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

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

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





(AIG, dated 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Sisters, Mothers, Daughters and Wives

Whether they are business leaders, students or stay-at-home moms, this empowering travel guide contains tips to minimize risks and help women make their journey safe and enjoyable. Travel, either domestic or international, poses risks for anyone. It is possible to become a victim of a crime, experience a medical emergency or become impacted by a natural disaster. Travelers may not be familiar with the language, culture, or security threats of a particular destination, leaving them vulnerable to potential harm.

AIG Travel recognizes that in addition to the safety, medical and security needs of all travelers, women may also have unique travel considerations. With a reputation for providing a complete range of travel insurance and global assistance services, we have products and options to help women prepare for the unexpected when exploring the world.

In fact, according to a Women's Safety Survey commissioned by AIG Travel:

- 45% of female travelers feel less safe or much less safe about traveling than they did five years ago.

- 84% reported that their employers either did not provide travel safety tips/resources or that they weren't aware of any such tools.

- 63% of women think about safety always or frequently while traveling.

- The top four risks that women consider before or during a trip center on theft and scams, such as pickpocketing/purse snatching (93%), credit card fraud (86%), identity theft (63%), and taxi scams (62%).

- The top two actions that women take with a goal of increasing their personal safety before or during a trip are sharing an itinerary with a friend or family member (93%) and purchasing travel insurance, emergency travel medical coverage, and/or emergency travel evacuation coverage (87%).

Based on a Maiden-Voyage Women in Business Travel survey:

- 24% of women travelers suffered an adverse situation when traveling on business (e.g. theft, physical assault, sexual harassment or attack, attempted kidnap, and intruders in hotel rooms).1

- 67% were uncomfortable on public transit and walking in an unfamiliar city.

- 55% said they didn't feel safe alone in a cab.1

- 31.4% of female business travelers have encountered sexual harassment while traveling.

Yet only 5% had received female business traveler safety training and 31% said their employer didn't adequately take care of them.

Whether they are novice or seasoned travelers

Women need to take extra precautions in order to be aware, alert and confident; especially when traveling by themselves. Women may be at a higher risk for being a target of a crime, kidnapping or other adverse situations. In celebration of Women's History Month in March and Women's International Women's Day on March 8, we included advice from professional women within the AIG organization to share their personal travel knowledge. Below are specific travel tips for women:

Tips and Advice from Female Travelers at AIG

When was the last time you talked about travel tips with your relatives, friends or colleagues? Whether it was on social media or during conversation - you likely discussed travel news or advice recently in some form or another. In celebration of International Women's Day on March 8 we gathered candid advice from the women road warriors of AIG to share their professional travel knowledge.

The world is an unpredictable place, and while you can't be prepared for everything, knowing and planning for potential risks can help you travel confidently. Ask your relatives, friends and colleagues for their best travel advice and share yours to amplify the message for women to be aware and alert when traveling!

Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

- If you are going on a personal trip make sure to research and buy travel insurance or if you are going on a business trip ask your employer about their business travel insurance program.

Save an electronic and hard copy of the travel insurance benefits. Share your travel insurance details with a trusted family member.

If you have access to the AIG Travel Assistance App and Website log in to stay a step ahead with the latest travel, security and health information.

- Share your itinerary with a trusted family member or friend and establish regular check-ins, especially if traveling alone.

- Print out your itinerary in order to have flight, hotel, important contacts on-hand in case your smartphone is lost or stolen.

- Check your government's website and if the option is available to enroll your trip you can receive alerts from your embassy and your embassy can contact you in the event of an emergency. Share your itinerary with trusted family, friends or colleagues.

- Temporarily buy international service on your smartphone or buy a local mobile SIM card to stay connected.

- Look into renting pocket Wi-Fi such as Teppy if you are traveling to a country where Wi-Fi is limited so you can have your own private wireless hotspot.

- Look into buying a portable power bank to charge your mobile device on-the-go in the event you can't get to an outlet.

- Save the 24/7 emergency phone number from your travel insurance in addition to the country's local emergency numbers in your mobile device.

- Pack a travel-friendly first aid kit.

- Check the weather in advance to make sure you pack appropriate clothing.
Try to avoid checking in bags to minimize the amount of items you have to carry.
If you need to check in bags, do not pack outerwear in your check-in just in case there is a baggage delay and you are temporarily stuck without a jacket in cold or rainy weather.

Safety and Security

Try to avoid booking arrivals for late at night in order to avoid dangerous situations and businesses being closed. Instead, try to book arrival times in the afternoon.

- Check your smartphone for the latest local news and alerts as soon as you arrive just in case an incident occurred while you did not have service. For example, a colleague was en route to New York City when a bombing attack happened in Times Square and she was able to avoid the area.

- Avoid wearing fancy and expensive jewelry, watches, purses, shoes or other accessories.
Never look lost.

- Use the term "We" a lot when making small talk If you are traveling alone.

- Keep your ears clear. Situational awareness is not possible if you are listening to music or a podcast.

- Avoid direct eye contact with men....that doesn't mean look down. Look confident and in control, but don't make direct eye contact.

- If you are uncomfortable or have a gut feeling about not entering an elevator or stairwell because of someone else in there that gives you a bad vibe hang back and then go in when it is clear or if there is a group of people. On the flip side, if you are alone and someone enters the elevator or stairwell that gives you a bad vibe get off at the next floor or exit door.

- Don't keep all your credit cards, identification and cash in one place. We learned this after a colleague lost everything; she was unable to travel without her ID, had no money or credit cards and was also unable to obtain an emergency wire-transfer since she did not have an ID.

Instead, keep a decoy wallet in your purse with a small amount of cash and expired credit cards. Wear a hidden money belt with your "real" wallet contents.

- If you are approached by an armed robber, do not resist under any circumstances.

- Make copies of your passport ID page to assist in filing a report and getting a replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy with a trusted contact at home, and carry one with you.

uaware disclaimer

The existence of this advice appeared in an article on the Travel Pulse website.

AIG is an insurance company. The uaware website does not promote or advertise this company's products. Similar travel advice is probably provided by other insurance companies.

(1st November 2018)

(Sun, dated 31st October 2018 author Dan Elsom)

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SOME 1,500 vehicles are being seized each year due to British drivers making a simple insurance mistake.

Motorists are getting behind the wheel of other people's cars incorrectly thinking they are legally covered, according to a recent investigation.

Data from The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) found more than 3,000 cars were seized between July 2016 and June 2018 as drivers unwittingly broke the law.

Over 40 per cent of the calls made to MIB's Police Helpline by police officers on whether the policy holder had the "Driving Other Vehicle" (DOV) extension on their policy resulted in the vehicle being seized.

Police are able to verify whether a motorist is insured to drive a vehicle if they are pulled over and found not to be the owner.

But data revealed a large number of drivers simply assume they have the DOV extension on their comprehensive policy without actually checking their conditions.

Earlier this month, we revealed how driving someone else's car without the proper insurance condition could leave you with an unlimited fine and a disqualified licence.

And it can also have an affect on the car's owner, who will be forced to pay to retrieve their vehicle from authorities.

In the past, cover for driving other vehicles was included on comprehensive policies by most insurers, giving motorists third-party cover to drive vehicles not listed on their insurance.

But a number of insurers will now only offer this kind of cover if you specifically ask for it.

And even if you do have DOV cover, it's only supposed to be used in an emergency, meaning your insurer may refuse to pay out if there's an accident and you don't have a good reason for being behind the wheel of another car.

The DOV extension is also only valid if you are the policy holder on a vehicle, not a named driver on someone else's.

Neil Drane, Head of Enforcement Services at MIB, said: "What may seem like a quick trip in your mate's car could result in you losing your vehicle, fines to pay and points on your licence.

"We want all drivers to think before just jumping in another vehicle. Are you actually insured to drive it?

"People should also remember that if you are involved in an accident and you are uninsured, you remain liable for any costs so it really isn't worth the risk."

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 31st October 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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A senior police chief has said officers should not have to deal with reports of misogyny and it should not be a criminal offence, calling for them to focus instead on "core policing".

Sara Thornton, the chair of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), told her organisation's annual conference that while recording complaints of misogynist abuse might be desirable, police did not have the time or resources.

Thornton said the funding crisis meant police chiefs should focus on core policing. "It is this core policing which is seriously stretched. This is surely part of the police covenant with the public."

She said: "Treating misogyny as a hate crime is a concern for some well-organised campaigning organisations. In July, chiefs debated whether we should record such allegations even when no crime is committed.

"But we do not have the resources to do everything that is desirable and deserving … I want us to solve more burglaries and bear down on violence before we make more records of incidents that are not crimes."

Thornton later told reporters: "I'm not saying misogyny is not an issue. What I'm saying is recording it as a crime necessarily the best way to reduce that, to have a criminal justice solution to an issue which is about the way people behave and treat each other?

"What I'm questioning is whether making it into a criminal offence, and thinking of it as solely in terms of a criminal justice solution, is the best way to deal with what is essentially an issue about how we all behave and treat each other."

Sam Smethers, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said Thornton had got it wrong. "Covering the basics is important, but we note that the chair of the NPCC doesn't say that attacks on people because of their race, religion, or disability should stop being treated as a hate crime," she said.

"All we are asking is that abuse and harassment aimed at women, because they are women, should be taken seriously for what it is - a hate crime. The police need to have resources to carry out the responsibilities society demands of them. But they cannot abdicate their responsibility to women. We have to start taking misogyny seriously."

In an apparent rebuke to the criminal investigation into child abuse claims regarding the former prime minister Edward Heath, Thornton said: "Historic[al] investigations are another example of issues that matter very much to some, but they undoubtedly take resources away from dealing with crime today. While I understand those who have been harmed seek answers, I remain unconvinced that it is appropriate to commit significant resources investigating allegations against those who have died."

Thornton, who stands down as chair next year, added: "Neither investigating gender-based hate incidents nor investigating allegations against those who have died are bad things to do necessarily. They just cannot be priorities for a service that is overstretched. Giving clarity to the public about core policing is a priority, and it has not received enough attention in recent years."

She also said figures from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Services showed that violent crime took up 14% of officers' time, concerns for safety, missing people and suspicious circumstances 25% and domestic incidents, not crimes, 10% .

She said data from 23 forces showed that mental health demands on police are rising and that they are used as an emergency health service when the NHS is unavailable. "The peak time for incidents is around 4pm Monday to Friday, likely to coincide with when health services close."

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, told police he would try to secure more funding, but that they could still do more to improve that did not rely on more resources.

He said police had an extra £1bn in funding over the past three years, and that some forces were more effective than others: "This can't all be blamed on funding," he told the NPCC and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

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

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nvestigating hate crime risks distracting police from their core role of handling emergencies, solving violent crime and burglaries and neighbourhood policing, the head of Britain's chief constables warned today.

Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), told the summit on Wednesday that historical probes into potential crimes committed by dead people and widening hate crime to include misogyny had also had an impact.

She said police were being asked to provide more and more bespoke services that were "desirable" but "the simple fact is there are too many desirable and deserving issues."

The head of Britain's chief constables cited historic investigations into crimes by dead people as another responsibility that was stretching slim resources even further and questioned their validity.

"Historic investigations are another example of issues that matter very much to some but they undoubtedly take resources away from dealing with today's crime today," she said.

"While I understand those who have been harmed seek answers, I remain unconvinced that it is appropriate to commit significant resources investigating allegations against those who have died."

"Neither investigating gender-based hate incidents nor investigating allegations against those who have died are bad things to do necessarily - they just cannot be priorities for a service that is over-stretched. Giving clarity to the public about core policing is a priority - and it has not received enough attention in recent years."

She said the public "expect the basics - responding to emergencies, investigating and solving crime and neighbourhood policing. It is this core policing which is seriously stretched. This is surely part of the police covenant with the public?"

Ms Thornton revealed chief constables had in July discussed recording misogyny as a hate crime after pressure from campaign groups. This would have meant recording such allegations even when no crime had been committed.

She told the NPCC conference in London Wednesday: "It was argued that this information might be useful to highlight the issue, send a message about acceptable standards of behaviour or to put pressure on Government.

"But we do not have the resources to do everything that is desirable and deserving."

Instead she said she wanted police to "solve more burglaries and bear down on violence before we make more records of incidents that are not crimes".

The law commission is currently considering whether to make misogyny a hate crime but Ms Thornton hoped the review "takes account of the pressure on forces before suggesting the law is changed."

However, Ms Thornton warned police were increasingly stretched in face of cuts that have seen a reduction in the number of officers by 22,000 since 2010, while also facing increasing crime. "We are seeing fewer police, less police activity and more crime," she said.

Police recorded crime had risen 9 percent, murder had hit the highest point for more than 10 years, knife crime was up 12%, robbery up 22 percent and vehicle theft up 7 percent, she said.

"Arrests have halved in a decade and the number of charges - at 9% - is the lowest during my service," she added.

"Whether there is a causal link between numbers of police and levels of crime has been hotly debated over the years. Many experiments have demonstrated that focusing police resources on crime hotspots reduces crime and provides reassurance.

"Recent randomised trials in Western Australia have shown that if a crime hotspot is unpatrolled for five days then crime is five times higher than in comparable crime hotspots that have 13 minutes patrolling a day."

Yet police were increasingly being drawn into areas that were not directly related to crime. Research by inspectorate showed concerns for safety, missing people and suspicious circumstances now accounted for 25 percent of police time while non-crime domestic incidents took up 10 percent.

Javid warns Britain's top officers their forces have to improve

Sajid Javid promised to prioritise extra police funding today but warned Britain's top officers they had to improve their forces' performance in return.

The home secretary told the National Police Chiefs' Council that a "significant minority" of forces were struggling to meet demand and deliver services the public expected according to inspectors.

Reform in these forces was too slow, standards were inconsistent and innovation had not spread wide enough. "These problems can't be blamed on funding levels," he said.

"When it comes to the spending review next year, my priority will be policing. But if we are making the case for more funding, this has to go hand in hand with further reforms…to improve policing."

Mr Javid said he was also working with the chancellor Philip Hammond to ensure the police had the resources they needed for next year in time for the police settlement due in December.

Police chiefs have warned they face losing another 10,000 frontline officers because of a £417m pension shortfall, on top of the 22,000 officers lost since 2010.

Mr Javid laid out a four-point action plan to make forces "even more effective than they are", starting with "increased capacity" to fight crime. This included tackling shortages of detectives and boosting cybercrime fighting.

"We need to make sure more of our officers spend more of their time on core policing and provide a better services to the public. The best police forces are already doing that," he said.

It also included more support for frontline officers to improve their physical and mental wellbeing and building a "smarter and better" police system that "joined up" the 43 forces who often seemed to have different ways of working.

Fourthly, he said there needed to be a greater emphasis on crime prevention which too many forces did not see as a priority. Some did not even have a plan, he said.

Citing the success of a crackdown on moped crime in London that had halved attacks in July, he said he wanted prevention to be at the heart of tackling serious violent crime which was "worryingly" on the rise.

Responding to Mr Javid's statement that the government was investing £1bn more in police than three years ago, David Jamieson, West Midlands police and crime commissioner told him he "didn't recognise the world you paint in terms of funding."

He warned the pension shortfall meant West Midlands faced losing 450 officers which might only be averted if council tax rose by 20%.

"Will we still be having to face these cuts that are being announced or will you find more funding," he said. "We need to know that now so we can do the planning."

(1st November 2018)

(Independent, dated 31st October 2018 author Chris Baynes)

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The Metropolitan Police is to lend its branding to a range of clothing, homeware, toys and souvenirs as it seeks to raise money for frontline policing.

Scotland Yard is looking to ease the impact of funding cuts by emulating US forces such as the New York Police Department (NYPD), which makes millions of dollars a year selling popular merchandise.

The Met has been forced to find savings of £720m since 2010 and must reduce spending by a further £325m by 2021, according to the London mayor's office.

To create a new revenue stream, the force has licensed the use of its logo, font and colour scheme, pictures of the spinning sign outside its New Scotland Yard headquarters, and images of its officers on patrol.

Branding firm The Point.1888 has been chosen to establish a range of Met-branded products, which could include clothes, toys and games, stationery, homeware and souvenirs.

Scotland Yard said the merchandise would not allow people to impersonate police officers.

A spokesman said: "Absolutely no products will be produced which directly reflect the uniform of the Metropolitan Police Service and any products which attempt to do so will be charged with intellectual property infringement."

The NYPD's merchandise range has been hugely successful internationally, while other forces such as the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) have also launched popular product lines.

Branding experts said the Met's licensing deal could potentially be worth millions of pounds, but predicted Britons were unlikely to snap up the London force's wares.

"I think it has more of a hope to succeed as a foreign export," public relations guru Mark Borkowski told the Evening Standard. "It's that image you have of Beefeaters, Bobbies, telephone boxes and the Routemaster buses."

He added: "I don't think you'll see floods of Londoners buying their cuddly Met plod toy with their uniforms.

"If you think about NYPD or LAPD - I don't think people in New York or Los Angeles have the same sort of romance about that police force."

The Point.1888, which has previously worked with Tate galleries, Team GB, and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, has signed a licensing deal with the Met until 2021.

Will Stewart, the company's managing director, said: "I grew up in London, so to be able to generate revenue that puts more bobbies on the beat in my home town is an honour."

The deal was brokered by Transport for London, which already sells its own range of gifts and merchandise.

The Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents staff, said last month that the force had "run out of things to sell" after disposing of property worth more than £1bn over the past six years.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 31st October 2018 author Natasha Bernal)

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Lie detectors equipped with artificial intelligence are set to be tested at border points in Europe as part of an EU-funded project to combat crime and terrorism.

Travellers will be asked to upload pictures of their passport, visa and proof of funds, and will then use a webcam to answer questions such as "what is in your suitcase" from a computer-animated border guard.

The €4.5m project, called iBorderCtrl, will be tested at the borders of Hungary, Latvia and Greece for six months. The aim of the project is to speed up traffic at the EU's external borders.

The UK, Spain, Poland, Germany and Cyprus also plans to participate in the project following initial trials.

The technology is advertised as having a "unique approach to deception detection", analysing the micro-expressions of travellers to figure out if the interviewee is lying."

Travellers deemed low risk during the pre-screening stage will go through a short re-evaluation of their information for entry, while higher-risk passengers will undergo a more detailed check.

According to early testing, the system is around 76pc accurate, but the iBorderCtrl team say they are confident they can increase this to 85pc.

The AI will be backed by human border officials, who will use hand-held devices to automatically cross-check information, comparing facial images captured during the pre-screening stage to passports and photos taken on previous border crossings.

George Boultadakis, project coordinator of European Dynamics in Luxembourg, told the European Commission: "We're employing existing and proven technologies - as well as novel ones - to empower border agents to increase the accuracy and efficiency of border checks."

Earlier this year the Government announced plans to step up facial recognition at British borders to cross-check for visa applications or while solving crimes.

Police, immigration and passport control departments proposed creating a central system to upload and share DNA, fingerprint, photograph and potentially voice data so they can cross check for visa applications or while solving crimes.

(1st November 2018)

(Leeds Live, dated 30th October 2018 author Samantha Gildea)

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There are almost 2,800 sex offenders living in West Yorkshire - a rise of 68 per cent compared to eight years ago.

Figures show there were 2,792 registered sex offenders living in the West Yorkshire police force area at the end of March 2018.

This is the equivalent of one sex offender for every 716 people aged 10 and over.

The number of sex offenders per head in the police force area is 23 per cent higher than across England and Wales as a whole, which has one sex offender for every 878 people.

The number of sex offenders in West Yorkshire has risen by 6 per cent compared to March 2017.

It is also 68% higher than at the end of 2010/11, when police force level figures began being published, when there were 1,658 registered sex offenders living here.

The figures released by the Ministry of Justice cover offenders managed by Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) aimed at preventing further offences.

Sex offenders are required to notify the police of certain details, with further notification required if any of those details change (sometimes referred to as 'being on the sex offenders register').

In 2017/18, seven sex offenders being monitored in West Yorkshire were charged with a serious further offence, and four were convicted.

As well as this, 13 serious sex offenders were returned to prison for breaching their licence conditions.

Last year, 47 sex offenders in West Yorkshire were also cautioned or convicted of a breach of notification requirements.

More restrictive orders can also be imposed on sex offenders, such as Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) and previously Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPOs), or notification orders.

There were 337 SHPOs and SOPOs imposed in our area in 2017/18. A legal challenge in 2010 means offenders can apply for a review of lifetime notification requirements, after at least 15 years for adults and eight years for juveniles.

A total of three offenders in the area had these requirements revoked in 2017/18.

Across England and Wales

- Across England and Wales, there were 58,637 registered sex offenders being monitored by police at March 31, 2018.

- This was a 6% rise compared to 55,236 offenders being managed in March 2017.

- The number of registered sex offenders has risen by 87% over the past 10 years, from 31,392 in 2006/07.

The increase in the number of sex offenders is influenced by sentencing trends, in which the number of people convicted of sexual offences is increasing.

Additionally, many sexual offenders are required to register for long periods of time, with some registering for life.

This has a cumulative effect on the total number of offenders required to register at any one time.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: "As the number of sex offenders being monitored grows it's important to understand how these arrangements will continue to reduce the risk of reoffending.

"Just this week a Home Affairs Select Committee report warned of forces struggling to cope with the huge pressures placed on their resources.

"With more offenders breaching their orders, it's vital police are given all the tools they need to both effectively monitor child sex offenders in the community and combat the increasing threat posed by complex online abuse."

(1st November 2018)

(Mail Online, dated 30th October 2018 author Phoebe Weston)

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Government auditors have traced a malware infection back to one prolific porn-watching employee.

Investigators found the employee - who worked within the US Geological Survey - had an 'extensive history' of watching porn on his work computer.

The unnamed employee visited 9,000 different porn pages containing malware which he downloaded onto his computer.

'Our digital forensic examination revealed that [XXX] had an extensive history of visiting adult pornography sites', the report found.

'Many of the 9,000 web pages [XXX] visited routed through websites that originated in Russia and contained malware'.

'Our analysis confirmed that many of the pornographic images were subsequently saved to an unauthorised USB device and personal Android cell phone connected to [XXX] Government-issued computer'.

They were connected to the work computer against agency protocol, the report said.

Once a computer is infected with the software, cyber criminals can access data by logging keystrokes or monitoring the computer's activity.

The employee in question no longer works at the agency, Affairs Director Nancy DiPaolo told NextGov.

Proactively blocking adult websites 'will likely enhance preventative countermeasures', the report found.

The Interior Department watchdog recommended improving security protocols in light of the incident.

Earlier this year a Department of Education employee infected his government computer with a virus by searching for 'naked toddlers', 'little boys' and references to child rape.

Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by show the staffer typed in at least 18 illicit searches on his taxpayer-funded computer - included references to child porn.

The phrases he looked for in September, 2014, included: 'Very young little girls', 'naked toddler' and 'too young boy'.

Other search terms allude to bestiality involving children and child rape.

As a result, his computer was infected with malware, putting massive databases at risk, including student loan information.

Investigators then searched his government computer and found 'graphic images of nude and nearly nude children as well as graphically drawn images of children engaging in sexual acts with adults'.

They then searched the employee's home and found 13 images of child porn on his computer.

The employee, whose name has been kept hidden in the files, denied any wrongdoing and insisted he entered the search terms to test the system's website-blocking protocols.

He was suspended during the investigations but then retired from government employee.

What are the most common types of virus from porn ?

There are ten digital STIs that can harm your device when you're looking at adult content, according to computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

These are:

1. Trojans - They might masquerade as innocent programs, but they carry a harmful payload.

2. Drive-by downloads - Cybercriminals look for insecure web sites and plant a malicious script into the code on the pages. These take advantage of any unpatched applications on your computer and infect them automatically

3. Click-jacking - Click-jacking involves tricking someone into clicking on one object on a web page while they think they are clicking on another. Clickjacking can be used to install malware, gain access to a victim's online accounts or to enable their webcam.

4. Tinder bots - These are automatic programs designed to masquerade as real people on a dating site to lure users into clicking on them, with the aim of tricking the victim into disclosing confidential data.

5. Cat-Phishing - This is when cybercriminals pose on dating sites or chat rooms, encouraging people to click on links for live sex chat or adult images.

6. Ransomware - Cybercriminals use 'blockers' to stop the victim accessing their device, often telling them this is due to 'illegal pornographic content' being identified on their device. Anyone who has accessed porn online is probably less likely to take the matter up with law enforcement.

7. Worm - This is a program that replicates, but does not write its code to other files: instead, it installs itself once on a victim's device and then looks for a way to spread to other devices.

8. Pornware - This could be a legitimate program, but might be adware installed by another malicious program, designed to deliver inappropriate content to the victim's device.

9. Spyware - Software that enables an attacker to secretly obtain information about the victim's online activities and transmit it covertly from their device.

10. Fake Anti-virus - Fake anti-virus programs prey on people's fear of malicious software which they believe may have been installed whilst looking at porn.

(1st November 2018)


(Mail Online, dated 30th October 2018 author Joe Pinkstone)

Full article [option 1]:

- Facebook, Twitter and Google all scored full marks for their cybersecurity

- Trip Advisor and Asos came bottom of the list of the most secure websites

- Websites were ranked based on the robustness of their two factor authentication

- Cybersecurity firm Dashlane claims greater transparency is needed in order to help users maximise their security online

The safest sites on the internet have been revealed by cybersecurity experts - and Facebook and Google top the list as the most secure.

Security firm Dashlane studied the protection of personal data with two-factor authentication to find which sites protected their customers the best.

Popular sites Trip Advisor and Asos were ranked as the worst performing commercial sites by the firm.

Two-factor authentication is a term which includes a variety of different systems in order to make it harder for people to access an account.

It adds an extra layer of protection to a service or account before the login can be completed.

This works alongside the password and commonly includes SMS, email, an application or a hardware token such as a USB stick.

The different types of security are broken down into three different categories: SMS and/or email, software-based token or a hardware-based token.

One point was awarded for the presence of SMS/email authentication and a software toke but three points were awarded for the use of hardware tokens.

The cybersecurty firm considered anything less than full marks and the presence of all three security measures to be a fail.

Dashlane looked at 17 popular UK consumer websites and developed a points system based on what protection was in place for users.

Only four of these scored a 'pass' with adequate security measures.

These included the much beleaguered social media sites Facebook and Twitter as well as the search giant behemoth Google., a gaming website, was the only other site to score full marks.

'Through the course of our research we found that information on two factor-authentication is often presented in a way that is unclear, making it difficult for consumers,' said Emmanuel Schalit, CEO of Dashlane.

'In fact, our researchers were forced to omit a large number of popular websites from our testing simply because the sites don't provide any straightforward or easily accessible information.

'It's reasonable to conclude that many consumers are not taking full advantage of the security options available to them due to this lack of transparency.'

The analysis also found that only five websites offered no two factor-authentication at all and 76 per cent of sites do not offer a full set of security options.

Dashlane evaluated the options the sites for logins on desktop browsers only and did not account for login attempts on mobile apps, mobile browsers or desktop apps.
The team checked the security measures that the websites claimed to have with live logins on Chrome and Safari.

A spokesperson for Trip advisor told MailOnline: 'We take safeguarding our customers' information seriously. The security landscape is ever-changing, and we are continuously evolving and adopting industry best practices to ensure we are keeping our customers' personal information safe.

'TripAdvisor's security policies are consistent with other similar businesses in our industry and we deploy appropriate security measures to protect our customers.

'In the instances that we detect fraudulent activity, TripAdvisor's 24/7 security team and systems take immediate action to safeguard travellers using our site and mobile apps.

'The study that named TripAdvisor was sponsored by a company that sells cybersecurity services and only focuses on a small aspect of the comprehensive security programs that most companies like ours have in place.'


Cybersecurity firm Dashlane looked at 22 different websites and ranked them based on how secure they are and their login protocols.

One point was awarded for the presence of SMS/email authentication and a software token for of authentication but three points were awarded for the use of hardware tokens.

The cybersecurty firm considered anything less than full marks and the presence of all three security measures to be a fail.

2018 UK Rankings

5/5 Points - PASS


2/5 Points - FAIL


1/5 Point - FAIL


0/5 Points - FAIL

Trip Advisor

(1st November 2018)

(Wirral Globe, dated 30th October 2018 author Harriett Clugston)

Full article [Option 1]:

Analysis of DVLA data reveals that 63 drivers in the Wirral area have managed to dodge a ban after being given 12 or more penalty points on their licence - the usual threshold for losing a licence.

Road safety charity Brake has slammed the current system, which it says is allowing "repeat offenders" to exploit loopholes in the law.

It has accused the Government and courts of being "complicit" in putting the public at risk.

Currently, if a driver can convince a magistrate that they, or an innocent party such as a family member, will face 'exceptional hardship' as a result of losing their licence they may be permitted to keep it.

The latest figures, which record penalty points as of July, show there are almost 11,000 drivers across Great Britain who have retained their licences despite passing the points limit, some with more than 40 or 50 points.

In Wirral the highest number of points received by one driver who is still allowed to drive is 22.

Around 23 in every 100,000 local drivers have at least 12 points on their licence, in line with the national average.

The data is recorded by postcode district, so some drivers could live just across the border in neighbouring local authority areas.

The country's worst serial offender is a 44-year-old man from Wolverhampton or the wider south Staffordshire area, with 54 points.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said it is "hugely concerning" that so many offenders are being allowed to keep driving.

He continued: "By ignoring the exploitation of the 'exceptional hardship' loophole that allows unsafe drivers to remain on our roads, the Government and courts are complicit in increasing the risk to the public.

"This dangerous loophole must be dealt with as a matter of urgency so that drivers who reach 12 points are automatically disqualified, protecting the general public from harm.

"Driving is a privilege, not a right and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it must be taken away."

The charity is calling for the loophole to be closed as part of its Roads to Justice campaign, which says an urgent review should be carried out on the "fundamentally flawed road traffic framework".

Drivers can pick up penalty points - also known as endorsements - for a range of offences.

Minor offences, such as speeding or failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing, might attract three points and will stay on your licence for four years unless it is wiped clean.

Serious offences, such as drink or drug driving, could get you up to 11 points, and these will stay on your licence for 11 years.

If a driver gets 12 or more points in three years they will usually be banned from driving for six months.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The vast majority of drivers who get 12 penalty points are automatically disqualified.

"The courts have access to DVLA records which are taken into account, but sentencing is rightly a matter for independent judges based on the facts of each case."

John Bache, Chair of the Magistrates Association, added: "The process for establishing exceptional hardship is robust - magistrates scrutinise every case very carefully and an individual would only avoid a ban if the magistrates sitting in the case are confident that exceptional hardship would genuinely be caused."

(Coventry Telegraph, dated 30th October 2018 author Harriett Clugston)

Full article [Option 1]:

Almost 100 "dangerous drivers" are still on the roads in Coventry, despite racking up enough points for a ban.

Analysis of DVLA data reveals that 92 drivers in the Coventry area have managed to dodge a ban after being given 12 or more penalty points on their licence - the usual threshold for losing a licence.

In Coventry the highest number of points received by one motorist who is still allowed to drive is 27.

Around 34 in every 100,000 local drivers have at least 12 points on their licence, well above the national average of 23 per 100,000.

(1st November 2018)

(BBC News, dated 30th October 2018 author Mark Smith)

Full article [Option 1]:

The new crime-fighting weapon of choice for a growing number of police forces around the world isn't a gun, a taser or pepper spray - it's data. But can computer algorithms really help reduce crime?

Imagine a gang of bank robbers arriving at their next heist, only to find an armed response unit already waiting on the corner.

Or picture walking down a dark alley and feeling afraid, then seeing the reassuring blue lights of a police car sent to watch over you.

Now imagine if all of this became possible thanks to mathematics.

Ever since the Philip K Dick novel The Minority Report, which was later turned into a Tom Cruise blockbuster, was published in the 1950s, futurists and philosophers have grappled with the concept of "pre crime".

It's the idea that we can predict when an offence is going to occur and take measures to prevent it.

Now artificial intelligence and machine learning mean this concept has leapt straight from the pages of science fiction into the real world.

Tech firm PredPol - short for predictive policing - claims its data analytics algorithms can improve crime detection by 10-50% in some cities.

It takes years of historic data, including the type, location and time of crime, and combines this with lots of other socio-economic data, which is then analysed by an algorithm originally designed to forecast earthquake aftershocks.

The software tries to predict where and when specific crimes will occur over the next 12 hours, and the algorithm is updated every day as new data comes in.

"PredPol was inspired by experiments run by the University of California in collaboration with the Los Angeles Police Department," says PredPol co-founder and anthropology professor Jeff Brantingham.

"That study demonstrated that algorithmically driven forecasts could predict twice as much crime and, when used in the field, prevent twice as much crime as existing best practice."

Predictions are displayed on a map using colour-coded boxes, each one representing a 500 sq ft (46 sq m) area. Red boxes are classed as "high risk" and officers are encouraged to spend at least 10% of their time there.

Prof Brantingham says machine learning allows PredPol to analyse data, draw conclusions and make connections between large amounts of data that human analysts simply could not cope with.

Sceptics say this is pseudoscience, because crunching crime data to make informed decisions on police deployment is nothing new.

Many forces have traditionally used "hot spot analysis", where past offences are recorded and overlaid onto a map, with officers concentrating on those areas.

But PredPol and others working in this space, such as Palantir, CrimeScan and ShotSpotter Missions, say that traditional hot spot analysis is just reacting to what happened yesterday, not anticipating what will happen tomorrow.

AI and machine learning can spot patterns we've never noticed before.

"Machine learning provides a suite of approaches to identifying statistical patterns in data that are not easily described by standard mathematical models, or are beyond the natural perceptual abilities of the human expert," says Prof Brantingham.

Alexander Babuta, of the National Security and Resilience Studies group at the Royal United Services Institute, agrees, saying: "Retrospective hotspot mapping does not distinguish between two types of 'risky' locations, those that simply experience a high volume of crime over time because they are more attractive to criminals, such as insecure car parks and busy shopping areas, and areas where the likelihood of crime has been temporarily increased due to crime events that have recently occurred.

"But machine learning predictive policing technology does."

Police forces certainly seem to be buying in to the idea.

More than 50 police departments across the US use PredPol software, as well as a handful of forces in the UK. Kent Constabulary, for example, says street violence fell by 6% following a four-month trial.

"We found that the model was just incredibly accurate at predicting the times and locations where these crimes were likely to occur," says Steve Clark, deputy chief of Santa Cruz Police Department.

"At that point, we realised we've got something here."

But predictive policing has its critics.

Frederike Kaltheuner, data programme lead at civil rights group Privacy International, wonders whether it will also be used to predict police violence and white collar crime, or simply used against communities that she says are already marginalised.

"We're moving away from innocent until proven guilty towards a world where people are innocent until found suspicious by opaque and proprietary systems that can be difficult, if not impossible, to challenge," she says.

There are also concerns about racial and other biases hidden within the datasets. The Los Angeles Police Department, which has been working with Palantir for its predictive policing project, has attracted criticism from local activist groups worried about threats to civil liberties and racial profiling.

Rand Corporation, a policy research institution, has produced a number of studies looking at predictive policing.

(1st November 2018)

(Computer Weekly, dated 29th October 2018 author Lis Evenstad)

Full article [Option 1]:

The lack of digital capabilities in the UK's police forces has become a "systemic problem", according to the Home Affairs Committee.

In its report Policing for the future, the committee found that most forces are struggling with out-of-date technology and poor digital capabilities.

A lack of digital capability is evident across different fields, including online fraud, cyber security and child sexual abuse, the report found.

The committee said it has "serious concerns about the police service's digital capabilities, including the skills base of officers and staff and the technological solutions available to them".

However, it was impressed with the digital skills of counter-terrorism, and called on the government to create a national digital exploitation centre for serious crime, similar to the National Digital Exploitation Service used by counter-terrorism.

"It would also have the purchasing power to invest in innovative methods of digital forensics and analysis, from which all forces could then benefit," the committee said.

The committee also highlighted a huge lack of interoperability between the systems and databases used by different police forces - and is not the first to do so.

In a report in April 2017, chief inspector of constabulary Thomas Winsor said public safety was being "imperilled" by a lack of functional and interoperable IT used by the police.

The government is establishing a "network code", which will set minimum operating standards for forces when upgrading or buying IT systems, which aims to encourage interoperability. However, police forces do not have to sign up to the code.

"Police forces' investment in and adoption of new technology is, quite frankly, a complete and utter mess," the Home Affairs Committee said, adding that it welcomes policing minister Nick Hurd's admission that extra funding and training are needed for the police service to "meet the challenges of the 21st century".

It said the government should move to a longer-term funding structure to enable the police to "frontload investment in the technology that will enable it to make the best use of its resources and assets".

The committee added that the Police Transformation Fund, which recently awarded funding to a range of digital policing projects, "is a piecemeal and ad-hoc method for funding innovation and new technology in policing, and a much more coordinated, long-term approach is required".

But the committee does not think funding is the main issue for police technology. "We believe that the biggest failing in this area is not the level of funding, but rather the complete lack of coordination and leadership on upgrading technology over very many years," it said in the report.

"This is badly letting down police officers, who are struggling to do their jobs effectively with out-of-date technology. It is astonishing that, in 2018, police forces are still struggling to get crucial real-time information from each other, and that officers are facing frustration and delays on a daily basis.

"Stronger national leadership from the Home Office on technology is essential. Ministers need to take ultimate responsibility for the failure of this crucial public service to properly upgrade its technology to deal with the threats of the 21st century."

The committee also highlighted the government's troubled and delayed Emergency Services Network (ESN) programme as "an example of what can happen when national projects are poorly managed".

(1st November 2018)

(Mail online, dated 29th October 2018 author Claire Anderson)

Full article [Option 1]:

A policeman has revealed that victims of petty crimes are being forced to carry out their own investigations due to a lack of officers.

Sergeant Simon Kempton said that officers can no longer look into reports of minor crime like bike theft.

He confessed that victims are now being urged to trawl websites like Gumtree, eBay and Facebook in a bid to track down their stolen possessions themselves.

If they are successful, the victims should call the police again and officers will then look into the matter.

Sgt Kempton, of Dorset police, said the practice has been happening within his force for several years.

He confirmed it during a recent cyber security conference in London hosted by Gumtree.

Sgt Kempton, who is the Police Federation's lead officer for technology crime, said: 'In the past, someone would steal a mountain bike and end up selling it at the local pub.

'Now, within literally minutes, it's up for sale on online platforms.

'If your bike is stolen and you call the police, an officer will take down all the details but is not able to monitor all the online platforms that is could appear on.

'For this reason, officers tend to advise victims to look online themselves, unless they think they know where the bike may have ended up.

'This started around six or seven years ago because police just don't have the resources.

'It doesn't have a very high success rate because they are often sold very quickly for below the market value as any money represents profit to people like that.

'That is something we should be able to do. The reason we can't is based purely on resources.'

Sgt Kempton, 41, said that neighbourhood policing has been 'decimated' by cuts.

He fears that policing will become 'purely reactive' and that 'people will only see officers when something goes wrong'.

The officer spoke at a 'cyber security symposium' which was hosted by Gumtree and saw leading experts come together to discuss the emerging issues connected with policing the internet.

Addressing a crowd of around 100 guests, Sgt Kempton said officers are falling behind in the fight against cyber crime.

He claimed that police technology consists of 'creaking archaic systems' which cannot compare to what criminals have at their disposal.

He added that online marketplaces such as eBay and Gumtree are now being used to facilitate crimes such as harassment, stalking and even sexual offences.

Sgt Kempton said: 'Criminals are in a far stronger position than we are when it comes to technology.

'Their tech is better than the tech we use to stop them and we are lagging behind with creaking, archaic systems.'

He added: 'We know this particular website (Gumtree) can be used for things like fraud, theft and disposing of stolen goods.

'The emerging threat for online platforms like these is that they can be used to facilitate harassment and stalking, as well as sexual crimes.

'If you use Tinder, for example, you might be naturally warier when you get messages, or if you're going to meet people.

'However, if you're buying a table from someone on Gumtree, you haven't necessarily got the same guards up.

'Predators are using platforms like these to meet victims who aren't necessarily thinking about their safety.

