids, whether they are under investigation, rival gangs and even the personal details of victims

New measures have been put in place to counteract the threat, including the toughening up of vetting processes to weed out potential risks before new recruits join, the Sunday Express reported.

They also check applicants' social media profiles to try to weed out any potential connections with criminals. 

But the force's strategic threat assessment, which was released under freedom of information, suggests some gangs have already been able to get people into posts within the force.

In Line of Duty, officers Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott, played by Martin Compston; Detective Inspector Kate Fleming, played by Vicky McClure, and Chief Superintendent Ted Hastings, played by Adrian Dunbar, make up anti-corruption unit AC-12.

The fictional unit - which is thought to have been based on a force in the Midlands -  works to root out corruption in the police force and across each of the five series which have aired so far, a different malign officer is pursued.

In the most recent season, Chief Superintendent Hastings is framed and is himself accused of being a corrupt officer.

And West Midland's own anti-corruption unit has reportedly received intelligence reports about sensitive information being leaked to organised criminals before police operations have been able to take place.

Of the 50 officers who are thought to have connections to criminal associates, friends or relatives - which are known as 'vulnerable associations' - not all declared such connections.

In 2014, a secret Metropolitan Police corruption report called Operation Tiberius, which dated from 2002, was leaked.

It detailed how organised criminals had infiltrated the force.

It was thought that forces have since been able to clamp down on currption, but a former Met Police corruption whistleblower was shocked by the West Midlands report.

He told the Express: 'It was exactly the same as Tiberius.

'Even though the numbers are high and worrying enough, they will be the tip of the iceberg,' he added.    

The West Midlands assessment added: 'Approximately a quarter of DOI [Department of Investigation] allegations involve information leaked to criminals who were either family or friends.'

A quarter of breaches are thought to have resulted in an operation being compromised.

Chief Superintendent Chris Todd, the head of the force's Professional Standards Department - which covers counter corruption - told the Express:  'No operations or prosecutions have been dropped as a result of DOI compromise in the last two years.'

He added that corruption had a 'limited impact' on the 'operational effectiveness of the force and said that while any breach was 'one too many' the instances 'really are few'.  

Chief Superintendent Todd previously held a live Twitter Q&A discussion when Line of Duty was airing in April.

He was such a fan of the show that he changed his background image on his Twitter account to an image from the show.

In answering one question, he revealed how his department was investigating 65 potential cases of corruption.

He said at the time: 'The range of allegations are broad. Thankfully most are minor and often negated.'

(1st July 2019)

(The Gleaner, dated 30th June 2019 author Nadine Wilson-Harris)

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Jamaica lost in excess of J$12 billion to cybercrime in 2016 alone, and, given evidence that Eastern European hackers are among those cashing in on this lucrative industry, Director of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency Colonel Desmond Edwards is describing cybercrime as the "most nefarious of the challenges" that law enforcement officials will face going forward.

Edwards was speaking at a recent presentation to officials who work in border control. The security expert noted that cybercrime is the new frontier for criminal enterprises.

"Traditionally, we have, as you all know, focused on physical borders, but the cyber criminal operates in a virtual space. There is no defined border. We have seen, for example, hacking attacks and theft of money, and so on, and going into banks and transferring money from various accounts," he said.

"Once you have access to Internet and a computer platform, you can do this pretty much anywhere in the world."

Edwards believes the estimated loss to cybercrime is much more than the J$12 billion, but the full disclosure might not be forthcoming because of the possible reputational damage to those most affected.

"There is some under-reporting, particularly, I believe, from the financial institutions. There is a reputational damage to a bank if they declared that we lost this amount of money through hacking or the activities of cyber criminals because obviously, that affects the feeling of security amongst their clients, so there may well be a tendency to under-report the actual impact," he said.

According to the 2018 Financial Stability Report published by the Bank of Jamaica, there were 62 counts of Internet banking fraud in Jamaica totalling J$38.2 million in losses between January and September 2018.

The publication revealed that Jamaica's banks experience nearly two cyber attacks per week on average. In one extreme month, hackers made off with J$10 million, although the average loss per month is J$4 million.


University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer Professor Anthony Clayton note that hackers are increasingly becoming key members of the team for organised criminal gangs.

"Cybercrime is now a major form of trans-border activity. It is now close to one per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product), and it is the form of crime that is growing the most rapidly at the moment," said Clayton, who is the Alcan Professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development at The UWI.

"It is easy to get into. It used to be that criminal organisations had to develop their own cyber skill, but they don't have to develop their own cyber skills anymore, and these are outsourced. They find hackers through the dark web, and hackers find them through the dark web."

Given the shift, the professor said there is need to look at border patrol from a different angle.

"New crime groups are emerging, and this is like a generational shift in organised crime. A lot of them are younger and they have got a completely different business model," he said.

(1st July 2019)

(Independent, dated 28th June 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

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Sexual crimes committed against under-16s in England and Wales have rocketed to almost 62,000 in a year, a report has revealed.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said the figure had increased by 9 per cent on 2017 to 61,646 last year, as the "human cost" of serious and organised crime is laid bare.

The body found that the government was "flying blind" while trying to tackle groups who groom and blackmail children into sexual acts, upload indecent images online, physically abuse children and sexually exploit victims abroad.

Meg Hillier, chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, said there were "significant gaps" in British authorities' understanding of the complexity and scale of abuse.

"The cost of serious and organised crime is huge [but] the human cost is far higher: criminal gangs target and prey upon the most vulnerable in our society for the purposes of child sexual exploitation and abuse, modern slavery, human trafficking and organised immigration crime," she said.

"It is disgraceful that the Home Office and the National Crime Agency are effectively flying blind as neither have any idea whether their efforts are working or not, or genuinely alleviating the misery and suffering of those who they should be protecting."

The NAO found "significant shortcomings" in the government's bid to tackle serious and organised crime, which also includes money laundering, fraud, corruption, cybercrime, illegal firearms and drugs. When combined, the threats kill more people every year than terrorism in the UK and cost the national economy an estimated £37bn every year.

The NAO report said more than 4,500 organised crime groups are operating in the UK in "changing and unpredictable ways", often using violence and intimidation and working with international networks. The use of modern slavery and human trafficking is believed to be increasing, with the number of potential victims identified increasing by a third in 2018.

Louise Haigh MP, Labour's shadow policing minister, said: "Serious and organised crime is the most deadly security threat facing the UK, yet the government response is haphazard, under-resourced and fragmented. This report suggests ministers aren't just failing to tackle serious crime, they barely understand it. This toxic combination of cuts, carelessness and incompetence is hampering the fight against serious crime."

The government estimated it spent £2.9bn on tackling serious and organised crime in 2015-16, but the NAO criticised officials for spending 79 per cent of the budget on pursuing offenders and just 4 per cent on preventing the crime in the first place. The NAO said a new strategy unveiled in 2018 aimed to improve the response after a Home Office review, but there was no "well-evidenced justification" of the approach or an estimate of how much it will cost.

The NAO found that the government does not have enough data on serious and organised crime, causing a "weak understanding of the scale" of some areas and insufficient knowledge of international markets. Authorities measure how many crimes are disrupted through arrests or other action, but the NAO said that because the wider impact is not assessed the "government does not know if its efforts are working".

The National Audit Office said the involvement of more than 100 agencies and groups in tackling serious and organised crime "cluttered" the picture and made strategies difficult to implement. Funding for efforts was "uncertain and insufficient", coming from numerous sources including government departments and local police and crime commissioners. The NAO called for the Home Office to properly measure the impact of law enforcement efforts on serious and organised crime, tackle the underlying causes and "avoid wasting resources through the duplication of capabilities".

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said today: "The government faces an immense challenge in fighting this complex, evolving threat. While it has made efforts to step up its response, there is more the government could do to make its aspirations a reality. To deliver its new strategy, the government needs to better match resources to its priorities, improve its understanding of these crimes and ensure governance and funding fit with its ambitious plans."

Chief Constable Peter Goodman, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for serious and organised crime, said "significant investment" was needed. "Police see the impact of this on communities across the UK on a daily basis and we are committed to dealing with it and the violence that results from it," he said. "We are increasingly working with other law enforcement agencies and the government to respond in a coordinated and cohesive way."

Lynne Owens, director-general of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said: "Demand on the NCA is already high and continues to grow. However, there has never been a dedicated funding stream for serious and organised crime, and I welcome the NAO's recognition that substantial improvements to funding arrangements are needed."

The Home Office said it would consider the NAO's recommendations. "This government is committed to tackling serious and organised crime, and our strategy sets out how we will mobilise the full force of the state to target and disrupt it," a spokesperson said. "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."

(1st July 2019)

(The Sun, dated 28th June 2019 author Martin Beckford)

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ALMOST £3billion a year is being spent tackling the thousands of major gangs operating in Britain.

A new report reveals there are more than 4,500 organised crime groups in the UK, running everything from human trafficking and fraud to drugs and guns.

They cost society an estimated £37bn including £20bn from the impact of drug addiction and £8bn from fraud, the National Audit Office spending watchdog says today.

A map shows the UK is targeted by a United Nations of crooks including cocaine barons in South America, fraudsters from Nigeria, Eastern European slave masters and Belgian gun-runners.

And the threat is growing, with a 36 per cent increase in modern slavery victims last year, and 9 per cent rise in child sex abuse victims.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: "The Government faces an immense challenge in fighting this complex, evolving threat.

"While it has made efforts to step up its response, there is more the Government could do to make its aspirations a reality.

"To deliver its new strategy, the Government needs to better match resources to its priorities, improve its understanding of these crimes and ensure governance and funding fit with its ambitious plans."

(Daily Mail, dated 28th June 2019 by Daily Mail Reporter)

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Ministers are failing to get a grip of the 4,500 organised crime gangs operating in the UK, a report warns.

Some of the most serious crimes are increasing at a 'rapid rate' including sexual offences against children and human trafficking. According to the National Audit Office, one of the main problems is that the Government has only a limited understanding of how these gangs operate.

'Its insufficient knowledge of international illegal markets has made it even harder for the Government to know how best to respond,' says the NAO. The report also criticises officials for spending too much time trying to catch perpetrators rather than preventing organised crime.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: 'While it has made efforts to step up its response, there is more that the Government could do.'

(1st July 2019)

(Computer Weekly, dated 28th June 2019 author Warwick Ashford)

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UK police are gearing up to make it easier for business to report cyber crime, saying that under-reporting continues to be a challenge.

UK police are planning to introduce a bespoke cyber crime reporting facility for business to encourage businesses to contact police when they are targeted in this way.

It is crucial that businesses report cyber crime to us because every incident is an investigative opportunity," Rob Jones, director of threat leadership at the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) told Computer Weekly.

"Failure to report creates an unpoliced space and a situation where incident response companies just sweep up the glass, but don't deal with the underlying issue, which emboldens criminals. As a result, the problem will continue and prevalence, severity and sophistication of attacks will increase."

While the number of cyber attacks reported to police in the latest report by the Office of National Statistics is just 26,000, police estimate that the number of cyber attacks in the same period was around 976,000, which means that barely 3% of cyber attack are being brought to the attention of police.

"As a result, there is a lack of insight into the totality of the threat and we are unable to provide victims with support, or to help them defend themselves better in the future so that they do not become a victim again, which is the best way of dealing with cyber crime," said Jones.

The problem of under-reporting is due to a number of reasons, he said, including the fact that many companies fear that reporting cyber crime incidents to the police will result in the police disrupting business operations to carry out an investigation, and the perception that police do not have the capability to deal with cyber crime and are unable to find and take action against cyber criminals operating from outside the UK.

"Cyber attacks are a national security threat and we are meeting that challenge by deploying a whole range of resources, with the number of officers dealing with cyber crime increasing from around 70 to 1,000 in the past seven years," said Jones.

"UK police response to cyber attacks on businesses has matured. We are better at it, and I would encourage businesses to report because failure to do so is just feeding the problem.

"We are not going to swoop in to seize servers and create even more pain, but will engage in a sophisticated way with the company incident response team, if there is one, and we will do our best to make sure that the company can return to normal business as quickly as possible."

Experience has shown, said Jones, that investment in digital forensic capabilities can be very helpful in tracking down cyber criminals behind attacks.

"There are complex cases, where despite very sophisticated attempts at anonymisation, we are able to identify real-world actors and bring them to justice. Every contact leaves a trace, even in the digital world," he said.

"Even if cryptocurrency is used, when the proceeds from cyber crime are drawn in the UK, we pursue those involved. So it is completely untrue that offshore criminals are beyond our reach. It may take time to identify real-world actors, but we are committing to do that."

In the past year, Jones said the number of arrests in cyber crime cases has increased 65% and the number of convictions has increased by 60%, due in part to collaboration with the UK's Five Eyes partners that has enabled UK law enforcement to arrest, extradite and prosecute cyber criminals.

Police support

In addition to providing police with investigative leads to bring cyber criminals to justice, another key incentive for businesses to report cyber crime, said Jones, is the fact that UK police forces are now in a position to provide support and help limit further attacks and damage to the business.

"We work very closely with the NCSC [National Cyber Security Centre] and we are able to assist businesses in tackling the impact of the crime. We are engaging more with companies as victims than ever before, and have developed a response that will provide victim care for companies and individuals who are struggling with a cyber incident."

The national centre for reporting cyber crime remains Action Fraud run by the City of London Police, but work is underway to introduce a dedicated cyber crime reporting facility for businesses in early 2020.

"Action Fraud provides a point of contact for all victims of cyber crime, and while it is still not as good as we would like it to be, it has improved and continues to improve, with better technology and increased staffing, which has enabled increases in cyber crime reporting in the past 18 months," said Jones.

He added that a bespoke platform for businesses to report cyber crime is scheduled to be introduced within months that will be geared to deal with the increased complexity and urgency typically associated with those cases.

The new platform will be designed to enable police to ask businesses a series of questions to establish the nature of the attack and the nature of the business affected, said chief constable Peter Goodman, cyber crime lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

"Based on the type of crime and the size and sector of the organisation affected, the case will be directed either to the NCSC, the NCA or the cyber crime unit in the relevant Rocu [regional organised crime unit] to ensure that businesses hit by cyber crime get the most appropriate response," he said.

Reporting cyber crime, said Jones, helps police to understand if there is a controlling mind behind higher-volume, low-complexity attacks that sit alongside the higher-complexity, low volume threats.

"We can only achieve that if we get the level of reporting that we need. So as the system improves, we should get a much better understanding of the footprint of cyber criminals in the UK, of how they are cashing out in attacks on the UK, and be able to bring them to justice," he said.

It is important, said Jones, for the UK to have a system response to both types of threat.

"We can't allow the volume to flourish and create an unpoliced space where large amounts of criminal activity is taking place, but at the same time we need to tackle the highly capable elite end of the threat, which is largely based overseas," he said.

Ransomware attacks

To improve police understanding of cyber crime, UK police are also working with the banking industry, because while businesses may not always report financial cyber crime to the police, they do tend to report it to their banks, said NPCC's Goodman.

"One of the reasons these crimes are not reported is that victims do not necessarily understand that they have been targeted by cyber criminals. They query unexplained debits to their account with the bank and the bank will rectify it, so they think it is just a blip and that is the end of it. But they have actually been a victim of crime."

Asked about the biggest cyber crime threat to businesses and individuals, Jones said ransomware and other forms of cyber extortion are currently the most popular forms of cyber criminal activity.

"The real challenge, from a policing point of view, is the incentive for victims not to report, but just to pay the ransom, clean up the network and move on. But that encourages more attacks in which criminals typically work out how to exploit vulnerable individuals within organisations to gain entry."

In the light of this, Jones said he would encourage organisations not to negotiate with and pay criminals, but to report incidents to police as early and as honestly as possible without attributing blame to the IT department or third-party suppliers.

"Early reporting provides early investigative opportunities and an early opportunity to mitigate and deal with the harm caused by the attack," he said.

The best way to prevent ransomware attacks, said Jones, is for companies to ensure that they are not vulnerable by following best practices on cyber security basics to ensure good cyber hygiene.

"Having good, functional data backups, treating your data as an asset, having appropriate policies around your data, and having incident response available to you, are all simple ways of mitigating the harm from ransomware, which is the most prevalent form of attack we see," he said.

"By being masters of their own data and being able to ensure business continuity, companies can help reduce the incentive for criminals to carry out these attacks, and disrupting the criminals' business model is a key element to tackling cyber crime."

One of the top reasons UK businesses experience an adverse outcome from a cyber attack is that they have failed to cover the basic principles of cyber security.

"Get the basics right, be transparent and reach out to law enforcement. The minute you report to police, you disempower the criminal, and that power balance when you are a victim changes, and you become masters of your own destiny again," said Jones.

(1st July 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 28th June 2019 author Jason Groves)

Full article [Option 1]:

Benefit fraud rose to record levels last year as false claims surged by £100million.

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) yesterday revealed that benefit fraud jumped last year to £2.3 billion - up from £2.2 billion the previous year.

Total fraud and error amounted to £4 billion, equal to 4.6 per cent of the benefits bill. The figure was up from £3.7 billion the previous year.

The figures - the highest on record - yesterday led the National Audit Office (NAO) to qualify the DWP's accounts for the 30th consecutive year.

The NAO also reported an increase in benefit underpayments to £1.9 billion.

The public spending watchdog highlighted concerns about the new Universal Credit benefit, saying the 8.6 per cent overpayment rate was the highest for any benefit since tax credits in 2003-4.

The figures are an embarrassment for ministers, who have spent years claiming they will end benefit fraud Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said the department must 'work to understand the reasons for high fraud and error rates for Universal Credit'.

He added: 'The value of fraud and error in benefit spending is a longstanding and costly issue for the department.

'I am concerned that this has reached its highest rate since the current estimation method was introduced, and that the Department expects overpayments to rise even further.'

Frank Field, the MP who chairs the Work and Pension Committee, said: 'In the DWP's fantastical predictions, Universal Credit was supposed to reduce error.

'Instead it is the most error-riddled of all benefits, and it's only getting worse.

'DWP wasted billions of pounds of public money on error last year alone - running at the highest levels since it started counting - but that doesn't begin to count the human cost.' In September last year, Judge Nichols Deane criticised the DWP for failing to tackle benefit cheats people should be forced to pay back money sooner.

The DWP said that there had been no overall increase in the overall rate of fraud and error.

A spokesman said: 'We rely on accurate information and updates from claimants to ensure we provide the right benefits, and are continuously improving this system.

'A minority of people abuse the system and we continue to challenge them using the full range of penalties at our disposal.'

Mr Davies urged the department to review its systems to 'understand the reason for high fraud and error rates for Universal Credit'.

(1st July 2019)



(Daily Mail, dated 27th June 2019 author Richard Spillett)

Full article [Option 1]:

Children as young as 13 are involved in cyber crime, with 'hacking kits' available to download for as little as £30, police have revealed.

Officials from the National Crime Agency, often called 'Britain's FBI', today insisted they are beginning to push back against the explosion in ransomware and other hacking attacks in recent years.

But they are urging teenagers to use their coding skills to get a job rather than steal from others, and calling on parents and teachers to keep an eye on youngsters at risk of turning to crime.

Hackers are typically aged 13 to 28, with many being on the autistic spectrum or socially inadequate.

They often start acquiring hacking skills by trying to create cheats for online games, but end up joining online communities where more serious crimes are encouraged.

Rob Jones, the NCA's Director of Threat Leadership, said today: 'We know the entry level for online crime is people who are very, very bright, very young, who are involved in online gaming, who are involved in coding.

'You can go on the dark web, you can buy an exploit kit for 30 quid and you can start an attack.'

A survey of teenagers last year found that under-16s are more likely to be involved in hacking than underage sex.

Just under a million Britons reported being a victim of cyber crime last year, but nearly everyone is thought to have been the subjects attempts to steal their personal data at some point.

Every police force now has at least one officer working to prevent youngsters getting involved in online crime.

Mr Jones added: 'That type of behaviour is really what we want to engineer out with the right awareness of the fact that you are committing a serious crime and you can get yourself into serious trouble and there is a pathway for you into industry which can put your genius to good use.'

(Independent, dated 27th June 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Children who have the potential to become dangerous hackers and online criminals are being targeted by a new programme to divert them into legal employment.

Following a similar model to the UK's controversial Prevent counter-extremism programme, teenagers who are being drawn into illegal online activity will be assessed by a panel to decide what level of intervention is needed.

Chief Constable Peter Goodman, the National Police Chiefs' Council's lead for cybercrime, said the "Cyber Choices" initiative would focus on people aged between 13 and 22.

He said: "It's aimed at making sure that we aren't disproportionate in what we do with young and vulnerable people, who are behaving recklessly and stupidly rather than criminally.

"They are usually people who are right at the start of the journey and exhibiting behaviours that show they are learning."

Mr Goodman said hundreds of potential targets had been identified already, either through referrals from concerned parents or teachers, or after buying malware or behaving suspiciously.

Some have already committed offences under the Computer Misuse Act, but at the "very minor end of the scale", he said, adding: "A lot of the time they don't realise what they're doing is wrong in the first place."

Rob Jones, of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said authorities around the world were seeing "extremely young" children becoming involved in serious cybercrime.

"The starting point is very young people who are very bright, and are involved in online gaming and coding," he added.

"Getting to those individuals and stopping them from becoming cybercriminals is something we are engaged with. We are trying to stop young people getting criminalised."

The hacker who caused the 2015 multimillion-pound TalkTalk data breach was only 15 at the time and said he was "just showing off to my mates".

Another hacker, Zain Qaiser, was recently jailed for six and a half years for targeting hundreds of millions of porn users with ransomware as part of a Russian crime group.

Mr Goodman said the 24-year-old, who made at least £700,000, "had become an international cybercriminal by the age of 18".

"We know that the most vulnerable people to get involved in this are some of the people who are on the autism spectrum, who find life difficult but are very competent in the internet world and gain confidence and personality on there," the officer added.

"Gaming and cheating in gaming is a route for people to learn coding and malware, so we are working with the gaming industry and mental health services."

Young people referred to Cyber Choices will be reviewed by a panel made up of staff from police forces, councils and the NHS. The panel can give support for housing, mental health and social skills.

The youngsters may also be given access to an online portal where they can challenge their coding skills, run hacking tests and be viewed by potential employers.

"We don't say, 'Forget the skills you've got', we say, 'They're really helpful and it's going to give you a really good career'," Mr Goodman said.

One person has already been hired by a cybersecurity firm in Gloucestershire through the programme. Officials hope employment numbers will increase as the scheme spreads nationwide.

The first Cyber Choices panel was set up in London, and will be followed by panels in every region of England and Wales.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Gould, head of cybercrime at the Metropolitan Police, said research suggested that more under-15s in the UK have tried hacking than had sex.

"We think they're engaged in much safer behaviours but the risk has just changed," he warned.

"They're not being taught about criminal offences, they're just being taught the technology, so they don't know the boundaries."

Mr Jones said the skills possessed by young hackers could be a "force for good".

"Some of these young people are very lonely and in a very difficult place," he added. "We don't want them finding a community of individuals that will use them to commit crime."

The NCA said prevention was becoming an increasing focus of its work - only 3 per cent of the estimated 967,000 cyberattacks experienced by Britons every year are reported.