'Criminals are wily, and they will turn their hand to all sorts of things to carry out their activities.'

The comments come shortly after the Commons Home Affairs Committee said that policing was becoming 'irrelevant' as forces in England and Wales 'struggle to cope'.

(Daily Mail, dated 30th October 2018 author Tom Payne)

Full article [Option 1]:

Theft victims could soon be told to carry out their own criminal investigations by struggling police forces, a frontline officer has warned.

Sergeant Simon Kempton, of Dorset Police, said neighbourhood policing had been 'decimated' by cuts.

Forces no longer have the staff or technology to investigate everyday crime, he warned.

Speaking at a cyber- security conference in London, he said police were 'getting to the point of almost asking people to do their own investigations'.

Sergeant Kempton, who is also a national Police Federation representative, suggested that instead of calling police, victims of theft should scour websites such as eBay and Gumtree in search of their stolen possessions.

He warned that police forces across England at Wales were at serious risk of becoming 'purely reactive' to the amateur detective work of crime victims.

He said: 'I'm also concerned about our use of technology. Criminals are in a far stronger position than we are.

'Their tech is better than the tech we use to stop them. We are lagging behind with creaking, archaic systems.

'In the past, someone would steal a mountain bike and end up selling it at the local pub.

'Now, within literally minutes, it's up for sale on online platforms. Police are getting to the point of almost asking people to do their own investigations to see if they can find their bike for sale online. That is something we should be able to do. The reason we can't do that is based purely on resources.' His remarks at the event, which was hosted by Gumtree, come amid the growing Wild West UK crime wave.

In June, official figures revealed that violent crime was on the up in 42 of 43 police force areas in England and Wales - in some by more than 50 per cent.

Yet in some areas, the rate at which criminals are brought to justice has plummeted.

Last year, just one in ten knife robberies and fewer than a quarter of violent crimes were solved by the Met Police.

Police numbers have fallen by 21,000 since 2010 as forces are hit by punishing budget cuts.

Dwindling resources mean many victims of crime are being told that police are effectively powerless to help them.

In one example, housewife Sharron Jenson, 44, was told to carry out her own investigation after her £700 bike was taken.

When she saw it for sale on Gumtree five days after it was stolen from Kingston High Street in south-west London she went to police. But they told her to contact the seller herself posing as a buyer.
Terrified, she was forced into a direct confrontation with the thief, but managed to steal the bike back while taking it for a test ride.

She contacted police after her ordeal, providing the thief 's name, the address he sold from, description and phone number - but she said officers told her 'it was my word against his'.

(Daily Mail, dated 31st October 2018 author Joe Middleton)

Full article [Option 1]:

A pensioner who told police he had been robbed and threatened with a hammer by a thug was asked to find out the criminal's name himself- four days later the attacker returned and killed him.

Nicholas Churton, 67, was killed by Jordan Davidson, 25, in March 2017 at his home in Wrexham.

He was bludgeoned to death with a hammer and hacked with a machete by Davidson, who was in court twice in the week before the murder - and let go on both occasions.

Davidson who referred to himself as 'the devil' was sentenced to at least 23 years in prison in December last year.

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation found that when a policeman visited Mr Churton after Davidson had tried to steal his TV and taken his house keys, the crime was recorded as theft rather than robbery.

Three senior officers also reviewed the incident and failed to see the seriousness of the crime.

And the inquiry found that when Mr Churton later gave the police the name 'Jordan', he was asked by an officer to ask his friends to find out more about the criminal.

Mr Churton got back in touch with police on March 23 to tell them the full name, Jordan Davidson, but four days later he was found brutally murdered.

The IOPC has now said the officer involved has a case to answer for misconduct over the events that lead to Mr Churton's death.

Davidson, a convicted burglar, was caught with a knife while on parole days before the murder.

He was released on bail over the knife charge, and while plans were made to send him back to prison, he killed Mr Churton.

As the retired businessman's body lay undiscovered, a notice to recall Davidson to jail was issued.

IOPC Director for Wales Catrin Evans said: 'This was a horrific murder and the responsibility for Mr Churton's death lies squarely with Jordan Davidson.

'My thoughts remain with Mr Churton's family and friends.

'Our first investigation found there were areas for improvement in police recognising Mr Churton's vulnerability and ensuring all available information was recorded accurately.

'Police requesting a vulnerable victim of crime to carry out a line of enquiry themselves to find out who the offender was, has, in my view, the potential to increase the risk to the victim.

'I am discussing the learning identified during the course of this investigation with North Wales Police.

'We are progressing our further enquiries into how the force handled Davidson after his release from prison and their liaison with other agencies.'

The IOPC added that while not amounting to misconduct, performance issues were identified for another police sergeant and an acting inspector over their supervision, and they are being dealt with by the force by way of management action.

A call handler who took the initial call on 14 March 2017 left their role in August 2018.

North Wales Police Detective Superintendent Dan Tipton said: 'I recognise that this is a difficult time for Mr Churton's family and I know how important it is for the family to fully understand the circumstances leading up to his tragic death.

'Since Mr Churton's murder we have reviewed our policies and procedures in relation to risk assessment following calls made to our control room and the deployment of officers.

'We will now be holding a number of formal disciplinary proceedings in line with the IOPC recommendations.'

(1st November 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 29th October 2018 author Richard Spillett)

Full article [Option 1]:

The equivalent of 1,000 officers - as Scotland Yard currently works on 700 separate investigations

An extra £160million is to be ploughed into helping Britain's police fight the growing threat of terrorism.

It emerged last week that Scotland Yard and the security services are running a record high of more than 700 live investigations into suspected terrorists.

Chancellor Philip Hammond today unveiled a new pot of money to make sure authorities can keep pace with the spiralling problem.

The extra money announced today is said to be the equivalent of 1,000 extra officers.

The new fund is being pushed as a signal that 'austerity' policies are finished and the government is again investing in public services.

Police officer numbers have fallen by 21,000 since 2010, prompting a series of warnings by top police officers that continued squeezing of budgets will have an impact of levels of crime.

Last week, the head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, told the Home Affairs Select Committee the battle against terrorism is 'entirely' dependent on well-resourced local police forces.

Reacting to the budget announcement, he said: 'Today's announcement of an extra £160million of funding is welcome news, and I am grateful to the Government for helping us strengthen our country's defence against terrorism, domestic extremism and hostile state activity.

'Just last week I told the Home Affairs Select Committee that the number of live counter terrorism investigations has reached a record high of more than 700 and that we require a longer-term funding arrangement to continue investing in recruitment to meet the unprecedented demand, as well as deliver two huge national ICT infrastructure projects.

Mr Basu added: 'While this funding increase allows us to continue these vitally important projects, I still believe we need to rethink how we fund our world-class counter terrorism network.

'I would also like to reiterate my belief that counter terrorism specialists depend on well-resourced local police forces, and that any move to improve our network will only be truly effective if my Chief Constable colleagues see similar investment in the near future.'

The budget was criticised by the body that represents rank-and-file officers.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: 'This is just another example of the contempt in which the Government holds police officers. What does it say when a Government prioritises potholes over policing?'

Police and MI5 are mounting a record 700-plus live terrorism investigations.

There are around 3,000 active 'subjects of interest', plus a wider pool of more than 20,000 individuals who have previously featured in inquiries.

While activity inspired by Islamic State or al-Qaida accounts for the largest share of the counter-terror work, agencies are also confronting a mounting far-right threat.

Britain was hit by five attacks last year, while police and the security services have foiled 17 terror plots since March 2017.

Calls for forces to get a cash boost for general policing have intensified in recent weeks following a string of warnings about their ability to tackle crime.

Figures released last week showed the number of arrests by police in England and Wales has halved in a decade.

The reduction was revealed at a time when recorded-crime is going up across a number of categories, including violence and knife-related offences.

The Chancellor acknowledged that policing is 'under pressure from the changing nature of crime'.

He added that Home Secretary Sajid Javid will review police spending power and 'further options for reform' when he presents the provisional police funding settlement in December.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said last year that the Met Police has had to make £600 million of cuts since 2010.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said his city's police force has faced cuts of £215m in the same time frame.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 25th October 2018 author Bill Gardner)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have been accused of leaving families to "fend for themselves" after new figures showed the number of theft arrests has dropped by more than a quarter.

Home Office figures revealed a sharp fall in the number of suspects held for offences including burglary, despite a rise in reports of violent crime. Overall, the number of arrests in England and Wales has halved in the last decade.

It comes amid growing concern that criminals are increasingly allowed to roam the streets without fear of being caught. Victims' campaigners last night described the figures as "appalling", and suggested many families no longer feel safe in their homes.

Police leaders warned that a lack of resources threatened their ability to "prevent crime and protect the public".

The Home Office data from all but one of 43 forces show officers arrested 698,737 people in the year to March, compared with 1,427,387 in 2007/08.

Arrests for theft including household burglary fell from 190,019 in 2015/16 to 139,447 in 2017/18 - a drop of 26pc in two years. It means fewer than one in 25 reports of theft now result in an arrest.

The number of motorists caught speeding, however, is at a record high with more than two million offences recorded last year.

It comes at a time when police are recording rising numbers of crimes across a number of categories including violent, knife-related and sexual offences.

Data released last week showed forces registered 5.6 million crimes in the 12 months to June - the highest total since the year ending March 2005.

"These are appalling statistics," said Harry Fletcher, Victims' Rights Campaign, director of the Victims' Rights Campaign.

"Victims are already complaining that the reaction time for burglaries is quite often hours, if not days. Theft can be extremely traumatic and can leave a lasting impact on the victim.

"Families are effectively being left to fend for themselves in their own homes, unprotected by law enforcement agencies. This is a crisis for government, and it must be resolved."

The findings come amid intense scrutiny of the state of policing in England and Wales.

A Commons report published yesterday suggested forces risk becoming "irrelevant" amid vanishing neighbourhood presences and low investigation and detection rates.

The findings chimed with a recent assessment from Whitehall's spending watchdog, which found arrest rates and victim satisfaction levels were on the slide.

Earlier this month, one of the country's most senior officers warned policing had reached its "tipping point", with slower emergency responses, more crimes dealt with over the phone and fewer offenders brought to justice.

The Home Office report also revealed falls in stop-and-search activity and roadside breath tests.

In the year to March, police conducted 282,248 stops and searches - a fall of 7% on the previous 12 months and the lowest number since current data collection started in the year to March 2002.

Individuals from black and minority ethnic groups are four times as likely to be stopped and searched compared with those who are white, the figures show.

Chief Constable Charlie Hall, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for operations, said the number of arrests was at "the lowest level since data has been captured".

He said: "This reinforces our concern about growing demand and our ability to meet it with the resources we have. Our proactive capabilities that prevent crime and protect the public are significantly curtailed."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Last year, the police made nearly 700,000 arrests across England and Wales.

"However, arrest is just one of the powers police have to tackle crime.

"Arrest figures do not capture trends such as an increase in voluntary attendance at police stations and a greater use of other outcomes, such as community resolutions."

(1st November 2018)


(Trip Wire, dated 25th October 2018 author Graham Cluley)

Full article [Option 1]:

Most people in the world would describe it as a company "admitting they've been hacked."

But if you're the breached company and want to apply the maximum amount of PR spin, you might instead issue a release saying you're "announcing a data security event affecting customer data."

Cathay Pacific announces data security event affecting passenger data
Full announcement [Option 1] :

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - Cathay Pacific announced today that as part of its ongoing IT security processes, it has discovered unauthorised access to some of its information system containing passenger data of up to 9.4 million people. Upon discovery, the company took immediate action to investigate and contain the event. The company has no evidence that any personal information has been misused. The IT systems affected are totally separate from its flight operations systems, and there is no impact on flight safety.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg said, "We are very sorry for any concern this data security event may cause our passengers. We acted immediately to contain the event, commence a thorough investigation with the assistance of a leading cybersecurity firm, and to further strengthen our IT security measures.

"We are in the process of contacting affected passengers, using multiple communications channels, and providing them with information on steps they can take to protect themselves. We have no evidence that any personal data has been misused. No-one's travel or loyalty profile was accessed in full, and no passwords were compromised."


Read beyond the headline, however, and you'll discover that the Hong Kong-based airline has admitted that hackers gained unauthorized access to its internal systems and accessed the passenger data of up to 9.4 million people.

With Hong Kong's population being approximately 7.4 million people, it's clear that this is a data breach that impacts travelers around the world.

The personal data accessed by the hackers includes passenger names, nationalities, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, addresses, passport numbers, identity card numbers, frequent flier membership numbers, customer service remarks and historical travel information.

In addition, 403 expired credit card numbers were accessed by the hackers as well as 27 credit card numbers without CVV information.

It's obviously good that more financial information wasn't taken by the hackers, but in many ways, it's a red herring. After all, it's relatively simple to freeze a credit card and apply for a new one. It's a lot more difficult and time-consuming to apply for a new passport or Hong Kong identity card.

In isolation, personal information such as that described above may not be enough for a criminal to commit - say - identity theft, but combined with other pieces of personal data, it can help a fraudster complete the jigsaw.

Although Cathay Pacific has only just announced that it has suffered a hack, that doesn't mean that the company has only just discovered it has a problem.

The airline says that it first detected "suspicious activity" on its network in March and confirmed that there had been unauthorized access to personal information in early May.

Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg apologized for any concern raised by the "data security event":


We are very sorry for any concern this data security event may cause our passengers. We acted immediately to contain the event, commence a thorough investigation with the assistance of a leading cybersecurity firm, and to further strengthen our IT security measures.

We are in the process of contacting affected passengers, using multiple communications channels, and providing them with information on steps they can take to protect themselves. We have no evidence that any personal data has been misused. No-one's travel or loyalty profile was accessed in full, and no passwords were compromised.


In the statement, Cathay Pacific attempts to reassure people that it has seen no evidence of the data being criminally exploited, but frankly, such a statement isn't worth much. An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - if some of the stolen data has been misused by fraudsters and spammers, it wouldn't necessarily have been linked back to this breach.

Put simply, it's perfectly possible that Cathay Pacific has no visibility on data being misused by online criminals.

There will also be inevitable criticism that although it took "immediate action" to contain the security incident, Cathay Pacific chose not to inform the public in a prompt fashion. The airline's share price nosedived as Cathay Pacific came under fire as to why it had taken months to admit it had been hacked.

Under European GDPR legislation, breaches should be reported within 72 hours. Cathay Pacific would be wrong to assume that EU legislation has no bearing on its business simply because it is based in Hong Kong. GDPR is relevant to companies anywhere in the world if EU-based customers are put at risk.

In an attempt to explain its delayed announcement, Cathay Pacific said "We believe it is important to have accurate information to share, so that people know the facts and we can support them accordingly."

Cathay Pacific says it has informed the Hong Kong police force and has asked that customers who believe they may be affected consult the website

Cathay Pacific is not the only airline to find itself under the cybersecurity spotlight in recent months.

Last month, British Airways announced that hackers had stolen 380,000 customers' personal and payment card information from its website. And in August, Air Canada warned that approximately 20,000 customers could have had their personal information compromised after a data breach in its mobile app.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.

(Huffington Post, dated 25th October 2018 author Chris York)

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British Airways owner IAG has said that 185,000 further customers may have had their personal details compromised during a cyber attack.

The group said in a stock exchange announcement that as part of an investigation into a cyber attack that took place earlier this year, it is contacting two groups of customers not previously notified.

This includes the holders of 77,000 payment cards whose name, billing address, email address, card payment information - including card number, expiry date and card verification value - have potentially been compromised.

A further 108,000 people's personal details without card verification value have also been compromised.

Last month the airline said it was "deeply sorry" after the online theft of customer data that "compromised" around 380,000 payment cards and vowed to compensate those financially affected.

BA faces a possible fine of around £500 million over the breach, with regulators now investigating the incident.

The data breach took place after the introduction of the new Data Protection Act, which includes the provisions of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Under the new regulations, the maximum penalty for a company hit with a data breach is a fine of either £17 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is greater.

In the year ended December 31 2017, BA's total revenue was £12.2 billion, meaning the company could face a fine of around £500 million if the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) takes action.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 25th October 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

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Policing is at risk of becoming "irrelevant" as the number of officers on the beat is slashed and vast numbers of crimes go unsolved, a parliamentary report warns.

Neighbourhood policing in England and Wales has been cut by more than a third since 2010, with some forces having lost more than two-thirds of neighbourhood officers, the home affairs committee found.

Its report on the future of policing warned that there would be dire consequences for public safety if police funding was not prioritised in the forthcoming budget.

After removing three forces that were unable to provide like-for-like figures, the committee found that, of the remaining 33 forces, all but one reported a decline in neighbourhood officers, with falls averaging 35%. If the three removed forces were included, the reductions were still 21%.

The wide-ranging report also found:

- While recorded crime has risen by nearly a third (32%) in three years, charges or summonses have fallen by 26% and the number of arrests is also down.

- The proportion of fraud cases investigated is "shockingly low" in the context of 1.7m offences a year: "It appears highly unlikely that more than one in 200 victims ever sees their perpetrator convicted."

- Internet child sexual abuse is reaching "epidemic" levels, with law enforcement estimates suggesting that 80,000 people may present some form of sexual threat to children online, the committee found. MPs also called for the private sector to do "much more" to reduce the demand on policing from the two types of crime.

The report said police forces were struggling to cope in the face of changing and rising crimes as a result of falling staff numbers, outdated technology and a "complete failure of leadership" from the Home Office.

Flagging up the role played by neighbourhood teams in tackling terrorism and gang crime, it said: "It is absolutely vital that this cornerstone of British policing is reaffirmed throughout the country, to ensure that trust and legitimacy is maintained.

"This is particularly important in communities in which distrust of the police - and in public authorities more widely - is rife, and in which those local links are all the more important. Nevertheless, in all neighbourhoods, without local engagement, policing is at risk of becoming irrelevant to most people, particularly in the context of low rates of investigation for many crimes."

The chair of the committee, Labour's Yvette Cooper, said: "Crime is up, charges and arrests are down, and the police service is struggling to respond effectively to emerging and growing challenges, such as online fraud and online child abuse. Policing urgently needs more money. The government must make sure policing is a priority in the budget and spending review, or public safety and communities will pay the price."

Stephen Doughty, a Labour member of the committee, said: "Neighbourhood policing lies at the heart of British policing, and it has reached an unacceptable state … Once those crucial local relationships are lost, it is very difficult to rebuild them, and they are vital to so many areas of policing, from counter-terrorism to serious organised crime."

Tim Loughton, a Conservative member of the committee, said: "We found that the police are bringing a shockingly low number of charges for the possession of child abuse images, even though they are recording tens of thousands of offences. Whatever the cause, it is unacceptable that children are being put at risk by the collective failure to get a grip on this problem."

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said: "Police cuts have consequences. You can't have safety and security on the cheap, but the government has been in total denial. The all-party committee is clear when it says there will be dire consequences for public safety, criminal justice and community cohesion if police funding is not increased."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The home secretary has already been clear that he will prioritise funding for the police … The policing minister has spoken to leaders in every force in England and Wales to better understand the demand and changing nature of crime faced by forces.

"We are now working closely with the police to gather the evidence to ensure they continue to receive the resources they need at the next spending review."

See also

(Telegraph, dated 25th October 2018 author Kate McCann)

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(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 25th October 2018 author Patrick Scott)

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: The orginal article contains explanatory diagrams to support the text.

A record 2.02 million speeding tickets were handed out in England and Wales last year, according to figures from collated by the Home Office.

This is the first time that more than two million tickets have been handed out in any given year, with the figure for 2017 representing a rise of 48,000 (2.4 per cent) compared to 2016.

The number of speeding tickets dished out in England and Wales has dramatically increased in recent years with fewer than 1.5 million in 2011.

During this time the proportion of motorists caught on automated cameras has also increased to the point where 96 per cent of speeding offences are now caught on camera. This is up from 89 per cent in 2011.

Excluding the City of London, Avon and Somerset police handed out the highest rate of speeding fines in 2017 with 124 for every 1,000 people living under their jurisdiction.

Norfolk (94 per 1,000), Bedfordshire (93), Cumbria (86) and West Yorkshire (67) made up the rest of the top five areas with the highest rate of fines. Nationally, there were 37 speeding fines for every 1,000 people.

Some forces recorded significantly lower rates of speeding fines, however, in some cases this will be because the forces themselves do not control all of the speed cameras in their area.

Earlier this year Highways England launched a review into the use of 'smart motorways' after it was revealed that 70,000 drivers were fined on stretches of motorways with variable speed limits.

Edmund King, AA president, said: "The increase in speeding tickets and the higher proportion caught on camera is probably a reflection of a far higher level of enforcement on motorways than ever before.

"In the past few years we have seen long sections of motorway (i.e. M1, M3, M25) turned into 'Smart' motorways with cameras fitted onto overhead gantries. Previously many of these cameras were never activated but that has changed in the past few years. Hence many drivers who assumed these cameras don't work are now getting caught out.

"Linked to the 'Smart' motorway development construction phrases, we have seen miles of motorway roadworks set at 50mph and policed by average speed cameras. This has also contributed to the increased number of tickets."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "These numbers suggest that many cameras are not having the desired effect of encouraging safer, slower driving by all drivers.

"All authorities should be looking closely at their own local data, and where a camera generates a high number of fixed penalty notices they should immediately be asking themselves whether there would be a better - more effective - road engineering solution to manage the safety risk."

Half of offenders now go on speed awareness courses

The figures also show that a record one million people attended a driving awareness course after being caught speeding last year.

Motorists can pay to go on an awareness course instead of taking a fine and penalty points on their licence, an option that has grown increasingly popular.

Of the 2.02 million people given fixed penalty notices for speeding tickets in 2017, half (49.9 per cent) chose to attend a course rather than go to court or take the points. This figure was as low as 18.8 per cent, as recently as 2012.

It is the first time on record that more than a million people have attended speed awareness courses for speeding offences in any given year.

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, 22nd October 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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Thieves on bicycles were committing more than 30 crimes a day in London at the height of a surge in offences this summer, new figures reveal.

They carried out a total of 910 offences in June, including 166 muggings and 618 snatches or thefts - the highest monthly total in three years.

The spike in cycle crime this summer came as the Met recorded a reduction in the number of offences involving mopeds and scooters.

One senior detective said there was evidence that some criminals were switching to cycles to avoid new police tactics targeting moped thugs .

The data shows there was a total of 6,900 offences involving suspects riding bicycles in 2017 compared with 4,379 crimes in 2015, a rise of nearly 60 per cent. Latest figures from the Met show cycle crimes continuing to rise this year, although at a lower rate.

There was a marked increase in the number of thefts, which has risen from 3,226 in 2015 to 4,693 offences last year. The number of robberies on bikes more than doubled over the same period with 586 offences in 2015 and 1,185 in 2017.

Figures also show that while the number of offences was rising, there was a significant fall in the number of crimes being solved.

Overall, less than three per cent of all offenders using bikes were caught in the eight months to last August, compared with more than four per cent in 2016. In cases of theft - usually phone snatches from pedestrians which are more difficult to solve - police solved just 26 out of 3,095 cases over the same period.

Keith Prince, a Tory member of the London Assembly, who obtained the figures, said: "While the number of cycle-enabled crimes has rocketed, the proportion of offenders being caught is consistently falling.

"This is deeply damaging - criminals know that there is a dwindling possibility that they will be brought to justice, meaning that they have an incentive to offend over and over again."

Detective Superintendent Lee Hill said: "We have in place policing tactics and are proactively targeting through daily operations those who use any stolen two-wheeled vehicle to commit crime, including pedal cycles."

Day bike thugs took tv crew's £15k camera

Crime by bicycle robbers in London came to global attention when masked raiders forced an Australian TV crew to hand over a £15,000 camera as they recorded a news item in June on the Grenfell fire.

Reporter Laurel Irving and cameraman Jimmy Cannon were at Islington's Exmouth Market working for Channel 7's Sunrise show when they were approached by two men in balaclavas.

One threatened Mr Cannon with a gun in his jacket, forcing him to hand over his camera. Ms Irving tried to wrestle it back before Mr Cannon convinced her to let go and the robbers, above, rode off.

Ms Irving said: "We weren't scared, just annoyed. I just grabbed the camera and Jimmy said 'He's got a gun', so I said 'Show me the gun', and it was at that point I realised that I was being silly and it was dangerous so I let go."

There have been no arrests.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd October 2018 author Laura FitzPatrick)

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Car washes will be given a Kitemark-style scheme to crack down on modern slavery.

The Responsible Car Wash Scheme, which is a collaboration of government bodies, is launching on Monday in response to a lack of compliance within the hand car washing industry.

It aims to target labour abuse and lack of adherence to regulations as well as tackling environmental waste and pollution caused by car washes.

Following the scheme's pilot in November, the public will be able to choose a car wash based on a logo displayed at responsible sites which have passed an audit.

Consumers can be reassured that sites displaying the logo protect the environment and deal with pollution appropriately and operates safe and ethical conditions for its workers.

The scheme comes after the UK Modern Slavery Helpline received more than 10,000 reports of slavery in its two years of operation.

Last year, it received 493 reports of potential cases of labour exploitation in car washes across the UK, with 2,170 potential victims.

New research from the University of Nottingham and the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner revealed last week that even in sites that do not necessarily run on slave labour, the average wage for a day's work is £40.

They reported the number of hand car washes in the UK could be a result of an inadequate enforcement of environmental policies.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Audit Committee published evidence that these sites are also harming biodiversity and impairing local water quality.

It said car wash effluent generally contains phosphates, detergents, oils, sediments, traffic film remover, rubber, copper and other metals.

If car washes fail to treat the chemicals properly on site, the water, dirt and oil drains off into nearby rivers.

The scheme is in conjunction with Waves, a company that washes millions of cars a year at their supermarket, retail and car park sites.

Through the new scheme, Waves wants other car washes to follow its lead in regulating car washes.

A spokesperson for Waves said: "We have a robust and stringent training and auditing processes to prevent the exploitation of workers and a full-time national team committed to ensuring our practices are followed on every site.

"We ensure that every worker has provided full documentation to prove their identity and their right to work in the UK before they can start to work on a Waves site.

"All workers are provided with comprehensive training courses with a chance to progress within the company and given appropriate clothing for working outside throughout the different seasons."

(1st November 2018)

(Gazette Live, dated 21st October 2018 author Mike Brown)

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Everyone has an opinion on speed cameras - with many frustrated motorists often venting their anger at them.

North Yorkshire Police has addressed 10 common myths about the devices, and hopes to change people's views of them.

They include how effective camera vans are at reducing casualties, why certain locations are chosen over others and whether enforcement cameras are a "money-maker" for the force.

Called 'If you saw what I saw', the police campaign uses the first-hand experiences of officers who deal with fatal crashes to urge motorists to drive more carefully.

Andy Tooke, Criminal Justice Operations Manager for North Yorkshire Police, said: "There's no doubt that there are a lot of myths out there about safety cameras.

"Everyone's got an opinion about them. But not everyone knows the full facts about why we use them.

"By busting some of the myths out there, we hope that next time people drive past a camera van, they'll have a better understanding of why we use them and think about why we want them to drive safely."

Andy said that safety cameras are just one of a raft of measures used by North Yorkshire Police to reduce deaths and injuries on the county's roads.

He added: "We want people to drive safely because day in, day out, our officers see the horrific consequences of collisions. They see bodies that have been horrendously injured and have to tell families that they'll never see a loved one again.

"There's only one reason we use mobile safety cameras - to reduce the number of casualties on our roads. And it's independently proven that they do this.

"If you saw what we saw, you'd understand why that's so important to us."

Myth 1: Camera vans don't improve road safety.
Mr Tooke : Casualties on North Yorkshire's roads have dropped by 20% as a direct result of us introducing camera vans, according to independent studies by Newcastle University.

Myth 2: They're just a money-maker.
Mr Tooke : They're not - last year they cost slightly more to run than they generated. Finances are made public every year. We use them because we genuinely want to make our road safer.

Myth 3: You park camera vans in the locations that make the most money.
Mr Tooke : We decide where to deploy our camera vans based on lots of different factors based on threat, risk and vulnerability. These include intelligence around previous collisions, traffic flow, events happening in an area, demand from communities and even the weather. We never consider locations based on the revenue they could generate

Myth 4: Camera vans are everywhere nowadays.
Mr Tooke : There are 12 police safety camera vans and one motorcycle covering 6,000 miles of roads in North Yorkshire.

Myth 5: I only see camera vans on dual carriageways and A-roads.
Mr Tooke : We cover hundreds of sites that include villages, towns and other residential areas. In fact, these are often a priority for us. More people see camera vans on dual carriageways as these are generally the roads with the highest traffic flows and unacceptably high speeds, and single carriage A-roads are statistically our most dangerous. We also run Community Speed Watch - a scheme to help residents tackle speeding and improve road safety in their community

Myth 6: You try to catch motorists out by using camera vans stealthily.
Mr Tooke : Our camera vans are covered in reflective markings so they're highly visible, even at night. We assess all camera van locations to ensure there's a clear eyeline with no obstructions.

Myth 7: If I fit a laser jammer to my car, I can avoid getting caught by blocking the camera's laser.
Mr Tooke : Our operators are trained to tell if a laser jammer is used. We investigate and charge people who use laser jammers and some motorists have been jailed for using them.

Myth 8: Police officers should be out solving crimes, not spend hours sitting in a camera van.
Mr Tooke : All our mobile speed cameras are operated by highly-trained police support staff, not police officers. This allows police officers to focus on dealing with other offences and has no impact on frontline policing numbers.

Myth 9: Camera vans only catch speeders - they don't tackle other motoring offences.
Mr Tooke : This is simply incorrect. They enforce a range of offences including driving while using a mobile phone or other distractions, failure to wear a seatbelt, contravening double white lines along with dangerous and careless driving. In addition, they are fitted with automatic number plate recognition cameras to gather intelligence about drivers who come into North Yorkshire and commit crimes such as drug dealing or theft.

Myth 10: You're just out to penalise innocent motorists.
Mr Tooke : Our cameras record an average of 5.8 violations per hour across North Yorkshire. If you comply with the rules of the road, you'll never hear from us - it's your choice entirely!

(1st November 2018)

(Mail On Sunday, dated 21st October 2018 author Martin Beckford)

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Trials could collapse and criminals walk free because the police have failed to meet strict new rules governing fingerprint evidence.

Every force in the UK was ordered by the forensics watchdog three years ago to ensure their laboratories met international standards for studying marks found at crime scenes.

But The Mail on Sunday has learned that just one in ten hit the deadline to gain accreditation from the watchdog, the Forensic Science Regulator, confirming they met these standards at the start of October.

Police from forces without this accreditation will now have to admit in court that they have missed the target before the start of trials where fingerprints are presented as evidence.

These could include rape and murder cases. Defence lawyers are also more likely to challenge fingerprint evidence presented by police from these forces and order their own tests.

Police chiefs have created an emergency group to make sure their labs gain accreditation as soon as possible.

Chief Constable James Vaughan, national lead for forensics, said: 'We are treating delays in gaining accreditation as a critical incident.

'If police labs do not have the appropriate accreditation, forces are open in providing declarations to courts and evidence of the activity undertaken to ensure high standards of work.

'It is then for the court to test the veracity and admissibility of the evidence.'

A spokesman for Dr Gillian Tully, the Forensic Science Regulator, said last night: 'The consistent failures to meet the Regulator's quality standards are unacceptable.'

Dr Tully has led a drive for police-run laboratories to meet international standards. At a meeting in July, chief constables complained 'about how high the bar was being set in terms of accreditation'.

But Dr Tully said 'there would have been ample time to approach the process over a longer time period, had there been earlier action'.

(1st November 2018)

(Quartz, dated 20th October 2018 author Justin Rohrlich)

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When you fire a gun, it leaves a "ballistic fingerprint" on the shell casings, markings that are unique to that weapon. Shell casings recovered at US murder scenes can be subsequently entered into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, where they are compared against all the guns already in the NIBIN database. Even if there's no match, the information is stored away for future use.

"Down the line, if a person is arrested with a firearm on him, you test fire the gun then you take the casings and enter them into NIBIN," Luke Laterza, a former Newark, New Jersey police sergeant who ran the city's ballistics lab before retiring in 2016, told Quartz. "If those match, you've got the gun used in the murder."

Access to the technology can be of huge assistance, especially to smaller police agencies that don't have their own tracking systems.

"When you pull that trigger and that explosion occurs, a couple of things are happening," Laterza explained. "Hardened steel against a substantially softer metal like brass-the harder metal's going to imprint on the softer metal, indicating the toolmark unique to that firearm and that firearm only."

Once the spent shell casing is physically loaded into the NIBIN apparatus, which Laterza says looks "sort of like a Keurig coffee machine," the system takes an extremely detailed high-definition image of it and picks up markings not visible to the naked eye. These photographs are then entered into the NIBIN database to be shared with all other connected agencies.

The value of database does have its limits. Even if a match is found, Laterza said, "it doesn't necessarily mean that person did the shooting, because there are things called 'community guns'"-shared firearms used by multiple members of a gang or other criminal organization. (A single .40-caliber "community" Glock recovered in Syracuse, New York had been used 37 times, killing one and wounding nine.)

US officials are now planning to open the network to 22 more state and local law-enforcement agencies, enabling police to link a gun's "fingerprint" to crimes within and beyond their jurisdictions.

"Investigators will now receive investigative leads within 48 hours. They will have new opportunities to disrupt the shooting cycle and make our communities safer," Thomas Brandon, deputy director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said in a statement.

The network "is to ballistics what CODIS [the FBI's Combined DNA Index System] is to DNA," said Joe Giacalone, a former New York City police cold-case squad commander who is now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Still, a "hit" on NIBIN is only the beginning. "It puts you in the right direction, but you need a trained eye to make the call that it's a match," said Laterza. "You still have to compare it under the microscope."

NIBIN's usefulness has one major gap: It only processes shell casings, not bullets themselves. This means NIBIN is virtually useless unless the gun used in a crime was a semiautomatic, said Laterza.

"Revolvers do not discharge cartridge casings," he continued. "NIBIN works excellently for firearms that discharge cartridge casings through the ejection port. But revolvers? Lemme tell you something-they start getting keen, [crooks] will start using more revolvers."

According to former Newark lieutenant James O'Connor, who spent time assigned to a joint ATF-Newark task force, the NIBIN system helped him "track a lot of bad guys down."

"One guy, he had a machine gun and he was going around robbing all the bodegas in the south and west districts of Newark," O'Connor told Quartz. "And he'd always fire a shot. We were able to trace him to 28 armed robberies by the shell casings. We finally caught the guy. We got lucky because his TEC-9 [semiautomatic machine pistol] jammed."

There are some other obstacles that prevent NIBIN from being used to the maximum extent. As recently reported by Ann Givens of The Trace, only 25% of all ballistics evidence collected nationwide is entered into NIBIN. Cost can be a sticking point. Although some local police departments in California have deployed NIBIN, the state crime lab hasn't. The California Department of Justice said it would take more than $12 million for it to do so.

The cities with departments receiving NIBIN access include Anchorage, Alaska, Des Moines, Iowa, and Lexington, Kentucky. A handful of others, including Detroit, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, will be getting extra equipment to upgrade their existing systems.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian - Opinion, dated 19th October 2018 author Helen Pidd)

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If I am being perfectly honest, the austerity cuts haven't affected my life much over the past eight years. I've written about them so I know about the resurgence of rough sleepers, the proliferation of food banks, the increase in NHS waiting times and the closure of libraries and youth clubs.

But have they hurt me? Not really. My bins got collected a bit less frequently, it took even longer to get answers out of council press offices and everything seemed to grow a bit grubbier. I got angry at what was happening to others, sure. But for me, life essentially continued as before, just with a lower mortgage rate and a larger tax-free allowance from HMRC.

Then three members of my cycling club were mugged on separate occasions while riding on one of the key traffic-free routes in Manchester - a path going from the velodrome, near Manchester City's Etihad Stadium, to the southern suburbs of Didsbury and Chorlton. They were the victim of the sort of mid-level crime that is becoming an ever more frequent occurrence: new crime statistics released yesterday showed a 22% year-on-year increase in robberies in England and Wales, along with a 30% jump in public order offences.

One victim, Sian, is a club hero: last year she cycled from London to Edinburgh and back again in under five days, nine weeks after a hysterectomy. She fought back at her attacker and escaped with her bike and a few bruises. She called 999 and told them her teenage attackers were still on the path. The police said they would "try" to send a patrol down. They didn't.

Within the hour another cyclist was attacked in pretty much the same spot. Martin had just recovered from cancer: stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He'd bought the bike to get fit and raise money for the Christie, Manchester's cancer hospital. He was stamped on and kicked. Later, his £900 bike showed up on sale for £40 in Openshaw, half a mile away. Someone tipped him off about who might be responsible. He gave the police their names; they said they couldn't investigate because it was hearsay.

Greater Manchester police (GMP) finally confirmed on Tuesday that 10 cyclists had been violently robbed on that stretch in the previous six weeks. All were attacked in broad daylight. As the superintendent for the area put it: "This offending cohort doesn't worry about being seen." They had established a "crime series", he told me. Officers would be investigating properly now. Why? Might it have been something to do with the mass cycling protest that took place in Manchester on Wednesday night?

It was the first protest I've ever organised. But I felt so furious and powerless that it was the only thing I could do that didn't involve hiring a gang of heavies and sorting out the robbers in their own language. About 350 cyclists turned up, brandishing banners saying, "If I wanted to be treated second class I'd take the train", and "Muggers: bugger off". A few police community support officers joined us on the ride, but had to be prompted to follow Sian when she went chasing after two lads carrying a suspiciously expensive Cannondale bike frame on one particularly ropey bit of path.

We sympathise with the police - GMP is down almost 2,000 officers since 2010. But if they are now so stretched that they cannot properly investigate violent robberies then we have a problem that will see more Sians - well-meaning, ordinary, frustrated citizens - trying to do their jobs for them.

All over the country, people are starting to say enough is enough. In Dukinfield town hall in Tameside, Greater Manchester, more than 400 people crammed into a room meant for half that number on Monday night. All wanted to take their local police chief to task following a spate of burglaries. "If somebody murders somebody, it's awful - but it probably isn't going to affect my life," said one woman. "What's affecting us is everyday crime. That's what's getting us down."

In Page Hall in Sheffield two weeks ago, St Cuthbert's church hall was packed out as residents begged the police and council to listen to their concerns about antisocial behaviour they blamed on Roma incomers. One man suggested the community form its own civilian police force "like the Jewish community do in Golders Green". In that part of London a voluntary organisation called the Shomrim operates as a "mobile neighbourhood watch", acting as "eyes and ears" to the police.

In the wealthiest pockets of London - Belgravia, Mayfair and Kensington - residents pay £100 to £200 each month for My Local Bobby, a subscription service providing high-end security patrols supported by experienced detectives, and the ability to privately prosecute offences. Elsewhere, residents are being tempted to take matters into their own hands. At the meeting in Sheffield, the threat of vigilantism loomed large. One man said he had already called his cousins from out of the area and they were ready to come to Page Hall, "60 of them", for a fight. Another threatened "a riot like you have never seen before in your lives".

We are already living through the era of the amateur paedophile hunter. Will we soon be seeing the same for bike-jackers and fly-tippers? If the government wants to avoid the creation of a parallel justice system, it needs to get more proper bobbies back on the beat - fast.

(1st November 2018)

(Independent, dated 18th October 2018 author Andrew Griffin)

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Tumblr has found a major security bug in its platform that could have leaked people's most personal information, it has said.

A problem with the innocent looking "recommended blogs" screen could have given up people's email addresses, passwords, old accounts, and where they were.

The issue has now been fixed and there is no evidence that it was actually used, Tumblr said. Users don't need to do anything to keep their account secure.

The bug was discovered through Tumblr's bug bounty programme, which pays security researchers if they are able to find problems with its software. That means that experts can get money for discovering the loopholes but not use them to steal people's information.

It was fixed within 12 hours of it being reported and Tumblr has taken extra steps to make sure that it is able to see and spot any similar bugs in the future.

The recommended blogs feature usually does exactly what it says: showing other blogs that a person might be interested in, if they're logged into their account.

But the bug meant that when a blog appeared in that module it could be hacked to find out information about the person who runs it.