Mr Jones warned that the issue remained a major national security threat, highlighting the recent attack on the UK's biggest private forensics company, which caused delays for police nationwide.

"Attacks are proliferating across the world and allow people to extend their reach and attack the UK remotely from a range of locations," he said.

Mr Goodman admitted that authorities had not done enough to make people aware of when and how they should report incidents, and suggested rebranding and improving the Action Fraud helpline.

But he hailed a year-on-year decrease in experiences of cybercrime, as recorded by the Crime Survey of England and Wales, falling from 1.5 million instances in 2017-18 to less than 1 million in 2018-19.

In the same period, the number of people arrested for cybercrimes rose by 65 per cent to 102 and the number of convictions was up by 60 per cent to 54.

Mr Goodman said: "People are realising that there are consequences, we are making the UK a hostile place to be a cybercriminal."

(1st June 2019)

(The Register, dated 26th June 2019 author Katyanna Quach)

Full article [Option 1]:


If you live in a city where people are more likely to make racist remarks on Twitter, there's apparently a high chance that there are increased rates of racially motivated hate crimes, too.
Correlation DOES NOT imply causation.

A paper ( describing the finding was recently presented at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Conference on Web and Social Media in Germany this month. The researchers from New York University found the correlation between the number of inflammatory tweets and the number of hate crimes across 100 US cities.

First, the team used Twitter's Streaming API to obtain 1 per cent of tweets made between 2011 and 2016. They filtered the tweets by place to check the location of where the tweet was posted from. Information about its contents, time-stamp, and the username were also scraped to create a labelled dataset of 532 million tweets.

Next, they trained "shallow neural networks" to classify and divide the tweets into two groups: "targeted racism" or "self-narration of racism experience". The first group describes messages that are directly discriminatory and attacked a specific race, and the second group are merely comments on racist remarks. A tweet that contains a racial slur, for example, isn't always hostile.

A total of 16,000 tweets were used to train the model. Human annotators employed by Figure Eight, a machine learning startup based in San Francisco, manually labelled 1,698 tweets as "discrimination" and 14,302 as "non-discrimination". The researchers defined a discriminatory tweet "as a tweet against a person, property, or society which is motivated, in whole or in part, by bias against race, ethnicity or national origin."

When the 532 million tweets were fed as input to the neural network, the team collected ones that were tagged as "targeted discrimination". They then compared this data with the total number of hate crimes reported in 100 US cities as reported by the FBI using regression modelling.

"We found that more targeted, discriminatory tweets posted in a city related to a higher number of hate crimes," said Rumi Chunara, an assistant professor at NYU who led the study. "This trend across different types of cities - for example, urban, rural, large, and small - confirms the need to more specifically study how different types of discriminatory speech online may contribute to consequences in the physical world."

A few outliers

The trend isn't clear for all cities, however. There are a few outliers, such as Castleton, a town in Vermont, and Montpellier, a city in Idaho. Castleton reported the lowest number of racially motivated hate crimes, but ranked 17th in posting the highest proportion of racist tweets. Montpellier is 19th lowest in terms of racist crimes, but fifth in number of racist tweets.

"It's hard to compare the pairs of numbers of discriminatory tweets to hate crimes for individual cities. But it's worth noting that the regression results, the proportion of discrimination tweets that are targeted in relation to hate crimes, was significant when we included those outlier cities and also excluded them," Chunara told The Register.

"It's important to note that reporting requirements for hate crimes are not standardised by city, which is one reason why we may have these outlier cities. We did look into it and the outlier cities cited are known to have an extremely high number of hate crimes reported in general, and that could be for a variety of reasons such as different reporting practices by the public or police."

The researchers are also quick to point out that although there seems to be a pattern between the number of racist tweets and the number of hate crimes across US cities, there is no causal link.

"We stress that while our work makes no causal claims directly between discussion on social media and crimes, findings from this study are pertinent for better discrimination surveillance and mitigation efforts," according to the paper.

The researchers hope to continue studying how discrimination in online communities relates to the real world. "We recently got a research award from Facebook that will enable us to continue our work looking at the downstream effects of online discrimination. This is important given that one of our main findings is that the types of online discrimination and their potential relation to offline events are complex," Chunara concluded.

uware comment

Invest more money in research and surprise you will also find racism in emails and some websites as well (sarcasm). Of course it exists !

(1st July 2019)

(BBC News, dated 26th June 2019)

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Bereaved parents and anti-knife crime campaigners have called on the government to declare an emergency on violent crime.

OperationShutdown saw supporters march in London asking the next prime minister to call a meeting of the government's Cobra emergency committee to deal with the issue.

Some demonstrators had their hands covered in fake blood.

The Home Office said £200m would be spent on reducing youth violence.

The protest started in Trafalgar Square and ended at Parliament where some demonstrators doused the gates in fake blood as others chanted: "Whose streets? Our streets. Whose children? Our children."

There was also a short skit depicting Conservative leadership candidates Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson as Brexit-obsessed, and dismissive of other issues.

Violent crime recorded by police in England and Wales rose by 19% in a year, in 2018, according to Home Office figures.

The number of homicides - including murder and manslaughter - rose from 649 to 739, an increase of 14%, in the 12 months to the end of September 2018.

It was the the highest total for such crimes since 2007.

Grace Aloba, 42, from Hackney, east London, whose 18-year-old son was murdered in 2015, said: "There's not enough help for the victims afterwards. I've faced many sleepless nights, and I'm still dealing with depression on a daily basis; it's not easy.

"Hopefully, the politicians will pull their socks up and help us. It's an epidemic now.

"It's not just in London, but country-wide."

Ms Aloba's son Isaiah Ekpaloba was an aspiring rapper who was killed after a botched robbery when the target fought back.

en Lock, from Ealing, west London, who started the campaign Lives Instead Of Knives 18 months, said: "I want to see politicians accept the problem and deal with it.

"There needs to be more action. We need more police - it's a national epidemic."

The Home Office said it was "determined to end the cycle of violent crime which is destroying so many young lives".

It said more than £200m would be spent on "projects steering young people away from violence".

Sajid Javid today chaired a serious violence taskforce that included Met Commissioner Cressida Dick and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Home Office said.

(1st July 2019)

(This is Money, dated 26th June 2019 author Rob Hull)

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The motorway speed limit should be raised, campaigners said last night - after a report found easing restrictions for lorries may have made the roads safer.

Almost half of drivers are breaking the 70mph limit, a second report revealed.

The two pieces of research have reignited the long-running debate about motorway speeds.

AA president Edmund King said: 'Driving at 80pmh at an appropriate distance from the vehicle in front, in a modern car in good weather on a decent motorway is probably safe.

'Driving at 50mph tailgating the car in front is never safe.'

In 2015 goods vehicles weighing over 7.5 tons were allowed to increase their maximum speed from 40mph to 50mph on single carriageways and from 50mph to 60mph on dual carriageways. It was meant to ensure lorries travel at closer speeds to other traffic, reducing dangerous overtaking.

A Department for Transport report on the move yesterday concluded increasing the speed limit has boosted productivity, saving businesses 'millions of pounds a year' by allowing drivers to deliver goods more quickly.

But it also said the evidence so far suggested there has been a 'statistically significant improvement to road safety'.

Roads minister Michael Ellis said: 'Increasing the speed limit for lorries has helped companies save time and money, enabling them to re-invest this in their business and buying newer and greener vehicles.

'This move has also potentially improved road safety as it appears to have reduced the risks some drivers take when overtaking slow-moving vehicles.'

The DfT found that the speed of the average lorry rose by 1.5mph to 45.6mph on single carriageway roads after the limit was increased to 50mph. The average speed also edged up by 0.4 per cent to 52.4mph on dual carriageways.

It said an increase of just one mile per hour would free up 650,000 driver hours and save hauliers £10million a year.

Meanwhile, in a separate study the Department for Transport revealed that 46 per cent of cars were breaking the 70mph speed limit on motorways last year.

The 70mph speed limit was introduced in 1965, soon after the first motorways were built. But many experts argue it has become outdated as modern cars have become faster and safer.

Howard Cox, founder of motoring campaign group FairFuelUK, said: 'It's high time speed limits on motorways and dual carriageways are increased to match those in all EU states. At 80mph, where it's safe to do so, the positive benefits to the economy, travel times and driver stress will be substantial. Most drivers already drive at this speed.'

Liz Truss, who has been tipped for a cabinet job if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister, has said an 80mph limit on motorways would boost productivity as drivers would waste less time in their cars.

Highways agency boss Jim O'Sullivan - who looks after motorways - has also said the speed limit on some roads could be safely raised to 80mph.

But RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said it would be too risky. He added: 'Given that inappropriate speed is still a major factor in collisions, it's unlikely many motorways in the UK are suited to an 80mph limit. We know a large proportion of drivers already regularly exceed the 70mph limit so there is a danger increasing it would send out the wrong message.'  

It comes as more than half of motorists in Britain speed in 30mph zones.

That's according to a new Department for Transport review of 2018 figures, which found 53 per cent of car users and 52 per cent of van drivers exceed residential restrictions.

More than two in five drivers also travel at speeds of more than 70mph on the motorway, as the statistics suggest many are flouting the law.

AA president Edmund King said the stats were 'concerning' and the next Prime Minister should champion road safety and increase police numbers to enforce speed limits across the country.

The DfT released the 'Vehicle Speed Compliance Statistics, Great Britain: 2018' report, which provides a breakdown of speed limit compliance rates across different vehicle types.

It found that more than a third of all vehicle categories exceed 30mph limits, including HGVs and large buses.

Motorcyclists are most likely to be going over a 30 limit - 55 per cent of riders, according to the Government.

There's a similar breakdown for motorists speeding on motorways.

Some 46 per cent of car users and 47 per cent of van driver are travelling over 70mph on motorways, with 53 per cent of bikers doing the same.

While the figures might suggest that motorists in Britain are showing complete disregard for the law, the DfT found that a much smaller proportion are significantly exceeding limits.

Just 11 per cent travel at 80mph or over on the motorway, it found.

More surprising - and somewhat concerning - is that a greater number of motorists are willing to go 10mph over the limit in a residential area than outside of one.

While five per cent of drivers are 10mph over 30mph roads, just one per cent are 10mph over on 60mph routes.

'For all vehicle types, compliance tended to be highest on national speed limit single carriageways and lowest on 30mph roads,' the report stated.

It also added that the percentage of vehicles complying with speed limits was higher on weekdays than on weekends.

While the records claim that around half of motorists drive over limits, just 169,000 drivers in England and Wales were found guilty of speeding offences in 2018, with a conviction rate of 89 per cent.

Speeding was, in fact, the most in-decline offence of all driving transgressions last year, though they still accounted for more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all motoring convictions.

DfT records also showed that more than 1.32 million drivers attended speed awareness courses in the UK last year. 

It's the fourth year running that there have been more than 1 million speed awareness course attended by drivers.

AA president Edmund King said the speed compliance statistics - particularly those in 30mph zones - were 'extremely concerning' and called for more to be done to encourage drivers to adhere to restriction.

'Speed kills, so drivers should remember that lower limits on residential roads and are there for a very important reason.

'The next Prime Minister can become a champion of road safety, by reversing the cut to cops in cars who not only act as a deterrent, but also catch and penalise those with a heavy right foot.' 

The latest government figures show that exceeding speed limits was reported as a contributory factor for 4.8 per cent per cent (4,261) of accidents in 2017, the same proportion as in 2016 (4,545).

The share of fatal and serious accidents where exceeding the speed limit was reported as a contributory factor was 6.7 per cent (1,255) that year - which has remained stable since 2013.

Hundreds of foreign drivers have escaped speeding fines because police "can't trace' the cars' owners

Hundreds of foreign drivers have escaped speeding fines because police say they cannot trace the cars' owners.