Tumblr said it wouldn't be able to find out what specific accounts had been affected by the bug, but that it was "rarely present".

"It's our mission to provide a safe space for people to express themselves freely and form communities around things they love," the company wrote in a blog post. "We feel that this bug could have affected that experience. We want to be transparent with you about it. In our view, it's simply the right thing to do."

(1st November 2018)

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

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Knife crime in London has risen to its highest ever level with nearly 15,000 offences committed during the past year, according to figures out today.

The Office for National Statistics said the total of 14,987 knife crimes in the year to the end of June was a 15 per cent rise on the comparable figure 12 months earlier.

It includes 91 knife killings, 170 rapes or sexual assaults carried out with a blade, and 8,363 knife-point robberies.

There were also 5,570 knife crimes which either resulted in injury or involved an attempt to inflict serious harm on the victim.

The statisticians added that the increase in offending had taken London's knife crime total to the highest ever recorded.

The disclosure of the bleak statistics will heap pressure on both the Metropolitan police and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Both have insisted that they are doing everything possible to tackle knife crime, with police ramping up the use of stop and search and carrying out a succession of anti-knife crime operations.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick also claimed during the summer that violent crime in the capital was stabilising following a surge in the number of murders carried out in the early months of this year.

Today's statistics appear to dash those hopes, as do national figures revealing significant increases in homicide, other "high harm" violence, robbery, burglary and vehicle crime.

They mean that an average of 40 knife crimes a day are now being carried out in the capital, with the 91 knife killings representing an 11 per cent increase over 12 months.

Confirming the rise, the Office for National Statistics said: "While knife crime remains a rare crime, today's figures show knife crime recorded by the police in London is at the highest level since data started to be collected for the year ending March 2009."

Among the victims of the latest surge in knife offending was law student Sami Sidhom, 18, fatally stabbed as he arrived home in Forest Gate from a West Ham match in April. Others include Sabri Chibani, 19, knifed in the chest in Streatham on February 11, and Lewis Blackman, 19, a rapper from Kentish Town who was stabbed to death in Kensington a week later.

A detailed breakdown of the figures shows that as well as these killings and the 89 other homicides carried out with a blade, there were 68 attempted murders using a knife and 725 threats to kill with a blade in the year to the end of June.

The figures do not include an additional 3,209 offences of possession of a bladed article as they cover only those incidents in which a knife was used.

Meanwhile, national crime figures showed that offences recorded by police increased by almost 10 per cent during the past year, fuelled by rises in homicides, knife-related offences, robberies and theft.

The increase, which is partly driven by the rise in London, means that forces in England and Wales registered a total of 5.6 million offences in the year to June. This was a rise of 9 per cent compared with the previous 12 months and included a 14 per cent nationwide increase in police-recorded homicide offences, from 630 to 719. These figures exclude the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

There were also jumps in the numbers of recorded robberies, which were up 22 per cent, sexual offences, which rose 18 per cent, vehicle-related theft, up 7 per cent, and burglaries, which were 2 per cent higher.

The figures will add to support for a "public health" approach to reducing knife crime in London, modelled on methods used with success in Glasgow. The idea was recommended in a report by the Youth Violence Commission and has since been backed by the Mayor.

Knife crime in London

Number of selected offences involving a knife each year for the Metropolitan and City of London forces, according to the Office for National Statistics

Period Knife crimes
Apr 2010-Mar 2011 : 13356
Apr 2011-Mar 2012 : 14184
Apr 2012-Mar 2013 : 11386
Apr 2013-Mar 2014 : 10078
Apr 2014-Mar 2015 : 9684
Apr 2015-Mar 2016 : 9752
Jul 2016-Jun 2017 : 13061
Jul 2017-Jun 2018 : 14987

(1st November 2018)

(Mirror, dated 18th October 2018 author Dan Bloom)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have recorded a 12% rise in knife crime in just a year, new figures show.

Officers noted almost 40,000 knife or "sharp instrument" crimes in the 12 months to June as violent crime surged by 19% - which Labour branded the highest rise since 2011.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott declared: "These figures are truly shocking and must put an end to Tory austerity and police cuts.

"You can't keep the public safe on the cheap. The Tories are failing in their duty to protect the public and keep our citizens safe."

It comes amid fears over soaring knife crime and youth violence.

Police recorded a 14% rise in murders after the rate fell for several years.

Overall the number of crimes recorded by police in England and Wales increased by 9% in the year to June.

A statement by the Office for National Statistics said: "Over the last year, we have seen rises in some types of theft and in some lower-volume but higher-harm types of violence.

"This is balanced by a fall in the high-volume offence of computer misuse and no change in other high-volume offences such as overall violence, criminal damage and fraud."

There are two measures of crime - police-recorded crime, which shows offences up 9%, and the Crime Survey of England and Wales which shows a 1% drop.

Officials tend to prefer relying on the Crime Survey, saying it gives a more accurate picture.

Both both sets of statistics are officially sanctioned and officials warned there had been a "genuine increase" in knife crime.

The knife crime figure excludes Greater Manchester Police, who were left out of this season's statistics after a review discovered officers were under-recording knife crime in the city.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 18th October 2018 author Annie Kelly)

Full article [Option 1]:

Does slavery exist in the UK ?

More than 250 years since the end of the transatlantic slave trade, there are close to 41 million people still trapped in some form of slavery across the world today. Yet nobody really knows the scale and how many victims or perpetrators of this crime there are in Britain.

The data that has been released is inconsistent. The government believes there are about 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, while earlier this year the Global Slavery Index released a much higher estimate of 136,000.

Statistics on slavery from the National Crime Agency note the number of people passed on to the government's national referral mechanism (NRM), the process by which victims of slavery are identified and granted statutory support.

Labour and sexual exploitation are the most common types of modern slavery reported

Victims reported April to June 2018 (Source: NCA: National Referral Mechanism statistics)

n=Adults [n]=Minors

Labour : 472 [448]
Sexual : 330 [156]
Domestic servitude : 101 [19]
Unknown : 52 [79]

While this data gives a good snapshot of what kinds of slavery are most prevalent and who is falling victim to exploiters, it doesn't paint the whole picture. For every victim identified by the police, there will be many others who are not found and remain under the control of traffickers, pimps and gangmasters.

There are also many potential victims who don't agree to go through the mechanism because they don't trust the authorities, or are too scared to report their traffickers. Between 1 November 2015 and 30 June 2018, the government received notifications of 3,306 potential victims of modern slavery in England and Wales who were not referred to the NRM.

"The only figures we have are adult victims who have chosen to engage with the authorities or kids who have been correctly identified as victims by social services," explains Andrew Wallis, chief executive at UK anti-slavery charity Unseen.

The police recorded 3,773 modern slavery offences between June 2017 and June 2018.

What does UK slavery look like?

While the slavery of the transatlantic trade was visible, modern slavery is often harder to identify. The physical shackles of the past have often been replaced by forms of coercion and control such as debt, fraud and false promises, as well as violence and physical intimidation.
The industries identified as most at risk in the UK are:

- Construction
- Agriculture
- Hotel and restaurants
- Care homes
- Car washes
- Nail bars

Victims are also kept in domestic servitude behind the closed doors of private residences.

Convictions under the UK's Modern Slavery Act last year included a gang who trafficked Vietnamese women into nail bars and a Slovakian family who forced people with mental health problems into working for them without payment.

Last year, the Modern Slavery Helpline received 493 reports of potential cases of labour exploitation in hand car washes across the country with 2,170 potential victims. Of these, 401 were referred to law enforcement. Of these referrals, only one case led to an arrest.

Wallis has advice on the tell-tale signs that a business may be employing slave labour.

"If the cost is too good to be true, payment is only accepted in cash and English might not be spoken, you need to ask yourself: 'Why is this so cheap and what might I be contributing to here?'" says Wallis. "For example, the true cost of a hand wash for the average vehicle is £20. If you're paying less, you have to ask why and how."

In 2017, car washing was the most prevalent industry reported to the Modern Slavery Helpline
(Source: Modern Slavery Helpline annual report 2017)

Car wash : 27%
Construction : 12%
Hospitality : 12%
Nail bar : 8%

Who are the victims?

In 2017, 5,145 potential victims of slavery were referred to the NRM, a 35% increase on 2016 figures.
They included people from 116 different nationalities. Of the total number of victims identified, 207 were found in Scotland, 193 in Wales and 31 in Northern Ireland. The other 4,714 were reported in England.

Nationals from Albania, China and Vietnam are the most commonly reported victims of adult slavery
Victims reported April to June 2018 (Source: NCA: National Referral Mechanism statistics)

Albania : 177
China : 106
Vietnam : 98
Romania : 65
UK : 55
India : 45
Pakistan : 36
Sudan : 35
Poland : 33
Nigeria : 32
Other : 273

The most recent snapshot of slavery in the UK is provided by the number of victims identified between April and June this year. In these three months 1,658 victims were identified from 81 different countries; 58% (955) were adults and 42% (703) children.

As with the data from 2017, the figures show a spike in the numbers of child slavery victims identified. Last year there was a 66% leap in children going into the referral mechanism.

This was largely to do with the fact that children are starting to be identified as victims of county lines drug trafficking and other forms of criminal exploitation, and also that more unaccompanied child asylum seekers are being recognised as having faced trafficking or modern slavery.

"However," says Wallis, "this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg and the real number of children being exploited in the UK is likely to be much higher because we still don't have any specific training for social and children's workers to recognise and identify victims of trafficking."

Data from this year shows that this trend in child slavery referrals is continuing.

Between April and June 2018, 332 British children were identified as victims of slavery
(Source: NCA: National Referral Mechanism statistics)

UK : 332
Vietnam : 67
Sudan : 52
Eritrea : 48
Albania : 40
Iraq : 14
Nigeria : 13
Romania : 13
Afghanistan : 12
Ethiopia : 10
Other : 102

British children were by far the largest number of child slavery victims found between April and June this year, with 223 identified, more than four times as many as any other nationality. As was the case last year, they had been largely subjected to forced labour and criminal exploitation. Most were boys, although 102 girls were also found to have been the victims of sexual exploitation.

The majority of the other child slavery victims came from Vietnam, Sudan, Eritrea and Albania. Those from Vietnam had also largely experienced labour exploitation, most likely trafficked into cannabis cultivation or nail bars.

Albanians were the largest group of adult victims, followed by China, Vietnam, Romania and then the UK. Most Albanian victims were women who had been sexually exploited. Adult victims from other countries were most likely to have faced forced labour or other forms of labour exploitation.

There has also been a rise in the exploitation of homeless people. The London charity Hestia found that of the 218 male slavery victims it had helped this year who had been forced to work in farms, construction sites and cannabis farms, 54% had slept rough after escaping their traffickers and 92% had mental health issues.

Outside of the NRM statistics, frontline charities say the numbers of people they believe to have been enslaved or trafficked is on the rise. Hestia, a London organisation, says that last year there was a 30% rise in the number of victims it helped; two-thirds were women who had been forced into prostitution. In 2017, this one charity supported 624 victims of modern slavery.

In the two years since it launched, the Modern Slavery Helpline has also received more than 10,000 calls, tip-offs and reports of potential slavery cases from the general public.

Where is it happening?

Slavery occurs in every part of the UK but, according to government data, the majority of victims referred to police between April and June this year were in London, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Scotland, Merseyside and Essex.


Between 2010 and 2017 there have been 1,671 prosecutions for slavery offences, resulting in 1,109 convictions.

The average slavery case takes the police three years to bring to trial and costs the taxpayer an estimated £330,000.

Between 2017 and 2018 there was a 27% rise in the number of police prosecutions of slavery and trafficking crimes with 239 suspects charged. There were 185 modern slavery and trafficking convictions in the same time period. Yet these represent a fraction of the cases reported to the authorities.

How does slavery affect us?

We are also all likely to consume or use goods that may have been produced with slave labour as we go about our daily lives. Billions of pounds' worth of laptops, mobile phones and clothing likely to be made by slave labour are being bought by UK consumers, according to the Global Slavery Index. In a report, it found the UK had imported £14bn of goods from countries with a high risk of slavery in 2017.

What are the signs of slavery?

- Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn

- They may be isolated, rarely allowed to travel on their own

- They may be living in dirty or overcrowded accommodation

- They may have no identification documents and few belongings

- They may be reluctant to seek help, avoiding eye contact and remaining wary of talking to authorities for fear of deportation or of violence from their captors

The Modern Slavery Helpline is on 0800 0121 700

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 18th October 2018 author Francesca Marshall)

Full article [Option 1]:

Crimestoppers has voiced how the public's frustration over police failing to answer 101 calls has led to the crime reporting service being busier than ever.

The charity's chief executive has said the demand for the service has continued to grow as many people want to do the right thing but "they know if they call us they will be answered pretty quickly" in comparison to making a 101 call.

Today the charity revealed a significant rise in information they were passing on to police, documenting a near 40 per cent increase in two years.

New figures show that between July 2017 and June 2018 the organisation, which is in its 30th year, passed on 152,000 reports to police across the UK - up six per cent on the previous year and 33 per cent on 2015/16.

The increase is thought to be partly due to an overall rise in offences recorded by police in England and Wales - as well as problems people have reaching the police non-emergency number, 101.

Crimestoppers also operates a simpler online reporting service.

Chief executive Mark Hallas said: "There is in some parts of the country an element of frustration with 101. They know if they call us they will be answered pretty quickly.

"Sometimes people will contact us because they are struggling to get through on 101."

Some two-thirds of the calls and online messages the service receives aren't passed on to police as staff are aware of the increasing demands on police forces nationally.

However the information contained in 144,000 reports passed on in 2016-17 led to 3,300 people being arrested and charged; 16,700 dealt with in other ways, such as informal warnings; £7.4m worth of drugs seized and property valued at £814,000 recovered.

Mr Hallas explained that surveys had found Crimestoppers was being used by hundreds of thousands of young people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

Almost half of those that contact the charity, both by phone and online, are under the age of 35, which can be attributed to youngsters trusting the anonymous service.

One in five people who contact Crimestoppers are from black or minority groups, something the charity puts down to communities feeling uncomfortable about speaking to the police.

Mr Hallas, a former brigadier whose 30-year military career included a spell in charge of Army intelligence, told BBC News: "Surveys we've carried out indicate that there's a hardcore of about 20 per cent of people who find it very difficult to talk to the police directly under any circumstances - but many of those people want to do the right thing and we provide the avenue to let them do that."

The charity also revealed that around 60 per cent of the reports Crimestoppers sends to police forces - 92,000 cases - are drugs-related.

(1st November 2018)

(The Bulletin, dated 17th October 2018)

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While there's little violent or drug-related crimes in the wealthier neighbourhoods of Brussels, there's a much greater risk of burglary

While almost everyone living in Brussels reports that they find their own neighbourhoods safe, some are safer than others when it comes to crime, according to the regional Prevention & Safety agency. The agency looked at reported robberies of homes, cars and persons, as well as crimes involving physical violence and drug trading.

The report for 2016-17 shows that 88% of residents think the neighbourhood in which they live is safe when it comes to crime. The report, however, only gives a low to very low crime rate to about half of the neighbourhoods.

The report splits the capital up into 118 neighbourhoods, leaving out 27 with very low residential populations. Of the 118, some 56 are rated low in crime (with 500 or fewer reported incidents per year).

The safest neighbourhoods overall are in Uccle, Anderlecht and Woluwe Saint-Pierre, where nearly all areas fell into the below 500 reported crimes per year category. Many neighbourhoods in other municipalities, however, also scored well, including Haren in Brussels-City, Potaarde in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe and Josaphat Station in Schaerbeek.

Lock your doors and windows, Anderlecht

The neighbourhoods that fared the worst, with between 1,500 and 2,500 reported crimes per year were mostly in Brussels-City. The neighborhoods with the most reported crimes were: Quartier Nord, Grand Place, Mantonge, Porte de Hal and Brabant. That last one is the North Station district in Schaerbeek.

The report also splits up the specific crimes, with Uccle, for instance, faring worse when it comes to home burglaries. Anderlecht and Woluwe Saint-Pierre, too, lose a bit of their shine when violent crimes are removed and only burglaries figure. Northwest Anderlecht, in fact, has one of the worst home burglary rates in the capital, followed by Saint-Paul and Chant d'oiseau, both in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.

When it comes to the touristy Grand Place, meanwhile, much of the reported crime involves theft, but physical attacks also rate higher than in other areas of Brussels-City. The Prevention & Safety agency points out, however, that, home burglaries are much more likely to be reported than theft of personal belongings.

Crime in general, however, has decreased overall in the capital over the last decade by 22%, according to the report, despite an increase in residents of 15%.

(1st November 2018)

(Bury Times, dated 17th October 2018 author Matthew Calderbank)

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The new Citizens' Contract is a seven-point programme issued by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), urging the public to assume more responsibility for keeping communities safe as the force is made to save a further £67m in by 2020.

"We need you to protect yourself, your property, your family and communities", reads the contract.

The contract this week clarifies what help the public can expect from police as crime rates continue to climb across Greater Manchester.

It suggests the public must play a larger and more active role in crime prevention.

The document illustrates in seven points "what we (GMP) will do and what we need you to do", to keep communities safe.

n It stresses the need for communities to tackle anti-social behaviour from youths before it escalates into more serious criminality.

The public are urged to "make the right contact to the right agency at the right time".

This summer, GMP launched a Live Chat service for people to report incidents without having to call 999. It has proved popular as an alternative to traditional 999 calls.

GMP urges people to continue reporting criminal behaviour, despite increased waiting times for calls to be answered on the 101 non-emergency number.

"We need you to provide information to help tackle crime and make communities safer", it reads.

Police resources mean officers must respond to reports based on a scale of priority.

The public are asked to try and "understand and trust police decision making on use of resources".

Neighbours should come together to "actively keep communities safe".

In turn, GMP pledge to "listen to people" and use feedback to "help build stronger communities."

People are encouraged to speak to neighbourhood police officers and give their views on community safety.

The public are asked to become more involved in their communities and "consider being a part of policing".

GMP want community groups to engage with the wider community and help protect vulnerable and elderly neighbours.

It is hoped the initiative will embolden communities to take ownership of crime prevention by acting as the first line of defence.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 17th October 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

The drive to target hate crime is forcing police officers to spend valuable time investigating wolf-whistles, bad manners and impolite comments, a police leader has warned.

Sergeant Richard Cooke, the recently elected chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, said forces were expected to record and follow up reports of hate crime, even when no criminal offence had taken place.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Cooke warns police officers would be dispatched to offer words of advice to people, but this meant they had less time to focus on "genuine crimes" such as burglary and violence.

Mr Cooke said he did not believe this was what the public expected of its police service. While applauding the principle behind protecting those at risk of hurtful abuse, officers have expressed their frustration at being drawn into what they see as social rather than criminal issues.

Mr Cooke, who represents 6,500 rank and file officers in the country's second largest police force, said: "I fear a dangerous precedent could be set, where our scant resources are skewed further and further away from the genuine crisis in public safety taking place on our urban homes and streets.

"Nobody, especially police officers, would ever want to see any elderly person or woman subjected to any sort of crime. The same goes for any other innocent member of the community. But we do have laws to address all manner of crimes and anti-social behaviour already."

Earlier this week the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that he had asked the Law Commission to consider whether misogyny and ageism should be added to the list of categories that constitute a hate crime.

It is hoped that by broadening out the definition of the offence, police and prosecutors will have more power to tackle and punish those who deliberately target vulnerable groups.

Newly published figures show how religious hate crimes rose by 40 per cent last year with attacks on Jewish people representing 12 percent of all offences.

Abuse against gay and transgender people and the disabled has also risen.

But there are increasing warnings that in the drive to identify and tackle the problem, police priorities are being impacted.

Mr Cooke said: "We all abhor and want to end genuine crimes motivated or aggravated by intolerance and prejudice. They should be investigated, and those who commit them should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, as should those who incite them."

But he went on: "Let us focus urgently on genuine crime, supported by basic evidence. Let's not encourage people to think we can solve deep social problems or give impolite people manners.

"Are we really going to be required to routinely record, and potentially act on, incidents like a builder's wolf whistle or an insensitive comment towards an elderly driver?

"I do not believe for one second that this is what the public, outside of the politically correct 'court of Twitter', expects or wants us to do."

South Yorkshire Police recently came in for criticism after urging people to report insults that did not necessarily constitute hate crimes.

Last month the newly elected chairman of the Police Federation, John Apter, warned that common sense policing was disappearing with officers forced to spend time intervening in trivial social media disputes rather than attending burglaries and other serious crimes.

He said it was time for a debate sensible debate about what the public expected of its police service.

"Where we get drawn into local disagreements, the argument over the remote control, the dispute in the playground, the row on Facebook it is frustrating. I certainly think police time can be better spent and it makes a mockery when we are so stretched," he said.

(1st November 2018)

(New China, dated 17th October 2018 author Xinhua)

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The African continent is exhibiting one of the fastest growth rates in internet penetration worldwide with digital connectivity almost tripled in the last five years, the African Union (AU) revealed on Tuesday.

The pan African bloc AU, organizing the first African forum on cyber-crime from Oct. 16 to 18 in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, however warned the increasing threats that emanate with the continuous development of information and communication technologies towards more sophisticated services and applications.

According to the AU, as Africa witnessed fastest growth in internet penetration during the past few years, governments and private sector entities in the continent have been experiencing an equally increasing trend of cyber-attacks.

The First African forum on cyber-crime is expected to focus on cyber-crime policies and national legislations, with respect to regional and international standards and relevant implementation practices.

Large-scale theft of personal data, computer intrusions, bullying, harassment and other forms of cyber violence, sexual violence against children online, are said to be among the major human rights abuses that are pervasive in the continent in recent days, it was noted.

Hate speech, xenophobia and racism on line are also indicated as contributing factors behind radicalization and violent extremism in Africa.

According to the AU, the forum would play an important role in improving the effectiveness and exchange of information regarding common challenges and tasks across the continent.

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 17th October 2018 author Isobel Frodsham)

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Attacks on rail staff have more than halved since an operator introduced body worn cameras, new figures show.

Virgin Trains said the number of assaults on its employees has fallen month by month following the introduction of 275 cameras in February to ensure all frontline workers are covered.

Incidents dropped from 20 in March to six in September.

Footage from the cameras has led to one conviction, when a man pleaded guilty to a public order offence following an incident on a train at Wolverhampton in April.

Research across the rail industry found that attacks on staff at station barriers fell by 47 per cent when they were wearing the cameras during a pilot last year.

Lewis Komodromou, a revenue protection team leader for Virgin Trains, said he feels safer with a bodycam after previously being assaulted by a passenger with an invalid ticket at London Euston station.

The 26-year-old, who suffered a shoulder injury, recalled: "I was extremely shocked after the ordeal. I hadn't really been in that type of situation before so I didn't know how to react.

"Since the bodycams have been introduced it has stopped lots of situations that could otherwise get out of hand."

British Transport Police recorded 6,960 incidents of assault against rail staff in 2015/16, although many attacks are believed to go unreported.

Chief inspector Lorna McEwan said the cameras will provide the force with "vital evidence".

She added: "Being assaulted or verbally abused simply for doing your job is completely unacceptable."

Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "One assault against a rail worker is one too many. We're now working together as an industry to develop plans to roll out this technology nationwide."

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 16th October 2018 author Matthew Weaver)

Full article [Option 1]:

Note : The original article has two explanatory graphs

The number of recorded hate crimes has more than doubled in the past five years and is likely to be related in part to the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the spate of terrorist attacks last year, according to the Home Office.

Hate crime offences recorded by the police rose by 17% to 94,098 in the 12 months to March, figures for England and Wales show. This represents an increase of 123% since 2012-13, when 42,255 hate crimes were recorded.

The Home Office said the increase was largely driven by improvements in the way police record hate crime. But it also noted "spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017".

Religious hate crime increased by 40% in the two years to March, to 8,336 incidents. The Home Office said this was likely to be due to offences after the in Westminster, London Bridge and Manchester Arena terrorist attacks.

Religion was the motivating factor in 9% of recorded hate crimes in the year to March, while race was the factor in 76% (71,251 incidents). Sexual orientation was a factor in 12% of incidents (11,638), disability in 8% (7,226), and transgender in 2% (1,651).

Findings from the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales, which tracks the public's experience of crime, indicate a drop of 40% in hate crime incidents in the past decade. These figures are unaffected by changes in reporting rates or police activity, and they do not include crimes against businesses or households on short lets such as care homes.

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said: "The fact that hate crime has more than doubled in the last five years must serve as an urgent wake-up call. We must stand up to hatred and discrimination wherever it is found.

"The Tories promised to tackle burning injustices but they are clearly not tackling the injustice of people being attacked simply because of their religion, sexuality, the colour of their skin or their disability."

The MP David Lammy, who is part of the pro-Europe Best for Britain campaign, blamed the rise in hate crime on the rhetoric of Brexiters. "The extent to which hate crimes have risen in recent years is shameful. It comes from the very top. Divisive, xenophobic rhetoric from politicians and leaders trickles down into abuse and violence on our streets," he said.

"It is no surprise that Islamophobic attacks on Muslim women who wear veils rose in the days following Boris Johnson's 'letterbox' insult. Similarly, it is no coincidence that the type of anti-immigrant language used by some mainstream politicians has corresponded with spikes in hate crimes."

Separate figures released by the Crown Prosecution Service on Tuesday showed courts giving tougher sentences in most hate crime cases. In the year to March, prosecutors successfully applied for uplifts in sentences in more than two-thirds of convictions, it found.

Chris Long, chief crown prosecutor and the CPS hate crime champion, said: "The continuing increase in the number of offenders who receive increased sentences is a testament to the work of the CPS in building the cases correctly and providing the courts with the information they need to sentence appropriately."

The figures come after officials announced a review of what constitutes a hate crime. The Law Commission will consider whether to include misogyny and misandry (prejudice against men) , as well as antagonism towards alternative lifestyles, such as goth subculture, as part of a broader definition of hate crime.

Announcing the review, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, said: "Hate crime goes directly against the longstanding British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect, and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out. Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law."

(Telegraph, dated 16th October 2018 author Ashley Kirk)

Full article [Option 1]:

Hate crime has surged across the country, new figures have revealed, with those directed at people because of their religious beliefs doubling since 2015.

Data from the Home Office has revealed that there were 94,098 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2017/18 - up by 17 per cent on the year before.

This annual increase rises to 40 per cent for religiously-aggravated hate crime, with crimes increasing from 5,949 to 8,336 in the last year alone. Since 2014/15, offences have soared 153 per cent from a total of 3,293.

The majority of these crimes - some 52 per cent - were directed at Muslims.

The Home Office noted that there were peaks in racially or religiously aggravated offences following terrorist attacks such as the Lee Rigby murder in July 2013 and the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017.

A sharp increase was also seen in hate crime in June 2017 following terrorist attacks in May and June, leading to a peak of 6,042 offences in June 2017.

This is an average of over 200 a day.

This exceeded the previous peak of 5,605 offences, set in July 2016 - just after the result of the EU referendum campaign.

There were increases in all five of the centrally monitored strands of hate crime in the last year, continuing a five-year trend.

In the last year, race-based hate crime increased 14 per cent, while those based on sexual orientation increased 27 per cent, disability 30 per cent and transgender 32 per cent.

Where the perceived religion of the victim was recorded, 52 per cent of religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims - a total of 2,965 offences. 4.8 per cent of the population of England and Wales identified as Muslim, according to the 2011 census.

The Jewish community were the next most commonly targeted group, being targeted in 12 per cent of religious hate crimes.

Two thirds of religious hate crimes are directed at Muslims and Jews

Number and proportion of religious hat crimes recorded by the police, by the percieved target religion (2017/18). Source : Home Office

Muslim : 2,965
Jewish : 672
Christian : 264
No religion : 237
Sikh : 117
Hindu : 58
Buddhist : 19
Other : 311
Unknown : 1,174

Some 56 per cent of the hate crimes recorded by the police were for public order offences, while a further third were for violence against the person.

These accounted for the vast majority of hate crimes in 2017/18, although six per cent of offences were classified as either criminal damage or arson.

The police-recorded figures reveal that the number of hate crimes has more than doubled since 2012/13. An offence is classified as such when the victim considers it to be driven by hostility against their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

The Home Office stated that some of the increases in police-recorded hate crime is likely to be related to better reporting methods and a greater willingness on the part of victims to come forward.

(Chronicle Live, dated 17th October 2018 author Jonathan Walker)

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Incidents of hate crime have increased once again in the North East.

There were 4,148 hate crimes recorded by North East police forces over 12 months, new official figures show.

That's around 80 incidents every week.

And it's a significant increase from 3,450 incidents last year - and 2,191 incidents the year before that.

It means the number of hate crimes has increased by 90 per cent over two years.

The picture in the North East is similar to the rest of the country, where hate crime has also increased.

According to the Home Office, the rise may be connected to Brexit and to incidents of terrorism.

The figures include hate crimes recorded by Northumbria, Cleveland and Durham forces.

Of the 4,148 hate crimes over the past year, 2,559, were recorded by Northumbria Police. There were 711 in the Durham police area and 878 recorded by Cleveland police.

The figures show there were 2,980 hate crimes in the North East region where race was a factor.

Police recorded 340 hate crimes where religion was a factor, 456 involving sexual orientation, 452 where disabled people were targeted and 97 where the victim was transgender.

###Increase may be connected to terrorism and Brexit

According to the Home Office, the rise in numbers across the country may be partly down to the police doing a better job of recording incidents - but there have also been real increases which appear to be connected to terrorism and to Brexit.

A Home office report said: "In 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17% compared with the previous year.

"This continues the upward trend in recent years with the number of hate crimes recorded by the police having more than doubled since 2012/13 ... this increase is thought to be largely driven by improvements in police recording, although there has been spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU Referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017."

Hate crime is defined as "any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic".

###Government announces new measures to fight hate crime

The Government announced plans to review the law to consider whether crimes sparked by hostility to women or to men, or prejudice against the elderly, should be considered hate crimes.

The Home Office has tasked the Law Commission to carry out a review of current hate crime laws as part of a series of new measures.

The review is expected to be published by the end of next year.

It forms part of a refreshed strategy aimed at improving the response to hate crimes and incidents.
New measures include taxi drivers and door staff being given guidance on spotting hate crime.

Advice will be included in the Department for Transport's best practice guidance on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing, which is scheduled to be updated in 2019 and will be considered for adoption by all 293 licensing authorities in England, the document says.

It also notes that new guidance for door supervisors sets out how they can ensure transgender people can have a safe and enjoyable time going to pubs, clubs, festivals and events.

The updated action plan is being published as the Home Office releases the latest annual statistics on hate crime in England and Wales.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Hate crime goes directly against the long-standing British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect - and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out.

(Birmingham Mail, datd 16th October 2018 author Jonathan Walker)

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Incidents of hate crime have increased once again in the West Midlands.
There were 4,678 hate crimes recorded by West Midlands Police over 12 months, new official figures show.

That's around 90 incidents every week.

And it's an increase from 4,244 incidents last year - and 3,780 incidents the year before that.

It means the number of hate crimes has increased by 23 per cent over two years.

The picture in the West Midlands is similar to the rest of the country, where hate crime has also increased.

In the past year, there were 4,151 hate crimes in the West Midlands where race was a factor.

Police recorded 303 hate crimes where religion was a factor, 410 involving sexual orientation, 106 where disabled people were targeted and 36 where the victim was transgender.

###uaware note

Final paragraphs of this article were a repetition of "North East" article.

(Get Surrey, dated 20th October 2018 author Alice Cachia, Annie Gouk and Jamie Phillips)

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Religious hate crime in Surrey has soared by more than three-quarters in a single year.

Surrey Police recorded 161 crimes motivated by religion in 2017/18 - equivalent to three every week.

That is an increase from 90 recorded crimes in 2016/17 and a total rise of 79%.

All types of hate crime, including disability, sexual orientation and race, increased across the county with the overall number rising by 10% from 1,673 offences in 2016/17 to 1,849 in 2017/18.

Sim Sian, head of diversity at Surrey Police, said the force was pleased to see a rise in the reporting of hate crime.

"We know hate crime is happening in Surrey and we want people to feel that they can come to us, tell us about it and feel that we will take it seriously. So we are pleased to see an increase in the number of hate crimes reported.

"While it may sound incongruous that a police force views an increase in reported crime positively, this increase shows that victims of hate crime are firstly, recognising that what has happened to them is a crime, and secondly, feeling confident enough to report it."

Hate crime is defined as any crimes that are targeted at a person because of a hostility or prejudice towards that person's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, or alternative subculture identity.

It was specifically racial hate crime that made up the majority of all hate crime, increasing from 1,055 to 1,279 across the same period.

The only figure that fell was transgender hate crime, decreasing by just a single offence - 30 to 29.

(1st November 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 16th October 2018 author Press Association)

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The UK will be hit by the most serious type of cyber emergency at some point, an intelligence chief has warned, as it emerged that a specialist unit is repelling more than 10 attempted attacks every week.

Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre, said he had little doubt it would have to deal with a "category 1" case in the future.

The bracket covers incidents that result in severe economic or social consequences, or loss of life.

On Tuesday the NCSC will publish a report that lays bare the scale of the danger it is confronting, with "hostile states" said to be responsible for the bulk of thwarted strikes.

Since it became fully operational two years ago, the centre's frontline teams have dealt with 1,167 cyber incidents.

Mr Martin, the NCSC's chief executive, said: "The majority of these incidents were, we believe, perpetrated from within nation states in some way hostile to the UK.

"They were undertaken by groups of computer hackers directed, sponsored or tolerated by the governments of those countries.

"These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security.

"I remain in little doubt we will be tested to the full, as a centre, and as a nation, by a major incident at some point in the years ahead, what we would call a category 1 attack."

The NCSC defines a category 1 incident as a national cyber emergency, which causes "sustained disruption" of essential services or affects national security, leading to severe economic or social consequences or to loss of life.

Although there have been several "very significant" incidents, Mr Martin said the UK has so far avoided a category 1 event.

He added: "But even if this continues, we must be alert to the constant threat from countries who will attack critically important national networks to steal information for strategic or commercial reasons, and give themselves a starting point - 'pre-positioning' - for a significant attack in the future."

The assessment comes less than a fortnight after Britain accused the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, of being behind a campaign of cyber attacks targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport.

Mr Martin stressed there is "much, much more" to the cyber security threat faced by the UK than just Russia.

While nation state activity represents the most acute threat, he said, low-sophistication but high-volume cyber crime is the "most chronic" one.

The NCSC launched the Active Cyber Defence initiative to protect the UK from "high-volume commodity attacks" that affect people's everyday lives.

Since its introduction, the UK share of visible global phishing attacks dropped from 5.3% to 2.4%, according to the report.

The NCSC, which is part of intelligence agency GCHQ, was established to spearhead efforts to counter the mounting danger from cyber criminals and hostile states.

GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming said the NCSC has become a "world-leading organisation" and thanked its staff for their "outstanding work".

He added: "Whether that's thwarting the growing cyber threat from hostile nation states, providing excellent incident management services to large and small businesses, or pushing the boundaries of research and innovation, the NCSC operates on the front line of efforts to keep us all safe online."

Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington said the NCSC has "more than risen" to the challenge of delivering ambitious proposals set out in the Government's national cyber security strategy

(Sky News, dated 16th October 2018 author Rowland Manthorpe)

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There is "little doubt" a major life-threatening cyber attack on the UK will take place in the near future, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned.

In its second annual review, published on Tuesday, the NCSC revealed it has handled more than 10 attacks a week in the last two years - the majority of which it traced back to "nation states in some way hostile to the UK".

Since it became fully operational in 2016 it has handled 1,167 cyber incidents, including 557 in the last 12 months.

The majority of the attacks "were undertaken by groups of computer hackers directed, sponsored or tolerated by the governments of those countries," writes Ciaran Martin, CEO of the NCSC.

"These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security."

None of the incidents fell into the so-called category one - a strike with potential risk to life.
However, Mr Martin warned that such an attack was highly likely.

"I remain in little doubt we will be tested to the full, as a centre, and as a nation, by a major incident at some point in the years ahead," he said.

Category-one attacks are "national emergencies, causing sustained disruption of essential services, leading to severe economic or social consequences - or to a loss of life", the NCSC said.

The most prominent cyber attack on the UK, the WannaCry malware attack on the NHS, was classed by NCSC as a category two attack, defined as having "a serious impact on a large portion of the population, economy or government".

The Department of Health revealed last week that the WannaCry attack, which affected at least 80 out of the 236 hospital trusts across England, as well as a further 595 GP practices, cost the NHS a total of £92 million - including £72m for IT support.

US authorities identified Park Jin Hyok, a 34-year-old North Korean, as being part of the group behind the ransomware.

Earlier this month, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Russia's intelligence service, the GRU, of waging a campaign of "indiscriminate and reckless" cyber strikes targeting institutions across politics, businesses, media and sport.

And in 2017, the Ministry of Defence issued warnings about a Chinese espionage group known as APT10 hacking IT suppliers to target military and intelligence information.

Mr Martin describes nation state activity as "the most acute threat", but says the most "chronic" risk comes from "high-volume cyber crime", which is handled by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

As well as defending the UK against targeted attacks, the NSCS also handles what it describes as "high-volume commodity attacks", such as phishing emails designed to fool people into installing malware on their devices.

The NCSC launched the Active Cyber Defence initiative in 2017 to deal with these attacks.

According to the report, the UK's share of visible global phishing attacks has dropped from 5.3% to 2.4% since the scheme's introduction.

City AM, dated 16th October 2018 author Alex Jones)

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The UK has faced more than 10 cyber attacks per week on average in the last two years, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) today revealed, with most coming from "hostile" nation states.

Since it became operational in 2016, GCHQ's cyber crime defence centre has been forced to defend Britain against 1,167 threats, 557 of which happened in the last year, it said in its second annual report.

The majority of the attacks were carried out by hackers "directed, sponsored or tolerated" by foreign governments, NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin said in the report.

"These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security," he said.

Meanwhile, the NCSC has more than halved the UK's share of global phishing attacks - where hackers attempt to trick victims into sharing personal data - from 5.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent, said the report.

The NCSC said it worked to prevent "high-volume commodity attacks that affect people's everyday lives", removing 138,398 phishing sites between September 2017 and August 2018.

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington praised the NCSC, saying it had "risen to the challenge", but experts warned business against complacency.

Chris O'Brien, director of intelligence operations at threat intelligence firm EclecticIQ, called cyber security a "never-ending battle on a constantly changing battlefield".

Despite NCSC efforts, he said, major incidents such as last year's Wannacry attack on the NHS were inevitable.

"There needs to be a plan in place for every public or private organisation to limit the impact of such disruption to essential services over a prolonged period of time," he added.

Emily Orton, director of cyber security firm Darktrace, said cyber attacks were getting "faster and more furious".

"As guardians of our data, companies of all sizes need to take responsibility and embrace more sophisticated technologies to protect themselves from advanced attacks," she added. "The increasing trend towards AI is going a long way to bolster businesses' cyber resilience."

(Independent, dated 16th October 2018 author Samuel Osborne)

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Britain will be hit by a life-threatening "category 1" cyber emergency in the near future, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned.

The NCSC's annual review revealed it is currently repelling around 10 attempted cyber attacks every week, with "hostile states" said to be responsible for the bulk of thwarted strikes.

Since it became fully operational two years ago, the centre's teams have dealt with 1,167 cyber incidents.

Ciaran Martin, the centre's head, said he had little doubt it would have to deal with the most serious type of cyber emergency in the future.

"The majority of these incidents were, we believe, perpetrated from within nation states in some way hostile to the UK," he said. "They were undertaken by groups of computer hackers directed, sponsored or tolerated by the governments of those countries. These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security."

He added: "I remain in little doubt we will be tested to the full, as a centre, and as a nation, by a major incident at some point in the years ahead, what we would call a category 1 attack."

The NCSC defines a category 1 incident as an attack which causes "sustained disruption" of essential services or affects national security, leading to severe economic or social consequences, or to loss of life.

Although there have been several "very significant" incidents, Mr Martin said the UK has yet to witness a category 1 event.