More than 900 British motorists were given £100 fines for breaking a 50mph limit on a contraflow on the M20 in Kent which had been set up to deal with possible disruption to Channel crossings because of Brexit.

But 400 drivers from overseas will get off scot-free as Kent Police say they can only trace cars registered with the DVLA.

The contraflow was imposed over seven weeks in April and May as part of Brexit contingency plans. It has stayed in place despite the deadline for Brexit being extended to October.

The decision not to pursue foreign drivers was criticised by Ashford MP Damian Green and motoring groups. Mr Green said: 'Everyone who uses that part of the M20 can tell you how they have been overtaken by foreign lorries who do not obey the speed limit. The idea that they can do so with impunity sends out the wrong message.'

Vehicles exceeding speed limits by road class in Great Britain, 2018

Motorways = n , National Speed limit single carriageways = [n], 30mph Roads = (n)

Cars : 46% [10%] (52%)
LCV : 47% [-] (53%)
Articulated HGV : 1% [20%] (42%)
Rigid HGV : - [36%] (46%)
Short buses : - [36%] (36%)
Long buses : - [31%] (33%)
Motorcycles : 53% [30%] (55%)

(1st July 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 26th June 2019 author John Dunne)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of reported thefts on the London Underground has shot up by more than 80 per cent in the past three years.

Some 6,825 reports were received by British Transport Police in 2018/19, compared with 3,730 in 2016/17.

The Piccadilly and Central lines saw the most thefts. The figures, released to BBC London, included bag thefts and pickpocketing.

Det Insp Bob Stokoe, head of theft of passenger property at BTP, said: "I don't think we can deny that it is incredibly disappointing that the numbers have gone up but the London Underground is still an incredibly safe environment.

"There are in excess of five million passenger journeys a day so it's four crimes of theft for every million journeys."

(1st July 2019)

(This is Money, dated 26th June 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

Anti-fraud experts are warning drivers to be vigilant of scam artists using a new crash-for-cash tactic forcing unsuspecting motorists to have collisions and then claiming for bogus injuries.

Motor fraudsters have adopted a dangerous new method of hiding in a driver's blind-spot before quickly moving in front to slam on the brakes and force an unavoidable shunt.

The scheme is the latest in a wave of conniving tactics used by false claim makers, who are costing insurers £340 million a year and pushing premiums for innocent motorists higher.

The hide and crash tactic has been identified by AX - a firm that provides vehicle protection and management technologies for the automotive and insurance industries.

The company was the first to expose the recent flash for crash scam, where fraudsters flash their headlights to invite an innocent driver to pull out of a junction before accelerating to cause a collision.

The latest 'hide and crash' trend was noticed when AX detected several suspicious claims displaying near identical underhand characteristics.

'This new tactic is a dangerous progression of the existing 'slam on' approach,' explained Neil Thomas, director of Investigative Services at AX.

'Criminals can take cover in a driver's blind spot, wait for the ideal moment, then accelerate and move into their pathway before slamming on the brakes.'

AX's scrutiny of insurance and injury claims identified a spike in trends previously unseen on UK roads.

This includes more drivers detailing crasshes caused after being flashed by other drivers, while collisions caused by other motorists pulling out at roundabouts and then slamming on the brakes are also becoming more common.

In fact roundabouts were the most common locations highlighted for suspected crash-for-cash scams, while busy motorways and urban areas with frequent sets of traffic lights are also considered danger spots.

'Ultimately, fraudsters look for places where it is unlikely and often unsafe for potential witnesses to stop,' AX warned.

But despite these trends becoming more widespread and easier to identify, it's still difficult for motorists to plead their innocence unless they have dashcams or incidents are recorded on CCTV.

'Detecting new methods deployed by gangs is notoriously difficult and without video evidence, it is often difficult to prove who was really at fault,' Thomas added.

Intelligence sharing amongst insurers and the authorities can help, nevertheless drivers should always be vigilant. Collectively, we can minimise the impact of these increasngly sophisticated criminals.

Having a dashcam in your car in the best way to prove that con artists have acted fraudulently, though driver are being urged to do more if they've been a victim of one of these tactics.

In terms of motorists protecting themselves from fraudulent claims, Thomas advises: 'It is hard to avoid being a victim of a staged accident but watch for passengers looking back, and do not interpret flashing headlights as an automatic invitation to pull out of a side road.

In the event of an accident, drivers should take a few simple steps to guard against fraud.

'Count the number of occupants and ask for names.

'Then be sure to note the registration plates of the other vehicles.

'This is critical information which is easy to miss in heat of the moment but can help insurers and fraud experts build up a true picture of events.'

(1st July 2019)

(Guardian, dated 26th June 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

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The Metropolitan police commissioner has hit out at "woefully low" rates for solving crimes, with courts "emptying" despite some offences rising.

Cressida Dick used a keynote lecture to call for better use of data and public consent to avoid charges of a "police state".

Talking to an audience in London at the thinktank the Police Foundation, Dick said she was not proud of low detection rates for some crimes. Official figures for England and Wales show rape down to a 4% detection rate, and an overall detection rate for all recorded offences of 9%.

Dick compared those low figures to the Met's 90% detection rate for homicides in London and said: "Overall, police detection rates nationally are low, woefully low I would say in some instances, and the courts are emptying, not filling. So what magic wand would it take for us to be able to apply what we can do in murder to so many other cases?"

The Met commissioner said growing availability of data from phones and CCTV cameras may hold the answer.

She said: "A very, very large proportion of crimes that currently occur could be prevented or at least successfully investigated in the reasonably near future by the use of data that is already theoretically available and technology that is already developed."

She said cases were becoming increasingly complex and in the future police would need more resources in terms of people and investment in technology, and more skills to handle and analyse data.

Dick was setting out one of the battlegrounds in modern society: growing technology offering law enforcement greater opportunities to boost crime-fighting and detection, set against privacy groups and civil libertarians calling for limits and tough rules to stop a Big Brother state developing.

The Met is one of several forces trialling facial-recognition technology, which is proving controversial.

Earlier this week figures revealed that across England and Wales the number of detectives in homicide and major crime units had fallen by 28% since 2010, when the Conservative government began cutting funding to the police. Homicide clear-up rates across England and Wales also fell in the same period.

(1st July 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 25th June 2019 author Rebecca Speare-Cole)

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This is the moment police officers ram a suspected moped thief off his bike after a high speed chase through east London.

The dash-cam video shows a police car hitting the motorbike in Victoria Park as officers carried out a "tactical contact" manoeuvre in broad daylight.

The incident was filmed for a Channel 5 documentary, which followed Metropolitan Police officers as they employed new tactics to crack down on the steep rise in scooter crime across the capital.

The documentary, entitled Snatch and Grab: Moped Gangs on the Rampag", follows specialist police units that the Met have trained as Tactical Pursuit And Containment (TPAC) drivers.

The TPAC officers are able to use "tactical contact" among other measures to end a moped pursuit if necessary.

The special taskforce, dubbed Operation Venice, are filmed responding to reports of a suspect on a moped in a Hi-Vis vest.

On board cameras then film the team racing through east London streets in response to where the suspect was last spotted.

The police car is seen to entrap the biker with the help of other officer vehicles as he attempts to flee.

Cameras then capture the moment when the moped rider swerves around another car up ahead before it heads straight towards the police car.

After attempting to dodge around it an officer deliberately aims his car at the suspect, ramming him onto the bonnet, before he flies into the air.

As the biker attempts to flee an officer sprays him with a high tech water gun which is used to mark suspects with invisible liquid that can later be used to link them to the crime.

After police restrain the moped rider an officer says: "The conclusion to the pursuit was brought about by tactical contact.

"That is one of the many strands of options we have to us.

"In this case it was simply justified for the manner of riding, on a footpath, through a park, endangering peoples lives.

"We can't allow that to continue.

"If we hadn't have done this, what would he have done further down the road."

The documentary makers said he was arrested on suspicion of five offences, failing to stop for police, suspected theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a class a drug with intent to supply, failing a roadside drug test and dangerous driving.

They do no specify whether he was subject to any further action.

Another police officer later says: "We have no desire to knock them off and cause any injury to them.

"However, that is a tactic that is available to us.

"If it is appropriate for us to use it, we will use it."

The hardline method was rolled out across the UK last year, after incidents spiked where moped riders would violently rob people on the street as well as jewellery shops.  

Scotland Yard detectives have said the tactics have helped cut moped crime by 52 per cent in a year while, in May, a London gang were jailed for a total of 68 years.

As well as garnering support from Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Prime Minister Theresa May also backed the move, saying: "Moped crime has been an issue for some time."

But the new measures also faced intense criticism when first unveiled with Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott saying officers are "not above the law."

They caused controversy when PC Edwin Sutton faced a disciplinary hearing for using a "dangerous" method to stop a teenager driver escaping after a suspected handbag theft.

The panel however cleared PC Sutton of any wrongdoing in May deeming the move "necessary for the apprehension of a suspected criminal."

(1st July 2019)

(Independent, dated 25th June 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

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Paedophiles are using the internet to commit dozens of sex crimes against children every day, new figures show.

Police are recording a growing number of offences where social media, apps and online gaming are being used to contact and groom young victims.

The number of child sex abuse offences linked to the internet has doubled in four years, from just over 4,000 in 2015-16 to 8,224 in 2018-19 - an average of 22 every day.

The figures were revealed as home secretary, Sajid Javid, prepared to announce a new cross-government strategy to tackle child sexual exploitation.

The NSPCC said the number did not reveal the true extent of abuse because of variation in how police record online elements of crimes.

A total of 40 out of 44 police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland provided the charity with data on cyber-related abuse against under-18s, including online grooming, sexual communication with a child and rape.

The most common age of victims was 13, but figures showed that almost 200 offences were committed against children aged under 11, including babies.

The crimes are separate to indecent image offences, which have also hit record levels and sparked 400 arrests in England and Wales every week.

A boy who called Childline told how he was invited to the house of someone who messaged him through an online game.

"We'd been speaking for a few months so I thought I could trust him," he said. "When I got to his house, he looked a lot older. I felt so scared so I ran to my friend's house that lived nearby."

Another boy, aged 14, said a woman in her twenties sent him a social media friend request and later made him do "sexual things" in a video call.

"She later showed me a video of what happened and threatened to report me if I didn't talk to her," he added. "I feel so ashamed about what has happened and I'm too scared to tell anyone."

A 13-year-old girl was convinced to send sexual photos of herself to a man on Instagram, after she was led to believe that he was a teenage boy.

She said he threatened to share the images with her friends unless she sent more, adding: "I've blocked him but he keeps contacting me over the phone. I found out that he is actually an adult."

Another girl, aged 14, was talking to who she believed was a "good-looking boy" on a dating app for teenagers when she was pressured into sending nude photos.

After she blocked him, he threatened to publish the messages and images they shared, leaving her feeling "guilty and disgusted".

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: "Behind each offence is a child suffering at the hands of sex offenders and, worryingly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg. Far too many children are drowning in a sea of online threats so it's now time for the next prime minister, whoever he may be, to cast out the life jacket.

"He must hold his nerve and introduce an independent regulator to protect children from the risks of abuse and harmful content."

The figures come after a public consultation on the government's online harms white paper, which proposes the creation of an independent regulator to enforce a legal duty of care on tech companies to keep users safe.

Police have been calling for firms to prevent the spread of child sex abuse images online, as they are "overwhelmed" by offences.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which offers programmes to help people stop viewing child sex abuse images, has seen a 24 per cent increase in calls to its helpline and a 40 per cent rise in website visits in the first three months of this year.

The charity has been awarded £600,000 government funding and Sajid Javid is expected to praise its preventative work in a speech to the NSPCC conference.

"The government must build on our existing work to stop all forms of child sexual abuse and support all victims and survivors," the home secretary is expected to say. "So I'm pleased to announce that later this year we will publish a national strategy covering our comprehensive response to all forms of child sexual abuse."