He added: "But even if this continues, we must be alert to the constant threat from countries who will attack critically important national networks to steal information for strategic or commercial reasons, and give themselves a starting point - 'pre-positioning' - for a significant attack in the future."

The assessment comes less than a fortnight after Britain accused the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, of being behind a campaign of cyber attacks which targetted political institutions, businesses, media and sport.

Mr Martin stressed there is "much, much more" to the cyber security threat faced by the UK than just Russia.

While nation state activity represents the most acute threat, he said, low-sophistication but high-volume cyber crime is the "most chronic" one.

The NCSC launched the Active Cyber Defence initiative to protect the UK from "high-volume commodity attacks" that affect people's everyday lives.

Since its introduction, the UK share of visible global phishing attacks dropped from 5.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent, according to the report.

(1st November 2018)

(Sky News, dated 16th October 2018)

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More than 200 suspects have been arrested by dozens of police forces in a national crackdown on "county lines" drugs gangs.

Some 58 vulnerable people, including children, who had been caught up in the gangs were also rescued, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Officers found tens of thousands of pounds in cash and drugs including heroin and crack cocaine.

A loaded gun, an axe, a meat cleaver, hunting knives and a samurai sword were among the weapons recovered during the week-long operation.

There are an estimated 1,500 "county lines" gangs operating across the UK.

County lines refers to organised gangs extending their drug dealing network from big cities to other areas.

The gangs commonly use one phone line that drug users call to order illegal substances, which make up to £5,000 per day.

Inside the gangs, urban dealers force children to carry drugs to customers in more rural areas and "cuckoo" the homes of vulnerable or drug-addicted people to use to stash illegal substances.

Sue Southern, county lines lead for the NCA, said: "Supply gangs are responsible for high levels of violence and the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable adults and children, and every territorial police force in England and Wales has now reported some level of county lines activity.

Some of those arrested were criminals already serving prison sentences who were charged with involvement in the supply of class A drugs from behind bars.

The new national county lines co-ordination centre, set up in September, is mapping the activities of the gangs, which are mainly based in large cities such as London, Liverpool and Birmingham, but operate all over the country.

Ms Southern said: "There are currently hundreds of live county lines investigations across the UK, and this period of intensification highlights the range of co-ordinated activity taking place to identify perpetrators, reduce violence, take away the proceeds of crime and safeguard the vulnerable.

"While these operations will have substantially disrupted numerous county lines, our work is ongoing and we are pursuing all available means of strengthening the national response," she added."

(Independent, dated 16th October 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

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Police have arrested more than 200 people and rescued children being used as drug mules in a nationwide crackdown on "county lines" gangs.

The city-based groups, who deal drugs via branded phone lines, target small towns and rural territories where they violently control the lucrative supply.

The growing phenomenon has been partly blamed for a rise in stabbings across England and Wales, as the proportion of murders involving people using or dealing drugs rose to 57 per cent.

A week-long operation has seen more than 200 suspects arrested and 58 vulnerable people, including children, put under protective measures.

Officials said the sweep has "substantially disrupted" several gangs, after a report revealed that children as young as 12 were being exploited in the brutal trade.

Police seized weapons including a samurai sword, axe, meat cleaver, gun and ammunition, and hunting knives, alongside tens of thousands of pounds in cash and "significant quantities" of heroin, crack cocaine and other illegal drugs.

Dozens of police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units were involved in the national crackdown, executing search warrants, gathering intelligence and arresting people already serving prison sentences on new evidence.

Officers also visited vulnerable people believed to be at risk of "cuckooing", where county lines gangs take over their homes to use as a makeshift base, and contacted landlords and private hire drivers who may come into contact with offenders.

The drive was launched by the new National County Lines Coordination Centre, which was started last month under joint leadership by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

Sue Southern, the NCA's national county lines lead, said: "Supply gangs are responsible for high levels of violence and the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable adults and children, and every territorial police force in England and Wales has now reported some level of county lines activity.

"There are currently hundreds of live county lines investigations across the UK, and this period of intensification highlights the range of coordinated activity taking place to identify perpetrators, reduce violence, take away the proceeds of crime and safeguard the vulnerable.

"While these operations will have substantially disrupted numerous county lines, our work is ongoing and we are pursuing all available means of strengthening the national response."

There are an estimated 1,500 county lines operating across the UK, with each one generating between £3,000 and £5,000 per day.

It is often children who are sent long distances to deal the drugs, and they will frequently be subject to violence and threats, while gangs use violent and intimidating tactics to defend their territory.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball, the NPCC lead for county lines, said: "Our primary aim in dismantling these networks is protecting the young and vulnerable people who are exploited by gangs and are subject to violence, fear and intimidation.

"This week's intensification has protected 58 people from that violence, as well as removing a significant amount of drugs from the supply chain and disrupting gangs who profit from spreading fear and suffering throughout the UK."

The crackdown came after research by the St Giles Trust showed some children were dealing drugs for county lines gangs to support their families financially, putting themselves at risk of arrest or attacks by rivals.

One police officer told researchers that gangs viewed children as "expendable foot soldiers - if one gets sent down or killed, there are plenty more to take their place".

Most of the teenagers involved were found to be from deprived backgrounds or in care, and excluded from school, although some were from "well ordered and materially comfortable families".

Researchers said the diversity was partly caused by gang leaders recruiting local drug mules and dealers to "blend in" with the target market, ranging from universities to homeless people, without attracting attention from police.

There is no set protocol for responding to a child found working on county lines, meaning police officers must choose whether to arrest them, refer them to the national referral mechanism for modern slavery or let them go in each case.

The inconsistencies mean the scale of the problem, and the number of children involved, is unknown, while researchers said it is ultimately being driven by the "continuing and growing demand for drugs".

The National County Lines Coordination Centre, which was given £3.6m of Home Office funding, is working to build up intelligence on the complexity and scale of the threat.

(BBC News, dated 16th October 2018)

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A police unit has been set up to stop children as young as 10 being recruited by organised crime gangs.

South Yorkshire Police said the team would work with partners in housing, education and justice to identify those at risk of being exploited.

According to government figures, 2,738 gangs involved in drugs and violence operate across England and Wales.

The force said it hoped identifying children at risk and diverting them away from gang life could "save lives".

Det Supt Una Jennings said there were 52 gangs in South Yorkshire, including 20 operating in Sheffield, one of which had links to 30 children.

She said nationally the age profile of children becoming involved with gangs was dropping and the force has seen children "from 10 years up" involved in criminality.

"If you have committed a very serious violent offence - for example a robbery - by the time you're 11, you're 15 times more likely to then go on to commit much more serious criminality over the next number of years," she said.

"By the time I'm dealing with them in a police cell everybody else has failed, so identifying those people early and using evidence-based interventions is going to be key to stemming the flow."

Precise details of how the team will work and its budget have not been revealed by the force but it said it hoped by sharing information with other agencies it could devise "the right interventions for an individual child".

Rhiannon Sawyer, from the Children's Society, said that while the issue was not new there had been "an increased use of children over the years" and said the charity welcomed South Yorkshire Police's "multi-agency approach".

"It's not just a police problem, we can't police our way out of this," she said.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 16th October 2018 author Gaby Hinsliff)

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If it is to protect the elderly and women, Sajid Javid's review must also examine misandry. It's the only way things are going to change.

Are men the real victims now?

At first glance, it seems as if the home secretary is taking that idea seriously. Sajid Javid has just announced a review of hate crime, to consider whether ageism as well as misogyny should be treated in the same way as racism and homophobia where they lead to criminal offences. But perhaps more surprisingly, he's also asking the Law Commission to consider adding misandry (hatred of men) to the list too.

First glances, however, are rarely what they seem. Ministers are falling over themselves to play down the importance of tacking misandry on to the consultation at the last minute, insisting it's "not where the emphasis is", despite the efforts of a small but vociferous men's rights lobby. Ministers' chief concerns are firstly bullying and abuse of vulnerable elderly people, amid fears that many don't report it because they are too afraid of repercussions from care workers on whose mercy they depend, and secondly crimes seemingly fuelled by hatred of women, such as online abuse and street harassment.

By throwing misandry into the mix alongside other options such as prejudice against Goths (following the murder of teenager Sophie Lancaster by a gang of thugs in a Lancashire park) ministers seem to be delegating the politically toxic job of sorting all this out to the Law Commission.

And when they do so, the commissioners will presumably bear in mind what exactly a hate crime is. The popular misconception is that it's the hate itself that is the crime; but that's not how it works. Hate crime is defined as the committing of an offence - such as assault, or harassment, or vandalism - specifically motivated by one of five recognised categories of prejudice. It usually leads to a stiffer sentence to reflect the wider fear and intimidation caused to a community. But without an offence, there's no hate crime. What that means is that anyone determined to spend their life consumed with bitter hatred of others is welcome to it, so long as they can manage not to end up on the wrong side of the law as a result.

So the test for misandry to join the list would be the same as for any other form of hate: is there evidence of a serious problem with men being stalked, beaten up by strangers on the street, having bricks chucked through their windows or being otherwise persecuted by women motivated by dislike or contempt for men in general? If so, then misandrist hate crime must be acknowledged in law and rooted out. But a general sense that #MeToo might have gone too far doesn't meet the threshold and although some crimes against men clearly are tragically underreported, including male rape and domestic violence, the picture is complicated by cases where both perpetrator and victim are male.

Could any of this work in practice? Nottinghamshire police have already been experimentally logging misogyny-driven offences (ranging from wolf-whistling, taking "upskirting" photos and following women home to sexual assault and online abuse) as hate crimes for two years. An evaluation survey carried out by the University of Nottingham found a narrow majority of residents thought such behaviour was criminal, almost half the rest thought it antisocial, and less than 5% went for "non-criminal" (in other words, not a police matter). That's a reasonable conclusion since out of 174 incidents reported to police, 73 were logged as actual crimes and the rest as "incidents" - in other words, upsetting to the victims but it's not obvious any law was broken. The vast majority of residents, interestingly, thought the policy had been a good idea.

West Yorkshire police, meanwhile, have already added ageism to the options on their hate crime reporting app simply because it cropped up so often in reporting.

It's easy to see how expanding the definition of a hate crime could put serious pressure on an already overworked and underfunded criminal justice system. But the alternative is things being swept under the carpet that shouldn't be, victims being discouraged from coming forward for fear they won't be taken seriously, and missed opportunities to understand (and therefore tackle) the root cause of some crimes. It's going to be an uncomfortable business, recognising just how much violence and distress is driven by irrational hatred of the "other". But it's ultimately the only way things are going to change.


(LBC Radio, dated 16th October 2018)

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Note : You can see the debate in full in the video at this webpage

Nick Ferrari had questions he wanted answered when he heard offences motivated by a loathing for men, elderly people and goths could soon be classed as hate crimes.

The Law Commission will look at whether prejudice based on age, sex or hatred of certain subcultures such as goths and punks would be a hate crime.

The review is part of an updated government plan published alongside the Home Office's annual statistics on hate crime in England Wales.

The report revealed a 17% rise in hate crime in 2017-18 compared to the previous year.

A hate crime is defined as "any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic".

But, Nick wanted to know why existing laws already in place were not protecting victims.

"Why would the Law Commission be thinking about new laws when we've quite rightly got laws in place which protect people?" The LBC presenter asked law expert Dr Loretta Trickett.

"There are whole parts of abuse which are not picked up against people," Dr Loretta replied.

Nick responded again: "If I steal a handbag from a disabled woman in a wheelchair this afternoon, I'm going to get done - we don't need additional laws."

The guest answered: "Yes we do actually. You don't seem to understand what hate crime is.

"I think that is a misconception of the general public, they think it is a pure hatred of people, what it is about is you're targeting a person on the basis of their identity."

(1st November 2018)

(Mirror, dated 15th October 2018 author Danya Bazaraa)

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A simple mistake could invalidate your car insurance - and millions of drivers are potentially at risk.

Drivers could have modifications on their car they are simply not aware of, but failure to tell insurers of any modifications could invalidate the insurance, experts say.

Any modifications to your car , which aren't classed as factory standard - even aesthetic changes such as specialist paintwork or decals - will affect the cost of replacing your vehicle should it be damaged or stolen.

Anything classed as non-standard on the car is classed as a modification.

Research has found that only 1.6 percent of drivers are claiming to have modifications on their vehicle, suggesting drivers simply may not be declaring any added extras.

GoCompare are warning motorists to double check what the factory standard is for your car's model, and let insurers know of any changes made.

Matt Oliver, spokesperson for GoCompare car insurance, said: "While modifications may ring bells of the bygone boy racer, it's worth remembering that insurers don't just class body kits, exhaust systems or suspension changes as vehicle modifications.

"The average used car buyer could find there are modifications they're simply not aware of.

"Typically, modifications are anything which isn't standard on a car, which could include alloy wheels, a satellite navigation system or even tinted windows - so it's always worth checking what the factory standard is for your model of car to avoid landing in hot water when it comes to making a claim.

"Under two percent of drivers are claiming to have car modifications, but we estimate this figure to be much greater, which leaves potentially millions of drivers open to invalidating their insurance and having their claims rejected."

Mr Oliver added: "Different insurers have different views on what constitutes a modification - so it's always wise to tell your insurer of changes or additions you make to your vehicle at the time of making them.

"Otherwise you could find yourself in the situation of having a claim rejected and possibly your car insurance declared void - that could affect your ability to be insured full stop, and not only for car insurance.

"Shop around and look for the best deal that suits you and your car, and if in doubt, check the service history for any modification and speak to your insurance provider."

Top Modifiications (% of customers with Mods with specified mods)

Alloy wheels (non-standard) : 25.2%
Exhaust system changes : 15.1%
Suspension changes : 15.1%
Alloy wheels (optional extra) : 14.0%
Tow bars : 13.3%
Tinted windows : 10.7%
Air filters : 9.4%
Parking sensors : 9.4%
Chipped / Engine Management : 7.4%
Complete body kit : 4.8%

(1st November 2018)

(Mail on Sunday, dated 14th October 2018 author Martin Beckford)

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Millions of shoppers had their faces secretly scanned by controversial high-tech cameras looking for criminals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Every visitor to the Trafford Centre in Manchester over a six-month period was monitored by CCTV to see if they resembled anyone on a criminal 'watchlist'.

In what is thought to have been the biggest UK pilot so far of so-called Automatic Facial Recognition (AFR) technology - which picks faces out of a crowd so that police can arrest that person - Greater Manchester Police supplied about 30 images of missing persons as well as suspects.

But the trial at the centre, which has 30 million visitors a year, was dramatically halted after Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter warned it was wrong to monitor so many innocent people in the hunt for a handful of suspects.

He said: 'The police were interested in a tool that could help identify people missing from home and people wanted for crimes. However, compared to the size and scale of the processing of all people passing a camera, the group they might hope to identify was minuscule.'

He said it was to the police's 'immense credit' that they contacted him before proceeding further, adding: 'At this point the police have stepped back from engagement, having recognised that their approach is not currently proportionate.'

While the trial at the Trafford Centre is thought to be the biggest test, other forces have used the technology at specific public events.

Scotland Yard used cameras to look out for known troublemakers at the Notting Hill Carnival, while South Wales Police has deployed AFR at more than a dozen public events including the Champions League final, rugby internationals and even an Elvis festival.

Silkie Carlo, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: 'The lawless growth of facial recognition surveillance in this country is chilling. These identity checkpoints are being quietly rolled out in public places with almost no public awareness, in complete absence of any public debate or even a legal basis.'

Greater Manchester Police confirmed it 'has had discussions about the potential use of CCTV systems and facial recognition'.

(1st November 2018)

(Manchester Evening News, dated 13th October 2018 author Rebecca Day)

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A top police chief has promised to introduce a dedicated neighbourhood officer to a Salford village after it was revealed more than 50 crimes were reported in a month but only one person is being prosecuted.

A total of 54 crimes were reported to police in Boothstown, an area of 10,000, that month, but only a single shoplifter is facing prosecution, according to data published on

The figures for crime in the village have become steadily worse over the last few months.

In May, there were 37 crimes in the Boothstown and Ellenbrook ward, in June there were 32 and in July 45.

Angry locals accused GMP of letting the village down and allowing it to become an easy target for criminals.

One local, who asked not to be named, told the M.E.N: "We're forgotten about. The message is being sent to criminals that they can get away with it. And the more they get away with it, the more they're going to try.

"Criminals think Boothstown is an easy target - it invites it."

Now the Chief Insp responsible for Salford has responded, saying he understands why residents are angry, and will introduce the neighbourhood officer early next year to clamp down on crime.

Chief Insp Lee Parker said: "We understand the frustration that residents of Boothstown feel and would like to reassure the community that we are taking steps towards tackling concerns in and around the area."

Officers regularly patrol the area, and target hotspots, he said.

He said there was 11 pc less crime in the Boothstown area between June and August this year, compared to the same period last year.

"We will endeavour to reduce this even further during the next few months", he said.

"However, we are aware that crimes are continuing therefore the area's local police officer is developing an operation to combat crime in the area and we will keep local residents updated on this.

"We also have plans in place for early next year which will be to bring a dedicated neighbourhood officer to the area. It's vital that people continue reporting crime to us so that we can consider the overall picture of crime when targeting offenders and crime hot-spots.

"We are committed to continuing to work closely with the public, partners and wider communities across the area to reduce crime and build relationships."

(1st November 2018)

(Daily Post, dated 12th October 2018 author Amelia Shaw)

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Reports of hate crime in North Wales have risen by almost 30% in just a year, it's been revealed.

The number of cases reported to North Wales Police went from 358 to 455 - a rise of 27% - with incidents involving race and religion featuring prominently.

People can be subjected to hate crime because of their sexual orientation, race, body shape, age or a host of other personal characteristics.

The new figures were released to coincide with National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which begins on October 13.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said it's vital to raise awareness about the problem, which he said causes "untold misery".

"Hate crimes are committed against an individual person because of who they are and what they are - and that is intolerable in a civilised society," he said.

"North Wales Police rightly takes these crimes very seriously, and it is important that we encourage victims to come forward and report what has happened, either directly to the police, via another agency or the Victim Help Centre in St Asaph, which was established to provide support and guidance for victims of all crimes.

"I also urge people to report those inciting or committing hate crimes.

"As North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, I am firm in my stance that we must stand up to the scourge of racism.

"I was pleased to see from the latest figures that there continues to be a steady increase in the number of victims reporting the hate crimes perpetrated against them.

"I encourage our communities to counter the racist narrative by standing up to those carrying out such abuse and reporting them immediately to the police.

"North Wales Police and I will do everything within our powers to protect everyone who lives and visits North Wales whatever their country of origin and will prosecute those who commit hate crimes.

"North Wales Police is determined to handle complaints of this kind sensitively and not to expose the victim to further risk from the person who has made them a victim."

A week of activities to spread awareness of National Hate Crime Awareness Week will culminate with a football tournament in Wrexham on Saturday, October 20.

Among the teams taking part will be Wrexham Inclusion FC and other community-based teams, while two teams of North Wales Police Cadets will play against each other.

The event will also mark the debut of a police car in a rainbow livery which will be used to promote the anti-hate crime message.

(1st November 2018)

(Birmingham Mail, dated 12th October 2018 author Sanjeeta Bains)

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West Midlands Police has taken more than 100 firearms off the region's streets so far this year.

The haul includes deadly handguns, sawn-off shotguns and even a semi-automatic pistol that was forensically linked to a fatal shooting in Nottingham six years earlier.

Officers working in the Birmingham Organised Crime & Gangs Unit have also seized a crudely constructed homemade shotgun made out of two pieces of steel tubing to fire cartridges.

These are some of the shocking crimes that the seized guns have been used in:

Lee McDonald
The seizures include a sawn-off shotgun and bullet-proof vest found in the loft of Lee McDonald's home in Hillsmead Road, Kings Norton, during a West Midlands Police raid on 15 March.
He was later jailed for eight years.

Ryan Kopacz
Ryan Kopacz is also now behind bars after the force executed a warrant at his Barretts Road home - also in Kings Norton - on 12 April where one handgun was found in a stairs cupboard and another in a lean-to.

The teenager went on a burglary spree in South Birmingham which netted him thousands of pounds worth of goods.

He was captured on CCTV using bank cards he had taken from victim's homes at cash machines.
Jason Pegg, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, said Kopacz, who probably had an accomplice, took items including laptops and digital cameras and also stole a BMW and a Jaguar from a driveway.

He was arrested at his home where officers found a large amount of stolen property in his bedroom.
Kopacz was given a five-year prison sentence.

Selina Jarrett
Last week mum-of-two Selina Jarrett was also jailed for five years after the Gangs Unit found a loaded Glock semi-automatic pistol stashed in a hallway cupboard of her home in Bellevue, Edgbaston, on March 16.

The mum-of-two laughed during police interviews and claimed the semi-automatic had been stashed at her Bellevue property without her knowledge.

But a jury at Birmingham Crown Court saw through the lies and she was jailed for five years on Friday.

Detective Inspector Al Teague, head of West Midlands Police's Organised Crime and Gangs Team, said: "It came out at trial that there was no secret we were saying she was holding the weapon for someone else. I'm not willing to name that person but he is linked to gang activity in central Birmingham."

Ballistics experts from NABIS - the National Ballistics Intelligence Service - test fired the pistol and microscopic examination of the bullet markings indicated the same weapon was used in the fatal shooting of Malakai McKenzie in Nottingham on 21 April 2012.

Inspector Al Teague added: "Taking 104 firearms off the streets and out of the reach of dangerous criminals is a great achievement: it shows that we're acting on quality intelligence to target the right people.

"The mini Glock, an American make, is not a firearm we commonly recover. It is a highly effective weapon and would be worth thousands on the black market, especially with the ammunition it had with it.

"I've no doubt that the recovery of that weapon has prevented people from being seriously injured and even possible further murders. Each one of the rounds recovered constitutes a potential murder that we've now prevented."

February saw the most firearms recovered in a single month this year - with a total of 15 being found - followed by May (14) and March (13). Three firearms have so far been seized during October.

Anyone who suspects someone is in possession of an illegal firearm, or is storing one at their home, is asked to call the force on 999 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Callers will not be asked their name and the call cannot be traced.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 12th October 2018 author Joseph Archer)

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Murderers can be tracked down using ancestry websites under a new technique developed by Stanford University scientists.

Detectives in California have already used a public ancestry database to arrest Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer, who is believed to have committed at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes.

However, Stanford's new computational tool could speed up investigations and make them much easier.

It works by providing new ways for police forensics databases - which can often be patchy - to be used alongside the wealth of data contained in public gene databases, such as and 23andMe.

These are used by consumers who send in their own DNA samples for analysis to discover more about their family history.

The data on these sites is so large that experts believe it's possible to use them to identify six in every 10 people in the US who are of European descent, even if they have never provided a DNA sample.

Creating the new tool was a technical feat because the two databases use completely different systems of genetic markers.

Only 2 percent of the population needs to have done a DNA test for virtually everyone's genetic information to be represented in the data.

While it could help solve crimes, it raises wide-ranging privacy questions: if someone uses a consumer website to trace his ancestry, should that information also be used to identify members of his own family in a criminal case?

Javier Ruiz Diaz, a policy director from the Open Rights Group, said: "The current use of genetic databases by US police is deeply unethical, and possibly unlawful in Europe. The consequences for research could be very negative if people, understandably, refuse to provide samples because of concerns about police access."

Dave Curtis, who is an honorary professor at UCL's Genetics Institute and the Centre of Psychiatry at Queen Mary University of London, said: "This could be easily done in the UK, it's very doable, all it takes is for people to make a genetic profile on these databases and agree to be contacted by people who match with them.

"This means the police could easily make their own profile, upload the DNA from the crime scene, and then match up with the private database, which will allow them to see all the suspect's cousins...They may be breaking the company's rules but they won't be breaking the country's rules."

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 12th October 2018 author Hannah Boland)

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Families across the UK complained of being locked out of their houses on Friday, after a system failure at smart security company Yale left many reportedly unable to open their front doors.

Yale had warned customers on Wednesday that it would be undertaking "unplanned maintenance" which it said could cause some "connection issues".

However, in an update on Thursday, it said while carrying out this maintenance it had come across an "unforeseen issue", which had meant its app was temporarily unavailable. This glitch appears to have prevented customers from being able to get in and out of their homes, and from being able to arm and disarm their alarms.

Writing on Twitter, one customer wrote: "We're stuck in the house now. This isn't good enough Yale."

Another said: "Wondering if there is something going on with @YaleHome servers as can't login to the app to switch my alarm off! Ridiculous! Friends with the same alarm having problems too!"

Yale claimed nobody had been locked in or out of their home by the glitch, saying: "Customers can still enter and leave their home using their smart locks, as these are operated independently."

It said this afternoon that it was restoring its system to normal operation, and said most of its customers should now have access to all app features.

However, some still complained they were unable to turn their alarms on and off, with one having written on Twitter: "Sorry Yale, but the issue hasn't been resolved. I've deleted & reloaded the app & it either crashes or, when it does eventually log in, says my smart hub is offline & won't arm or disarm!"

This is not the first time smart systems have failed, and over the summer, Google Home and Chromecast devices went down across the world due to a glitch.

An outage at Amazon Web Services last year, meanwhile, prevented users from being able to turn on their lights and control their locks.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th October 2018 author Matthew Field)

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A devastating global cyber attack that crippled computers in hospitals across the UK has cost the NHS £92m, a report from the Department of Health has found.

The so-called WannaCry hack, which shut down hundreds of thousands of computers around the world with messages from hackers demanding ransom payments, hit a third of hospital trusts and 8pc of GP practices. Around 1pc of all NHS care was disrupted over the course of a week.

The hack caused more than 19,000 appointments to be cancelled, costing the NHS £20m between 12 May and 19 May and £72m in the subsequent cleanup and upgrades to its IT systems.

The cyber attack caused 200,000 computers to lock out users with red-lettered error messages demanding the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The attack was blamed on elite North Korean hackers after a year-long investigation.

At the time of the attacks, the NHS was criticised for using outdated IT systems, including Windows XP, a 17 year-old operating system that could be vulnerable to cyber attacks.

In a report from the Department of Health, the Government said it had continued to invest in its cyber security and infrastructure to prevent similar attacks.

The NHS has increased infrastructure investment of £60m this year to the most vulnerable services, such as major trauma centres and ambulance services. The Government said it had committed £150m to upgrading its technology systems over the next three years.

The NHS also this year signed a new deal to upgrade local NHS computers to Microsoft's Windows 10.

The report said: "The results have shown that organisations have made good progress in implementing the data security standards related to people and process, but that those relating to technology continue to be challenging."

The WannaCry cyber attack hit businesses around the world, including Renault and FedEx and crashed thousands of ordinary peoples' computers.

Last month, US prosecutors pinned blame for the attacks on North Korean hackers the Lazarus Group. While the attack didn't specifically target the NHS, it spread over the internet using a leaked hacking tool developed by the US spy agency the NSA.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th Octobr 2018 author Adam Williams)

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Tens of thousands of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers are being issued with new credit cards after their details were compromised during the Ticketmaster data breach.

Customer data was stolen from the ticketing website by hackers earlier this year, with personal details and payment information being exposed.

As a result, tens of thousands of Lloyds Banking Group customers will now have their credit cards blocked and replaced by new cards.

Affected customers are being notified by letter, with their existing card being blocked from Oct 15 and a replacement card being issued within five working days. This means customers may be without their credit card for up to a week.

Customers with debit cards will not be issued with new cards, the bank confirmed.

Lloyds is not the only provider that has reacted to the Ticketmaster breach in this way, Barclaycard also confirmed that it had issued new cards to customers as a result of the cyber attack.

Drastic measures

Telegraph Money reader Blake Welton received a letter from Halifax - days before he was due to go on holiday - informing him that his travel credit card would be cancelled.

"When I phoned I was immediately told a number of Halifax Mastercards were being blocked due to the belief they may have been compromised during the recent Ticketmaster security breach," he said.

"I was initially told that as the letter had already been sent out there was nothing I could do to delay the the cancellation, but after spending nearly an hour on the phone Halifax agreed the process would be temporarily postponed while I go on holiday and resolved on my return.

"Halifax is obviously concerned enough to take these drastic measures, even though customers will be left without a working card for a week."

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesman said: "Lloyds Banking Group uses a range of approaches to protect customers from the risk of fraud, including reissuing cards on occasion. In all cases, we take all possible steps to minimise time without a card."

(1st November 2018)

(Techradar, dated 11th October 2018 author Anthony Spadafora)

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New research has revealed that 64 per cent of working adults don't know what ransomware is raising concerns over the general public's understanding of cybersecurity risks.

Wombat Security, a division of Proofpoint, recently released its 2018 User Risk Report that surveyed 6,000 working adults in Germany, France, Italy, the UK, the US and Australia to better understand how end-user actions and capabilities affect device, data and system security.

The report was based on testing respondents on their understanding of cybersecurity fundamentals including their knowledge of phishing, ransomware, Wi-Fi security, password management and social media use.

Wombat Security found that many respondents had a limited understanding of common cybersecurity risks with 64 per cent unsure of what ransomware was and 32 per cent admitting they did not understand malware.

The survey found that 67 per cent knew about phishing, 36 per cent knew about ransomware and 68 per cent understood malware. When it came to password usage, 33 per cent of respondents said they used a password manager and 21 per cent of those that do not said they use the same one or two passwords for all of their accounts.

Poor personal cybersecurity practices

In terms of personal cybersecurity, many respondents failed to take the proper security cautions in their own lives which could certainly present a number of issues for companies that allow their employees to bring their own devices to work.

When it came to securing their wireless networks, 44 per cent admitted to not password protecting their home Wi-Fi networks and 66 per cent had not changed the default password on their routers. Additionally, 55 per cent of those surveyed whose employer gives them a device admitted to allowing their friends and family members to access the device.

The poor security habits of many respondents to Wombat Security's survey highlight the need for organisations to better educate their employees on the risks of online threats and the proper security measures that must be taken.

(1st November 2018)

(Surrey Live, dated 11th October 2018 author Thomas Johnson)

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A petrol tanker, hot tubs, electric bikes, generator, diggers and £10,000 in cash were among items seized as part of an ongoing police operation to tackle rural crime.

Two warrants were obtained: the first to search a plot of land off Southfields Road in Woldingham on September 27; and the second for the Caterham part of the site off Paddock Barn Farm, off the A22, on October 2. Three men were arrested as part of the effort.

Tandridge Neighbourhood Inspector Dan Gutierrez said: "Although in the early stages, this operation has proven hugely successful with the items we have seized and was made all the more effective with specialist support from our partner agencies.

"Surrey is a vastly rural county and we are well aware of the impact that rural crime has on our communities, with plant machinery theft having a huge effect on businesses who are left to pick up the pieces.

"Operations such as this take many months of planning and hard work and will hopefully send a message that we do take this seriously and are proactively targeting organised crime groups."

He added: "Fortunately we have been able to identify owners of some of the items we've seized as they had been properly marked by their rightful owners.

"If you own any kind of equipment it is vital that you do the same by ideally etching your details into items, or by using forensic marking kits so if they are stolen and we find them we can return them to you."

Surrey Police said the items seized in Caterham were:

- A lawnmower, ladder, rake, rucksack, spade saw and chain, which were returned to the owner whose name was marked on them;
- An industrial strimmer;
- Electric bikes;
- Petrol tanker;
- Two hot tubs;
- Two diggers;
- A truck; and
- Approximately £10,000 in cash.

While in the Woldingham raid, a stolen generator was seized.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro said: "Criminality such as the theft of plant machinery and farm equipment can seriously damage the livelihoods of hard-working people and cause misery in our rural communities.

"Operations like this are vital in disrupting those gangs who target our rural areas and I hope this sends a warning that we will continue to pursue anyone involved in this kind of criminal activity."

The two pre-planned search warrants were led by Surrey Police but involved a number partner agencies including South East Regional Organised Crime Unit.

Gain Disruption Team, Tandridge District Council, Vehicle Crime Intelligence Police Service and the Environment Agency were also involved.

Surrey Police arrested a 62-year-old man and a 35-year-old man, both from Caterham, and a 37-year-old man from Epsom. All three have been released under investigation.

(1st November 2018)

(Stoke Sentinal, dated 11th October 2018 author Richard Ault)

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Young people have been asked to use an anonymous hotline to report friends who might be carrying knives - after figures showed a dramatic rise in crime across Staffordshire.

Independent charity Crimestoppers has launched a two-week campaign in the county, aimed at protecting young people from harm.

It comes as the latest figures show that from April 2017 to April 2018, Staffordshire Police recorded 1,175 knife crimes - a 22 per cent increase on the previous year when 957 offences were committed involving blades.

The Crimestoppers campaign is aimed at people aged 25 or younger, and is focusing on social media with Facebook and Instagram posts and leaflet handouts.

It aims to help raise awareness and encourage people to report knife crime, while remaining anonymous.

Pauline Hadley, Crimestoppers West Midlands regional manager, said: "The recent rise in knife crime - not only across the country but also here in Staffordshire - is hugely worrying.

"Knife crime devastates families and harms communities and if you carry a knife, you increase the risk of being injured, sometimes fatally.

"While I understand it's a difficult area for some people to talk about, it's completely wrong to believe that you can protect yourself from danger by having a weapon on you such as a knife.

"We all need to work together to help make our communities safer. If you're concerned about someone you know, perhaps a friend, relative or workmate, who's resorting to taking a knife out with them, you can pass on that information via our charity 100 per cent anonymously.

"In over 30 years of Crimestoppers, our charity has always kept its promise to protect everyone's identity who contacts us."

Recent violent incidents involving knives which have taken place in across North Staffordshire have include:

- A 17-year-old old boy was taken to hospital after being stabbed repeatedly in a street attack on Hartwell Road, Meir.

- A 22-year-old man suffered life threatening injuries after he received multiple stab wounds in an attack at Pennycroft Court Flats, Corporation Street, Stafford.

- Two people were taken to hospital with suspected stab wounds following a disturbance in Minton Street, Wolstanton.

- A 42-year-old man was stabbed in the abdomen following an incident at a property in King Street, Longton.

n July StokeonTrentLive reported how all 15 high schools in Stoke-on-Trent had joined forces to organise activities aimed at preventing pupils getting drawn into street gangs and knife crime.

Then last month it was announced that Potteries-based Engage Communities had been awarded almost £30,000 of Government funding to tackle knife crime in the area.

The cash will allow the non-profit organisation to expand its Safer Stoke programme, which delivers mentoring, training and diversionary activities for at-risk and vulnerable young people.

Engage Communities founder and director Yaser Mir said: "I think the Crimestoppers campaign will help.

"We've been doing a lot of diversionary work with young people, and providing sporting sessions, like cricket and boxing. We work with a lot of young people to keep them out of trouble and off the street, I think it is working."

Superintendent Ricky Fields, Staffordshire Police's strategic lead for knife crime, said: "Knife crime continues to go up and so we are keen to do everything we can with partners to deter people from using and carrying knives. We wholeheartedly welcome this campaign from Crimestoppers as it focuses on educating young people about the dangers of carrying and using a knife.

"We will be providing support to the campaign where we can and continuing our own efforts, alongside partners, to educate young people and reduce knife crime in Staffordshire."

Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or through the non-traceable anonymous online form at

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th October 2018 author Katy Clifton)

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Women have been urged not to wear headphones or use mobile phones while walking alone near a north-west London Tube station after a string of sex attacks.

In the last eight months, 10 lone women have been sexually assaulted in the Cricklewood area in late night or early morning attacks which police believe are linked.

Most of the attacks have taken place as the women were walking from Willesden Green Tube station before being approached by a man, Scotland Yard said.

The suspect tried to speak to the victims, asking for a kiss or a huge, before touching them.
During the most recent attack at around 3.20am on Sunday, the victim was approached on Walm Lane after catching a train to Willesden Green Tube station.

The Met Police said: "[The suspect] tried to engage in conversation before sexually assaulting her."
Women walking in the area have now been urged to "be alert in your surroundings" and have been warned not to use earphones or mobile phones while alone.

Detective Constable Laura Avery, of Brent CID, said: "I would appeal to women in the local area to take care when they are walking, especially if they are alone. Always stick to well-lit streets.

"If possible, let someone know when you are coming home and the route you are taking and always be alert in your surroundings, so don't use earphones or handheld devices.

"This is a series of shocking sexual assaults on lone women and I am appealing for anyone who has information that could help identify and apprehend this suspect to contact police immediately."

Police believe that the assault on Sunday is linked to nine separate incidents between February and September 2018, taking place mainly over the weekend.

The suspect has been described as a black man of medium build, aged in his 20s or 30s and wearing dark clothing.

A 37-year-old man was arrested on July 19 on suspicion of sexual assault but was later released under investigation.

Investigations into the assaults continue, police say.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Brent CID on 07747476161.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

(1st November 2018)

(Coventry Telegraph, dated 10th October 2018 author Claire Harrison)

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An urgent summit has been called with the Home Office in a bid to protect front line policing in Warwickshire.

The move comes following the shock divorce between Warwickshire and West Mercia police announced yesterday.

Both forces have shared budgets and some back room functions since 2012 but the plug was pulled out of the blue by the West Mercia force.

There are now concerns the thin blue line could become even thinner as the fall-out of the breakdown is feared have 'significant' implications.

Both Warwickshire Police Force and Warwickshire Federation say it is too early to give finer details on the impact of the divorce.

But Marcus Jones, MP for Nuneaton, said he is calling on an urgent meeting with Home Office ministers to ensure local policing is not put at risk following the shock announcement.

"West Mercia have not indicated their intention previously so this is a surprise," Mr Jones said.

"I am reassured that Warwickshire Police are focused on continuity of service to the public, which I'm glad has recently included taking on more police officers.

"I am speaking to other Warwickshire MPs and seeking an urgent meeting with Home Office Ministers, as I want to see policing maintained and improved in our area, and don't want that put at risk."

'Significant' implications

Phillip Seccombe, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner, shares the growing concerns and said that the fall out of the surprise decision could have 'significant' implications on the local force.

It is no secret that Warwickshire Police is one of the smallest forces in the country and, without the alliance, it will have to go back to relying on its budget alone.

Under the alliance, the forces shared a combined budget and some back office functions but, following the decision, Warwickshire Force will revert back to post 2012 when it was a stand alone operation.

"The implications of this decision are significant and I will be working with Chief Constable Martin Jelley to minimise any impact on our communities, partners and workforce," said Phillip Seccombe.

"I want to assure the public that throughout this period, Martin and I are determined to ensure that Warwickshire Police continues to deliver a high-quality service to our public."

A spokesperson for the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) said ensuring that hard working officers are protected is key to them.

"We have always said that alliances should not just be money-saving exercises, must not be detrimental to police officers and would have to be beneficial for the public," the spokesperson said.

"Without knowing the full details of the rationale behind the decision, we can't comment on it specifically but we would be keen to ensure again, that any division is not detrimental to the hard-working police officers who will be affected by this and the communities which they serve."

Warwickshire Police statement

It has emerged that Warwickshire was only advised of West Mercia's decision on Monday.

Warwickshire's chief constable Martin Jelley said: "I am surprised and disappointed at having been served notice by the West Mercia PCC and Chief Constable terminating our strategic alliance arrangements.

"This is clearly a decision which has been taken solely by West Mercia's PCC and Chief Constable and one which myself and the Warwickshire PCC do not support.

"Our two forces entered into a strategic alliance in 2012 which has been recognised nationally for the extensive nature of its collaboration and has demonstrated significant benefits from shared working.

"In fact, it has allowed both forces to save more than £35m and maximise resources to frontline policing.

"Despite this announcement we are committed to ensuring the day-to-day operational focus of Warwickshire Police continues to be on protecting the public from harm and keeping our communities safe."

Under the notice given by West Mercia Police, the partnership between the two forces will end on October 8 2019.

(1st November 2018)

(Huffington Post, dated 8th October 2018 author Jasmin Gray)

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Police in England and Wales are "screening out" almost one million crimes a year without fully investigating them, an investigation has revealed.

Channel 4's Dispatches programme has uncovered that more than a quarter of crimes reported to police are dropped with "little or no investigation" by officers.

The data, obtained through Freedom of Investigation requests to 25 police forces, also showed that this figure is much higher in some areas of the country.

Bedfordshire and Greater Manchester Police reportedly failed to investigate 40% of crimes, while West Yorkshire Police was found to be screening out almost half of reported offences (46.5%).

Meanwhile, it was revealed that the force had set an "optimum" screen-out rate of 56% of crimes - the equivalent of approximately 145,000 offences a year. West Yorkshire Police is thought to be the first force to impose such a target.


Based on data provided by 21 police forces, the BBC programme found that while 438,000 burglaries were reported in England and Wales in 2017, 36% of these offences were screened out by officers.

Meanwhile, 16% of reports of aggravated burglary - where the intruder is armed - were dropped at an early stage of investigation by West Yorkshire Police.

Vehicle Crime

On average, almost 60% of vehicle offences - which include the theft of cars and items from inside them - were screened out by police officers at 21 forces.

This figure jumped by a third when looking at West Yorkshire Police alone, with officers failing to investigate 81% of vehicle offences beyond the preliminary stages. Meanwhile, 72% of this kind of crime was screened out by police in Wiltshire.

Violent Crime

Freedom of Information responses from 23 forces questioned in the investigation showed that, on average, 1 in 10 violent offences were being screened out by police.

However, more than a quarter (26%) of violence with injury cases were dropped by Warwickshire Police.

Sex Offences

Finally, the investigation found that 3% of sex offences were being screened out by officers without a full investigation.

The analysis comes just two months after police officers in Lincolnshire were accused of failing victims of violent crime, rape and domestic abuse for failing to record almost one in five crimes reported to the force.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said the government expects police "to take all reports of crime seriously, to investigate and to bring the offenders to court so they can receive appropriate punishment".

"The government remains alert to changes in trends and new methods used by criminals and we will continue to work with the police, industry and others to consider the evidence and what more can be done to prevent these crimes taking place," they continued.

"The deployment of resources is a matter for Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners."

Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police denied setting a target for the number of crimes to drop, calling it an "optimum 'screen out' rate…of crime" based on a "…risk assessment model, proportionality & solvability factors".

A spokesperson for the force told Dispatches that "all crime gets a primary investigation either by a police officer attending in person, or over the telephone".

(Manchester Evening News, dated 9th October 2018 author Damon Wilkinson)

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Victims of burglary, theft and criminal damage have reacted with anger after figures showed almost half the crimes reported to Greater Manchester Police are not being investigated.

Yesterday we revealed most theft, shoplifting, burglary, criminal damage, arson and public order offences were not followed up by GMP officers last year.

And a staggering 17,000 violent crimes were not investigated, according to figures released to the Manchester Evening News under the Freedom of Information Act.

Police chiefs blamed budget cuts for the pattern, with assistant chief constable Rob Potts saying reports are 'prioritised' so officers can 'focus on the most serious crime which represents the greatest threat, harm and risk to the public'.

But after the story was published several readers shared their experiences - and their anger - of being the victims of crimes which haven't been investigated.

Writing on our Facebook page Amy Miller said: "I had my credit card stolen last month, had the cctv footage (that I had to go and get myself) to be told nothing is going to happen. So he just got away with it ."

Jolene Dodd posted: "Had my bag stolen last week. I found out there is CCTV available of two people.

"Police still haven't been out. I've done a timeline of their movements with places/amounts etc but still no police to follow up.

"Criminals don't care and will continue because there is no deterrent."

Graham Corfield wrote: "Had my house broken in to.... after my car key.... have CCTV of one of the gang and now have name of him.... police done nothing .....
"Getting out of control.... something needs to be done."

And Duran Mhofu told how a spate of tyre slashing in Hulme didn't get a police reponse.
He wrote: "Eighteen cars had tyres slashed in Hulme no police even visited us despite all residents making complaints, 101 police number a waste of time and you will luck to get through after 10 minutes, shame on present government."

Since 2014 the overall number of incidents reported to GMP has increased by nearly three quarters.

At the same time more and more incidents have been 'screened out', with no officer allocated to look at them.

Some 47 per cent of reported incidents were not investigated in 2017, compared to 39pc three years earlier.

That included more than three quarters of vehicle offences and thefts such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching, 70pc of bike thefts, 62pc of criminal damage and arson reports and most burglaries.

But the force has lost 2,000 frontline officers under the Government's austerity programme.

And despite the figures there was also a lot of support for GMP, with many readers blaming funding cuts for the situation.

Commenting on our website BigJohn84 said: "It is sad state of the times

"There is much more crime occurring than there are police officers to investigate it. So this is what happens. Sadly the police have become social workers and investigating crime is just a side line."

Writing on Facebook Sid Windsor said: "They don't have the staff to investigate credit card fraud etc and still have officers to send to the rapes, stabbings, armed robberies, domestic assaults etc. One officer simply can't be in two places at once.

"The police service has been warning people for ten years this would happen. People ignored them, the government said they were crying wolf. Now do you believe it?"

And Chris McGlyn added: "Less money for police means less police spread too thinly, allowing crime to rise. Colossal mismanagement of public safety under the last two governments."

In a statement released yesterday GMP's assistant chief constable Rob Potts told how GMP assesses which crimes it decides to actively investigate.

He said: "We prioritise our workload to focus on the most serious crime which represents the greatest threat, harm and risk to the public. We also make decisions on investigations based on 'solvability factors' which basically assesses the realistic likelihood of a positive outcome to ensure we maximise the impact of what are public resources at a time when reported crime has significantly increased.

"In many crimes there are no witnesses, CCTV or forensic opportunities, which means there are often no leads for the officer to investigate further.

"Where strong lines of enquiry exist, officers will investigate and we rely on the public to help us do this by reporting suspicious activity or telling us about anybody they know who is involved in crime.

"The fact that we choose not to continue certain investigations following an initial assessment does not mean that no positive action is taken. Investigation is only part of the support that is available to victims of crime; the Victim Services Partnership in Greater Manchester helps support and signpost victims of crime.

"I cannot emphasise enough that it remains vital that the public report all crime to the police; the overall picture of crime is carefully considered when targeting offenders and crime hot-spots. We will continue to work closely with our partners and communities to problem-solve within neighbourhoods to prevent crimes reoccurring."

Type of recorded crime

Percentage of crime screened out for years : n=2014 (n) = 2017

Burglary in a dwelling : 37.9% (51.79%)
Possession of weapon : 9.38% (23.96%)
Shoplifting : 19.18% (45.92%)
Theft from the person : 60.4% (75.05%)
Violence with injury : 11.12% (20.82%)
Violence without injury : 12.71% (26.94%)
Public order offences : 15.65% (51.52%)

Note : actual article has 21 categories of crime and quotes screening for four years.

(Telegraph, dated 9th October 2018 author Laura FitzPatrick)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police closed an arson case without visiting the scene of the alleged offence after the victims carried out their own investigation.

Carlee and Kylee Barnes, both 31, phoned police after their moped was destroyed in a blaze on their housing estate in Camborne, Cornwall, on Saturday between 1am and 3am.

The couple claimed they were told by Devon and Cornwall police that officers would visit them "in a couple of days" after they reported the suspected arson attack.

They decided to launch their own enquiries by speaking to neighbours and checking the local area for CCTV.

The police then informed the couple that there was nothing more they could do and subsequently closed the case the day after the attack.

Mrs Barnes said: "They could not even give us five minutes to come and see me and take a statement. They said they closed the case but it was not even opened as far as I'm concerned.

"It's just disgusting. I went to Camborne station and said it was wrong and he said there were just not enough resources.

"They're up at my childrens' school every day trying to give us parking tickets and can't investigate a real crime?

"I can see why people take the law into their own hands."

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed the circumstances.

A spokesman said: "The victim had carried out house to house and CCTV enquiries, as the officers would have done. Therefore leaving no need for the officers to repeat.

"As there are no viable lines of enquiry at this time, the crime has been closed, however, as in every case, if any new evidence comes to light, it will be investigated."

(Mirror, dated 4th October 2018 author Jeanette Oldham)

Full article [Option 1]:

Cuts-ravaged West Midlands Police is also now failing to attend half of the most serious 999 calls within the required 15-minute deadline, Birmingham Live reports.

Startling new statistics show that response times to the highest priority emergencies have plunged dramatically over the last two years, while demand from the public has rocketed.

Sources the lack of officers has led to several Birmingham householders who have caught burglars themselves eventually being told to let them go after calling the police - because there were no available officers to attend.

The "P1" calls are officially classed as the most serious incidents.

They can include situations where there is a danger to the public or property, where offenders still at scene or a crime is in progress.

But stark figures show how the loss of 2,000 officers since 2010 is affecting day-to-day crime fighting at West Midlands Police.

In January 2017, the force received 52,648 emergency calls, 12,100 of them in the P1 category.

The percentage of those priority 999 calls that officers attended within 15 minutes was 77.69 per cent.

That plunged to just 63 per cent by December last year, when the over-stretched force received 15,122 of the highest priority incidents out of 56,520 calls to 999.

And last month, was the worst on record for response times. In September the force received 65,098 calls to 999, of which 16,292 were classed as P1 emergencies.

But officers hit the 15-minute deadline in just 52.41 per cent of those cases.

The worrying statistics also show the increasing 999 demand faced by the force as crime rockets in Birmingham.

The city has seen a terrifying week of violence, including a triple stabbing in Dale End.

In 2017 calls to 999 had peaked in the July at 65,147. Yet that figure has been beaten three times this year, with 66,994 calls to 999 in June, 74,975 calls in July and 66,081 in August.

Richard Cooke, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: "In the last two summers, demand has set a new record with demand from the public in terms of 999 calls.

"We've lost 25 per cent of our number, one in four of our officers, we've got the least number of officers since 1974.

"We're clearly not investing properly in the police service nationally - we've got an epidemic of violent crime. And clearly the penny is dropping with the public.

"Perhaps in the past it wasn't as clear cut, when the cuts first started, but now we've got stations that have been at the heart of communities for decades being ripped out.

"And this is the symbolic presence of policing in communities and it's disappearing."

He added: "The criminals are cottoning on to it, the public are cottoning on to it, they're becoming alarmed by it.

"Yes, it's a big issue for the Government but equally the PCC and Chief Constable can't get off the hook entirely.

"They are responsible for organising the force and they have got to do the best they can with the diminishing resources. It's very difficult.

"But what I would say is that the centralisation of response policing I think is a problem, because we've organised the force in centralised departments."

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "We have lost a quarter of our budget since 2010, and despite a relentless efficiency drive have lost over 2,000 officers.

"West Midlands Police's funding is still falling in real terms, so we will continue to have to make difficult decisions for the foreseeable future.

"The closure of police buildings is just one of them. We have had to choose between police officers and buildings.

"By closing buildings, we have protected 100 officer posts.

"In years gone by it was possible to protect both."Either the Government needs to increase the funding it gives to forces like the West Midlands, or be honest and say that 'we can't do everything'.

"I am being honest with the public, the Government needs to be too."

(1st November 2018)

(Mirror, dated 9th October 2018 author Carl Eve)

Full article [Option 1]:

A list of police codewords and acronyms have been revealed - including the ones they don't want you to know.

The vast majority of them are merely a shorthand way of explaining important information, roles, incidents or titles.

But occasionally, they create special codewords which aren't entirely PC.

They learn them by heart, pick them up from older officers and accept them from seniors.

You may have even heard a few - perhaps on a TV cop show.

Here's Plymouth Live's guide to police slang.

You'll find the official terms at the top - and a few unofficial phrases at the end of the article.

###The official terms

LOS - Lost or Stolen ("The car's LOS, Sarge…")

CRO - Criminal Records Office or Criminal Record ("Sarge, he's got a CRO)

PNC - Police National Computer

RTC - Road Traffic Collision, which used to be RTA (Road Traffic Accident) until, as any Hot Fuzz film fan knows, vocab guidelines state police no longer refer to such incidents as 'accidents', they're now collisions. Because 'accident' implies there's nobody to blame.

Misper - a Missing Person ("Sarge, is Lord Lucan still a misper?")

TWOC - Taking Without Owner's Consent ("Ere, bey, have you been done for twokking cars again?")

PSU - Police Support Unit is a team of officers trained in public order and are used in major incidents, support other officers and bashing in doors with the Big Red Key (see later). In Devon and Cornwall they are now called the FSG - Force Support Group. The Metropolitan Police had a similar team called the SPG - Special Patrol Group. They were heavily criticised following their policing of an Anti-Nazi League demonstration where a demonstrator was struck with a baton and died. They were then renamed the TSG - Territorial Support Group.

FLO - Family Liaison Officer. These are officers who work closely with victims of serious crimes, such as the family of murder victims, or tragic deaths such as fatal road collisions.

TK - Telephone Kiosk. One officer admitted that in their early days on the job they were told to attend an incident at a "TK at Royal Parade". They spent several minutes interviewing staff at TK Maxx before being told over the radio they were in the wrong place.

PS - Personal Radio

CHIS - Covert Human Intelligence Source. Alternatively known in court as "an informant". Known in common parlance as a "grass" or "snitch" who may eventually come to a violent end. Hence the phrase "snitches get stitches".

POLAC - Police Accident. Usually a road accident involving a police vehicle. This will inevitably lead to the aforementioned driver having to purchase a large quantity of cakes for his laughing colleagues back at the station. ("Sorry Sarge, I think I may have reversed the riot van into your new Audi").

OIC - Officer In Case ("Right, Constable Crap-driver, you're now the OIC on this abducted-by-alien complaint").

SIO - Senior Investigating Officer.

POLSA - Police Search Advisor - a specially-trained officer who advises on the best approach to carry out searches in Misper cases or suspected murders where bodies are yet to be found.

Code 11 - Off duty ("Sorry Sarge, I can't attend that alien abduction, I'm Code 11 as of 10 minutes ago")

ASNT - Area Search No Trace. When police have searched area for a suspect but there's no trace of them.

DL - Driving Licence ("Sarge, got a little green man here with what looks like a dodgy DL")

Code 4 - a meal break. ("Can someone else go to that Sarge, I'm Code 4?")

RJ - Restorative Justice. ("Well Sarge, could he at least repaint the fence he's drawn a k**b on? The victim is okay with some RJ")

CIM - Critical Incident Manager. Invariably an Inspector rank officer who oversees all the live "critical" incidents going on in the area and makes the decisions which ensure these situations don't get any worse.

NFP - Normal For Plymouth ("Sarge, we found the naked bloke wearing a tutu, off his head on mushrooms and mumbling something about 'Green Army'." "Yes lad, that's NFP".)

NFA - No Further Action. When police either cannot get the evidence to convince the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) to go for a charge, the case is dropped and the person is told there will be NFA.

RUI - Released Under Investigation. Since bail has been hurled out the door by the Government, people are told they are not on bail, but they are RUI and can be arrested at any moment as inquiries continue. This has been sold to the public by the Government as a good thing. No-one in the police thinks it is a good thing.

NPAS - National Police Air Service. As part of a cost-cutting exercise police helicopters were taken out of police force's control and a single body was created to cover the country.

FPN - Fixed Penalty Notice. Effectively a fine handed to you by police.

AIO - All In Order ("Sarge, I've check the house where the Demis Roussos was being played louder than a jet engine. It's AIO").

WOA - Words Of Advice ("Sarge, we pulled the driver over who had a cow in the back seat of his Land Rover and, as it's NFP we've given him WOA").

UNIFI - Unified Police Intelligence. The police's crime, intelligence and custody computer database. It sends officers mad trying to get it to work. Imagine Windows 89 but on its last legs.

NOIP - Notice of Intended Prosecution. Effectively a note which tells you your future may well involve a court visit.

SOCA - Serious and Organised Crime. As opposed to Jocular and Erratic Crime. This is the environment where you encounter men called Dave with broken noses and leather jackets who keep money in large rolls, run a scrap metal merchants and can get you a shooter to go with a kilo of coke.

SOCIT - Serious and Organised Crime Investigation Team. Where Detectives go when they want to be their childhood heroes, Bodie and Doyle.

SOCO - Scene of Crime Officer ("Sarge, can you get CIS down here for forensics?" "No Constable Savage, this isn't CSI Miami - in Plymouth we call them SOCOs")

SODAIT - Sexual Offences and Domestic Abuse Investigation Team.

SOPO - Sex Offenders Prevention Order. An order by the court which attempts to keep sex offenders from committing sex offences.

SOR - Sex Offenders Register. You can end up on this list from doing everything from patting a person of the opposite sex on the bottom against their wishes to the serial rape of children.

ASBO - Antisocial Behaviour Order. Considered by some to be a badge of honour, although not an ideal addition to your CV.

ABE - Achieving Best Evidence. Where victims of serious sexual assaults are video interviewed for their very first statement, which can then be used in court.

BCU - Basic Command Unit is the largest unit into which territorial British Police forces are divided. Plymouth is populated enough to be an entire BCU. Remarkably, the entire county of Cornwall is just one BCU. In the same way that it's one sandwich short of a picnic.

D & D - Drunk and Disorderly, not Dungeons and Dragons.

Section 165 - No insurance seizure. Where a vehicle is seized by police and may well be crushed because the driver had no insurance.

Section 59 - Antisocial behaviour order vehicle seizure. Where the owner has previously been formerly warned for their antisocial driving and yet has continued to drive like a prat, and thus lose their vehicle.

PSU - Public order Support Unit. Usually a police van/people carrier which everyone outside of the police force call a "riot van". Usually has a pack of Haribo in between the two front seats.

MOE - Method of Entry. ("Sarge, we're going to use the chainsaw through the front door as our MOE".)

AP - Aggrieved Person. The injured party. The victim.

ARV - Armed Response Vehicle. A vehicle with armed response officers (and their guns). Often heavily ladened with "Gucci gear" (police-style equipment which is not standard issue gear and is instead purchased by ARV officers from numerous US-type websites because it looks cool/imposing/flash/intimidating)

Big Red Key - battering ram for smashing down doors. It's big. It's red. It opens doors.

OT - Overtime ("Sarge, will I be getting any OT for this?")

Hooly Bar - a large iron bar with a large spike at the end. Used for smashing in windows and distracting occupants while another officer uses the Big Red Key to gain entry. Usually at properties where illegal recreational pharmaceuticals are being kept, grown, created, smoked, ingested, injected.

Refs - Food. ("Sarge, I've been on scene guard for six hours. Any chance of some Refs").

Spray - Captor canister incapacitant. AKA pepper spray.

Stabby - A protective vest worn by officers in the hope it will minimise the risk of being stabbed.

Lid - A Police hat. Because you can't just call a hat, a hat.

The fun stuff

While the official list of acronyms runs to an entire booklet with more than 300 terms, there are some acronyms and policing phrases which have eased their way into common police parlance and very few of them are half as polite or politically correct.

However, we must keep in mind, policing can be a dark job on occasions and dark humour grows in such places.

FUBAR BUNDY - F***** Up Beyond Any Recovery But Unfortunately Not Dead Yet. ("Sarge, that scrote who's been battering old ladies and mugging them has come off his stolen scooter. He's FUBAR BUNDY.")

Code Brown - A close shave. ("Sarge, Sarge, that concrete block thrown from the multi-story just missed my head. I'm proper Code Brown here Sarge!")

Jeremy Kyle referral - A person of the like one would expect to appear on a popular daytime TV show where various wastrels, ne'er do wells and vagabonds are given DNA checks but not dental treatment.

GTP - Good To Police. A sympathetic or welcoming shop/café/organisation/resident. Such as a resident who offers a cup of tea to officers who are on scene guard in the pouring rain.

Furry Exocet - a Police Dog (see also, Land Shark and Hairy Exocet).

ATNS - like ASNT, but it's where the likelihood of anyone being around is less than zero, so Area Traced, No Search.

Gidgy - A deployment considered by officers to be a "piece of p***". A job where there is the pretence of working, but being able to do so without to actually do anything. A bit like SPLB duty - Shuffle Paper, Look Busy.

BINGO seat - Bollocks I'm Not Getting Out seat. The back seat in the PSU carrier.

BONGO - Books On, Never Goes Out. A lazy cop.

LOB - Load of Bollocks. Often used when describing a false or grossly exaggerated call from a MOP - Member of Public. ("Sarge, you were asking about that kidnap, serial killer, alien invasion job… it's a LOB, close the log.")

GDP or WDP - Greater Dorset Police or West Dorset Police. A term used to describe Devon and Cornwall Police since so many of its departments have now been taken over by Dorset Police. A term often used by other neighbouring forces when they wish to chide, josh or ridicule Devon and Cornwall Police officers.
Police use the codewords amongst themselves (file photo) (Image: Getty Images)

A Unit - A person who is considered quite muscular and may cause officers a little bit of trouble.

A Big Unit - A big person, who will definitely cause officers a bit of trouble if he chooses to.

FBU - F****** Big Unit. An awfully big person. ("Sarge, can we have a few more officers please. This bloke you've told us to arrest said he won't come out of the pub and he's an FBU")

DODI - Dead One Did It. Used in reference to single vehicle fatal RTCs where there is only one occupant of the vehicle in question.

DILLIGAF - Do I Look Like I Give A F***? A response offered when a MOP indignantly asks for the officer's name. ("Certainly Sir, I'm Sgt Dilligaf, now would you please blow into this bag. No, this one, not that second one you can see…")

FLUB - F***ing Lazy Useless B***ard. A term used out of earshot for a very disagreeable and inept officer, who is also possibly corrupt.

NFI - No F***ing Interest ("Sarge, I've spoken to the neighbours about it and they've NFI")

PLONK - Person of Little Or No Knowledge. ("Sarge, we've spoken to the AP, they're a PLONK)

RAT- Really Adept at Traffic Law ("Sarge, I've got a RAT here who's convinced driving at 60mph in a 30mph is a Human Right".)

The final synonym offered to Plymouth Live from an anonymous source was: "When asked for directions, you point at the hat and cap badge and advise them "It says E II R, not A to Z".

(1st November 2018)

(Mirror, dated 9th October 2018 author Neil Murphy)

Full article [Option 1]:

Many airline passengers seem unconcerned thieves could be working on their flight, often stashing valuable items such as jewelry and credit cards into carry-on luggage in overhead lockers.

However, a recent incident shows travellers would be wise to remain vigilant against the threat of mile-high theft from criminal gangs.

Police in Hong Kong were called to meet a South Africa Airways flight on the runway last week after passengers reported they had valuables stolen from their bags while they slept.

A spokesperson for the airline confirmed two passengers had belongings taken on an overnight flight from Johannesburg to Hong Kong.

"One of the complainants was able to point out a few passengers who had behaved in a suspicious manner in the cabin and who were seen opening some overhead compartments while other passengers were sleeping," a statement read.

After it landed, officers boarded Flight SA286 and searched two passengers who had been accused of acting suspiciously, but were released after police failed to find the missing items.

"The rest of the passengers disembarked and the suspects identified were ordered to remain in the aircraft and were searched by the police in Hong Kong," the spokesman told TravelMole .

Thankfully the valuables were returned to their owners after being discovered by cleaning staff - but the incident recalled numerous such thefts on Hong Kong-bound flights.

In 2016, Hong Kong authorities said criminal gangs had bagged items worth £335,000 in just nine months on flights departing major airports in South Africa.

Authorities say the gangs often 'scout their prey' before boarding the aircraft and then place their own bags in the same overhead compartment as their victims.

Common tactics employed by criminals included taking luggage to their seats or a toilet when lights are dimmed after mealtimes.

One person complained that devious criminals had taken $3,000 from his carry-on luggage and replaced it with 76 single dollar notes, totally throwing him off as he checked his belongings as he left the aircraft.

In another case from 2016, traveller Warren Becker said a fellow passenger told him to check his case after witnessing a man rummage through it in the plane's lavatory.

The man told Traveller24 : "When I checked my bag, which was locked for extra security, I found the lock broken and foreign currency as well as some extremely valuable jewellery had been stolen."

Police boarded the aircraft but failed to find Mr. Becker's missing items, including cash and electronics which he estimated was worth £2,000.

Reports appear to have declined dramatically in recent years, with in-air thefts plunging 90% aboard flights to the Chinese territory.

In 2015, police said there were 77 incidents and HK$5.11m (£500,000) missing - a figure which dropped to HK$889,000 (£86,937) in 2017.

"Even if we can't locate or arrest the suspect, there is a high chance of recovering the lost property as culprits abandon items in toilets or aisles once they know their crime has been exposed", chief inspector Sharon Wong Hau-suen told SCMP .

However, the chance of recovering lost items is "very slim if the victim doesn't make a timely report", she added.


See also :

(Telegraph, dated 8th October 2018 author Hugh Morris)

Full article [Option 1]:

(1st November 2018)

(Essex Community Messaging, dated 8th October 2018 author Kevin Blake)

The tips for a crime free Christmas shop start before you leave your house, after all you don't want to come home to find the house broken into.

1. Garden tools securely locked away in the shed - Burglars will be happy to use your tools to break into your house.

2. Create the illusion your home is occupied - Radio and lights on a timer in rooms you would normally occupy, there is even a device called "Fake TV" that flashes a series of lights when it gets dark that looks like the TV is on. There are now door bells that you can view and answer from your Smartphone.

3. Lock up properly not just your windows and doors in the house, but also any gates and outbuildings.

4. Choose a "Park Mark" car park where you can . By choosing a Park Mark® Safer Parking facility you are visiting a car park that has been vetted by the Police and has measures in place in order to create a safer environment for both you and your vehicle.

5. Leave nothing in sight within your car, remove the "Sat Nav" cradle and clean the mark on the windscreen.

6. When you lock your car with the remote look for the light flash confirmation or better still try the door handle before leaving the car.

7. Now you're starting your shop watch your purse, wallet, mobile phone and handbag especially in busy places, don't leave them on display in bags or on counters while you pay, and while you're paying watch that no one is watching you entering your PIN when making purchases or withdrawing cash.

8. Time to stop for lunch or a cuppa, don't drop your guard. Mobile phone on the table, shopping by the chair, wallet or purse visible, coat, jacket or handbag over the chair; if a thief sees it a thief will steal it.

9. Need to off load some of those purchases in the car, look around are you being watched? Back to (5 & 6) above again.

10. Time go home, don't fall for any distractions while you load the car i.e. "you dropped some money" pointing to cash on the ground, holding a map "can you tell me the way to….". While you are engaged the second person steals from your car on the other side. Close and lock your car before speaking to anyone.

If you know who is committing crime or handling stolen property call the Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th October 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

Plain-clothes police are carrying out "sting" operations on London hotels to test if they raise the alarm over signs of child sexual exploitation.

Officers accompanied by young girls attempt to book rooms at hotels to check if staff recognise the warning signs of grooming and call police.

The move comes as figures show the number of child sexual exploitation (CSE) linked offences in London has almost doubled in the past three years, from 602 in 2014/15 to 1,107 in 2017/18.

The number of children who are assessed as being at possible risk of sexual exploitation has also risen by 40 per cent over the same period to 2,128 in 2017/18.

Now officers are visiting hotels with cadets, aged about 13 or 14, while carrying visible quantities of alcohol.

They may also try to book a room with cash and refuse to give any identification. Ideally, reception staff will refuse to rent out the room and contact police.

Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap said the operation, codenamed Makesafe, was aimed at raising awareness among hotel staff, rather than blaming venues.

She said: "We know that perpetrators of CSE may use hotels to commit offences. We know that CSE is likely to be under-reported, so we rely on people being alert and well-informed about some of the ways that children could be groomed.

"We would far rather someone alerted us and for it to be a false alarm, than for us to miss a chance to investigate."

Ms Millichap, who leads the Met on CSE offences, said that in previous similar operations hotel staff had "not always" taken the correct action but some had reacted positively and, at least, refused a room to the couple.

She said: "We know that as a result of previous activity to raise awareness we have taken calls and we have been able to safeguard a child so we know it works.

"We believe this is under-reported but we are not saying that hotels are full of abuse.

"We want people to be professionally curious and if something does not look right, to call us."

Police are carrying out visits at different hotels, ranging form large chains to smaller premises and B&Bs. Many have already received advice on spotting signs of CSE.

Ms Millichap added: "This is not an operation designed to catch people out or blame these venues.

"We want to encourage awareness in a powerful way. Where the response is not what we would expect it offers us the opportunity to provide refresher training and reiterate the warning signs."

Earlier this year West Yorkshire police carried out a similar exercise and found that only one in 11 hotels raised the alarm.

(Independent, dated 8th October 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police officers and teenagers posing as grooming gangs and their victims have been attempting to book hotel rooms across London to test whether staff are spotting the signs of abuse.

The undercover operation saw officers turn up with young cadets - who can be aged between 10 and 21 - carrying large amounts of alcohol. They then tried to pay for rooms in cash and without offering identification.

"The hope was that staff working on reception at the venue would recognise the warning signs, refuse to rent out the room and contact police," the Metropolitan Police said, but would not give information on how many hotels passed the test.

In the three years to 2017-18, the number of offences linked to child sexual exploitation recorded in London has almost doubled from 602 to 1,107.

In the same period, the number of children assessed as being at possible risk of grooming rose by 40 per cent, from 1,524 in 2014-15 to 2,128 in 2017-18 in the capital.

Many of the hotels visited by police have already been given training under Operation Makesafe, aiming to equip managers with knowledge on how to spot child sexual exploitation and intervene.

The week-long operation aimed to ensure they had passed on guidance on spotting groomers, who are known to use hotels to commit offences, as in high-profile cases in Rochdale, Oxford and Newcastle.

Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap, Scotland Yard's lead for child sexual exploitation, said the phenomenon remains underreported and that police rely on members of the public being alert to warning signs.

"We would far rather someone alerted us and for it to be a false alarm, than for us to miss a chance to investigate," she added.

"This is about making sure that the training implemented is being put into practice; and what has been established during previous similar operations, is that there are occasions when the correct action is not always being taken. We have been working closely with those within the hotel industry, who understand the importance of the issue and are keen to support our efforts.

"Where the response is not what we would expect it offers us the opportunity to provide refresher training and re-iterate the warning signs."

Officers from City of London Police also taken took part in the operation, with a number of hotels within the Square Mile visited.

Detective Inspector Anna Rice, of its public protection unit, encouraged people to "trust their instincts and get in contact with the police at the first available opportunity" if they have any concerns.

Police have warned of the existence of several different "models" of grooming, including online, through personal relationships and using drink and drugs.

Child sexual exploitation can be carried out by adults or other young people who take advantage of a power imbalance, and in person or online.

It often involves the young person being offered drugs, alcohol, money, gifts, cigarettes, mobile phones or supposed affection in return for engaging in sexual activity.

Police say that victims often do not initially recognise the coercive nature of the relationship or see themselves as a victim of sexual exploitation and are unlikely to report it as a result.

One senior officer previously told The Independent that grooming was taking place "in towns and cities up and down the country".

Chief constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chief's Council lead for child protection, previously said much of the current abuse was associated with "county lines" drug dealing, adding: "The 'Muslim grooming gangs' are just one model of child sexual exploitation and not the most prolific."

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has threatened technology companies with regulation if they do not prevent their platforms being used by paedophiles.

He has also launched an inquiry into the potential "cultural drivers" behind grooming gangs.

"I will ask difficult questions about the gangs who sexually abuse our children. There will be no no-go areas of inquiry," Mr Javid said last month. "I will not let cultural or political sensitivities get in the way of understanding the problem and doing something about it."

He said that perpetrators convicted in high-profile cases have been "disproportionately from a Pakistani background", adding: "I have instructed my officials to explore the particular context and characteristics of these types of gangs and if the evidence suggests that there are cultural factors that may be driving this type of offending, then I will take action."

It came amid numerous ongoing criminal investigations into child sexual exploitation across Britain.

Police have found offenders from a wide range of backgrounds.

Grooming gangs came into national focus following the scandal in Rotherham, where an ongoing investigation by the National Crime Agency has identified more than 1,500 potential victims.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 8th October 2018 author Kay Guest)

Full article [Option 1]:

What do women really want? And what would the crazy feminists do if they finally managed to steal all the rights from men, lock them up at night and keep the power for themselves? Well, the answers are just in, thanks to a thought experiment, and they might surprise you. "Ladies … what would you do if all men had a 9pm curfew?" mused Danielle Muscato in a random Tuesday morning tweet, adding: "Dudes: read the replies and pay attention."

Thousands of women responded, and the rather pathetic outcome is that if women found themselves in charge of the world, they would … walk places, sometimes, without feeling scared. Home from the station after work, maybe, or in the woods alone at night. Some would take the chance to buy their groceries while the shops are quiet. Lots would go for a run. Many said they would even listen to music on earbuds while doing so. Radical!

Men did read the replies, and some of them were furious. Demanding a 9pm curfew because you believe that all men are rapists is stupid, hysterical and basically the same as racism, they said, even though nobody had recommended imposing a curfew, or said that all men were anything. And, while it was sad to read how little it would take to make a lot of women really happy, it was also depressing to see people getting so angry about a hypothetical curfew, when women's movement is curtailed in real life all the time.

Nearly four years ago, a man was sexually assaulting women in London, and police advised all local women to avoid walking alone at night until they caught him. This was December, so it was dark pretty much all the time. And the man still hasn't been arrested. This is an actual curfew on women, recommended by the authorities (though of course I break it all the time to go out to work and back, and some men have told me that I jolly well deserve to be raped if I'm going to be so stubborn about it). Imagine if the police had instead asked men to stay in at night because of the behaviour of one man. The horror! Alongside the official advice, there is all the self-policing women do, sacrificing things we enjoy such as exercise or going out with friends or getting the night bus home. But nobody seemed to be angry about that.

A lot of the feelings seemed to be misdirected. Why were people so upset about several thousand women who spent a few seconds on a Tuesday morning enjoying imagining what they might do if they didn't have to feel afraid? Where is all the anger towards the small proportion of men who make us have to be scared? And how could anyone read the thousands of responses from women who have reason to believe they can't safely go out at night, and conclude that the real threat is to men?

Of course, some men did read the replies and pay attention, and their responses were very telling. "Wow, I feel horrible right now," said one. "None of this has ever occurred to me as an issue. I run, I go do whatever I want whenever I want. Why aren't women filled with uncontrollable rage all the time?" It's a very good question, and I increasingly think he's right, we should be.

Another man addressed me directly about this, asking, "When did it become socially acceptable to just bash men openly?", and "Well what exactly do you propose we do about it, then?" Don't tempt me, mister. Because when the crazy feminists finally take over the world, and steal your rights, and keep all the power for ourselves, people asking stupid questions like that will be the first to be locked up at night. And then we'll go for a walk. A really long one. With our earbuds in.

(1st November 2018)


(Daily Mail, dated 8th October 2018 author Kelsey Wilkie)

Full article [Option 1]:

The police tip line is buzzing as public interest in crime is at an all time high - thanks in large part to podcasts.

The popularity of true crime podcasts has seen the number of tip-offs to Crime Stoppers in Australia skyrocket and has led to 24,630 charges this year.

Podcasts like Hedley Thomas' The Teacher's Pet have captured the world, leading to a 91 per cent jump in the number of charges from tip-offs in seven years, according to ABC.

Thomas' investigation looks at the disappearance of Sydney woman Lyn Dawson and the relationship between her husband Chris Dawson and student Joanne Curtis.

The cold-case unfolded 36 years ago but has shot to the top of the charts, captivating wannabe sleuths.

Crime Stoppers Queensland general manager Jonathon Cowley said those podcasts have made the community more aware of what could be a crime and what information might be required by police.

'The community cares about safety and the old 'You don't dob on a friend' is fine in the schoolyard but [when] we look at things like drugs … then it's not 'dobbing' as such,' he said.

He said a tiny bit of information could be what is needed to solve a crime.

Anything that sets off our 'inner detective' and we've all got it; it's when you just don't feel right, you look at something.'

'You don't have to know everything about a crime but … you might just know that one little piece of the puzzle that police need to solve a crime.'

However, Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Lindsay advises caution, as he doesn't want people breaking the law in the hope of catching a criminal.

He said if you go into someone's backyard without permission you are trespassing.

He also warned of the risk capturing possible criminals on camera.

He said people might be putting themselves at risk by recording the possible offender.

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 7th October 2018 author James Morris)

Full article [Option 1]:

Thefts and cannabis offences make up 70 per cent of crimes in London's Royal Parks, official figures show.

Overall, the number of crimes in the eight parks have remained consistent, with signs of a drop in numbers this year.

But there are hundreds of thefts every year, partly due to high tourist football, as well as hundreds of instances of cannabis possession.

Of the 6,067 crimes recorded between January 1, 2013 and August 31 this year, 2,313 (38 per cent) were thefts and 1,959 (32 pc) were cannabis possession.

Meanwhile, 28 people were raped and 103 suffered grievous bodily harm. There was one murder: 62-year-old Jairo Medina in Hyde Park in 2016.

The parks - Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Regent's Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Greenwich Park, St James's Park and Green Park - are policed by the Met's Operational Command Unit. A spokesman insisted they are safe spaces, taking into account the tens of millions of visitors each year.

He said: "Officers carry out regular foot, cycle and vehicle patrols. Overall levels of crime within the Royal Parks have been relatively consistent over a number of years.

"Crime within the parks are very low when taking into account the large volume of people visiting year on year."

Thefts were recorded as 454 in 2013, 393 in 2014, 387 in 2015, 432 in 2016, 421 in 2017 and 226 so far this year. Of these, 320 were of pedal cycles.

Cannabis possession, despite making up a third of reported crimes since 2013, has been in decline. There were 614 instances in 2013 and 414 in 2014. However, this dropped to 255 in 2015, with 280 in 2016, 277 in 2017 and 119 so far this year.

The data, obtained from the Met under the Freedom of Information Act, also showed Hyde Park alone accounted for 51 pc (3,098) of the overall crimes.

But Joanna Clark, who sits on the safer parks panel for the Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, said this was inevitable given Hyde Park's estimated 13 million visitors a year. It also hosts concerts and demonstrations.

She told the Standard: "Hyde Park has a very high footfall of tourists. You can almost think of it in terms of shopping streets. Hyde Park is comparable to Oxford Street, which has thousands more people than, say, Richmond High Street.

"You are going to have more crimes where there are more people, but we have also been encouraged with the reduction of incidents this year."

The figures showed there were 308 crimes in Hyde Park up to August 31, compared to 634 in the entirety of 2017.

Ms Clark continued: "Much of it is lower level crime, such as theft of bikes, rather than serious crimes. We don't see many nasty incidents like the water fight a couple of years ago."

In July 2016, a police officer was stabbed and four others injured after the water fight turned violent. A crowd of about 4,000 people had gathered.

Ms Clark added: "If you think about London, being such a big city, we are relatively incident free."

Regent's Park has had the second highest number of crimes since 2013, at 650, followed by Green Park with 585.

Bushy Park, despite being the second biggest of the Royal Parks, had the lowest number with 221.

Crimes in London's Royal Parks
Overall figures between January 1, 2013 and August 31, 2018*

Hyde Park: 3,098

Regent's Park: 650

Green Park: 585

Richmond Park: 414

Greenwich Park: 345

Kensington Gardens: 339

St James's Park: 324

Bushy Park: 221

*figures do not include 91 sexual offences recorded across all eight parks

(1st November 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 7th October 2018 author Hannah Summers)

Full article [Option 1]:

The outgoing head of a leading British charity has launched a scathing attack on the government's failure to tackle forced marriage, saying she feels "let down by the lack of leadership" and warning that more children will suffer as a result.

Jasvinder Sanghera, who announced she was stepping down as head of Karma Nirvana after 25 years, said that despite sustained lobbying, many professionals working with those at risk still treated forced marriage as a cultural issue rather than a child safeguarding concern.

And, while progress had been made, working with the government to address the issue had at times been like "pushing a rock up a hill", she said. "The government has not done enough to raise awareness and mainstream the issue so there remains a huge problem with professionals viewing forced marriage as a cultural issue rather than a crime. Many aren't even aware there is a law," Sanghera, who founded Karma Nirvana, told the Observer.

"We campaigned for legislation not only to secure convictions but to send a strong message that if you do this in Britain you will be locked up," she said. "But none of this has happened and as a result I feel really let down by the lack of leadership."