Last month, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for child protection told The Independent that police cannot "arrest our way out of this problem" and suggested cautions could be given to offenders deemed not to pose a real-world risk.

"We are not able to target the high-risk and high-harm offenders because we are overwhelmed with volume referrals, therefore something has to change," Chief Constable Simon Bailey said.

"That change needs to be a cross-system approach including educating children at home and school about the risks online, ensuring tech companies deliver on their responsibilities to prevent the uploading and sharing of images, and applying conditional cautions to low-risk offenders whereby they have to confront their offending behaviour."

(1st July 2019)

(iNEWS, dated 25th June 2019 author Matt Allan)

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The Government is consulting on a new law that could see older tyres banned from being used on certain types of vehicle.

Under the proposed law, buses, coaches, lorries and minibuses would not be allowed to be fitted with tyres more than 10 years old.

If the plan wins support it could be put into force by early 2020.

Taxi ban

The consultation is also looking at whether such a ban should be extended to other vehicles that carry members of the public, such as taxis and private hire vehicles.

It follows a campaign by Frances Molloy, whose son Michael died along with two others in a coach crash caused by a 19-year-old tyre in 2012.

She has since worked with the Tyred campaign since to call for a change in the law.

Age affects safety

Announcing the consultation, Road Safety Minister Michael Ellis said: "Our priority is keeping people safe on our roads, and we are taking action to reduce the number of people killed or injured.

"There is increasing evidence that age affects the safety of tyres, which is why I think older tyres should not be used on large vehicles.

"I would like to thank Frances Molloy and the Tyred campaign for their work raising this important issue - the changes we are consulting on could save lives."

Further steps

The consultation follows other measures put into place since 2012 to limit the use of old tyres on large vehicles.

The DVSA's guidance on maintaining roadworthiness recommends that tyres aged 10 years and older should not be used on the front axles of heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches but it is not a legal requirement.

According to Department for Transport research, ageing tyres suffer corrosion which could cause them to fail with potentially dangerous consequences.

The recent DfT report includes reports from two fatal crashes - one involving a coach on the A3 in 2012, and another on the M5 in 2017, involving a heavy goods vehicle.

(1st July 2019)

(The Scotsman, dated 25th June 2019 author Chris McCall)

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Union leaders have condemned as "shocking" research that found more than half of all crimes reported on Scotland's railways last year went undetected.

Data obtained from British Transport Police (BTP) via Freedom of Information requests revealed there were 1,681 reported crimes on the rail network north of the Border in 2018 - with 1,004 (60%) of those classed as going unsolved.

Since 2016, there has been a 10 per cent rise in the number of reported thefts of property by passengers on Scotland's railways.

Across the UK, thieves are getting away with their crimes on Britain's railways nine times out of 10.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the rail union RMT, said: "These are shocking statistics which show that on far too many occasions a criminal act on the railways is a free ride for the perpetrator.

"It's a reflection of the under-resourcing of the British Transport Police and the drive to axe train and platform staff.

"The solution is investment in staffing and a zero tolerance approach that brings to book all those who think they can turn the railway into a criminal's playground."

The number of crimes logged by BTP rose by 30 per cent in the two years to 2018, with more than 66,000 offences on trains, tracks and stations last year.

And although officer numbers have risen slightly, the rate of unsolved cases has remained around 60 per cent, for the past three years.

Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith from British Transport Police, said crime on the railways remains "incredibly low", with less than one journey in a million involving any kind of violence.

He said the force conducts "a great number of highly visible as well as plain clothes patrols to identify pickpockets, or those exploiting the crowded network to commit sexual offences".

He said: "Fortunately, the majority of crimes reported to BTP result in no injury coming to a victim, such as theft, common assault or vandalism.

"Nevertheless, we understand these crimes are concerning for passengers, and I would like to reassure them that we are completely committed to reducing and preventing crime."

(1st July 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 25th June 2019 author Anthony France)

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Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick today hit back at Donald Trump's claims about violent crime in London, saying the capital is safer than all major American cities.

The Met Commissioner also insisted that "the tide is turning" in the battle against street violence, despite the capital having seen seven killings in eight days.

Ms Dick was responding to comments by the US President, who said London hospitals are a "sea of blood" because "everyone is being stabbed". Before his state visit to Britain this month, Mr Trump also called Mayor Sadiq Khan's handling of the capital's knife crime crisis a "national disgrace", branding him a "stone cold loser".

Ms Dick today told LBC radio she did not wish to "get in an argument" with Trump, before adding: "Compared with so many cities, including all the major US cities, London is a safe city. Homicide rates in New York are two or three times that of London."

She said: "Violence is a challenge in big cities across the world. We are completely focused on driving down violent crime in London.

"The great thing about police officers and police staff is they are very focused on their own jobs. We are focused on what we are doing in London and focused on London's communities. I would be sad if it affects London's international reputation in an unfair way.

"Everybody in what was once called the western world needs to look at what's going on in big cities and American cities have tremendous, tremendous challenges with the most serious violent crime. All of them."

Ms Dick said she understood how knife crime made people fearful - including former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher who yesterday voiced his concerns for sons Gene, 17, and Lennon, 19.

Ms Dick, who stated that murders were down 20 per cent in the last financial year, said: "If I start with Mr Gallagher, I think he is repeating that a lot of people are concerned about their young people. I absolutely acknowledge that."

Asked if she stood by her comments last year that the "tide was turning" against violent crime, she said: "Yes I do… It is taking a massive effort by all sorts of people, not least my very brave officers. And I completely understand that people feel frightened and there's too much of this sort of violence in London.  Our job is to get out there and lock up the bad guys, and take the weapons off the street."

She added: "I do want to be clear, I think police numbers falling and police budgets reducing as they have nationally and in London over the last several years, do have a link with crime rates and  violent crime we have been seeing."

The Met chief also said many young people involved in knife crime had found themselves exploited through social media to get involved in drug dealing - and she had problems with the glamorisation of violence online. 

She described the seven killings in eight days this month as "absolutely horrific, all very different and all involving young people".

Police have used Section 60 powers in response, allowing random searches in specific areas for a limited period.

The spike in violence began on June 14, when Cheyon Evans, 18, was fatally stabbed in Tooting, and Eniola Aluko, 19, was shot dead in a separate incident in Plumstead. The next day, Gleb Zhebrovsky, 34, was fatally stabbed in Poplar. Giedrius Juskauskas, 42, died after a stabbing in Stratford on June 17.

Last Tuesday, David Bello-Monerville, 38, was fatally stabbed in Barnet.  On the same day, a homeless man in his forties died after suffering horrific burns in a fire in Wanstead. The latest victim, Edward Simpson, 25, was shot dead in Feltham just after 11pm on Friday.

(1st July 2019)

(iNews, dated 24th June 2019 author iTeam)

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More people are being sent to prison in England and Wales every year than anywhere else in western Europe.

The rate of people being sent to prison in England and Wales, which has been branded as "shameful" is around twice as high as in Germany and roughly three times that of Italy and Spain, the Prison Reform Trust found.

This amounted to more than 140,000 admissions into prison in England and Wales in 2017, the most recent year data are available for. The trust's analysis suggests there are nearly 240 prison admissions for every 100,000 people in England and Wales each year.

'Shameful' record

It blamed an "addiction to imprisonment", marked by the overuse of short prison sentences and growing use of long terms, as well as botched probation reforms.

The trust's director, Peter Dawson, said: "These figures show the scale of the challenge that we face in breaking our addiction to imprisonment.

"Planned measures to limit the use of short sentences and correcting failed reforms to probation are both steps in the right direction.

"But our shamefully high prison population rates won't be solved by these alone - a public debate about how we punish the most serious crime is overdue."

Public debate call

The trust's report says almost half (46 per cent) of people sentenced to prison in England and Wales in 2018 were sentenced to serve six months or less.

Meanwhile, more than two-and-a-half times as many people were sentenced to 10 years or more in 2018 than in 2006, despite levels of serious crime being "substantially" lower.

England and Wales also have the highest number of indeterminate prisoners (9,441) in western Europe, the report says.

PRISON ADMISSION RATES (Source : Prison Reform Trust)
(Per 100,000 population)

England and Wales : 238
Northern Ireland : 222
Scotland : Not available at time of printing
Denmark : 196
Norway : 162
France : 143
Germany : 121
Italy : 80
Spain : 71

The trust's analysis, which used the latest available Council of Europe annual penal statistics, also showed:

- At more than at 82,400, the prison population in England and Wales is nearly 70 per cent higher than three decades ago.

- Each year England and Wales had over 40,000 more admissions to prison than Germany, which has a significantly larger national population.

- More than two-thirds (81 out of 120) of prisons in England and Wales were overcrowded.

(1st July 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 24th June 2019 author Benedict Moore-Bridger)

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Scotland Yard has paid out more than £31 million in civil claims in four years, the Standard can reveal.

Two of the most costly payout categories included road traffic incidents, which accounted for 1,152 of claims settled and cost a total of £5,455,351, while there were 713 claims for "malfeasance" at a cost of £13,967,629.

Figures show the Met faced a total of 11,703 claims, settling 3,647 between 2014-15 and 2017-18. Data released under Freedom of Information laws shows the force spent £31,031,111 settling a variety of civil claims, including employment tribunal judgments and compensation for cases of "malfeasance" - when a wrongful or unlawful act by a public official is alleged.

Some payments were awarded against the Met, while others were settled out of court to avoid lengthy and costly hearings. A typical claim against the Met can last years.

Figures for 2018-19 have not yet been compiled. Scotland Yard said the data demonstrated its "transparency" and added: "We have taken a 'successful' claim as being one where the claimant was successful in being awarded compensation by a court or the matter was settled by the payment of compensation with or without an admission of liability."

But Unmesh Desai, chairman of the London Assembly's Police and Crime Committee and Labour's policing spokesman, said the Met should be "learning the lessons" to prevent such expenditure.

He said: "The Met provide an excellent service to Londoners, and they've continued to do so in the face of huge budget restraints, but there is a significant amount spent when they do get it wrong. We need reassurances they're working to avoid repetition."

Other categories for payouts included "employment actions", "employers' liability" and "public liability". One case, settled in October 2017, involved Aldires Dall'Agnol Bugia and her husband who got a five-figure award after claiming officers assaulted them in their Camden home. Mrs Bugia said police kicked open their door in April 2013, then she was grabbed and kicked and two officers punched her husband. The Met believed a man wanted in connection with a drug deal was at the flat, but no drugs were found.

Police paid out to the couple to settle a claim of unlawful arrest and police brutality out of court after they sued, and did not admit liability. Mrs Bugia said the experience had left her  traumatised and feeling suicidal.

In 2014, Nordell Edmondson was awarded £45,000 after claiming he was hit with batons and sprayed with CS gas during an unlawful arrest while he was driving in Edgware to get nappies for his daughter. He was charged with resisting arrest, but a judge declared the arrest unlawful and he was acquitted of all charges. The 32-year-old garage manager, who is black, won the payout after alleging race discrimination, assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

The Met apologised but its professional standards directorate said there was no misconduct by  officers.

(1st July 2019)


(Irih Mirror, dated 24th June 2019 author Sean McCartaigh)

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Over one in nine crimes recorded in Ireland last year are believed to have been committed by people out on bail.

The worrying figures, obtained by the Central Statistics Office, show that individuals released from custody while awaiting prosecution for a separate offence are believed responsible for 10 out of 74 homicides in 2018.

The stats - which are based on crimes recorded on the Garda PULSE system - show that people out on bail were linked to 24,270 offences committed last year - 11.3% of the total.

They include 11 sexual offences as well as 6,871 cases of theft, 1,085 burglaries and 274 robberies.

Suspected criminals already linked to other offences are also recorded as being responsible for 5,233 public order offences, as well as 1,894 drug offences and 715 incidents of assaults and threats. 

While overall crime levels fell continuously between 2011 and 2016 before increasing in 2017, the proportion of offences committed by those on bail had grown steadily over the same period - rising from 9% of all crimes in 2011 to 13.3% in 2017.

The latest figures show the first decrease in the share of all crimes by suspects already on bail in almost a decade.

However, a CSO spokesperson said changes to the PULSE system implemented last year in relation to how offenders are recorded and crimes marked "detected" mean the latest figures are believed to be more accurate than but not directly comparable to previous years.

The latest figures reveal that individuals on bail are believed responsible for a high proportion of particular crimes - one in five of all firearms and explosives offences and one in six of all public order offences.

They are also linked to more than one in 10 of all drug offences, robberies and theft.

In contrast, suspects already on bail are only believed responsible for 0.3 per cent of sexual offences recorded last year as well as 6.4% of burglaries.

The CSO said all official crime figures were still published "under reservation" as there remained ongoing concerns about the quality of the data from the PULSE system.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said they were awaiting "robust statistics" in order to analyse the full impact of changes to bail laws introduced in 2017.

However, Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson, Jim O'Callaghan, said the latest figures showed that a significant amount of serious crime continued to be committed by people on bail.

"Unfortunately the current bail laws are not strong enough and need to be reformed," Mr O'Callaghan said.

He said legislation put forward by Fianna Fáil last year to further strengthen bail laws was voted down by the Government and some other Opposition parties.

"Unless there is political recognition of this problem we will continue to see a significant percentage of crime committed by people out on bail. The Government needs to act now to deal with this continuing and clear problem," Mr O'Callaghan said.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 2017, a court is required to have regard for persistent serious offending by an applicant for bail and may take into account the nature and likelihood of any danger presented by the granting of bail to a person charged with an offence that carries a jail sentence of 10 years or more.

A court also has powers, in certain cases, to hear evidence from a victim before a decision on bail is made.

The changes also provided for stricter bail terms for repeat serious offenders as well as strengthening the powers of gardaí to deal with breaches of bail and allowing for the electronic tagging of suspects.

Over the past five years, more than 125,000 crimes have been identified where the suspect or offender was on bail.

The figures include 40 homicides and 120 sexual offences.

(The Irish Times, dated 24th June 2019 author Mark Hilliard)

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More detailed and consistent information is needed to help better understand and respond to rising rates of sexual crime in the State, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has said.

The number of sexual offences being reported has continued to rise over the last two year, according to data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which show a 10 per cent increase from 2,938 to 3,231 in the year to the end of March.

Other data showed fraud and deception related offences were but by 28.5 per cent, from 5,322 to 6,841 over the same 12 month period.

The number of recorded drug offences increased by 16.2 per cent, from 16,564 to 19,247.

However, burglary and related offences fell by 10.3 per cent to 16,766 incidents. Damage to property and environment offences decreased by 5.8 per cent. Homicides fell from 84 to 72.

The CSO continues topublish the data "under reservation" classification following prolonged confidence issues with how An Garda Síochána has recorded crime in its own systems.

Pádraig Dalton, CSO director general, recently told The Irish Times that bringing the statistical information provided by the force to the required standard was likely to take a number of years.

Other categories of crime rose in the first quarter of the year including kidnapping (8.8 per cent) and attempts or threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences (6.6 per cent).

Noeline Blackwell, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), said there was increasing evidence that more people are coming forward to report sexual crime than before, a change thought to be at least partly linked to growing public awareness and recent abuse controversies.

"People are reporting who would not have felt confident in reporting it before," she said, citing the recent experience of staff.

Ms Blackwell also believes work being undertaken in schools and in colleges around awareness, particularly in the area of consent, is having a positive effect. An increase in the number of specialised garda sexual crime units too are thought to be aiding people in reporting crime.

However, she said detailed, consistent data being made publicly available would be invaluable to help target service provision as well as responses in both health and criminal justice policy.

"If we are aware that a certain age group is reporting [FOR INSTANCE]and we are providing a service our training would probably need to be adjusted," she said. "There is so little information out there about who is reporting and what follows on from that."

Last April, for the first time, the CSO published a more comprehensive breakdown of such data, following demand from various organisations. Plans to continue this would address much of what Ms Blackwell and others are asking for.

Its Recorded Crime Victim 2018 data set - also published under reservation - found that a quarter of sexual violence crimes reported that year took place a decade or more previously. It also gave details of age and found that 90 per cent of victims were female.

(1st July 2019)

(Guardian, dated 24th June 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

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People have an increasing chance of getting away with murder as figures show the number of detectives investigating the most serious offences in England and Wales has fallen by more than a quarter since austerity began.

Data obtained under freedom of information requests showed the number of detectives serving in major crime and murder squads had fallen by at least 610, or 28%, between 2010-11 and 2017-18.

There were 610 fewer detectives serving in major crime and murder squads in the year to March 2019  (1509 Officers*) compared with 2010 (2120 Officers*) - * Guardian FOI figures

During the same period the detection rates for homicide, which includes the suspected offences of murder and manslaughter, fell by more than 10%. The detection rate relates to the number of cases in which police believe they have identified the offenders.

Many factors affect crime outcomes, but one of the biggest has been the 19% cut in government funding since the Conservatives took power in 2010.

In 2010-11, 83% of homicides were solved. That figure had fallen to 74% by 2015-16 and 67% by 2017-18, according to official data.

One senior detective in a major urban force told the Guardian his team was dealing with double the number of homicides it should be.

"We have had so many years of under resourcing, it has a cumulative effect," he said on condition of anonymity. "There have been occasions when my people have had no recovery periods. There is not one day where you have any slack to do non-urgent work."

The detective said he was concerned about his officers' wellbeing. "There isn't that moment to take your foot off the accelerator, people are feeling tired and stressed."

He pointed out that the cuts came at a time when serious crimes were becoming more difficult and demanding to investigate.

"Some of these jobs are really complex now and so need a lot of resources. I don't think people appreciate how complex crime has become."

In one recent case, he said, a single hour of CCTV footage took a fortnight to view and log: "Not every camera points in the right direction or has good quality pictures."

There is a national shortage of detectives, partly because the job is seen as carrying higher levels of pressure and risk than uniform roles, and that it is not worth the reward.

Twenty out of 43 local forces in England and Wales replied to freedom of information requests from Labour's policing spokeswoman, Louise Haigh, asking about the number of detectives in their major crime and homicide squads.

Haigh said the figures were chilling.

"Tory cuts to policing have not only left victims without justice, they've let murderers walk free, leaving our communities at risk," she said.

"Everyone running to be Tory leader bears responsibility - they voted for these cuts or failed to speak out against them."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We recognise that demand on the police is changing and becoming more complex.

"This is why the government has increased funding for the police by more than £1bn in 2019-20, including council tax and funding to tackle serious violence. The funding is already enabling the police to recruit and fill key gaps, such as on detectives.

"Police forces are working with the College of Policing to ensure all forces have adequate numbers of qualified detectives now and in the future, and we are funding the development of the Police Now detective scheme to help bridge the gap."

Jon Boutcher, a former chief constable of Bedfordshire said there were complex reasons behind the the falls, and that being a detective was no longer regarded as the desirable job it once was.

"The reduction in numbers … the change in complexity in what we are required to do, means that we can't achieve the detection rates we once did because we don't have the officers," said Boutcher, who investigated high-profile terrorist attacks including the one on London's transport system on 21 July 2005.

"A majority of detectives say they could not provide victims the service they want because of their caseload. Officers I expect to have five to 10 cases have 20 cases."

John Apter, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents about 120,000 officers, said: "The numbers are really clear, it's not rocket science to say there is a correlation. Our detectives, dealing with the more complex crimes, are fewer and far between."

In the year ending March 2018, 67% of homicides and 4% of rape cases were solved in England and Wales (Source : Guardian FoI)

Homocides = n ; Rapes = [n]

2011 : 83% [24%]
2016 : 74% [14%]
2018 : 67% [4%]

(1st July 2019)

(BBC News, dated 24th June 2019)

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Algorithms are increasingly used to make everyday decisions about our lives. Could they help the police reduce crime, asks David Edmonds.

In July 2013, a 44-year-old man, Bijan Ebrahimi, was punched and kicked to death in south Bristol. His killer, a neighbour, then poured white spirit over his body and set it alight on grass 100 yards from his home. Iranian-born Ebrahimi, who'd arrived in Britain over a decade earlier as a refugee, had been falsely accused by his killer of being a paedophile.

On 73 occasions, over an eight-year-period, Ebrahimi had reported to the police that he'd been the victim of racially motivated crimes.

His complaints went unheeded and a report into his murder concluded that both Bristol City Council and the police were guilty of institutional racism.

"That was really a turning point from a data perspective," says Jonathan Dowey, who heads a small team of data analysts at Avon and Somerset Police. The question the force began to ask, he says, was: "Could we be smarter with our data?"

A Freedom of Information trawl by the civil liberties group Liberty recently discovered that at least 14 police forces in the United Kingdom have used, or are planning to use, algorithms - computer mathematical formulae - to tackle crime. It seems probable that within a few years almost all police forces will be using such methods.

After Ebrahimi's murder, Avon and Somerset Police began to experiment with software to see whether it could help identify risks - risks from offenders, of course, but also risks to potential victims like Ebrahimi.

Humans are susceptible to all manner of biases. And unlike computers, they're not good at spotting patterns - whether, for example, there have been multiple calls from the same address. When Avon and Somerset retrospectively ran a predictive model to see if the tragedy could have been averted, Ebrahimi's address popped up as one of the top 10 raising concern.

Different police forces are trialling different algorithms. West Midlands uses software to spot patterns between crime and time of year, day of the week and time of the day that crimes are committed. West Yorkshire is working on a system to predict areas at high risk of crime.

Durham Police have been co-operating with Cambridge University in an initiative called Hart - the Harm Assessment Risk Tool. The aim has is to design an algorithm to help predict whether a person arrested for a crime is likely to reoffend or whether they are safe to return to the community. The algorithm allows police to use alternatives to costly and often unsuccessful prosecutions.

As for Avon and Somerset, they're now using algorithms for all manner of purposes. For example, a big drain on police resources is the hunt for people who go missing - so the force is trying to predict who might do so in order that that preventative measures can be taken.

A rather straightforward application of algorithms is the assessment of how many calls they get from members of the public at different times of the day. Finding this out has enabled the force to reduce the percentage of people who hang up before the call is answered from around 20% down to 3% - a significant achievement.

Police forces like Avon and Somerset are receiving tens of thousands of new bits of data every day. "We're in a blizzard of data," says Jonathan Dowey. "It's no longer viable to have an army of humans trying to determine risk and vulnerabilities on their own."

The public may be largely unaware of how algorithms are penetrating every aspect of the criminal justice system - including, for example, a role in sentencing and in determining whether prisoners get parole - but civil liberties groups are becoming increasingly alarmed. Hannah Couchman of Liberty says that "when it comes to predictive policing tools, we say that their use needs to cease".

One worry is about human oversight. Avon and Somerset Police emphasise that in the end algorithms are only advisory, and that humans will always retain the final decision.

But while this is the current practice, it seems quite possible that as police forces become more accustomed to the use of algorithms their dependence upon them will grow. It's not an exact analogy, but drivers who routinely use satellite navigation systems tend to end up believing that the sat-nav knows best.

Another cause of unease about algorithms concerns transparency. Algorithms are informing vital decisions taken about peoples' lives. But if the computer suggests that someone is at high risk of re-offending, justice surely requires that the process by which this calculation is reached be not only accessible to humans but also open to challenge.