There have only been three convictions under forced marriage legislation - one in Wales, and two in England. "This is completely disproportionate when you consider the thousands of reports," said Sanghera. "Despite the prevalence of this crime, there is still a reluctance to investigate and prosecute. Yet forced marriage is de facto rape because there is no consent, and in extreme cases can lead to honour killings."

Karma Nirvana, which runs the only government-funded national helpline, received 8,870 calls last year relating to concerns about a possible forced marriage, including more than 200 from or about children under 15. The funding for the helpline is not guaranteed after March 2019 due to changes in the way charities need to apply for financial backing.

Last week the home secretary Sajid Javid announced new measures to combat forced marriage, including an overhaul of immigration rules after a Times investigation reported that the Home Office was issuing visas to known abusers in forced marriage cases. Plans for a public consultation on issues including whether it should be a mandatory requirement for professionals to report a forced marriage case to the authorities were also announced.

Sanghera welcomed the proposals but added: "I've lobbied five home secretaries in my time and heard them talk of their commitment to this issue but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating."

She said she was disappointed that a national campaign on forced marriage planned for earlier this year had been shelved and that opportunities had been missed to include a section on forced marriage in the recent revision on statutory guidance around safeguarding children announced by the children's minister, Nadhim Zahawi, in July. "I'm departing feeling that we have achieved a lot in the sector but also with the sense there is not the right leadership in government to mainstream this issue."

She said Karma Nirvana had recently received a call from a police officer seeking advice about a 26-year-old man from a minority community who was in a "full-blown relationship" with 12-year-old girl. "He said he was calling to check it was 'culturally acceptable'," explained Sanghera. "Our call handler had to point out a raft of offences, including rape of a minor and child sexual exploitation. If a police officer is considering cultural sensitivities over the welfare of a child, surely that should be a wake-up call."

Derby-born Sanghera, 53, who is herself the survivor of forced marriage and has been awarded a CBE for her work, has had three books published on the subject including her memoir Shame, which describes how she was disowned by her family for refusing to marry a man of their choice."I was raised in a family where our mother taught us the worst insult we could bring to her front door was to behave like a white woman," explains Sanghera.

"These bigoted views of 'them and us' are reinforced by an honour system which is preventing many young women from integrating for fear of causing shame to their family."

She said: "As I look across the UK today I see more and more segregated communities and young people being told this narrative. If the government does not address the fact thousands of people across the country are unwilling to share our British values, then we will see more forced marriages and honour killings."

Sanghera says she is open to new opportunities and has not ruled out a move into politics. Her successor will be announced this week.

A government spokesperson pointed to the measures announced by Javid last week. They added that the forced marriage unit, which has provided support in almost 1,200 cases this year, was continuing to work with the National Police Chiefs' Council and others to improve the resources and training available to police and other professionals.

(1st November 2018)


(Daily Mail, dated 7th October 2018 author Daily Mail Reporter)

Full article [Option 1]:

- Police identified 471 children working for 51 Bradford organised crime gangs
- It includes youngsters being forced to work on cannabis farms as well as steal
- Four-year £1million project is now being launched in order to tackle the scandal

Nearly 500 children have been enslaved by gangs in one city alone, a report has found.

Police identified 471 children who are working for 51 organised crime gangs in Bradford.

Many were recruited as drug couriers as part of the 'county lines' scandal, in which a network of inner city gangs uses troubled children to distribute drugs and weapons.

The shocking report, by Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Police, is one of the first to show the extent of the problem.

Mark Griffin, of Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, said: 'Criminal exploitation of children is broader than just county lines, and includes, for instance, children forced to work on cannabis farms or to commit theft.'

A four-year £1million project is now being launched in Bradford to tackle the scandal. Last month, a Daily Mail investigation revealed that in six forces alone, 417 children were arrested in county lines police operations between 2014 and 2018.

(BBC News, dated 11th October 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Teenage money mules recruited into an illegal and dangerous world have described how they got caught up in criminal networks.

They spoke anonymously about the fraud, in which they allow their bank accounts to be used to launder gangs' money.

BBC South East has uncovered dozens of Instagram accounts used by criminals to tempt students - and a gang member said payments of £9,000 drew people in.

Instagram said the accounts had been removed.

Teenager Jamie said he did not have a job when he was approached.

"It was extra income," he said. "I was asked to take payments and not ask questions in return for a profit of what was going through my bank account.

"It could be anywhere from £500 to £5,000 - we'd only get a very small percentage so you wouldn't make much money but to someone who didn't have a job, someone who's a student, it's actually quite a lot of money to be making for very little work."

But he said acting as a mule led to abuse and threats to kill.

"You're always looking over your shoulder," he said. "This is a lot of money to the people above you.

"Of course you are making pennies compared to what they're making.

"[But] if that money doesn't get to that end person, you get all the abuse, the phone calls and the threats, a lot of threats of violence - that they essentially kill you if you don't give over that money.

"You've got the greed of having that amount of money. At the same time, you've got the threats of leaving. You know too much.

"Because you know a lot about the organisation, I have a very good idea about what happens."

###'Flashy lifestyle'

Daniel said he was 17 when he was recruited and he was attracted to the "flashy lifestyle" he saw on Instagram.

In "a good month" he was earning £2,000 to £3,000, he said.

But he added: "It wasn't until further down the line when I was being given strange instructions... that I started to think to myself, 'oh there must be something criminal in this'."

Secretly-filmed gang members said all they needed was a name, date of birth, address and online banking details to carry out the fraud, and they would pay mules to recruit their friends.

One said: "I can start a £3,000 job today for you - then I send you your cut [of] £1,500."

Another claimed there were "no risks".

Det Sgt Marc Cananur, from Kent Police, warned mules they could lose access to their bank account.

"It could have a massive impact on your credit rating," he said.

"The worst-case scenario is you may be convicted and imprisoned for up to 14 years."

The BBC found dozens of Instagram accounts used by criminals to tempt young people into money-laundering.

Instagram said: "Illegal activity is not allowed on Instagram and our community guidelines clearly state that people must follow the law.

"We encourage people to report content they think is against our guidelines using our in-app tools."

Instagram said the accounts flagged up by the BBC had been removed.

A Home Office spokesman said: "These ill-gotten gains enable serious and organised crime, undermine UK businesses and harm our international reputation."

He said changes in legislation had made it easier to seize criminals' money from bank accounts, including those used as mule accounts.

Since 2010, officials have recovered £1.6bn from criminals.
(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th October 2018 author Nick Charity)

Full article [Option 1]:

A machine with the power to identify cyber-criminals who may be plotting to commit an offence has been tested successfully by experts.

Scientists at Cambridge University have tested a system - likened to George Orwell's "Thought Police" - for scanning the web to identify potential cyber-criminals based on how they were commenting in forums.

But the researchers who piloted the programme denied it would be used by police forces to lock people up before they commit a crime, like in the Tom Cruise movie and dystopian story by Philip K. Dick, "Minority Report".

Computer scientists used machine learning to crunch swathes of data from 113 known cyber-attackers.

They built algorithms to compare the data to thousands of underground forum users, and scanned comments for the warning signs that they may be planning a cyber-attack.

The findings come as the need for methods to prevent cyber attacks is growing. This week it emerged that Vladimir Putin's spies had attempted to hack the international watchdog investigating the Salisbury nerve agent poisonings, Foreign Office computers in Whitehall and defence laboratories in Porton Down.

They whittled the accounts down to 80 individuals who were highly likely to become an "actor" in a cyber-attack, and when the team went back to read the comments first hand, the researchers said it was clear there was certainly cause for suspicion.

The computer "identified variables relating to forum activity that predict the likelihood a user will become an actor of interest to law enforcement,and would therefore benefit the most from intervention," said the published paper.

"This work provides the first step towards identifying ways to deter the involvement of young people away from a career in cybercrime," the paper said.

Dr Alice Hutchings worked alongside the Cambridge Cybercrime Centre at the university's Department of Computer Science and Technology on the research.

She said the team looked at a large pool of a quarter of million users and believe the system could be used up by cyber-crime police as a way of detecting "risky" individuals.

The technique worked by processing some 30 million posts from the Hackforums website, looking for key words and references to criminal activity, such as "DDoS" referring to a Denial of Service attack, or people who discussed distributing malware and "account cracking".

"The National Crime Agency does have a preventative strategy within their cyber-crime unit," she added. "They've said they want to be able to divert people away from serious activity."

But she dreads the idea that it could be used by so-called "Thought Police" to lock-up potential criminals pre-emptively.

The New Scientist made the comparison between the Cambridge experiment and the authoritarian police in George Orwell's 1984, in which "Thinkpol" officers seek out "Thoughtcrimes" - punishing people for believing anything that goes against the government.

But it could perhaps play the role of a "Thought Social Worker", using warning signs to intervene before young people turn into criminals, the scientist said.

Dr Hutchings said: "I deplore the idea of thought police arresting people before they commit crimes.

"You shouldn't be held liable for something you've just thought of doing, or spoken about but we need some kind of system to intervene when someone is at risk."

"The aim of doing this is to be able to divert people away from the criminal justice system, by identifying who is most at risk of being prosecuted and putting them in a pro-social pathway. I don't want young people to be arrested, I want to see a successful intervention.

"Young people are being drawn to this kind of activity, and they are often very talented and intelligent. When they end up in the criminal justice system it is very stigmatising - they end up with fewer prospects, and it can ruin their entire lives."

Cyber crimes have had devastating consequences in the past and can sometimes by driven by tech-minded youngsters.

One young hacker from Hertfordshire created a programme that fuelled more than 1.7 million attacks last year causing millions in damage when he was only 15.

His "TitaniumStresser" code allowed customers (he charged a membership of £250) to disrupt any website they liked, causing immeasurable losses to thousands of individuals, businesses and other organisations.

The need to prevent cyber-attacks is incredibly pressing today.

Government officials this week accused Russia of conducting a Blitzkrieg of attacks, against chemicals weapons watchdogs in the UK, US and Netherlands - allegedly by the Kremlin's own "Sandworm" hacking unit.

Four Russian men with diplomatic passports were arrested in the Netherlands after an attempted attack on the OPCW laboratories, which are aiding the UK in investigating the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The team were attempting a "brazen" close-range hack into the facility's systems, and it followed a previous attack against Porton Down - one of the UK's most secretive military research centres.

Despite mounting evidence, the Kremlin continues to deny any involvement, calling the case a widening of the UK governments "propaganda" campaign against Russia.

But it is just the latest in Mr Putin's online war - Russia has been blamed for playing a role in the distortion of the Brexit referendum and the US election which saw Donald Trump take the presidency.

How 'machine learning' discovered network of hack-attackers

The study hoped to learn more about the "criminal pathways" for young people who use the underground chat site, Hackforums, and discovered users who were performing DDoS (denial of service attacks), Remote Access Trojans, distributing malware, "account cracking", and operating "bot shops".

And by looking at common behaviour patterns they were able to predict the paths of activity that users would take - such as by looking at who they associate with, and where they learn the skills to commit complex crimes.

The team used Natural Language Processing to scan 30 million posts, and were able to pinpoint technical jargon and online idiosyncrasies which suggested criminal intentions. They combined this with data on the users' popularity on the forum, how they moved from gaming related posts to hacking posts, and how some moved from asking users on the forum for help - to giving help to others.

The research identified a particular network of closely connected "actors" exhibiting signs that they could be plotting serious attacks, and to clarify the discovery the scientists read their posts to confirm they were discussing the spreading of malware.

The paper said in its conclusion: "We have developed tools for detection and prediction of actors involved in cybercrime activities. These tools help to identify user accounts that might require further investigation by law enforcement and security firms monitoring underground communities."

(1st November 2018)

(New York Times, dated 5th October 2018 author Tanya Mohn)

Full article [Option 1]:

If Michael Charney has his way, more Americans would adopt a simple method to prevent "doorings," a type of collision when a driver or passenger in a parked car opens a door into the path of a cyclist.

He calls the maneuver the "Dutch Reach," and it works like this: When you are about to exit the car, you reach across your body for the door handle with your far or opposite hand. This action forces you to turn toward the side view mirror, out and then back over your shoulder to be sure a bicyclist is not coming from behind. Only then do you slowly open the door.

"Dodging open car doors is a daily risk" for urban cyclists, said Dr. Charney, a retired physician and dedicated cyclist.

Fatal bike crashes are on the rise in the United States; in 2016 the highest number of cyclist deaths since 1991 was recorded. The research doesn't say how many of those deaths are from doorings specifically, or how effective the Dutch Reach method is in preventing crashes, but a study done in 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, found that the car-to-cyclist crash type with the most injuries was doorings, said Kay Teschke, professor emeritus at the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

"A lot of people think because cars are stopped, doorings can't be serious, but they are very common, and they absolutely can be very serious," she said. "There have been deaths."

Dr. Teschke and other experts say infrastructure - like designated bike lanes that separate traffic and bicyclists - is a key to safety, but there are actions cyclists and drivers can take on their own.

Make It a Habit, Start With a Ribbon

Dr. Charney created the Dutch Reach Project in 2016 after a 27-year-old nursing student rode into an open car door and died five blocks from his home in Cambridge, Mass. Her death followed several other recent cyclist fatalities in the area.

He said the Dutch Reach is taught in some bike safety classes and professional fleet trainings, and now two states - Massachusetts and Illinois - include it in their official driver's manuals. Even so, the method is not widely known or used in the United States.

Dr. Charney acknowledges that it is difficult to change behavior and learn new habits. "I had a hard time retooling myself," he said. "But it's a simple behavioral fix; if you do it, it works."

He suggests putting a ribbon on your car door latch as a visual reminder that you're supposed to use your far hand to open the door instead of just instinctually opening the door as you always have.

This small maneuver goes beyond being a good Samaritan. It can help drivers and passengers avoid serious and costly damage to cars and the hassle of repairs, and protects them from stepping out into traffic and getting injured or killed by other cars, as well as bicycles.

Tips That Go Beyond the Dutch Reach

There is no name in Dutch for this technique - it's just second nature to Dutch drivers, and has been for years. It has been deeply ingrained in the country's culture.

"It's just what Dutch people do," said Fred Wegman, professor emeritus of Traffic Safety at Delft University of Technology and the former managing director of the National Institute for Road Safety Research SWOV in the Netherlands. "All Dutch are taught it. It's part of regular driver education."

The robust bike safety culture that exists in the Netherlands today was not always the case. Serious injury and death were once more prevalent.

"But they just did not accept it. They systematically and proactively went about changing their safety systems," Dr. Teschke said. "They tried big things and small things to see what will work. They just take safety really, really seriously."

We can, too, she explained, even if we don't have the same cycling culture, or even the same number of cyclists. Here are some other tactics that we could all apply.

Consider Professional Defensive Driver Training

Driver training is, in general, more rigorous and more costly in the Netherlands than in the United States. "In the Netherlands, parents are not allowed to teach their children," Professor Wegman said. "We have formal driver education schools."

Instruction is highly regulated, and classes are expensive The cost of getting a driver's license in 2017 was about $2,734 (2,300 euros), which includes about 38 hours of professional instruction, he said, quoting figures from the Dutch Driver License Agency.

The far hand method of opening the door is included in drivers' training and the exam that candidates take before getting licensed. "If they fail to do it or do it incorrectly, they fail the test," Professor Wegman said. "The exam is serious business."

uaware comment

A few decades ago I was parked on a hill in North London waiting for my Wife to leave work. Whilst waiting I was doing what most people did then (- no mobiles), people watch. Part of this was looking in my door mirror. I noticed a car park behind mine, the drivers door open and then something flew past my peripheral vision. That "something" was a woman who had hit that drivers door and then had been flown two car lengths and had landed on her head (cycle helmets then were not readily available).

On getting out of the car the scene was of this woman contauted on the ground , body twitching, and blood and a straw coloured fluid coming out of one her ears.

Luckily a medical doctor was passing at that very moment and started to care for her. I ran to a nearby office and asked them to call for an ambulance. I then controlled the traffic with another passer-by until the Police and Ambulance arrived.

All of this could have been avoided if that other driver had known and used the Dutch Maneovre.

My local London council is currently implementing cycle highways, so I asked my ward Councillor "what about advertising the Dutch Maneovre in the Borough ?" He discovered that they were looking into it. Not only that, but the Dutch Manoevre may also be added to the UK Highway Code.

Until it does become a legal Highway Code obligation, why not use the Dutch Manoevre everytime you exit your car.

(1st November 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 5th October 2018 author Aamna Mohdin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Crimes recorded on Britain's railways have increased by 17%, fuelled by a sharp rise in the number of violent and sexual offences, official figures show.

The British Transport Police reported 61,159 crimes in 2017-18, up from 52,235 during the previous 12 months.

Violent crime accounts for nearly one in five of all cases after rising 26% to 11,711. The number of sexual offences increased 16% to 2,472, with the force adding that there were still many more crimes of this type which go unreported".

In the same period, offences involving knives or other weapons went up by 46% to 206, while the number of robberies jumped 53% to 553 recorded crimes.

DCC Adrian Hanstock said: "The last year has been a very challenging one for our officers, who responded to multiple terrorist attacks as well as intervening almost 2,000 times with vulnerable people on the network. Despite these challenges, it is reassuring to see that the chance of becoming a victim of crime the railway network remains incredibly low."

The BTP note crime is lower when examined in the longer term. A decade ago, the force recorded about 30 crimes per million passenger journeys on the rail network; last year there were 19 crimes recorded per million passenger journeys.

The force say the increase in the number of passenger journeys and the popularity of its confidential text service, 61016, to report crime are two important factors contributing to the increase in recorded crime.

BTP's figures show a record number of people are trespassing on the tracks, accounting for 43% of disruption to trains, compared with 38% last year. Other crimes increasing on the rail network include throwing missiles at trains (up 35% to 316), arson (up 93% to 143), live cable theft (up 86% to 158) and theft from vending machines (up 21% to 240).

Paul Plummer, the chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "The nature of some crimes is changing and as part of our long-term plan to change and improve we are investing in new technology and innovations to make our railway even safer for our staff and customers."

(Telegraph, dated 5th October 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

A sharp jump in violent and sexual offences has fuelled a 17% increase in crimes recorded on Britain's railways, official figures show.

Some 61,159 crimes were reported by British Transport Police (BTP) in 2017/18, up from 52,235 during the previous 12 months.

Sexual offences increased by 16% to 2,472 and the force believes "there are still many more crimes of this type which go unreported".

Violent crime accounts for nearly one in five of all cases after rising by 26% to 11,711.

Offences involving knives or other weapons went up by 46% to 206, while robbery jumped by 53% to 553 recorded crimes.

BTP chief constable Paul Crowther said: "The chances of becoming a victim of crime on the rail network remains low.

"However, after a long period of steady decreases, both crimes per million passenger journeys and notifiable offences have increased."

Nineteen crimes were recorded per million passenger journeys.

The statistics for the transport network mirror the wider national picture.

Forces in England and Wales registered just under 1.4 million offences in the "violence against the person" category in 2017/18 - a rise of nearly a fifth (19%) compared with the previous year.

BTP's figures show a number of other crimes increasing on the rail network, including throwing missiles at trains (up 35% to 316), arson (up 93% to 143), live cable theft (up 86% to 158) and theft from vending machines (up 21% to 240).

More people than ever before are trespassing on the tracks, accounting for 43% of disruption to trains, compared with 38% last year.

The force said the increase in the total number of crimes is partly due to improving the way crime is recorded, which has increased accuracy and given victims and witnesses "more confidence to report crime".

Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "The nature of some crimes is changing and as part of our long-term plan to change and improve, we are investing in new technology and innovations to make our railway even safer for our staff and customers."

(1st November 2018)

(Cosmopolitan, dated 4th October 2018 author Catriona Innes)

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"Excuse me, Miss, can I ask if there was anything odd about your journey today?"

The girl looks hesitant. Confused. She frowns, as if she's thinking of the right answer.
"Umm," she pauses. "Something did keep poking into my bum... an umbrella, maybe?"

You might have felt an "umbrella" at some point in your life. Or maybe the corner of a "bag". At certain times of the year, perhaps "a roll of wrapping paper". When you're on a rush-hour train or bus, your fellow commuters packed in around you like (angry, honeyless) bees in a hive, it can be hard to tell. So you ignore the persistent prodding in your left bum cheek, or the top of your thigh. You ignore the little voice in your head that says "this isn't right". You convince yourself that you're wrong, it isn't what you think it is, and even if it is - hey, it's a busy train, you're sure he doesn't mean to…

Sometimes you might be right. But for this girl, standing on this platform, the rumbling of Tubes interrupting her conversation with a police officer at 6.20pm on a Wednesday, it was no umbrella.

I knew this sort of stuff happened. That there are men who rub their erect penises on unsuspecting women on public transport. I've lived in capital cities my whole life (first Edinburgh, now London) - it's a running topic of conversation among my friends. But we thought that these men were chancers, taking advantage of the close proximity a commute offers them. We also thought that there was nothing we could do about it, that it was part and parcel of our daily journeys. Sometimes you get an armpit in your face, other times it's a penis on your leg. Hey-ho!

We were wrong, on both counts. Something I only learned after spending time with an undercover police force known as The Grope Police (OK, so I call them this, their actual title is Project Guardian). Created by the British Transport Police and TFL in 2013 after it was revealed that one in seven women had been sexually assaulted on public transport, it's this group's job to catch these men in the act.

You would never spot them. But they're out there, during the morning and evening rush hour, blending in with the crowds. It's not just the penis-rubbers they're after either, but the gropers, the flashers, the up-skirters, the masturbators… turns out there's a whole host of sexual predators roaming the underground for their kicks. And they're anything but chancers.

On patrol

Oxford Circus's Central Line platform at 5pm is a place where no one would want to spend very long. The heat is desert-like, but there are no mirages: just sweating Londoners being engulfed by the warm, dusty air that comes whooshing in with every new Tube arrival. There are faces and bodies everywhere I look: and they're all pushing, shoving and tutting at me as I try to stand still, observing those around me, trying to identify gropers.

This is the second shift of the day for The Grope Police. They were out this morning looking for the early-bird gropers: those who take advantage of the AM crowds. And now they're back, intentionally placing themselves on the busiest line, and the busiest spot. Why? Because the men they're looking for (and it is men - the team are yet to catch a woman through this operation) thrive in crowds. Crowds mean victims are trapped, that there's nowhere for them to move to. Crowds allow them to place the blame on other people… or umbrellas.

But my desperate searching for someone who simply looks like a groper (oil-slick black hair, stained trousers, spitty lips, obviously) won't get me very far. The team of four that I am out with today are looking for behaviours. Tiny movements and decisions that a normal commuter just wouldn't make.

"If they're not looking up to see when the next train is, we want to know why," explains Leanne,* a kind-faced brunette in sequinned trainers and double denim. She looks like she could be on her way to collect her daughter from school. In fact, she's a surveillance-trained officer, who's been on the force for the past 20 years. "Or if we spot them getting on a train and then coming back to the same spot again, or entering the busier areas of the platform."

And so the force - like a pack of meerkats, their necks a little longer than most, their eyes darting back and forth - stand and take everything in. Then there is sudden movement: they spot a suspect and they all dart onto a train seconds before its doors close. I do my best to keep up. But I'm so focused on keeping an eye on the others that I have no idea who we are chasing. I'm told he is wearing a hat. There are lots of men in hats. Is it the elderly gentleman in the tweed flatcap? Is that why no one is offering him a seat? Two stops down and a signal is sent, and suddenly, we're off the train.

"The Gaffer", Ian,* sidles up beside me. The boss, he's got 14 years' experience and has a super-human ability to recognise faces. Back in the office, the team have hundreds of CCTV shots of suspects, built up from various reports, that they're always on the lookout for.

The Hat Man, Ian explains, was "just a looker" - and they can't arrest someone for staring. They have to see someone specifically in the act before they can step in. "We don't want girls to get assaulted but…" he says, shrugging. The team have to be very careful, witnessing just enough to intervene, and asking the victim open-ended questions. Even when boarding trains they can't push too much, for fear the groper will blame them, say they pushed them and - oops! - their "umbrella" just so happened to land there.

"We once followed a man for six hours. He was jumping from train to train, looking [at] and assessing girls on each," explains Stuart,* who with his stocky build and conker-coloured hair looks like a 1997 extra from The Bill.

"He was definitely up to something, but he just didn't act."

The team regale me with stories of those they have caught: there was the man who, on his way home for dinner with his wife, rubbed his penis against two Japanese school girls while still carrying his shopping from Waitrose. ("The fish was worth £35… I put it in the fridge for his wife to collect.") The hipster with a topknot who cut a hole in his grey jogging bottoms so he could masturbate on trains. The Russian businessman who ran down the platform when he spotted a male Chinese teenager ("I pulled open his coat, saw his erection and said, 'You're coming with me'").

On the hunt

Hat Man has now been replaced by Blue Jumper. He was spotted wandering up the platform, deliberately placing himself in among the busier crowds. We follow him onto two trains, or is it three? I have absolutely no idea where he is. Where I am. But they do. And they know him.

He gets off the train we're on and heads to the opposite platform. Leanne stays put. "He'll probably come back," she tells me. Maybe it wasn't busy enough, or there wasn't a woman there, but she's right. We wait. He comes back, apparently. I follow the group once again onto a train, trusting that he's nearby somewhere.

Then, in a split-second, there's a small commotion. A woman jumps on, just as the doors are closing, and gets her arm trapped - in a bid to free her, her friend elbows me in the face. Another man opposite me - short, stocky, wearing a jumper and jeans - asks if I'm OK. We begin to chat politely, in that way you do with strangers. He seems nice. He gets off the train and I say a cheery goodbye to him, and then I notice Leanne getting off, too. Once on the platform, I'm still a little dazed, and she tells me I have to hang back. I'm confused, but then slowly it dawns on me: the man in the jumper I've just made small talk with. The man in the BLUE JUMPER.

I don't have to hang back for long, though. That's the other thing about gropers: they're so focused on the task in hand that they are totally unaware of the faces around them. Soon I'm back in the same carriage as him. He doesn't even notice me.

This train is packed. And, to the innocent eye, it's full of commuters. Except clustered in a circle around Blue Jumper is the force. And, as he settles himself into position, in front of a girl in pink trousers, they are all staring at his crotch.

His hands are above his head, gripping the mustard-yellow pole above him. Everything about him is angled in one specific direction. Then he steps back. Leanne has seen enough. She nods to the others and Pink Trousers and Blue Jumper are asked to get off the train. The girl complies, quietly stepping onto the platform.

Blue Jumper is less willing. "I didn't do anything," he begins to yell. "I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING! TELL ME WHAT I DID…" He grips the pole above him tightly and refuses to get off. Three members of the force have to drag him off and onto a bench. There he continues his protests. Tired of his whining, Leanne walks over, stern-faced: "You had a semi. I saw it. Now will you just co-operate?" He falls silent.

He's taken away, while Leanne and I question the victim. She tells us about this "thing" pressing against her, and agrees to speak to the police on the phone later that night. As she walks away, Leanne says to me: "She definitely wouldn't have reported that."

I suddenly feel conflicted: have we just taken an uncomfortable situation on this girl's daily commute, and turned it into a sexual assault? Had we not been there she could have carried on, kidding herself it was just a bag or an umbrella.

But this is the problem. I, like most of the women I know, have normalised some forms of sexual assault or harassment. We've weaved them so tightly into the patchwork quilt of our life, it feels too difficult to unpick. So we just accept it. Perhaps as a form of self-protection, or perhaps because, for a long time, we thought we wouldn't be believed. Those one in seven women assaulted in 2013? 90% of them didn't report it.

This, of course, was before #MeToo. Before the outpouring of stories on social media: everything ranging from the horrific to the smaller stories, the ones, at the time, we all brushed off as "no big deal". I shared my own: when I was 19 a man snaked his fingers into my knickers while I was queuing to collect my coat in a nightclub. I did go to the police, only to be asked what underwear I was wearing, how much I'd had to drink and then be told "you could pursue it, but it would take a lot of time… and we probably won't catch the guy".

I felt silly for going to the station in the first place, went home, slept and tried to forget it ever happened.

Now I often wonder what that man did next. Because these "small" instances are rarely the whole picture. We take Blue Jumper into a back office of Liverpool Street Station, where it's discovered that he was caught, and cautioned, for similar behaviour five years ago. That's five years of him hooking his foot around a woman's leg, so she can't move, while he rubs himself against her. And when that's not enough for him, who knows what else he could do? A different man they'd arrested previously had his details cross-referenced: he was wanted for a series of rapes. All the officers agree that the type of behaviour these men indulge in is compulsive, as well as escalating.

And even if the "only" thing Blue Jumper did during those five years was rub himself up against women, why should we just shrug and accept it? This force believes we absolutely shouldn't, and a lot of work has gone into making it easier to catch these men. Those they have caught in the past have been served with prison sentences, placed on the sexual offenders register and had orders served that stop them from travelling at certain times of day, or being near women on public transport.

It's incredibly refreshing to hear that all this is going on behind the scenes, dressed in plain clothes. Because despite it being the era of #MeToo, the world still seems to support sexual offenders over their victims. After all, 16 allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour have done Donald Trump no harm, Roman Polanski is still widely celebrated and Louis CK is preparing to make his comeback.

But there are a small group of people who will listen. Whose only aim is to make public transport a hostile environment for these men, not their victims. Not all heroes wear capes, or uniforms. Some wear sequinned trainers.

Behind the scenes with the writer: Catriona Innes

"Before this feature, I would have had no clue where to turn were I sexually assaulted on any form of public transport. But it's actually really easy - you can just text 61016. And if you tell station staff, they'll definitely take you seriously, as they were all trained as part of the 'Report It To Stop It' campaign."

(1st November 2018)

(Mirror, dated 4th October 2018 author James Andrews)

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Stopping off on the way home to grab some food, picking up a coffee on the way to work, or even paying on the way out of a car park could see people slapped with a fine of up to £1,000 and six points added to their licence.

That's thanks to the combination of two things - the first is people paying with their phone and the second is the law surrounding using your phone while driving.

Quite rightly, people using a handheld phone on the road are liable to strict penalties.

The law states that you need to pull over and turn off your engine before interacting with your phone.

And that definitely includes using it to pay for something.

Even though I'm not on the road?!

Yup. Sadly the rules apply to people even when you're in a queue, not moving, on private land.

"If your engine is running, your phone should be nowhere near your hands. This is still the case if the engine stops automatically to save fuel (called 'start-stop technology)," The RAC explains in its guide to mobile phone laws .

As to whether you're safe on private land - sadly any road the public has free access to is covered by the laws.

That means drive throughs, petrol station forecourts and car parks count too.

And it's not uncommon - figures from All Car Leasing show 1 person in 10 uses contactless to pay on their mobile phone at a drive through or car park.

And that's before we get to petrol stations.

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis told Mirror Money: "Every driver should always ensure they are parked and have their engine switched off before using a handheld phone - anything else could land them in trouble, even if they are in a car park, drive-thru or petrol forecourt."

The penalty for paying by phone

The penalty for being caught using a handheld device while driving is six penalty points and a £200 fine.

That means you'll automatically lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the past 2 years .

If the police think yours is a particularly extreme case you can also be taken to court where you can banned from driving and receive a maximum fine of £1,000 - rising to £2,500 if you're driving a lorry or bus.

Of course, it's hard to see this counting as an extreme case, but the penalty is there if the authorities decide it is.

Staying safe

It's incredibly unlikely the police are staking out car parks and drive throughs waiting to pounce on unsuspecting people paying with their phones.

But that doesn't mean there's no risk - with a passing patrol well within its rights to fine you and add points to your licence if they see you.

Worse, if there's an accident - say the person behind you in the queue bumping into to you - and the CCTV is looked at you're definitely in trouble.

The easy way to avoid this is to make sure you don't pay by phone. It's a sensible move to keep a few pounds in cash tucked away out of sight in the car anyway, possibly with a back-up card too.

Alternatively, if you only discover you've left your wallet at home after you've collected the food, you might also be OK if you make sure you pull to the side and turn off your engine before paying.

uaware comment

The police like takeaways too, especially at the end of a shift or their night time break. Imagine the scene, a copper with his coffee and donut; then another "donut" drives up to the drive thru and pays with the mobile. What an easy nick !

My local McD is used by a police car training team. The instructors take the police "L" drivers in for a "blues and two's" training session review. They could also throw issuing a penalty notice as well. What efficiency.

(1st November 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 4th October 2018 author Mark Duell)

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Shocking footage shows just how quickly thieves can steal high-value cars from outside a home - without even needing the key.

Jason Lang, 49, was sleeping in the early hours of yesterday morning when he fell victim to criminals using the 'relay' technique in Heywood, Greater Manchester.

A car reversed into his one-way street and stopped outside his driveway. Two men then got out wearing hoods and gloves and concealed their faces.

One stayed beside property developer Mr Lang's £30,000 Toyota with a transmitter, while the other walked towards his front door waving a relay amplifier.

If the fob is close enough, it tricks the locking system into thinking the key is nearby and unlocks the doors. The start button is then pressed and the car driven off.

The technique, using gadgets available online, is swift and silent. Mr Lang was not disturbed and only realised his car was gone when he opened his front door at 9am.

He said: 'My first thought was that I must have left it at my business. But then I thought about it and knew I definitely hadn't.

'So I came in and looked at the CCTV and there it was. I'd heard vaguely (of the relay technique) but the thing is - the key was at least 30ft away inside the house. It must be a powerful transmitter, I couldn't believe it.'

Mr Lang has reported the theft to police and his insurance company. But he said the incident has left him wary of keyless ignition systems.

'I'm gutted - I'd barely had the car 12 months,' he said. 'It's unbelievable when you see the footage - they were so quick. It shouldn't be that simple to steal a high-value car like that.'

It is thought the 'relay' theft technique has contributed to a 44 per cent rise in car theft in Greater Manchester in recent years - twice the national average.

Police figures show that between October 2015 and September 2016, 4,572 vehicles were stolen in the region. The figure for the same period in 2016/17 was 6,564.

Richard Billyeald, vehicle security expert at Thatcham Research, said: 'Keyless entry systems on cars offer convenience to drivers, but can in some situations be exploited by criminals.

'Concerned drivers should contact their dealer for information and guidance, and follow our simple security steps.

'We are working closely with the police and vehicle manufacturers to address this vulnerability, continuing our approach that has driven vehicle crime down 80 per cent from its peak in 1992.'

What is relay theft? (SOURCE: Admiral)

Relay theft occurs when two thieves work together to break into cars which have keyless entry systems.

The thieves can use equipment to capture signals emitted by certain keys which are used to start new vehicles.

One thief stands by the car with a transmitter, while the other stands by the house with another, which picks up the signal from the key which is usually kept near the front door on a table or hook.

This is then relayed to the other transmitter by the vehicle, causing it to think the key is in close proximity and prompting it to open. Thieves can then drive the vehicle away and quickly replace the locks and entry devices.

Technically, any vehicle with keyless entry could be vulnerable to relay theft.

These included cars from BMW, Ford, Audi, Land Rover, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Mercedes cars.

###How can you protect your vehicle against relay theft?

According to research by the Institute of the Motor Industry, over half of motorists are worried their car could be accessed and stolen by remote thieves.

Fifty per cent of people surveyed weren't aware that their car might be vulnerable to cyber attacks, and while drivers shouldn't become paranoid about the safety of their car it's always a good idea to take precautions.

This has long been a necessary precaution in order to avoid car theft, but it's important to make sure that your key is as far from the front door as possible so its signal can't be picked up.

As hacking devices get more sophisticated, they may be able to pick up signals from further away.

This may seem a bit excessive, but a metal box could be the best place to store your keys overnight as the metal could block the signal being detected.

Lorna Connelly, head of claims at Admiral, said: 'Unfortunately, we do see a claims from customers who have had their cars stolen due to relay theft and it's a problem that we would advise motorists with keyless cars to be aware of.

'Despite progresses in anti-theft technology, thieves are always coming up with new ways to make off with your vehicle.

'We are urging all of our customers to keep their keys a safe distance from the door and consider storing them in a metal box. While this may seem like an extreme solution, relay theft is an extreme practice.'

(Manchester Evening News, datd 3rd October 2018 author Steve Robson)

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The increase in reported car thefts from 2015 to 2017

Bolton : 457 to 705
Bury : 313 to 350
Manchester : 941 to 1,703
Oldham : 354 to 544
Rochdale : 395 to 590
Salford : 470 to 803
Stockport : 285 to 452
Tameside : 342 to 527
Trafford : 204 to 361
Wigan : 389 to 529

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd October 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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Violent criminals in London are getting younger and attacks are becoming "more ferocious," a top Scotland Yard officer warned today.

Chief superintendent Ade Adelekan issued the warning as he revealed the Violent Crime Taskforce he heads has made 1,361 arrests and seized 340 knives since its launch six months ago.

The squad of 150 covert and uniform officers has also recovered 40 guns and 258 offensive weapons.

Earlier this year police faced a major surge in violence in London with 22 murders in March alone, a number of them with links to postcode gangs.

Chief Supt Adelekan said he believed the level of violence had now "plateaued" and the work of the taskforce was having an effect but he warned: "To halt a trajectory that was going up significantly and pull it back down is really difficult."

He said there was concern at the age of offenders. "My personal experience is that people involved in violence are getting younger while the level and ferocity of attacks is getting worse, and I do not know why that is."

Some statistics show violence may actually be falling. In August there were 364 stabbings in London compared to 438 in the same month last year, a fall of nearly 17 per cent.

There were 120 people under the age of 25 stabbed in London in September, compared to 200 in October last year.

Chief Supt Adelekan said: "I want to reassure Londoners that we are throwing everything we can at the problem of violent crime and it is working, it is starting to calm down but we need the help of Londoners. We need to galvanise communities to help us."

The taskforce - funded by City Hall - has covert plain clothes officers "embedded" in hotspot boroughs such as Haringey, Enfield, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Southwark and Lambeth.

A squad of around 90 uniform officers are deployed daily to neighbourhoods reporting violence to carry out weapons sweeps, stop and search and vehicle checks.

"The taskforce was formed to disrupt criminality caused by those intent on creating violence, carrying knives and putting London at risk. I believe we are having an effect," he added.

"We can do the suppression and enforcement but the work that goes into building relationships and providing reassurance to locals is just as important.

"We need the help of Londoners and my message to them is use Crimestoppers and tell us where the knives are hidden, check on your young people, do they have a knife in their bag, look out for the signs they are being groomed - there are a lot of things that we can do together."

Eighteen teenagers have been murdered in London so far this year.

Among the youngest to die were Jordan Douherty, 15, who was stabbed to death at a birthday party in Romford in June, and Amaan Shakoor, 16, who was shot in an attack in Walthamstow in April. The 16-year-old died the same night as 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne was killed in a drive-by shooting in Tottenham.

Scotland Yard has launched a £20,000 reward to identify the killers of 14-year-old Corey Junior Davis in Newham last year.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "The new Violent Crime Taskforce was set up with £15 million from City Hall and, in its first six months, its officers have made over 1,300 arrests and removed more than 600 knives and dangerous weapons off our streets.

"To bolster the vital work of the 150 officers, the Commissioner and I made the difficult decision to move 122 officers from the Roads and Transport Command to strengthen the Taskforce still further as part of our ongoing commitment to drive down knife and violent crime in London."

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 1st October 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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Police are taking more than an hour to respond to 999 "priority" calls in nearly half of London boroughs amid a shortage of officers and a surge in the number of emergency calls.

Figures show that the Met failed to meet its 60-minute target to answer "S" grade calls - which include road crashes, burglaries and hate crime - in 14 boroughs in June. On average, the response time for these "significant" calls increased from 48 minutes to 64 minutes across London from January to June this year. The time taken to answer "I" or "immediate" emergency calls involving a potential threat to life also rose, but only slightly.

The figures obtained by the London Assembly Liberal Democrats showed response times increased in almost every borough from January to June.

However, there were marked increases in times taken to respond to "S" calls where the Met has merged boroughs into larger command units.

The reorganisation means the 32 borough commands - under which each area has its own police team - will be merged into 12 larger units covering two or three boroughs each. In south-west London four boroughs - Richmond, Wandsworth, Kingston and Merton - have one "basic command unit".