An even thornier issue is algorithmic bias. Algorithms are based on past data - data which has been gathered by possibly biased humans. As a result, the fear is that they might actually come to entrench bias.

There are many ways in which this might occur. Suppose, for example, that one of the risk-factors weighed up in an algorithm is "gang membership". It's possible that police might interpret behaviour by white and black youths differently - and so be more likely to identify young black men as members of gangs. This discriminatory practice could then be embedded in the software.

Which variables should go into an algorithm is hugely contentious territory. Most experts on police profiling want to exclude race. But what about sex, or age? What makes one variable inherently more biased than another? What about postcode? Durham initially included postcode in their Hart tool, but then removed it following opposition. Why should people be assessed based upon where they lived, the objection ran - would this not discriminate against people in less desirable neighbourhoods?

American-born Lawrence Sherman, a criminology professor at the University of Cambridge, has been obsessed with policing ever since he watched the brutal police attacks on civil rights activists in the US in the 1960s. Now a leading figure in the push for empirically based policing, he concedes that by excluding certain factors such as race or postcode, the accuracy of the algorithm might be compromised.

But that, he says, is less critical than keeping the public on board: "You are making [the algorithm] less accurate to a small degree, and more legitimate to a much larger degree."

What's remarkable is that there is no legislation specifically governing the use of police algorithms.

An advisory tool, called Algo-Care, has been developed by various academics and endorsed by the National Police Chief's Council. It lays out various voluntary principles governing, for example, transparency, bias and human oversight and it recommends any algorithm be re-tested over time to ensure accuracy. Six police forces are already using it. But one of the authors of Algo-Care, Jamie Grace, says it can only serve as an interim solution: "What we need is government to take the lead," he says.

If we get police algorithms wrong, there's potential for scandal and injustice. If we can get them right, there's the promise of big pay-offs. Dr Peter Neyroud, a former Chief Constable now based at Cambridge's Institute of Criminology, says the Institute's analysis "suggests that only 2.2% of offenders can be expected to go on to commit a high-harm offence in the future". If we could accurately pinpoint this tiny percentage, we could drastically cut the prison population.

The causes of crime are complex, but since Avon and Somerset Police have begun to use algorithms, there's been an 11% fall in reports of missing people and a 10% fall in burglary.

As for the problem of algorithmic bias, there's a more optimistic scenario. In theory - and hopefully also in practice - we could reduce the impact of human prejudice. Take the case of Bijan Ebrahimi. The police failed to recognise the danger - an algorithm could have highlighted it. Algorithms, in other words, could save lives.

(1st July 2019)

(iNews, dated 24th June 2019 author Cahal Milmo)

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British embassy staff have been dismissed from their posts at missions abroad after thefts and frauds ranging from forged documents to the mysterious disappearance of a pair of chandeliers.

Figures released by the Foreign Office (FCO) show that eight diplomatic employees were sacked in the last 12 months following allegations including credit card misuse costing £10,000 and the theft of furniture intended for auction.

Non-existent police guards

Frauds recorded by investigators also included the disappearance of £157,000 which was paid for non-existent police guards at Britain's embassy in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The officers turned out not to have been deployed at the mission, resulting in the dismissal of a local police commander.

Sources said the fraud did not result in a security risk to Britain's diplomatic mission in a city regularly hit by anti-western Taliban attacks because the fictitious officers were above the required cover for the embassy.

The losses represent a tiny fraction of the FCO's core annual budget of some £1.2bn but are nonetheless embarrassing for the Whitehall department responsible for projecting Britain's "soft power" overseas.


The data has been released following a recommendation from the influential House of Commons public accounts committee for greater transparency in detailing fraud linked to overseas spending.

The cases ranged from the substantial losses such as the Afghan police fraud to perplexing cases of diplomatic pilfering.

In September last year, two chandeliers worth £4,000 each were stolen from storage after being removed from  the British embassy in Paris. Efforts to locate either the light fittings or the thief have failed, with the FCO recording: "Loss has been written off; not possible to say who stole them."


Six incidents involved the misuse of corporate credit cards or wrongly claimed expenses. In February this year, a staff member at a mission in the Asia-Pacific region was dismissed and reported to police after allegedly taking their spouse on an official visit and charging expenses to their tax payer-funded bank card.

Another officer working Africa was sacked and reported to police for allegedly forging documents in order to steal £1,000 of used furniture destined to be auctioned, while another junior employee suffered the same fate for siphoning fuel from vehicles and selling it locally.

Elsewhere, a staff member was sacked for forging unspecified documents worth £3,000 while another was dismissed for claiming a £20 meal to which he or she was not entitled.

Medical scheme

All eight of those dismissed in the last year were employed locally. In previous years, London-based diplomats have also been sacked or disciplined, including two staff who were admonished misuse of a medical scheme and an official on the FCO's Middle East desk who admitted stealing more than £2,000 but was eventually cleared of stealing £20,000 to fund online gambling.

Despite its grand reputation, the FCO has struggled to maintain its global diplomatic footprint after Whitehall austerity saw its core budget slashed from £2.1bn in 2012 to £1.2bn last year.

Colonial-era mansion

It was announced last year that the British embassy in Bangkok, a colonial-era mansion in a prime location in the Thai capital, had been sold for £420m to fund essential works for other outposts, including rewiring the Paris embassy. The new Bangkok embassy was due to be housed in an office block.

The FCO said it was dedicated to protecting public funds. In a statement, a spokesman said: "The FCO has a zero tolerance policy against fraud and take any misuse of public funds extremely seriously. We have robust systems in place to mitigate risks and all allegations of fraud are investigated fully."

(1st July 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd June 2019 author Amelia Gentleman)

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Another prominent victim of the Windrush scandal has died without receiving compensation or a personal apology from the government, as campaigners warn those affected need more help to claim damages.

The former Middlesex bowler Richard Stewart had been waiting for his case to be resolved so he could travel back to Jamaica for the first time in half a century and visit his mother's grave, but he died a week ago, aged 74.

His son, Wesley Stewart, said the cause of death was unknown, adding that his father had become stressed and depressed during the protracted process of attempting to sort out his paperwork and prove the government's errors had caused him severe problems for years.

He described his father as "a pioneer of cricket for the Windrush generation, and a gentleman". Wesley said his father had never wanted to see Britain as a racist country, but his views had changed as a result of his treatment by the Home Office. "It was blatant discrimination. The government made him feel like: you're black, you shouldn't be here, full stop," he said.

Towns across the country are preparing for Windrush Day, a new annual event commemorating the arrival of the liner Empire Windrush in June 1948, carrying 492 passengers from the Caribbean, marking the symbolic beginning of a more multicultural Britain.

Attitudes to the day are mixed among those affected by the immigration scandal, in which thousands of people who had arrived legally in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s were wrongly categorised as illegal immigrants by the Home Office.

Last year, Theresa May announced an annual £500,000 grant to fund events celebrating the "contributions made by British-Caribbean communities over the last 70 years", as part of her attempt to apologise for the mistake, which was a direct result of "hostile environment" policies she introduced as home secretary in 2012.

Exhibitions, film festivals and workshops have been organised with the funding, but protests are also expected on Saturday, coordinated by victims who are angry at the slow progress towards compensation being paid and feel May's decision to fund the day was a token political gesture.

Although 6,400 people have been given documents confirming they are in the UK legally, only 13 people have had payments from an emergency hardship fund set up to help those facing extreme financial difficulties as a result of losing their jobs, their homes and access to healthcare and benefits after being misclassified as illegal immigrants.

The government announced a compensation scheme earlier this year that could pay out as much as £570m, but lawyers supporting those affected are not aware of payments having been made.

Richard Stewart moved from Jamaica to England, as a British subject, in 1955 aged 10 to join his parents, and played county cricket as a fast bowler for Middlesex in the 1960s under the name Wes Stewart.

He paid taxes in the UK for more than five decades but when he applied for a British passport in 2012, he was informed he was an overstayer. He was told he needed to pay £1,200 to naturalise, but did not have the money to pay and was unable to persuade officials a mistake had been made.

Wesley Stewart said: "It was upsetting for him; he said he had been in the country for longer than David Cameron had been alive, but he worried about whether he was going to get deported."

Stewart received a passport this year and was waiting to see whether a compensation payment would help fund a trip to the Caribbean. "His dream was that we would all go to the Caribbean and see where he was from," his son said. Stewart had discussed the compensation forms with his son this month, but had not yet gathered all the paperwork to make an application. His death follows that of Sarah O'Connor in September, also before receiving an apology or compensation.

Many victims are finding the process of sorting out their affairs very challenging, 14 months after the government promised to rectify Home Office mistakes.

A former NHS driver, Renford McIntyre, 65, who was made homeless when the government classified him as an illegal immigrant after 50 years in the UK, cashed in his £12,000 pension pot when he was told he was neither allowed to work nor eligible for government support. Since the government admitted its error, he has been rehoused, but he still owes money to friends and faces serious financial difficulties.

Supported by the Refugee and Migrant Centre (RMC) in Wolverhampton, he is gathering evidence to prove the consequences of being sacked and losing his home, but the process has been painful and complicated.

Some campaigners say the compensation form, which has guidance notes running to 45 pages, is challenging for individuals to fill in without specialist help. McIntyre has been asked to pay £50 by his GP for a letter summarising the impact on his health. "I'm waiting for my next pension payment to go and pay it," he said.

"I am very, very angry. I've never been away since I came here in 1968." He has had no letter of apology from the home secretary. "I would like something that I can show to my grandchildren when they get older, then they will understand it was not my shortcomings that caused this," McIntyre said.

Gladstone Wilson, 63, was sacked from his job as a security guard in a Wolverhampton hospital when the Home Office classified him as an illegal immigrant, although he had been living in the UK legally since arriving aged 12 in 1968.

Wilson is also in the final stages of applying for compensation - a process that has taken several months and involved several meetings with caseworkers at the RMC. He said he felt ambivalent about Windrush Day.

"Our forefathers and mothers did a lot for this country and this is an important moment, but I won't be celebrating. I'm still struggling with the stress and strain of everything," he said.

(1st July 2019)

(Independent, dated 22nd June 2019 author Colin Drury)

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A criminal probe has been launched after a forensics firm widely used by police to help with investigations was targeted in a cyber attack.

There are fears key evidence may have been compromised after Eurofins Scientific - which is used by forces across the UK - was hit by a two day ransomware onslaught at the start of June.

Submissions to the firm, which are thought to include finger print and other crime scene data, have now been temporarily suspended, while the National Crime Agency leads an investigation into the attack.

Rob Jones, the NCA's director of threat leadership, said: "Specialist cyber-crime officers are working with partners from the National Cyber Security Centre and the National Police Chiefs' Council to mitigate the risks and assess the nature of this incident.

"We are securing evidence and forensically analysing infected computers, but due to the quantity of data involved and the complexity of these kinds of inquiries, this is an investigation which will take time."

Chief Constable James Vaughan, the NPCC lead for forensics, said: "As a result of the ransomware attack against Eurofins Scientific, we have temporarily suspended all law enforcement submissions to their forensic science subsidiary.

"Our priority - alongside the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners - is to minimise the impact on the criminal justice system.

"We have put our national contingency plans in place, which will see urgent submissions and priority work diverted to alternative suppliers to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

"It is too early to fully quantify the impact but we are working at pace with partners to understand and mitigate the risks."

Louise Haigh, Labour's shadow crime and policing minister, urged police to work quickly to establish the facts of the case.

She said: "This is the latest in a long line of failures in the forensics market: there is a criminal investigation into manipulation of forensic samples ongoing at another major provider, and countless forensic providers are failing to meet the bare minimum standards."

(1st July 2019)

(Wales Online, dated 22nd June 2019 authors Matthew Dresch and Brett Gibbons)

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Brits are being drugged by gangs of thieves and having cash and valuables lifted, according to reports from holiday resorts.

Women posing as sex workers are also targeting lads who have had too much to drink and picking their pockets in another scam in the sun.

With Spanish resorts gearing up for high season, crooks are stepping up criminal activity in holiday hotspots like Benidorm and Majorca.

One holidaymaker reported he awoke on a beach in Benidorm to find that someone had stolen his wallet, trainers and phone.

Brits also claimed thieves have taken their passports, wallets, purses and luggage as soon as they have arrived outside their hotels.

Expats have reportedly claimed  thieves pretend to be fellow tourists and cosy up to holidaymakers in bars, before spiking their drinks.

Brits have also been warned to be careful of pickpockets who roam the resort posing as prostitutes in order to steal items.

Spanish police are now clamping down on the criminality.

A national newspaper reported that warnings about criminal activity in Benidorm have been issued on Facebook .

One post on a group dedicated to crime in the town read: "This happened to a guy.....His friends reported him missing. He had been spiked....trainers.. phone wallet etc missing. He was found on the beach


The newspaper reported that a Romanian woman was arrested for stealing £400 from a Brit, while another was apprehended for taking a £5,000 watch from a pensioner, Mirror Online reports.

Meanwhile,  in the Majorca resort of Magaluf,  Brits are advised to be aware of woman posing as sex workers who target drunken men before robbing their valuables.

Last summer taxi drivers and bar owners combined to form vigilante groups to keep the crooks off resort streets.

It is claimed women are transported to Spain via organised crime in Nigeria, and they are blamed by local businesses for a drop in tourist trade.

 A Brit bar owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, told MailOnline : "The pickpockets and prostitutes are part of the same gang who hang around outside the bars in the early hours picking off stragglers.

"The women pretend to be prostitutes and throw their arms around these young lads, clearly worse the wear for drink, and when they're distracted they pickpocket them."

(The Sun, dated 23rd June 2019 authors Holly Christodoulou and Natalia Penza)

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FOUR Brits have been stabbed in Magaluf after reportedly having their phones and wallets swiped on the famous party strip.

A fifth British man has been arrested after violence erupted in raucous Punta Ballena in the early hours of the morning.

One of the men managed to chase down the suspect and hold him until cops arrived after him and three fellow travellers were knifed.

They were rushed to hospital with "non-serious" stab injuries.

A local report claims the victims told police they believed the Brit knifeman had stolen their phones and wallets along with two African street sellers he was working with.

The area has been plagued by "mafia" gangs reportedly targeting up to 100 boozed-up Brits a night with "bearhug" robberies.

Police confirmed a 25-year-old was arrested on suspicion of stabbing four people but said they were not aware of any robberies taking place.

Early indications suggest may have been under the influence of drink and drugs and had acted without any apparent motive.

He is expected to appear in court over the weekend or by Monday at the latest.

A report last month revealed a spate of late-muggings in the party town - with boozed-up Brits an easy target for street gangs.

Local media says the Punta Ballena area is "a paradise for sub-Saharan mafias" who on one night alone can commit 100 robberies and thefts from tourists.

Civil Guard officers are now moving into the Magaluf area and will be based at the municipal tourist information office near the main nightspots.

(1st July 2019)

(BBC News, dated 21st June 2019 author Clive Coleman)

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The most senior criminal judge in England and Wales has expressed "enormous concern" that many crimes are not being prosecuted.

Sir Brian Leveson, who retires on Friday as Head of Criminal Justice, has warned the system could collapse without investment.

He also told the BBC the government would be wrong to abolish prison sentences of less than six months.

The government said it was investing £1bn in modernising the justice system.

In the wake of the phone hacking scandal Sir Brian became a national figure, chairing the public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press.

In his role as head of criminal justice he led on the delivery of criminal justice for England and Wales.

Speaking exclusively to the BBC, he revealed he leaves with grave concerns.

"It is very, very concerning that citizens suffer wrongs and are not obtaining redress through the criminal courts," he said.

"The criminal courts are a critical part of our society and they are the way that society reflects the minimum standards of behaviour which it requires of all its citizens and therefore it is an enormous concern that crimes are not being detected and crimes are not being prosecuted," he added.

Risk of 'collapse'

Last year a report from the Bar Council found the Ministry of Justice had sustained 27% cuts in real terms over a decade and the Crown Prosecution Service 34%.

Between September 2010 and September 2017, the number of police officers in England and Wales fell by almost 20,000, according to the Home Office.

Home Office figures also suggested 9% of reported crimes result in a charge or summons - the lowest detection rate since 2015.

In perhaps the starkest assessment yet by a senior judicial figure, Sir Brian said: "The criminal justice system has to be considered by the government and recognised for its enormous value to our community.

"I don't think there is sufficient resource to cope with its requirements. Ultimately, if the system doesn't get appropriate investment the system can collapse."

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "Our legal system is rightly revered and renowned across the world and we continue to invest billions of pounds into it each year, including £1bn on modernisation."

Earlier this year, Justice Secretary David Gauke said there was a "very strong case" for abolishing prison sentences of less than six months in England and Wales, aside from a few "closely defined exceptions" such as people convicted of violent or sexual crimes.

The MoJ said short sentences "are too often ineffective... we are exploring options for robust community alternatives that would make the public safer".

It added it was reforming the probation system "to ensure offenders are monitored and conditions enforced, while directing them towards services that will help them to turn their backs on crime for good".

'Digital strip search'

But Sir Brian, who is also retiring from his role as president of the Queen's Bench Division, said an attempt made in 1991 to restrict the rights of judges to pass sentences of less than six months "did not work".

Insisting judges must be able to jail people for less than six months, he said: "The multiple shoplifter who shoplifts again and again and again, who is given every single non-custodial option going but continues, often to feed a drug habit... there must be a time when the courts say enough is enough."

The judge also addressed the concerns of campaigners that complainants in rape cases will be deterred from coming forward if they have to hand their mobile devices to the police and undergo what has been described as a "digital strip search".

"We do have to have a mechanism of being able to validate or not invalidate complaints by checking and, although I readily recognise the need to protect the privacy of those who complain of sexual offences, we can't do so at the entire expense of protecting the rights of a defendant to a fair trial," he said.

(1st July 2019)

(South Wales Argus, dated 21st June 2019 author Dan Barnes)

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 THE youth service of the charity Crimestoppers, is launching a new film in Gwent today to raise awareness of how County Lines drug gangs exploit young people to move and sell drugs.

County Lines is the name given to drug networks operated by criminal gangs outside of their home cities and towns. have released the film Running the Lines - which was made for the Fearless Wales project by It's My Shout productions.

It follows the character Evan who is groomed, exploited and threatened into becoming a drug runner for a London-based organised crime gang.

 The fictional story is inspired by accounts of real-life County Lines cases, including the use of violence by such gangs.

Running the Lines will be launched in screenings across all four police force areas in Wales during June, and forms part of a new Fearless educational workshop and awareness campaign.

Jeff Cuthbert, Gwent Police Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "County Lines is a growing problem in our communities.

"It is complex, often hidden, and targets some of the most vulnerable people in society.

"It is part of the bigger picture of serious and organized crime that affects more UK citizens than any other national security threat.

"Crimestoppers, working in partnership with the St Giles Trust, has worked with nine comprehensive schools in Newport, engaging with about 6000 children aged 11 - 14 to deliver key messages and advice at a crucial time in their development.", which now has youth workers covering all parts of Wales, will help tackle the underreporting of crime by young people. Through its website, young people can pass on information about crime they've witnessed to anonymously and safely.

Ella Rabaiotti, Wales National Manager at Crimestoppers charity, said: "Young people can become involved with criminal gangs but often do not recognise they're being exploited or feel confident to seek help.

"We will use the film to start a conversation with young people - especially by de-glamorising drug gangs and challenging any misconceptions around carrying knives. We hope through our Running the Lines project we can empower young people to be aware of the issues, feel safer and be confident to report crime - including the option to use anonymously."

For more information, visit

(1st July 2019)

(BBC News, dated 21st June 2019 author Thomas Mackintosh)

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Note : The original article contains graphs that provide further explanation to the text.

Murder detectives in London say the "heartbreak" of unsolved cases is being made worse by a "wall of silence".

The Met has solved nearly 90% of homicide cases in the past decade but Det Ch Insp Noel McHugh says fears about "snitching" are a challenge.

He said those who share information with police "are not a grass, they are a public champion."

The aunt of Bjorn Brown, whose death is unsolved, said the wait for justice had prolonged her pain.

Commissioner Cressida Dick has previously said detectives were operating in a "very challenging" environment and were met with a "wall of silence" in some cases.

The Met classes homicides as "detected" when a suspect is charged or following an inquest into the death of a suspect who would have been charged.

Homicides in London

About 12% of cases since 2008 remain unsolved as of June 2019.

Det Ch Insp McHugh said there were a higher number of unsolved homicides in 2018 and 2017 than other recent years because "crimes don't necessarily get detected in the year they happen".

He said other challenges facing the homicide teams included extracting data from multiple mobile phones.

"Every mobile phone is effectively a computer. There is a massive amount of work for investigators to work through," Mr McHugh said.

"It might take two or three days to totally understand what a device was doing on that particular day.

"Recently, we had an investigation where we recovered 50 phones - it is enormous."

Det Ch Insp McHugh said he was keen to "dismantle the snitching culture".

"It is absolutely heartbreaking for the officers and the families, especially when there are people out there in the know, holding back information and hiding behind a wall of silence," he said.

"They are not a snitch, they are not a grass, they are a public champion."

The Met said it had a "robust and comprehensive" review process for all homicide investigations.

If a case was unsolved after 28 days, a homicide investigation would be independently reviewed by specialist officers from the Met's Serious Crime Review Group.

Det Ch Supt Richard Wood explained unsolved murder cases were never closed and more recent cases were likely to be currently classed as "undetected" because of the normal length of a homicide investigation.

He said: "We prioritise resources to investigate homicides and work closely with the CPS to bring offenders to justice and support families at the most difficult of times."

Cases "put on hold" are reviewed every two years by an independent panel - chaired by a Commander - that aims to source any new information.

One of the cases unsolved is that of Bjorn Brown, who was stabbed to death in Croydon in March 2017.

Despite repeated CCTV appeals and a £20,000 reward for information - nobody has been charged with the 23-year-old's murder.

His aunt Sandi Bogle - who featured in Channel 4's Gogglebox - said the so-called "wall of silence" had prolonged the pain of her family's loss and search for answers.

"It is sad that it has come to the point where money has to be offered for information," she said. "It really makes you think people don't care about human life.

"Someone out there knows what has happened and I can't blame the police when there are friends and family who hide behind this wall of silence.

"It is painful, every event like birthdays, Christmas or Easter which go by, it just gets harder knowing Bjorn isn't there.

"It's never going to be too late to make that phone call and share whatever information you know so our family can get justice."

Det Ch Supt Wood expressed his sympathy to families such as Mr Brown's - but said cold cases often became "lengthy and complicated".

He added: "There is a huge amount of work taking place on unsolved murders.

"There are between 15 and 20 cases subject to a full cold case review at any one time.

"Behind every unsolved murder there is a family looking for answers.

"In some cases, they do take years to come to conclusion."

(By Danny Shaw, BBC Home Affairs correspondent)

The clear-up rate for cases of murder and manslaughter has always been high - around 90% or above, with dedicated teams and substantial police resources rightly devoted to investigations.

But the figures for the Met make worrying reading. Between 2008 and 2015 detections remained stable, with only 5 to 10 % of cases unsolved. Since then, however, the proportion of un-detected killings has risen from 13% in 2016 to 26% in 2017 and 2018.

Although some cases will be classed as "detected" in the months to come as investigations develop and inquests