The mergers are intended to reduce inefficiencies and cut costs. But figures show that in Wandsworth, for instance, it took an extra 89 minutes to reach priority, or S, calls - nearly tripling the time from 40 minutes to 109 - and an extra two minutes to reach I calls. The response time for S calls also more than doubled in Merton and Richmond.

Lib Dem assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said: "Having rushed through the creation of basic command units, the Mayor needs to provide an account for why they often coincide with a deterioration in response times to 999 calls."

A spokesman for Sadiq Khan said the Mayor was doing everything he can to maintain frontline services that have been put under pressure by "reckless" government cuts. The Met is facing a rise in crime and emergency calls at a time when officer numbers have fallen below 30,000. A spokesman said: "Our primary focus is on responding to emergency I grade calls within 15 minutes."

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 1st October 2018 author Cara McGoogan)

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A minister has urged tech companies to report teenagers suspected of ferrying drugs for gangs as part of a nationwide crackdown on the problem. Victoria Atkins, the crime, safeguarding and vulnerability minister, said Uber and Airbnb must train users to identify victims of grooming who have been forced to transport drugs across along routes called county lines.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mrs Atkins said: "Any help that major organisations like Uber can give would be very welcome. These huge companies are under quite a lot of public attention in terms of their corporate social responsibility and it would be very interesting if [they]could help us."

Exploited children are made to travel vast distances on trains and in taxis, including Uber cars. Once they reach their destination, they stay in properties rented by gangs, increasingly short-term lets and Airbnb homes.

"This is not just a policing matter," said Mrs Atkins. "We need to make people aware it's happening so they're alert to it. We also need the help of train operators, taxi drivers and local authorities."

The mother of a child who was groomed by a county lines gang welcomed the minister's comments. "These kids are operating right under the noses of British Transport Police, on trains, in taxis and in Ubers, but no one is asking anything," the mother, who asked to remain anonymous told the Telegraph.

Mrs Atkins' plea comes a week after the Government opened the National County Lines Coordination Centre with a £3.6 million investment.

There are now 1,500 lines across the UK, according to the National Crime Agency's (NCA) latest figures. Up to 10 children could be exploited along each route.

Vince O'Brien, head of drugs and firearms at the NCA, said, "We've seen gangs take over properties from short term lets to hotels and Airbnb. We know they use rail or rad, which includes any kind of private hire."

A spokesman for Airbnb said it worked closely with authorities in relevant investigations and to train its users. Uber declined to comment.

Airbnb added: "We have zero tolerance for inappropriate or illegal activity and permanently remove bad actors from our platform."

The company last month partnered with anti-trafficking organisation Polaris to tackle issues of modern slavery within the sharing economy. It also uses behavioural analysis to identify troublesome hosts and guests from using its service.

Uber declined to comment.

(1st November 2018)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading (uaware additions)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

Home Insurance

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

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

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

Car insurance

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who has been affected?

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

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

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

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

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

What is 'View As'?

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

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

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

What does this mean for Facebook?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

What exactly happened?

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

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

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

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

How does the 'view as' feature work?

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

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

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

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

What is happening with it?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cost of personal data sould on the dark web

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading (uaware addition)

(Reuters, dated 14th September 2018)

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

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

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

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(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Double trouble

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

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

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

Speed cameras

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

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

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

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

Top ten regions for speeding offences

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

Ten most active speed cameras

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

Fast and Furious

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

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

Ten highest recorded speeding offences

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the law on using a mobile phone ?

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

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

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

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

The law still applies to you if you're:

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

When you can use a phone

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

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

Penalties for using a mobile while driving

- You can get 6 penalty points and a £200 fine if you use a hand-held phone when driving.

- You'll also lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the last 2 years.

- You can get 3 penalty points if you don't have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle.

- You can also be taken to court where you can:
be banned from driving or riding
get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you're driving a lorry or bus)

What is the law on seat belts and car seats ?

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1. Follow the stolen money

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

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

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

2. Make banks accountable

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

3. Set up fraud hotlines

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

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

4. Phone firms must help

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

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

5. Watchdogs with teeth

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

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

6. Compensate victims

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


- Hang up on ALL cold callers.

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

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

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

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

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

- Never respond directly to unsolicited emails or texts.


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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

(BBC News, dated 24th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

'New threats'

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

North Aldershot

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Aldershot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Here are some number plates that are always banned:


(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Develop : Nurture growing cyber security industry

ABOUT - WannaCry (Source: Press Association)

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

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

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

Can you remove it without paying?

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B&M admitted selling the knives on June 22.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Barking and Dagenham was the 17th highest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vision Zero :

uaware comment

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

(BBC News, dated 20th September 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

In July, it recommended:

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

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

- greater transparency around online advertising

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

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

- making social networks verify the age of their users

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

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

A spokesman for the DCMS said the report was speculation.

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- TV Licensing (@tvlicensing) September 5, 2018


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

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


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


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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

(Sky News, dated 18th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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


1. Ransomware

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

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

How to protect yourself?

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

2. Mobile malware

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

How to protect yourself?

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

3. Stealthy malware

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

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

How to protect yourself?

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

4. Extortion

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

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

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

How to protect yourself?

- Never pay extortion attempts without contacting the authorities first

5.Data for data's sake

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

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

How to protect yourself?

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


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

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

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

7. Social engineering

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

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

How to protect yourself?

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

8. Cryptocriminality

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

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

How to protect yourself?

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

9. Privacy-orientated cryptocurrencies

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

How to protect yourself?

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

10. Volume of child abuse material

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

How to react?

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

Internet Watch Foundation :

11. Self-generated material

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

How to protect yourself and others?

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

12. The "Darknet"

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

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

How will they catch these criminals?

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

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

13. Live streaming

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

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

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

How to tackle it?

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

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

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

14. Skimming

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

How to protect yourself?

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

15. Telecommunications fraud

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

How to protect yourself?

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


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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incapable of keeping interference to what is necessary'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5th October 2018)

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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

The officers will be seconded to the Violent Crime Task Force from the Met's Roads and Transport Policing for the next three months as violent offending usually surges in the autumn.

Officials described the move as a temporary measure.

It came as the Met tackles rocketing knife crime and violence, with more than 100 homicides in London so far this year.

In another measure Met Commissioner Cressida Dick announced plans for a new "Dad's Army" of officers to boost police numbers in London.

All those who have retired in the last two years are to be asked to rejoin at the same rank while officers who are about to leave are being asked to stay on.

The move could mean an extra 2,500 officers engaged in fighting crime.

The task force, launched in April with funding from the Mayor Sadiq Khan, has made 895 arrests so far targeting gangs and violent offenders in high-crime boroughs.

With a new total of 272 officers, it will be able to patrol more areas.

(5th October 2018)

(Sky News, dated 11th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police forces are "struggling to deliver effective services to the public" due to cuts to funding and staffing, a new report has warned.

The National Audit Office (NAO) - the government spending watchdog - has published an in-depth review covering policing across England and Wales, with arrest rates and victim satisfaction levels both found to be on the slide.

Crimes are also said to be leading to fewer charges and less is being done to proactively tackle offences such as drug trafficking and drink-driving.

In a damning assessment of the current state of police funding, the report suggests that the situation "could get worse" if the Home Office does not "direct resources to where they are needed".

The report accuses the department of a "light touch" approach, with falling funding and staffing levels in the last eight years contributing to increased levels of "high harm" crimes and a heightened terror threat.

Sir Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "There are signs that forces are already experiencing financial strain and struggling to deliver effective services to the public.

"If the Home Office does not understand what is going on it will not be able to direct resources to where they are needed, with the risk that the situation could get worse."

The total police budget for 2018-19 is £12.3bn, but the NAO says overall funding to forces - made up of central government grants and council tax - has fallen by 19% in real terms since 2010-11.

Job cuts are the main way in which forces have attempted to manage the financial squeeze, with the number of PCSOs, police staff and officers down 40%, 21% and 15% respectively since 2010.

Even cash held in reserves for "exceptional" events has dropped 20% in the past two years, now standing at £1.7bn.

According to the NAO, the Home Office produced its own internal report back in November, in which it concluded that forces were facing increased pressure in meeting demand.

Home Secretary Savid Javid has since pledged to prioritise police funding in the next spending review, but as it stands the NAO has said the department's oversight of policing does not represent "value for money".

Mr Javid will address the Police Superintendents' Association on Tuesday, during which he will emphasise his commitment to ensuring forces are "equipped to deal with the changing crime landscape".

Ahead of his speech, a Home Office spokesman said: "Our decision to empower locally-accountable police and crime commissioners to make decisions using their local expertise does not mean that we do not understand the demands on police forces.

"In addition, the report does not recognise the strengths of PCCs and chief constables leading on day-to-day policing matters, including on financial sustainability.

"We remain committed to working closely with police and delivered a £460m increase in overall police funding in 2018/19, including increased funding for local policing through council tax."

(5th October 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th September 2018 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have warned gangs are stripping cars of catalytic converters with some jacking up vehicles in broad daylight to steal valuable metal.

Thieves are cashing in on six-year highs in prices for the rhodium, palladium and platinum in the devices.

The metals, which clean cars' toxic gases, can be recycled for use in jewellery, dentistry and electronics and command prices of up to £2,000 an ounce, twice the value of gold.

BMW, Audis and VWs are being targeted, according to the police who have urged car owners and businesses to take protective steps to make the catalytic converters harder to steal.

Met police superintendent Ricky Kandohla said they were increasingly concerned about the thefts, some of which he believes are linked. Officers are targeting areas suffering the biggest increases in an effort to track down suspects.

"We have identified specific owners of vehicles that may be targeted and provided them with crime prevention advice," he said.

The crimewave reverses a decline in the number of metal thefts from a peak six years ago which led to the introduction of new laws making it illegal to buy scrap metal for cash.

Industry experts attributed much of the decline to a fall in metal prices but say thefts are now increasing as prices jump to new highs.

The British Metals Recycling Association said there were rising thefts of lead and copper from church roofs, copper rail signalling cable and even iron drain grates. The 600-year-old All Saints Church in Northampton faces closure after a £160,000 raid on its copper roof this summer.

4X4s such as Shoguns have also been targeted by the gangs, because they have have a high clearance off the road making their catalytic converters accessible. Honda Jazzes and Accords are also favoured because their older devices are particularly easy to reach and rich in the precious metals.

A professional gang can jack up a car and use a battery-powered steel cutter or angle-grinder to steal the catalytic converter within five minutes.

One theft in Tooting, south London, this month was so brazen that the gang stole the converter from a Honda Jazz in broad daylight in front of neighbours who thought the criminals were garage mechanics. Other have used the cover of dimly-lit streets and rain to mask the noise of their cutting machinery.

Police have advised etching security details into the converters, installing extra bolts or protective sleeves to make them harder to cut out and "defensive parking" against a wall or by another lower-slung vehicle to make it more difficult to reach under.

Businesses or even homeowners with high numbers of vehicles parked overnight are recommended to deploy CCTV, secure perimeter fencing and security lighting which stays on from dusk until dawn.

While thieves might make £300 from a catalytic converter, car owners are left with repair bills of £2,000.

Ian Crowder, of the AA, said it was rural as well as urban as gangs often targeted county shows where hundreds of vehicles were parked for long periods.

He said: "It's not an amateur job to recover precious metals as they are toxic and you need various chemical treatments to extract them. They are done by factories particularly overseas. When sufficient are collected, they will put them in a container and ship them off."

(5th October 2018)

(Essex Police Community Messaging, dated 11th September author Kevin Blake)

As the autumn nights draw in the tell-tale signs of the empty house become more apparent.

FACT: Most burglars will prefer to target the empty house unseen and avoid any confrontation.

As the days get shorter if you work away from home, or even pop out to get the children from school by the time you return home it may already be dark. A house in darkness says no one is in especially if your neighbour's houses either side have lights on and show other signs of being occupied. If you back onto open farmland or have parking areas or footpaths to side or rear this may be even more apparent.

Create the "Illusion of Occupancy", when its dark make your home look like you are in. Leave lights on or put them on timers or daylight sensors to come when it gets dark. Remember though no one lives in the hall or on the landing so if you leave these lights on supplement these with lights on in rooms that you would normally occupy at that time of day i.e. lounge and kitchen. A carefully placed imitation TV or "Fake TV" can further add to that illusion of occupancy by making it look like the television is on. Some burglars may also listen at windows or letterboxes for sign of activity, so consider leaving a radio on within your home.

Don't forget the outside of your property too, if burglars see that it is lit they are less likely to approach for fear of being seen.

Leave lights on, with energy efficient bulbs it costs very little now days and yet may save you lots!

(5th October 2018)

(Metro, dated 10th September 2018 author Zoe Drewett)

Full article [Option 1]:

A couple claim to have discovered a secret camera hidden in a digital clock in the Airbnb flat they were renting.

Dougie Hamilton and his girlfriend say the camera - which was pointed towards their bed in the holiday apartment - was disguised as a clock but looked suspicious.

The 34-year-old said he started investigating the clock after a day of exploring in Toronto, Canada.

He had recently watched a YouTube video on secret 'spy' cameras hidden in cuddly toys and buttons, Dougie said.

But when he picked up the clock he managed to slide its face off quite easily and was horrified to find a tiny lens that may have been recording them.

On September 7, Dougie, from Glasgow, posted about his discovery on Facebook, writing: 'If you use Airbnb, then you'll definitely want to read this and possibly stop using them.'

He explained: 'We booked a one night stay in a lovely apartment in the centre of Toronto for last night (September 6).'

'We had a crazy busy day around the city and finally were able to get to the Airbnb and relax or so we thought.

'I was laying on the couch and this digital clock is facing into the living area and open plan bedroom

'Left with my thoughts, that video pops into my head, "imagine if it was the spy camera in the clock".'

After removing the clock's charger and discovering a lithium battery in the back of the device the front face of the clock cam off and revealed the camera.

The couple have since alerted Airbnb and police in Canada, who are both investigating.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Dougie said: '(Airbnb) told us the property owner has six other properties and hundreds of reviews, so it looks like we've been lucky.

'We were only in the place for 20 minutes when I noticed the clock.

'It was connected to a wire like a phone charger which wasn't quite right.

'I felt a bit weird even thinking it and I kept telling myself not to be daft. But there was just something.'

Dougie and his girlfriend - who asked not to be named - said they found the encounter 'creepy'.

A spokeswoman for Toronto police said: 'We received a call last Thursday regarding what appeared to be a video camera in a clock in an apartment.

'The investigation is continuing.'

Airbnb has also told Dougie its security team are looking into the claims and offered him a full refund.

'They said they would be cancelling upcoming reservations for the owner's properties,' he added.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said: 'We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero tolerance policy for this behaviour.

'We have removed the host from the platform while we investigate and are providing the guest with our full support.'

(5th October 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 9th September 2018 authors Sarah Marsh and Patrick Greenfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Metropolitan police are increasingly dropping investigations into serious crimes such as sexual offences, violent attacks and arson within hours of them being reported, the Guardian can reveal.

The UK's largest force "screened out" 34,164 crimes without further investigation on the day they were reported in 2017, compared to 13,019 the year before. In the first five months of 2018, 18,093 crimes were closed in 24 hours, putting the number for the year on track to exceed last year's total.

The figures, obtained under freedom of information rules, included a growing number of sexual offence cases that were closed in a day, rising from 20 in 2016 to 49 in 2017 and 32 in the first five months of 2018.

Critics said that the disclosures demonstrated the effect that austerity was having on the force's ability to carry out its duties.

Screening out is the process whereby the Met decides which offences to stop investigating after a primary assessment. In October 2017, in a move denounced as a "green light to thieve", the Met said it would screen out more investigations, saying that it would end investigations into many reports of crimes, including burglaries, thefts and assaults, where there was judged to be little prospect of identifying a suspect. The force said the step was necessary to balance the books.

Discussing the policy at the time, deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons said: "We are not talking about things like homicide, kidnap, sexual offences, hate crime or domestic violence, but the lower level, higher volume offences." He gave the example of damage or theft at a value of less than £50.

Data obtained by the Guardian showed that 303 cases of violence with injury have already been screened out in 2018 so far, compared to 290 cases in the whole of 2016. In 2017, 4,670 cases of arson and criminal damage were dropped on the same day they were reported, compared to 2,284 the year before.

In response to the new figures, the Met said that the policy was necessary to ensure the best use of resources and pointed out that investigations were sometimes reopened. But the release prompted an outcry from victims' charities, campaigners and MPs.

Diana Fawcett, chief officer at independent charity Victim Support, said that 50 sexual offences being screened out on the same day they were reported was "very concerning".

"We know that victims of sexual assault already face barriers to reporting to the police and this news is likely to undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system and could deter victims from reporting crimes in the future," she said.

She added that the police should help victims to understand why a crime is not being investigated further by clearly explaining the reasons for this decision, signposting them to independent support to help them deal with the impact.

Diane Abbott, Labour's shadow home secretary, called the findings "deeply troubling".

"If the Met police are 'cherry-picking' cases, victims of serious crimes will not be getting the justice they deserve," she said.

Abbott argued that funding cuts made by the Conservative government are having a huge impact on the police's ability to carry out their work.

Last year, mayor of London Sadiq Khan closed 38 police station front counters to save £8m per year, and warned Scotland Yard was "running out of options" regarding resources.

Chris Hobbs, a retired police officer who spent 32 years in the Met, including special branch, said that increased demand on the police, cuts to budgets and struggles to recruit in the criminal investigation department meant that things were "falling through the cracks".

"It's not just sexual offences, but all offences - what used to be regarded as a serious offences, burglaryfor example - they have now slipped right down the ladder [in terms of importance]. All sexual offences are heinous crimes but a detective who has a considerable caseload will have to prioritise what they are dealing with in terms of solvability and the seriousness of a crime."

The Met provided data on the number of crimes that were closed on the same day they were reported from 2013 to 2018. Crimes reclassified as no crimes and resolved cases were removed from the figures.

Previous reporting has shown that the Met screened out around a third of the 2,203,027 crimes reported between 2014-2016.

The Metropolitan police said that all crimes are subject to an initial investigation to identify those that are more likely to be solvable. "The Met deal with nearly 800,000 allegations of crime every year. Investigations must be proportionate and timely - to utilise the best possible evidential opportunities."

They added: "As soon as a proportionate investigation has been completed and reasonable lines of enquiry have been pursued and exhausted, an investigation will generally be completed. However, this does not necessarily mean an investigation is over. For example, forensic evidence is an important line of enquiry that may result in investigations being re-opened."

It continued: "Under Home Office counting rules, the category of sexual offences includes a range of offences including exposure and sexual touching.

"In a number of these cases, the victim did not want to proceed with an allegation, but simply wished to alert police to the issue. This can lead to a wider intelligence picture which may result in operational activity in the future."

uaware comment

Sadly the police are the victims of their own mismanagement. I am not describing the Bobbies on the beat, but their bosses. It has already been proven in the past that crime statistics were purposely distorted downwards. In accountant speak, if crime is falling, why do you require the numbers of police officers ?

Again, it has already reported, due to cuts elsewhere the police have had to become social workers and pyschiatrists.

Then there are the additional public security demands caused by terrorism. There are meant to be approaching 800 ongoing terrorism cases.

During September it was announced by the Met that they were going to re-hire some retired detectives to deal with a backlog of work and the current knife crime epidemic. Then during a Nick Ferrari interview on LBC with a senior Met Police officer who admitted that this wasnt a new policy. That it was common practice to rehire retired police officers, but via a employment agency; at a cost of 250 million pounds a year ! If we say a Police Officers salary and incidentals (pension etc) costs around 35,000;  that equats to 7,000 extra police officers. Why is this money being wasted on adding to a employment agencies profits ?

So it is a case of what does the public want from a limited resource, burglary, car crime and shoplifting investigations or the reduction in the chances in being blown-up ?

(5th October 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 7th September 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Some of the country's largest police forces are failing to identify suspects in more than 90 per cent of car thefts, as critics claim criminals no longer fear being caught.

After years of decline, the number of vehicles now being stolen has risen to its highest level in almost a decade.

Organised criminal gangs often steal high value cars in order to ship them overseas.

Keyless technology has also been blamed for a rise in offences, with thieves using special devices to bypass vehicle security.

But the rise in offences has not been matched by a rise in the number of criminals being brought to justice.

Analysis of the the latest crime statistics reveals that nationally 77 percent of vehicle theft investigations are closed by police with no suspect having been identified.

In some parts of the country, including the West Midlands, that figure rises to over 90 per cent.

In London only 15 percent of car thefts result in a suspect being identified with even less eventually being convicted of the offence.

In the year up to March over 106,000 offences of theft of or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle were reported to police forces in England and Wales. This represented the highest annual total since 2009.

But of those offences, more than 80,000 were eventually classified as "investigation complete - no suspect identified".

This is used when a reported crime has been investigated "as far as reasonably possible" and the case is closed pending further investigative opportunities.

All but five forces closed over half of these cases without identifying a suspect.

West Midlands Police said it is committed to following the trail of evidence in all cases but if an investigation finds no witnesses, CCTV or forensic evidence then the chance of identifying offenders is "vastly reduced".

But RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said motorists will be "shocked" by the findings.

He said: "This is a sign that thieves have found ways around car security systems and have ways of selling vehicles on with little or no fear of being caught."

"The fact fewer suspects are being identified is very worrying and no doubt a symptom of the declining number of police officers and the resulting reduction in time that can be dedicated to investigating these crimes."

(11th September 2018)

(BBC News, dated 7th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

British Airways's boss has apologised for what he says was a sophisticated breach of the firm's security systems, and has promised compensation.

Alex Cruz told the BBC that hackers carried out a "sophisticated, malicious criminal attack" on its website.

The airline said personal and financial details of customers making or changing bookings had been compromised.

About 380,000 transactions were affected, but the stolen data did not include travel or passport details.

"We are 100% committed to compensate them, period," Mr Cruz told the BBC's Today programme.

"We are committed to working with any customer who may have been financially affected by this attack, and we will compensate them for any financial hardship that they may have suffered."

BA said the breach took place between 22:58 BST on 21 August and 21:45 BST on 5 September. Shares in BA parent group IAG closed 1.4% lower on Friday.


Mr Cruz also told the Today programme: "We're extremely sorry. I know that it is causing concern to some of our customers, particularly those customers that made transactions over and app.

"We discovered that something had happened but we didn't know what it was [on Wednesday evening]. So overnight, teams were trying to figure out the extent of the attack.

"The first thing was to find out if it was something serious and who it affected or not. The moment that actual customer data had been compromised, that's when we began immediate communication to our customers."

BA said all customers affected by the breach had been contacted on Thursday night. The breach only affects people who bought tickets during the timeframe provided by BA, and not on other occasions.

Mr Cruz added: "At the moment, our number one purpose is contacting those customers that made those transactions to make sure they contact their credit card bank providers so they can follow their instructions on how to manage that breach of data."

The airline has taken out adverts apologising for the breach in Friday's newspapers.

BA data breach: What do you need to do?
(Author Simon Read, business reporter)

What data was stolen?

"It was name, email address, credit card information - that would be credit card number, expiration date and the three digit [CVV] code on the back of the credit card," said BA boss Mr Cruz.

BA insists it did not store the CVV numbers. This is prohibited under international standards set out by the PCI Security Standards Council.

Since BA said the attackers also managed to obtain CVV numbers, security researchers have speculated that the card details were intercepted, rather than harvested from a BA database.

What could the hackers do with the data?

Once fraudsters have your personal information, they may be able to access your bank account, or open new accounts in your name, or use your details to make fraudulent purchases. They could also sell on your details to other crooks.

What do I need to do?

If you've been affected, you should change your online passwords. Then monitor your bank and credit card accounts keeping an eye out for any dodgy transactions. Also be very wary of any emails or calls asking for more information to help deal with the data breach: crooks often pose as police, banks or, in this instance they could pretend to be from BA.

Will my booking be affected?

BA says none of the bookings have been hit by the breach. It said it has contacted all those affected to alert them to the problem with their data, but booked flights should go ahead.

Will there be compensation for me?

If you suffer any financial loss or hardship, the airline has promised to compensate you.

Data duty

BA could potentially face fines from the Information Commissioner's Office, which is looking into the breach.

Rachel Aldighieri, managing director of the Direct Marketing Association, said: "British Airways has a duty to ensure their customer data is always secure. They need to show that they have done everything possible to ensure such a breach won't happen again.

"The risks go far beyond the fines regulators can issue - albeit that these could be hefty under the new [EU data protection] GDPR regime."

Under GDPR, fines can be up to 4% of annual global revenue. BA's total revenue in the year to 31 December 2017 was £12.226bn, so that could be a potential maximum of £489m.

The National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre also confirmed they were assessing the incident.

'Flesh wound'

This is not the first customer relations problem to affect the airline in recent times.

In July, BA apologised after IT issues caused dozens of flights in and out of Heathrow Airport to be cancelled.

The month before, more than 2,000 BA passengers had their tickets cancelled because the prices were too cheap.

And in May 2017, problems with BA's IT systems led to thousands of passengers having their plans disrupted, after all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled.

"It does not indicate that the information systems are the most robust in the airline industry," Simon Calder, travel editor at the Independent, told the BBC.

However, he does not think BA will be affected in the long term by the breach.

"The airline has immense strength. Notably it's holding a majority of slots at Heathrow, and an enviable safety record, so while this is embarrassing and will potentially cost tens of millions of pounds to resolve, it's more like another flesh wound for BA, rather than anything serious."

(BBC News, dated 7th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

British Airways has revealed that hackers managed to breach its website and app, stealing data from many thousands of customers in the process.

But how was this possible?

BA has not revealed any technical details about the breach, but cyber-security experts have some suggestions of possible methods used.

Names, email addresses and credit card details including card numbers, expiry dates and three-digit CVV codes were stolen by the hackers.

At first glance, the firm's statement appears to give no details about the hack, but by "reading between the lines", it is possible to infer some potential attack routes, says cyber-security expert Prof Alan Woodward at the University of Surrey.

Take BA's specification of the exact times and dates between which the attack occurred - 22:58 BST, 21 August 2018 until 21:45 BST, 5 September 2018 inclusive.

"They very carefully worded the statement to say anybody who made a card payment between those two dates is at risk," says Prof Woodward.

"It looks very much like the details were nabbed at the point of entry - someone managed to get a script on to the website."

This means that as customers typed in their credit card details, a piece of malicious code on the BA website or app may have been furtively extracting those details and sending them to someone else.

Prof Woodward points out that this is an increasing problem for websites that embed code from third-party suppliers - it's known as a supply chain attack.

Third parties may supply code to run payment authorisation, present ads or allow users to log into external services, for example.

Such an attack appeared to affect Ticketmaster recently, after an on-site customer service chatbot was labelled as the potential cause of a breach affecting up to 40,000 UK users.

Without further details, there is no way of knowing for sure if something similar has happened to BA. Prof Woodward points out it may just as easily have been a company insider who tampered with the website and app's code for malicious purposes.

Because CVV data, the three-digit security code on credit and debit cards, was also taken in the attack, it is indeed likely the details were lifted live, according to Robert Pritchard, a former cyber-security researcher at GCHQ and founder of private firm The Cyber Security Expert.

This is because CVV codes are not meant to be stored by companies, though they may be processed at payment time.

"This means it was either a direct compromise of their... booking site, or compromise of a third party provider," he told the BBC.

Prof Woodward added that private firms using third party code on their websites and apps must continually vet such products, to ensure weak points in security don't emerge.

"You can put the strongest lock you like on the front door," he said, "but if the builders have left a ladder up to a window, where do you think the burglars will go?"

(The Telegraph, dated 7th September 2018 author Katie Morley)

Full article [Option 1]:

British Airways was warned by IT experts that it was vulnerable to a hack in which criminals could steal customers' card details earlier this year, it has been claimed.

The airline announced on Thursday that it had suffered a major hack compromising the bank card information of around 380,000 customers.

Due to strict new data protection laws British Airways is now facing a fine of up to £897m, or 4 per cent of its parent company's turnover, if regulators find it has not done enough to keep customer data safe.

The Telegraph can reveal that last year the airline failed an industry standard for consumer data protection, which is required by card providers Visa and Mastercard for all companies accepting, transmitting or storing any cardholder data.

The standard, called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, is a set of security standards designed to ensure that companies which accept, process, store and transmit credit card information keep it secure.

British Airways said it had a number of fully operational monitoring tools which it used to check for suspicious activity. It added that the Standard related to the protection of customer accounts, none of which were compromised during the attack.

An IT expert told this newspaper they had warned British Airways it was vulnerable to being hacked, accusing it of "sticking its head in the sand" over the state of its IT systems. British Airways denied it received any such warnings.

Derwyn Jones, chief executive at payment provider Ultracomms, said: "This latest breach is a serious wake-up call, particularly to the travel industry, that we live in a new era of sophisticated hacking where no company is invulnerable."

The airline admitted "criminal activity" had compromised the personal and financial details of customers who made bookings on its website or app from just before 11pm on August 21 until 9.45pm on Wednesday.

British Airways confirmed Friday morning that hackers had obtained names, addresses, credit card numbers, expiry dates and the three-digit security codes on the backs of cards, enough for them to make fraudulent payments.

Furious British Airways customers have been left having to cancel their credit cards with many reporting they had money taken from their accounts and rogue direct debits set up in their names.

Alex Cruz, British Airway's chairman, revealed the hackers were "very sophisticated criminals" who had not hacked the company's encrypted data, but rather gained "illicit access" to the airline's system.

This meant the breach went unnoticed for more than two weeks, he claimed. The National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre are also investigating the hack.

An ICO spokesman said: "British Airways has made us aware of an incident and we are making enquiries."

The NCA warned that fraudsters could piggyback on the incident in a bid to con people out of money. A spokesman said: "We know that 'opportunist' criminals often use incidents like this to conduct secondary fraud attacks.

Anyone who thinks they may be affected should remain vigilant of potential fraudsters seeking access to personal details. Any suspicious activity should be reported to Action Fraud via "

British Airways has said all customers will be compensated for losses as a result of the hack.


(11th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 3rd September 2018 author Lucy Burton)

Full article [Option 1]:

The new boss of the Serious Fraud Office has warned fraudsters hoping to take advantage of the computer failures of banks that she will make the UK an "inhospitable" place for them to conduct crime.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Osofsky used her first speech in the role to flag that the type of crime which stemmed from this year's TSB meltdown, which left many customers vulnerable to fraud attacks, should not happen under her watch.

"As head of a crime fighting agency, I am committed to making our country an inhospitable place for criminals like these," she said in a speech at Cambridge University. "My goal is to make sure our country is a high risk place for the world's most sophisticated criminals to operate."

Ms Osofsky, who has prosecuted over a hundred cases for the US government, also reiterated that the white-collar crime agency would remain independent. She last year supported an idea by Theresa May to fold the SFO into the National Crime Agency, to create an organisation that has been dubbed "Britain's FBI".

"I started a five-year term with the Attorney General's support and commitment to maintaining the independence and prominence of this organisation," she said. "That's the basis on which I took this job and what I expect to find throughout my tenure."

Ms Osofsky's appointment was confirmed in June after months of speculation. She started her role last week and is expected to make a series of changes to the agency, having last year told The Daily Telegraph that the SFO has been on a "knife-edge for years" and had a chequered history of success.

A dual US-UK citizen, she has joined the agency from financial compliance company Exiger and replaces previous head David Green. She has also worked for the Department of Justice, the FBI and Goldman Sachs.

"The SFO I find in 2018 is a different animal from the SFO of my Department of Justice days. And I will be a different kind of director," Ms Osofsky said.

Her appointment was welcomed earlier this year with CMS lawyer Simon Morris saying at the time: "[The SFO] is shambolic in a way you can't imagine in the US. If she has a zero-tolerance approach to shambolism then that's great".

(11th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 3rd September 2018 author Josh Gabbatiss)

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Teachers, a children's entertainer and a former police officer were among 131 people arrested on suspicion of online child sex offences as part of a massive crackdown by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and police forces across the country.

Over the course of a week-long operation, over 200 raids took place and 164 children were safeguarded, the NCA said.

Of those arrested, 19 held positions of trust and 13 were registered sex offenders, it added.

The news comes as home secretary Sajid Javid revealed at least 80,000 people in the UK are believed to pose a sexual threat to children online, and vowed to make it his "personal mission" to tackle this abuse.

UK law enforcement has called on internet giants to take more action to stop access to sexual abuse images and videos.

Technology companies doing more to remove indecent images from circulation would be a "monumental landmark" in child protection, the NCA said.

The task is made more difficult for officers by sophisticated encryption tools allowing more effective anonymity for online predators, it added.

"Investigators still have to deal with significant numbers of offenders committing preventable crimes such as viewing and sharing indecent images and videos known to law enforcement," said Rob Jones, NCA lead for tackling child sex abuse. The technology exists for industry to design-out these offences, to stop these images being shared."

The NCA received 80,000 referrals over indecent images and videos last year, and predicted that this trend is likely to "exponentially increase".

The number of child abuse images referred to the agency have already surged by 700 per cent in the last five years.

"Whilst some online platforms have taken important steps to improve safety, we are asking them to take it to the next step," said Mr Jones.

"That would significantly reduce the trauma to the victims whose images are shared, prevent other individuals from developing a sexual interest in children through accessing these images, and disrupt the methods used to access them.

"Securing agreement from industry to do this would represent a monumental landmark in protecting children."

In June NCA's director for vulnerabilities, Will Kerr, called for a "fundamentally recalibrated approach" involving internet service providers and hosting platforms to tackle these crimes.

"It is not sustainable for companies to simply identify indecent images on their servers and report it to law enforcement, when we know that technologically you can prevent it at source," he said.

(11th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 3rd September 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Motorists who are stopped by police will have their licences immediately revoked if they fail a simple roadside eye test.

The tough new crackdown aims to catch some of the thousands of drivers who get behind the wheel each day despite having defective eyesight.

Every motorist who is stopped by officers in three pilot areas will have to pass a basic vision test before being allowed to continue driving.

If they are unable to read a number plate clearly from a distance of 20 metres they will have their licence revoked on the spot and will not be allowed to continue on their journey.

As well as removing dangerous drivers from the roads, the scheme will allow the police to collect data on the extent of the problem nationwide.

The initiative is being rolled out across Thames Valley, Hampshire and the West Midlands, and is being supported by road safety charity Brake.

Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: "Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences."

He warned that officers will be carrying out eyesight checks "at every opportunity" and under new powers can request the immediate withdrawal of a person's licence from the DVLA.

The power was introduced in 2013 under Cassie's Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex.

It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.

Last year a pensioner was jailed for four years after killing a three-year-old girl on a pelican crossing, weeks after being told his eyesight was too poor for him to get behind the wheel.

John Place, 72, who was not even wearing his glasses, only stopped when he was flagged down by another driver.

Just three weeks earlier he had been told by two opticians that his eyesight had dropped below the minimum driving standard even when he was wearing his glasses.

Under current rules, a learner driver must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres when they are taking the practical part of their driving test.

But once someone has obtained their licence, it is up to them to assess their own vision and inform the DVLA if they have a problem with their eyesight.

Is is thought at least half of all drivers on British roads are unaware of the minimum eyesight standard required to be on the roads.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life.

"Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads."

Research by the Association of Optometrists published in November last year found that more than a third of patients who had been seen in the previous month had continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.

A 2012 study by insurance firm RSA also estimated that poor vision caused 2,874 casualties in a year.

Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express, which is also supporting the initiative said: "We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The human cost of driving with failing eyesight and having an accident can be immeasurable.

"Drivers mustn't just keep their eyes on the road, they must ensure they can see what's ahead."

Explained - What happens if you fail the eyesight test

A mandatory sight test was introduced in the UK in 1937 and is one of the few elements of the driving test that has barely changed.

Immediately before the driving test, the examiner asks a candidate to read a number plate on a parked vehicle at 20 metres (65ft). If it can't be read, the candidate is asked to read a second one.

If they can't read that, the examiner measures the distance to a third registration.

If that can't be read, the driving test is cancelled, the DVLA informed and the candidate's provisional licence is revoked.

At a glance - The history of the driving test

1931 The first edition of the Highway Code is published.

1935 A practical driving test becomes compulsory. There were no test centres, so the examiners met candidates at pre-arranged locations such as railway stations. Since then more than 46 million tests have been taken.

1939 Driving tests are suspended on 2 September 1939 for the duration of World War II. Examiners are redeployed to traffic duties and supervision of fuel rationing.

1969 A separate test for automatic vehicles is launched.

1996 The theory test is introduced, replacing questions about The Highway Code during the practical test.

1999 The length of the driving test is extended. Candidates can now be asked to make an emergency stop, and can be failed for committing 16 or more driving faults or "minors". Photocard licences are also introduced for the first time.

2002 A hazard perception element is introduced to the theory test.

2003 'Show me tell me' vehicle safety questions are added to the driving test.

2010 Independent driving is now part of the practical driving test. Candidates have to drive for 10 minutes with very little instruction from the examiner.

2017 The driving test changes on December 4 2017 to include following directions from a sat nav, testing different manoeuvres and answering a 'show me' safety question while driving.

11th September 2018)

(BBC News, dated 3rd September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Drivers who fail to read a number plate from 20m (65ft) away when stopped by police will have their licences revoked immediately in a new crackdown.

Three forces in England are planning to test every motorist they stop in a bid to clamp down on drivers with defective eyesight.

Police say data from the tests will be used to improve understanding of the extent of poor driver vision.

The forces taking part are Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands.

Officers can request an urgent revocation of a licence through the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if they believe the safety of other road users will be put at risk if a driver remains on the road.

Under current rules, the only mandatory examination of a driver's vision takes place during the practical test, when learners must read a number plate from 20 metres.

After a person has obtained a licence, it is up to them to inform the DVLA if they have vision problems.

Sgt Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: "Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences."

He warned that officers will be carrying out eyesight checks "at every opportunity".

The power to revoke licences was introduced in 2013 under Cassie's Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex.

It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.

11th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 2nd September 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

A computer programme that calculates whether a burglary is worth investigating, is "insulting" to victims and risks alienating the public, the head of the Police Federation has warned.

Norfolk Constabulary has been trialling a new system which uses sophisticated algorithms to determine whether there is any point attending a break in.

Officers input various details about the offence, such as whether there are clues including fingerprints or CCTV, and then the computer will suggest whether it is worth devoting any police time to.

The system is intended to help police chiefs work out how best to deploy resources as forces everywhere struggle to cope with reduced budgets and increasing demands.

But John Apter, the recently elected chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, warned the introduction of such systems represented a slippery slope which threatened to erode the trust that exists between the public and the police.

He said burglary remained one of the most personally intrusive and devastating offences and all victims who wanted to see a police officer should be allowed to.

Mr Apter said: "I think we should always encourage officers to work effectively with new technology where appropriate.

"But my concern is that we can sometimes rely too heavily on technology, especially algorithm based technology.

"I have been a police officer for 25-years and burglary is still one of the the most intrusive, invasive and personal types of crime that anyone can face.

"If a victim wants to see a police officer to talk through their concerns and get some reassurance that it is being taken seriously then that is absolutely what should happen.

"I can think of nothing more insulting for someone who has been a victim of this crime than to discover that a computer algorithm has told a police force not to investigate because there is little chance of catching the culprit.

"This is the consequence of Chief Constables having to battle with ever decreasing budgets but we cannot allow victims to be treated this way."

Victims Rights campaigner, Harry Fletcher, also warned that schemes like this risked underestimating the impact burglary had on those whose homes had been violated.

He said: "It is far better that an individual makes these decisions than a computer because they can take into account the impact on the victim.

"If the victim is elderly or vulnerable the effect of a burglary will be immense. A failure to consider this will risk further losing public confidence."

Earlier this year the Telegraph revealed that police forces are failing to properly investigate two thirds of burglaries, despite evidence that home break ins are on the increase.

Many forces have stopped routinely attending all burglaries in person, preferring in many cases to deal with the victims on the phone.

The householder will be asked to supply a police call handler with basic information about the offence and if there are no obvious clues available the case will be closed without further investigation.

Last year almost 130,000 burglaries across England and Wales were closed without any suspect having been identified.

Recent rises in violence, cyber crime and sexual offences, along with increased focus on tackling terrorism, has forced some police chiefs to make difficult choices in how to deploy their stretched resources.

A spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary insisted that all crimes reported to the force were reviewed by a member of staff and insisted the use of the computer system remained just a trial.

The spokesman said: "Using the analysis of thousands of burglary cases in Norfolk, the algorithm is based on 29 factors including solvability, against which each burglary incident is assessed.

"This generates a recommendation on whether the cases should be allocated for further enquiries."

The spokesman added that the computer decision could be overridden by a member of staff and no decision had been made yet whether the system would be rolled out permanently.

How often do your police force hit a dead end?
Proportion of crimes ending in no suspect being identified (National average)

Residential Burglary : 89.7%
Criminal damage to a vehicle : 79.8%
Theft of bicyle : 90%
Theft of vehicle : 79.1%

Note : The orginal article has access to a database that provides % figures based on postcodes.

(11th September 2018)


(Huffpost, dated 31st August 2018 author Amardeep Bassey)

Full article [Option 1]:

Passengers who fear they are about to be forcibly taken abroad can alert authorities from airport toilets by using a new colour-coded warning system installed in cubicle doors.

The scheme is aimed at helping potential victims of forced marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM), as well as those suffering domestic abuse or at risk of being trafficked.

Vulnerable passengers can walk into a toilet cubicle at Birmingham airport and call a number displayed on different coloured stickers pasted on the inside of male and female stalls.

The colour of the sticker instantly alerts authorities to the correct cubicle, where victims are told to sit and wait until help arrives.

It is not known how many times the number has been called or how many successful interventions have been made in the two years that the West Midlands Police initiative has been running.

A spokeswoman for the force said it had deliberately kept the scheme under wraps for fear of alerting traffickers, but that social media had made people aware of its existence.

She added: "This is the only scheme of its kind in the country and the stickers have been strategically placed mainly on male and female toilet cubicle doors that are airside, after people have passed security so that exit routes are blocked.

"It's been quite successful but we do not have the exact figures."

The discreetly-placed small rectangular stickers advise potential victims to call 101 and tell the operator what colour their notice is, so that they can direct help to the correct cubicle.

The scheme drew a mixed response from airport passengers yesterday, who were mainly supportive but questioned whether all victims would have access to a telephone.

Joanne Hayes, 43, from Wolverhampton, told HuffPost UK: "I think its a great idea but what if you don't have a phone to call the number? There should be a way you can call the authorities from inside the cubicle but I suppose this is better than nothing."

Alice Hughes, 20, from Stafford agreed. She said: "I suppose you could ask someone to call the number for you, but it's a smart way to discreetly let someone know you're in trouble."

A Birmingham Airport spokeswoman said the scheme targeted those at risk of a forced marriage, human and drug trafficking, modern day slavery, child sex exploitation and FGM.

FGM involves removing part or all of a girl's outer sexual organs and is carried out in many African countries, as well as areas of the Middle East.

It has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and since October 2015 healthcare professionals, social care workers and teachers in England and Wales have been required to report cases of FGM in under-18s to the police.

Anyone who performs FGM can face up to 14 years in prison and a person found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM can face up to seven years behind bars.

The West Midlands region has some of the country's highest recorded figures of FGM.

A recent NHS Digital report revealed staff in the region attended 1,010 incidents last year where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM was carried out.

A spokesperson from the Orchid Project, a charity working against female genital cutting, said: "Female genital cutting (FGC) impacts over 200 million women and girls globally, and at least 3.9 million girls are at risk of being cut each year around the world.

"The physical and psychological impacts of the practice are often devastating, and can last a lifetime.

"These impacts include pain, haemorrhage, HIV transmission due to unsterilised instruments, post-traumatic stress disorder, urine and menstrual fluid retention due to infibulation (Type III FGC), flashbacks, scarring and obstetric fistula."

The charity said there are an estimated 137,000 girls in the UK at risk of FGC, but said the extent of the number of girls at risk of undergoing the practice in this country or being taken overseas to be cut is not known.

News of the airport scheme comes after students at an academy in Leeds were all given their own metal spoon as part of a programme designed to raise awareness about "honour" based abuse and forced marriage.

According to Harinder Kaur, the social, culture and ethos leader at the Co-Operative Academy, a spoon can easily be hidden in underwear to trigger metal detectors at airports.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK is a world leader in tackling the horrendous crime of forced marriage and FGM and work to tackle it is an integral part of our cross government violence against women and girls strategy.

"We continually work with charities and police to highlight this important issue to the public and the work being done to tackle it, via the media and community engagement.

"The Border Force, the police and other agencies also regularly work together to raise awareness of harmful practices through joint operations aimed at individuals travelling to or from the UK, to countries where these practices are prevalent."

The Home Office said it was aware the school holidays carried an increased risk of incidents and advised those seeking help to call its Forced Marriage Unit, which last year supported or advised on 1,196 possible forced marriage cases.

The Forced Marriage Unit's helpline number is 0207 008 0151.

Adults worried about a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 and children can call Childline on 0800 1111 to speak anonymously to a trained counsellor.

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 29th August 2018 author Press Association)

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Pension schemes are being warned they may be being too generous when offering cash lump sums to people considering transferring out of their gold-plated deals.

A letter sent by the Pensions Regulator to defined benefit (DB) pension schemes suggests that trustees think about whether they should cut the amounts on offer for workers leaving the pension scheme.

The letter has been sent to 14 schemes where the regulator is aware there has been a particular increase in transfer requests from members. The regulator is not calling on all schemes to consider cutting transfer values.

DB schemes are often described as gold-plated because they promise people a certain level of income when they retire, such as final salary pensions.

Such schemes give members the reassurance of knowing they will not run out of money in later life.

But in recent years people have been offered large cash sums in return for transferring away from their DB pension as schemes are finding it expensive to meet their pension promises.

The letter was obtained by Royal London following a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Giving a general indication of how much those who transfer out may potentially receive, Sir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, told the Press Association that people are routinely offered 25 to 30 times their annual pension as a lump sum transfer value - but some schemes have been known to offer as much as 40 times.

This could mean that for a £10,000-per-year pension someone may find they are offered £250,000 to £300,000. But the amount on offer could be as high as £400,000.

The former pensions minister said a particular concern appears to be a situation where workers transferring out are offered a cash lump sum on relatively generous terms at a time when the pension scheme itself is in deficit or the employer is regarded as vulnerable.

If large numbers of members transfer out on generous terms there would be a risk that the funding position of the scheme could worsen and the risk of remaining members not getting their full pensions could increase.

Sir Steve said: "I would hope that well-run pension schemes would be taking expert advice when deciding how much to offer to members wishing to transfer out.

"But the regulator's letter is a helpful reminder to all schemes that they need to be fair not only to those transferring out but also those left behind, especially where the scheme in question is in deficit."

The letter tells schemes: "We would expect you to take advice from your scheme actuary about whether the basis on which CETVs (cash equivalent transfer values) are calculated remains appropriate.

"We would also expect you to consider whether a new insufficiency report should be commissioned from the actuary.

"This would allow you to judge whether a reduction or further reduction should be applied to CETVs in light of their assessment of covenant strength."

The letter says the regulator is aware that the level of transfer activity in the pensions industry has increased significantly in recent years.

It says: "Taking a CETV presents certain risks and we believe it is likely to be in the best financial interests of the majority of members to remain in their defined benefit (DB) scheme."

Trustees are expected to explain that, in transferring away from their scheme, members would be giving up a guaranteed future pension income in return for income that is not guaranteed and will vary depending on how they manage it, the letter says.

A spokesman for the Pensions Regulator said: "Transfers from defined benefit schemes to defined contribution schemes are unlikely to be in the best interests of most members, although there are certain circumstances where they may be appropriate."

"We are working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Advisory Service to provide an increased level of support to trustees and scheme members where there is uncertainty around the future of a DB pension scheme."

uaware comment

The previous article doesn't describe fraud, but it could lead to a scam.

Pension fraud is one of the major growing crimes. Unscrupulous crooks (bogus financial advisers) are promising greater growth in investment if an individual (target - sucker) withdraws their pension pot at invest with them.

Always take a deep breath and think about it, don't be rushed. Get some advice from a qualified Financial Adviser at your bank branch.

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 28th August 2018 author Mark Blunden)

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Nearly 1,000 domestic abuse victims have contacted a London charity for help this year after their partners exploited "everyday technology" to control and stalk them.

Support network Refuge revealed an "alarming trend" of smart home and web-connected gadgets being deployed against women in abusive relationships. Staff uncovered 920 cases since January and now alert survivors about how to spot tell-tale signs and unusual patterns.

It follows research by University College London, which found devices such as voice-activated home assistants, thermostats, smart watches and webcams had been used against partners by recording them, using spyware or by appearing to change their physical environment - such as temperature and humidity levels - to make them "think they're going mad".

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Tower Hamlets-based Refuge, said: "Frontline staff have recorded an alarming trend in the misuse of everyday technology by current or former partners to control, isolate, humiliate and dominate their victims. We have seen technological abuse in cases of domestic violence, stalking, economic abuse, trafficking and modern slavery, rape and sexual assault.

"We have already supported 920 survivors this year who had suffered some form of technological abuse, from online harassment, stolen online identities, hacking, spoofing, revenge pornography , to stalking and surveillance.

"In addition to protecting survivors, our work focuses on empowering them to use technology safely in the future and avoid further isolation, a frequent consequence of domestic abuse."

Dr Leonie Tanczer, who led UCL's study at its Petras Internet of Things (IoT) research hub, said abusers were moving on from sending barrages of text messages, stalking movements by GPS and registering fake social media accounts. She said many take advantage of in-depth knowledge about the victim's behaviour and digital preferences.

The study resulted in a cybersecurity resource guide for abuse survivors targeted through smart gadgets.

Dr Tanczer said: "Because IoT devices collect so much data and we have so many different accounts and shared passwords, this exacerbates the forms of abuse we see. If someone was to suspect something fishy was going on in their home, our guide tells them how to check specific devices and features, physically and online."

She added: "With smart home devices you have the ability to know far more granular data about the person's habits, when they leave, and what services they are using.

"Victims say to charities, 'I think I'm going mad, I think someone is listening to me or why does (my partner) always know where I am and what I'm doing. (The abuser) can video and audio record, there are sensors that can track humidity levels, heat levels and preferences."

Adam Simon, chairman of the Smart Homes & Building Association Group, said manufacturers have a duty to build security into their devices, and retailers should tell customers how to protect themselves when they buy devices.

He added: "We advise consumers to take responsibility for their own security by ensuring that they put in place effective password protection."

Refuge can be contacted on 0808 2000 247

(4th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 26th August 2018 author Jamie Phillips)

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One in three bobbies on the beat have been axed since 2015.

In total, more than 7,000 neighbourhood police officers have either left the force or have been re-assigned to administrative and back-office roles in the last three years.

The analysis of Home Office statistics by The Sunday Times found the numbers of bobbies on the beat fell by a third, from 23,928 in March 2015 to 16,557 in March 2018.

The number of community support officers also fell by 18 per cent over the same period.

Ministers had made pledges to protect frontline policing, but the number of officers assigned to administrative roles has grown by a quarter.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics found that recorded incidents of violent crime in England and Wales have nearly doubled since 2015. There were 778,000 recorded incidents in 2015 compared to nearly 1.4million from March 2017-18.

Lord Stevens, former commissioner of Scotland Yard, said: "If the increase in violent crime carries on escalating, you are going to get a very dangerous tipping point where there is no control, and it is a very difficult thing to bring back.

"I don't think we've reached that point yet and, God willing, we won't."

Neighbourhood police officers act to reduce fear and contribute to greater interaction between the community and local police forces. However, only just over 10,000 now remain in England and Wales.

The number of knife crime incidents has also increased from 26,025 in 2015 to over 40,000 from March 2017-18. Homicides, meanwhile, rose from 539 to 736 in the three-year period.

The Home Office said: "Decisions about frontline policing, and how resources are best deployed, are for chief constables and democratically accountable police and crime commissioners."

Such is the lack of policing available in the village of Martock in Somerset, local residents have hired a security firm to patrol the streets at night because of safety concerns. There are fears that villages in the surrounding areas will follow suit.

Sussex Police has suffered the biggest impact from the cuts and have the fewest officers on the beat per member of the population. The police force now has just 8.3 neighbourhood officers on patrol per 100,000 people.

uaware comment

The hiring of private security companies will not solve any problems, neither will it persuade the councils or central Government to make more funds available. A potential persuader will be if groups of citizens take legal action with financial penalty against their county council on the principle of failing their duty of care. Financial loss sadly always appears to be a decider and not loss of life.

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 24th August 2018 author James Morris)

Full article [Option 1]:

NOTE : To view the video go to the original article via the above link.

A father has been hailed for creating a brilliant knife attack "self-defence" class video in which he simply tells people to "run away."

The clip, created by anti-knife crime campaigner Garvin Snell, has been viewed more than two million times online and praised by police officers across London.

Mr Snell said he was "overwhelmed" at the response to the video, which features his teenage son clambering over a fence and running away after his father pulls a knife on him.

He told the Standard: "If it saves one life, then it will have been worth it."

Mr Snell recorded the video in his back garden in Feltham, west London, and began by introducing himself and saying he would be giving a "self-defence class".

He promised to teach young people how to defend themselves against attackers wielding knives before picking up a blade and pretending to come at his son, 13-year-old Kyian.

Kyian then simply runs away from his "attacker", climbing over the fence and jumping.

The camera then flips back to Mr Snell, who said: "There's no shame in running away. If someone pulls a knife on you, get the hell out of there, get as far away as possible."

The video has has 36,000 retweets on Twitter and more than two million views.

Mr Snell told the Standard: "I wanted to give advice, and the message is nice and simple.

"If someone pulls a knife on you, the best thing to do is get away. The message is there's no shame in running.

"Too many 'brave' people end up in the morgue. If you have the opportunity to get out, then get out."

After the video went viral, Mr Snell, who stood as an independent candidate in Hounslow during May's local council elections, said: "We were a bit overwhelmed.

"Kyian and I were sat there watching as the number of shares grew and grew. But if it saves one life, then it will have been worth it.

"Knife crime in London is at the highest it's been for six years. Youth centres are being shut left, right and centre. People are living on top of each other.

"It breeds all these postcode wars and I wanted to offer a simple message."

At least 58 people have been stabbed to death in the capital so far this year.

It won the approval of former top cop Gerry Campbell, who called it "common sense", and Croydon's town centre police force, which said: "Don't get involved in a knife fight, we need you alive!"

(4th September 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 24th August 2018 author Greg Dickinson)

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The UK's leading aviation authority has warned plane passengers that they will face the "full weight of the law" - up to five years in jail - if caught behaving in a drunk and disorderly manner on a flight this weekend.

With 32,000 flights due to depart UK airports for this Bank Holiday, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued a public statement reminding passengers that drunken and abusive behaviour in an airport or on an aircraft is unacceptable, and could come with a hefty penalty or even imprisonment.

Richard Stephenson, director at the CAA, said in the statement: "The aviation industry will be working hard this weekend helping everyone going on holiday to have a trouble-free journey. We therefore call on all passengers to act responsibly as drunken and abusive behaviour is totally unacceptable. Not only does it cause distress to fellow travellers, but it can jeopardise flight safety.

"Passengers need to know they will face the full weight of the law should they be found guilty of disorderly behaviour."

The CAA's statement makes it explicit just how severe the consequences could be. It reads: "While we hope everyone enjoys the last Bank Holiday of the summer, the CAA continues to remind passengers that drunken and abusive behaviour at an airport or on an aircraft is totally unacceptable and offenders can face a sentence of up to five years in jail."

In the last five years there have been 1,472 incidents of disruptive passenger behaviour on planes, with a year-on-year increase from 98 in 2013 to 417 last year. Before the summer season began, there were already 202 reports of disorderly behaviour so far this year.

Phil Ward, the Managing Director of Jet2, has this week made comments outlining their zero tolerance policy on drunk and disorderly passengers. "Disruptive passenger behaviour caused by drinking too much alcohol is an unacceptable issue that impacts airports, airlines, our crew and our customers.

"Although our crew and colleagues are highly-trained and do a fantastic job in sometimes difficult circumstances, it is unfair that they must be left to manage the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. At the same time, our customers travelling on their well-earned holidays should not be subjected to such behaviour on such occasions."

"As a family friendly airline flying millions of people on holiday every year, we will continue our zero tolerance approach to disruptive passenger behaviour. As well as taking steps such as issuing lifetime bans, we continue to have a number of successful court rulings in our favour, demonstrating that there can be very serious consequences if you act in a disruptive manner onboard an aircraft."

Last month a government-backed campaign launched to prevent inebriated passengers from boarding airplanes. The One Too Many initiative was rolled out at ten airports - Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Southampton, Bristol and Newcastle - where passengers were met with warnings about alcohol consumption posted on digital display screens, in duty-free shops and on leaflets handed out by the police.

"Disruptive passengers have the potential to ruin other people's flights," said Baroness Sugg, the aviation minister. "This campaign is an important new step to ensure all passengers are aware of the consequences they face if they behave disruptively after drinking before or on board a flight."

In a recent survey, Telegraph Travel asked "Should there be a crackdown on the sale of alcohol at airports?" and of the 6,300 respondents so far, 72 per cent said that they thought airport drinking has got out of hand. The minority, 28 per cent, said that it's on the individual to moderate their intake.

Reports of disruptiv plane passenger - UK airlines (Source : Civil Aviation Authority)

2013 : 98
2014 : 145
2015 : 195
2016 : 415
2017 : 417
2018 : 202 (up tp 16th July 2018)


(Telegraph, dated 24th August 2018 author Gavin Haines)

What are the consequences of drunken behaviour?

Passengers found to be intoxicated on a plane could be fined up to £5,000 and jailed for up to two years for breaching air navigation orders. If the plane is diverted due to their behaviour then they may also have to pay a fine of up to £80,000 to cover the cost of an unscheduled landing.

Some airlines have also threatened to ban drunk passengers from flying. Last month Jet2 made good on such threats when it imposed a lifetime ban on an inebriated man, who allegedly forced a Belfast-Ibiza flight to be diverted to Toulouse.

Are fines actually handed out?

Yes. In January 2018, Nicholas Springthorpe, an insurance salesman from Doncaster, was fined £3,205 by magistrates after admitting to being drunk on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Birmingham.

The same fate befell Stephen Hays, who was ordered to pay £667 by North Tyneside Magistrates' Court in May 2018, after pleading guilty to one count of being drunk on an aircraft.

In 2016, Jet2 took matters into its own hands by invoicing a female passenger for £6,800 after it was alleged her unruly behaviour forced a Tenerife-Newcastle flight to be diverted to Shannon Airport, Ireland.

Is drunkenness becoming more of a problem?

One industry insider told Telegraph Travel that airports were becoming like the "Wild West" during the busy holiday season as fliers take advantage of early morning opening hours at airport bars.

Official figures seem to support this. According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), 417 flights were endangered by abusive and violent travellers in 2017, more than double the total five years earlier.

Airlines such as Jet2 and Ryanair have hit out at UK airports, claiming they could do more to limit the sale of alcohol. However, the Airport Operators' Association (AOA) has hit back, claiming airports are being responsible in the sale of alcohol.

Is the government-backed campaign likely to work?

Alcohol awareness campaigns - backed up by fines, prison sentences and bans - have helped reduce the number of drink driving casualties on Britain's roads, which dropped from 31,430 in 1979 to 8,210 in 2014.

It wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude that similar measures could have a corresponding impact on passenger drunkenness. However, while booze is as ubiquitous as it is in airports and on planes, inebriation will inevitably be an issue.

What should I do if I spot a pie-eyed passenger?

If you're concerned about the behaviour of a passenger - drunk or otherwise - you should inform the airline or airport police, or you may have a tedious journey ahead.

(4th September 2018)

(The Times, dated 23rd August 2018 author John Simpson)

Full article [Option 1]:

A driver found with a plastic knuckle-duster is believed to be the first person prosecuted in Britain for possession of a weapon made by a 3D printer.

Adrian Grey, 40, was in possession of a white and grey knuckle-duster, a small amount of cannabis and a cannabis grinder when he was stopped by police who searched his car in Brecon, south Wales.

Prosecutors said yesterday that the case demonstrated the "many forms" in which dangerous and potentially lethal weapons come.

Concerns have been raised over the possibility that a 3D-printed gun might be developed for use by terrorists to bypass metal detectors and board planes or access other "hard targets" such as government buildings.

Grey admitted possession of a controlled drug but initially denied having an offensive weapon, claiming that the fact that the knuckle-duster was plastic made it a toy.

He changed his plea on the first day of the trial at Merthyr Tydfil crown court yesterday and was given a three month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £250.

Grey said that the knuckle-duster had been made by his friend on a 3D printer. He wanted to use it as a reference when drawing tattoos and did not know it was illegal, the court was told.

Alex Scott,of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was an unusual case. Adrian Grey claimed this 3D knuckle-duster was just a toy because it was plastic.

"The CPS presented evidence to the court, including the weapon itself, and showed it could cause serious harm if used maliciously.

"This conviction demonstrates offensive weapons now come in many forms."

(4th September 2018)

(The Times, dated 23rd August 2018 author Fiona Hamilton)

Full article [Option]:

Britain's most senior police officer will not allow frontline officers to use spit guards despite their endorsement by the home secretary.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said that the controversial protective equipment should only be fitted to suspects in custody suites and not during arrests on the streets of London. The Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, yesterday expressed its disappointment at the decision.

Sajid Javid has previously endorsed the use of the spit guard, a mesh device that has a reinforced section around the jawline to prevent spitting and biting. He said in a speech in May that it was "ridiculous" that all forces did not use them, adding: "I cannot understand why any chief constable would put public perception before protecting police officers."

Many officers have asked for spit guards to be made part of their equipment but some senior police are concerned about the public perception of using hoods on suspects.

Liberty, the campaign group, has described the devices as cruel and degrading. They are used by half of the 43 police forces in England and Wales and the Metropolitan Police endorsed their use in custody suites last summer after carrying out a trial.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, confirmed in a written answer to the London Assembly published yesterday that their use would not be extended. "Following the completion of the spit and bite guards pilot the commissioner has taken an operational decision to continue their use in custody suites only."

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said that the "bizarre" result of the decision was that British Transport Police officers would be able to use spit guards on the streets of the capital while the Metropolitan Police would not. He said that officers were regularly spat at by suspects and needed protection, a point that he said he had made to Ms Dick.

Susan Hall, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, called on Mr Khan to intervene and reverse the "deeply Disappointing" decision. She added: "Police Officers run towards danger and put their own safety at risk to protect us. The least we can do is ensure that they are protected from risks such as spitting and biting."

She said that the decision was made despite their being no central record of the number of spitting or biting attacks on officers and was a "reckless move based on a lack of information".

Matt Twist, a deputy Assistant Metropolitan Police commissioner, said: "Spitting and biting is a particularly unpleasant form of assault and rightly generates a lot of concern among officers. Aside from the fact that as an employer the Met cannot expect its staff its staff to be spat at, or think this is acceptable, some of the follow-up treatment required after such an assault can be prolonged and unpleasant. We would of course encourage officers to always report when they are assaulted including when they are spat at."

He said that the use of spt guards would continue to be monitored. Mr Khan's spokeswoman said that any attack on police officers was unacceptable.

Further information - uaware

(BBC News, dated 23rd August 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Since July 2017 the Metropolitan Police has deployed spit guards 151 times.

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 22nd August 2018 author Tricia Phillips)

Full article [Option 1]:

Thousands of Brits will be heading abroad this bank holiday weekend as summer begins to run out - many of us in our cars.

So it's worth swotting up on the highway codes of the continental countries you'll be travelling through to ensure you don't end up having to fork out a heavy fine you hadn't bargained for.

For instance, speeding abroad could land you a ticket topping £600 if you fail to stick to the kph limits. That's a holiday wrecker for starters.

10 ways to stay safe when driving overseas

We've teamed up with Halifax Insurance to bring you 10 top tips on keeping yourself and your wallet safe:

1 - Don't forget it : People remember their passports but leave their driving licences behind. Also make sure a GB sticker is clearly visible on the back of your car if your number plate doesn't already include it.

2 - Spot the signs : Familiarise yourself with local driving laws - an RAC country guide is online. Learn speed limits, road signs and markings and which side of the road to drive on.

3 - Insurance needs : Make sure you have adequate breakdown cover and car insurance for driving abroad. If in an accident, call your insurer immediately and take plenty of pictures of damage caused to your vehicle.

4 - Drink and drive : Water, of course. With much of Europe still baking take a big pack of water and keep picnic items in cool bags. Avoid rush hour jams that could overheat your engine. Check tyre pressures as heat and under-inflation can increase the risk of punctures.

5 - All aboard : In many countries you must carry a ?rst aid kit, ?re extinguisher, warning triangle, re?ective jacket, headlamp beam re?ectors and spare bulbs. It's the law.

6 - Breath test : In France, drivers must carry a breathalyser with two disposable testing units. Kids under 10 in the front need a special child restraint. Heading to Paris, Lyon and Grenoble? You must display a 'clean air' windscreen sticker showing your emissions levels.

7 - Toll ahead : Many European countries have toll roads. You can use cash or card. Be ready to pay quickly at the toll booth.

8 - Auto know better : Some rules abroad may seem obscure to British drivers, but are the law. In Spain and Switzerland, you must carry a spare set of prescription glasses. In Spain you can't drive in flip-flops. In Italy you must park in the direction of traffic flow.

9 - Be adaptable : Make sure you modify headlights if driving on the right. Use a beam convertor or cheap adapter stickers.

10 - Sat's the way to do it : Download the relevant satnav maps in advance. Check to see if the countries your driving through have special rules concerning use. For instance, in France it is illegal to use satnavs which alert you where fixed speed cameras are located.

Uaware comment

In some area's of Spain the Gardia Civil have a tendency of imposing on the spot fines for speeding and expect immediate cash payment (no travellers cheques please). But they do give you a receipt !!!

(4th September 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd August 2018 author Gareth Davies)

Full article [Option 1]:

A large-scale illegal gun factory has been discovered on a Sussex industrial estate, the National Crime Agency has announced.

Investigators responded to what was believed to be gunshots coming from inside what the NCA called a warehouse unit describing itself as a gearbox repair business on an industrial estate in Hailsham, East Sussex.

Officers raided the building on Saturday night and found what they believe to be a "sophisticated" operation producing guns, of which the NCA has subsequently seized around 30.

Three men found leaving the building were arrested and police had to use a Taser on one of them, an NCA spokesman said.

On the weekend, two guns were found as well as ammunition, but further searches uncovered the true magnitude of the factory.

Rob Hickinbottom, head of the national firearms threat centre at the NCA, said on Wednesday afternoon: "We believe we have disrupted a group involved in the criminal production of firearms, and as a result we have prevented a potentially large quantity of weapons from getting into the hands of criminals and being used in violence on our streets."

The NCA and Sussex Police officers have remained at Diplocks Way, combing the industrial estate for more evidence.

Mr Hickinbottom added: "That search has taken several days, but during that time we have found what we believe to be a sophisticated gun factory.

"We have found a range of machinery and components used in the criminal manufacture of firearms and ammunition from scratch.

"We have found what we suspect are a number of handguns in various stages of production, as well as templates and metal for use in their manufacture.

"Those are now being analysed by forensic experts to determine what category of firearm they fit into."

Mr Hickinbottom, citing operational reasons, said he could not comment on how the NCA were tipped off about the site, but told reporters at a news briefing: "Officers heard loud bangs consistent with gunshots emanating from inside an industrial unit on the estate.

"The unit was an engineering workshop, with signage outside showing it to be a gearbox repair business."

The NCA believe the factory was producing ammunition as well as the weapons, and could not rule out whether or not the guns were in circulations.

A source told The Telegraph no 3D laser printers were found in the industrial unit, but rather decades-old metalworks machinery typically associated with pre-21st century classrooms.

Among the machines were a lathe and a milling machine, both used to manipulate metal.

Phil Davies, a retired metalworks teacher who worked for 30 years in Cardiff, said: "The green lathe on the left-hand side of the picture is typical of the type of machine you'd get at schools back in the day.

"Schools have been decimating their workshops over the past couple of decades and selling off equipment like this, but they're perfectly sound to do the job, very accurate and very easy to use.

"Every engineering workshop around the country that use shaping metal in their trade will have a lathe like this one. It's used to to manipulate metal, make it rounded.

"It would also be used to create the slots for bullets in the cylinder of an older, traditional handgun and would be used to form the barrel of a gun.

"The milling machine - the machine on the right - would be used to very accurately create grooves on the outside of the gun.

"Between those two machines, you've got all you need to create the basic shape and starting point of a gun."

The NCA believe that the two weapons recovered on Saturday night had been made in the unit, and that the bangs heard inside were likely to have been the discharging of those weapons.

Greg Akehurst, 29, of no fixed address, and Mark Kinman, 63, of Bramwell Mews, Hailsham, were both charged with possessing a firearm.

Kyle Wood, 30, of Gratwicke Drive, Littlehampton, was charged with the same offence as well as possessing ammunition.

The trio were remanded in custody and are due to appear at Kingston Crown Court on September 17.

(4th September 2018)

(Wired, dated 22nd August 2018 author Carl Miller)

Full article [Option 1]:

Cybercrime is not like any other kind of crime. Perpetrators are elusive; arrests are rare; stolen goods are immaterial assets, such as data, cryptocurrency, personal information.

It straddles borders and legal jurisdictions, with victim and criminal often residing in different countries, and only communicating through encrypted messages and bitcoin transactions. The public is barely aware of its pervasiveness - but it has been steadily on the rise for years. National police forces worldwide are scrambling to mount an effective defence, but what are the chances of success? In this extract from his book, writer and researcher Carl Miller asks Stephen Kavanagh, Britain's highest-ranking digital policeman.

"Stephen, are we living through a crisis of law enforcement?"

Stephen Kavanagh is chief constable of Essex Police, the chair of the Digital Policing Board at the National Chief Police Council, and the national policing lead on Digital Investigations and Intelligence. The UK's 'top digital cop', as the newspapers call him.

There was a pause. "Unless we start moving at pace, it could become a crisis. We need to transform at pace. Four years ago, I heard a chief constable say they didn't have a digital crime problem. I don't think there's a chief constable in the country now who doesn't recognise the scale of the issue."

Speaking to Kavanagh and others at the top of the police, it was clear none of this was being ignored. If anything, the police are frustrated with how long it is taking us, the public, to wake up to how big a problem digital crime now is. "There's a real risk", Stephen continued, "that this is seen as being all down to the police. But we, the police, can't do it alone, based on the scale of cybercrime that we've now seen."

One of Stephen's colleagues, commander Steve Head, said something similar in 2015: "Because there is this hidden element to cybercrime we are not having a sensible debate about it because we do not understand what a huge threat it is. My view is that cybercrime is more of a threat to this country than drugs. This is not a problem that policing can solve. We cannot investigate our way out of this issue; we have to look at it in a different way." Again and again, the police had started to say that it couldn't just be them that took responsibility for law and order in the online world.

"Take the jurisdictional problem," I continued. This problem, of all of them, had stayed with me. "If a criminal is in Russia, and the Russian authorities are not going to cooperate with British law enforcement, the criminal basically can't be caught."

"I think it's a brilliant challenge. The policing model is very reactive. It is not set up to deal with a spotty teenager from the Ukraine hitting 40 million IP addresses. How do we get on the front foot? Will we get into that country and secure that custodial sentence? Probably not. But are there other means of securing justice for that victim? If we know you've been defrauded and where the money is, we should be able to hack the account - freeze the funding - and shut that account down."

"Like mini-GCHQs?"

"They only deal with the top end of criminality. Most cybercrime will still need to be dealt with by local policing arrangements. There needs to be ways for some of the top-end skills that people like GCHQ have to be passed on to local police, of course with public support and the right legislative safeguards."

It's clear that the police are contemplating some very big changes in what law enforcement looks like in digital spaces. Penalties for cybercriminals and justice for victims are likely to end up very different from their online equivalents. Equally clear, however, is that the problem is too big for the police to handle themselves.

They have been saying, increasingly loudly, that a new contract needs to be forged; perhaps a new kind of agreement that refreshes Peel's for the digital age. This agreement can't just include the general public; it must also include the technology companies whose platforms and products are often the new front line in the fight against cybercrime.

"I do not think the likes of Facebook and others are taking responsibility at the moment," said Kavanagh. "These are multi-billion-dollar organisations, but are they delivering public safety? It's not being evidenced at the moment. They need to start stepping up. We've tried to be patient. There are moments of brilliance, but that's not good enough for victims." But they are also looking more broadly to the public to help too. "I can't be optimistic until I see us working across government departments - from the Ministry of Justice to the Department for Communities and the Home Office. This is not just a law enforcement problem, this is a social problem."

"This is the most profound shift the police have experienced since [Sir Robert] Peel [the Conservative statesman considered the father of modern policing]," Kavanagh continued. "We will adapt in a way more fundamental than anything since Peel's reforms."

Yet while everyone accepts that change at a profound level is needed, it wasn't what I saw happening. For all of the efforts [of law enforcement officers across the country], the reaction hasn't been anywhere near as great as the change in crime itself has been.

Fewer than a quarter of forces have a dedicated cybercrime unit. The situation has probably got better in recent years, but in 2014 a report by HM Criminal Justice Inspectorate found that only three of the 43 UK police forces had developed comprehensive plans to tackle cybercrime, and that only two per cent of police staff had been trained in how to investigate it. Just fifteen UK police forces even acknowledged cybercrime threats within their Strategic Threat and Risk Assessments.

The report also identified "a generally held mistaken view among those we interviewed that the responsibility for responding to a large-scale cyber incident was one for regional or national policing units and not for forces." The average spend on cybercrimes across nine UK police forces (which responded to requests for budgetary breakdowns) was just one per cent of their budget. One 2017 estimate by law firm RPC put the number of UK police officers specialising in cybercrime at just 250. And this, let's remember, for a kind of crime that in volume is around half of the total that happens to people in the UK.

The reason that the police are not reforming anything like as quickly or as profoundly as they need to is, partly, down to money. We have recently lived through a dangerous political fiction: that cutting police budgets was accompanied by a decline in crime. At the moment when crime began to migrate online, everyone thought crime figures were falling. And because everyone thought they were falling, revenue for the police began to be taken away too.

In 2014, before the scale of cybercrime was known, Theresa May declared: "Police reform is working and crime is falling [...] we have achieved something no modern government has achieved before. We have proved that, through reform, it is possible to do more with less." Overall, funding for police has dropped by around a fifth between 2011 and 2016, and in 2016 there were 21,000 fewer police officers than in 2010. So the period when the police force needed to begin to reshape itself in a fundamental way to respond to cybercrime was exactly the time when its budget was being slashed. Indeed, it looks like some police forces are actually decreasing spending on digital infrastructure.

"This is one of the fundamental issues," said Kavanagh. "What is the bandwidth of any local force at the moment - from dealing with anti-social behaviour on a council estate to homophobic abuse on Twitter? The bandwidth does not exist. My force is still trying to find savings after eight years of austerity and also finding resources for policing in the digital world... The infrastructure that underpins the transformation is missing"

"What we are seeing," he continued, "is that victims and others are turning to other bodies to deal with their concerns." What is at stake here is the basic relevance of police to cybercrime at all.

Carl Miller's The Death of the Gods: The New Global Power Grab is out now

Uaware comment

Other books on the subject are available !!!

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 19th August 2018 author Patrick Greenfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

There has been a sharp rise in the number of grenades seized from criminals trying to smuggle the explosives into the UK, according to government figures.

In the first four months of this year, 17 devices were discovered by UK authorities, compared with 40 seized between 2013 and 2017. The explosives are usually smuggled overland in lorries or underneath cars that arrive by ferry and mainly come from the former Yugoslavia.

Devices have been seized in Sussex and Scotland this year. In the largest haul, Police Scotland recovered six grenades and 1.5kg of dynamite. The spike has prompted concern among investigators that criminals are stashing weapons.

Chris Farrimond, the deputy director of investigations at the National Crime Agency, said: "If we just work on the figures that we know about, the ones that have been recovered over the past four years and the ones that we know of that have been exploded, then somewhere, somehow in the UK there are a number of grenades that are in criminal hands and have not been used."

Such devices were used three times in buildings and once against a vehicle between 2013 and 2017.

"They don't get used very often, but where they have [been used] we have fortunately seen them not used in crowded areas, but they've been used quite specifically against either buildings or a vehicles," said Farrimond. "Not one of these was actually used against a person, they were used to create fear and/or criminal damage. It was almost a warning device."

The murderer and drug dealer Dale Cregan used grenades as his "calling card" in three of the four killings he carried out in 2012, throwing them at the bodies of his victims after they had been shot.

Farrimond said there were concerns the weapons could get into the hands of terrorists.

Grenades currently have a street value of between about £250 and £750.

Farrimond said: "The bottom line is that firearms do get offered up for sale and so then the question is how accessible is that criminal sale area to somebody who wants to create a terrorist offence of some type. Of course we have a concern that they could fall into terrorist hands and they could be used in a particular way."

Of the 17 seized so far this year, 12 were military and viable, one was improvised, three were imitation or deactivated, and one was real but not viable.

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 19th August 2018 author Maya Oppenheim)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of girls being forced into marriage ahead of the summer holiday period has increased by more than a third in recent years, according to a leading charity which has accused the government of an abject failure to get to grips with the problem.

Karma Nirvana condemned the Home Office for shelving a campaign raising awareness of the practice, which sees girls taken abroad to be married off to strangers, in the "critical" run-up to the summer break - the time of the year when the problem is at its peak.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, the national charity - which provides training to the police, NHS and social services - revealed it learned of 150 new cases of forced marriage from May to July, a rise of more than a third on the figure seen in the same period in 2015, when it received 99 new cases.

The charity also found cases of forced marriage soared by 40 per cent at the start of the school holidays this year, and revealed it was receiving reports of cases at a rate of two a day in July, more than double the average of 25 seen in the first four months of the year, with 44 cases reported in May and June.

And the figures do not reflect the full scale of the problem, as forced marriage continues to be starkly underreported - with the Home Office describing it as a "hidden crime".

Jasvinder Sanghera, CBE, founder and chief executive of the charity, warned thousands of girls would not be returning to school in September, having had their educations cut off and - in many cases - been left trapped in a cycle of poverty after falling victim to the offence.

Ms Sanghera, who set up the charity in 2008 after escaping a forced marriage by running away from home aged 16, demanded that sex within such unions be treated as rape.

She said the Home Office had planned an awareness campaign ahead of the summer holidays but decided to drop it at the last minute, postponing it until later in the year, a strategy she said was "missing the point".

She said the pre-summer holidays campaign had been running for the past few years and would have seen the Forced Marriage Unit work with police and local authorities to raise awareness of the problem. She explained the campaign would have used social media and disseminated posters, literature and information about helplines with the objective of increasing the number of victims coming forward and raising public understanding.

"It was wholly irresponsible of the government to drop a campaign devoted to awareness, pre-summer holidays. This is the most critical time of year," she told The Independent.

"There will be thousands of children across Britain that are now being prepared for engagements and forced marriages in Britain and [who] will be taken out of this country over the summer break. The family use the opportunity of this long holiday to marry them off."

Young girls are often told they are going back to their country of origin to visit family, and remain unaware of what is happening until they arrive.

"We have heard of cases where people are engaged or married and just think it is a party, and do not realise until afterwards," she said.

"There is no doubt there will be thousands of girls across Britain who will not return to school in September. You are talking about people under the age of 16, and [aged] 16 to 18. When it comes to September, teachers will notice they are missing but the alarm bell will not necessarily ring because the first person to be alerted are the parents, who will often say they are being educated abroad. The parents are the perpetrators of the crime of forced marriage. The parents' story will be heard and the victims' will not."

Laws making it illegal to force someone into marriage in England and Wales were implemented in 2014. Anyone found guilty of doing so can be imprisoned for up to seven years.

Ms Sanghera, who also acts as an expert witness and lobbies government, said her organisation had found schools are often reluctant to work on the issue of forced marriage, despite being in a good position to help prevent it. She said she had contacted schools in Luton and Tower Hamlets, but they had ignored her outreach efforts.

"Very few schools are willing to engage. We write to them and we go into the school and a survivor does a presentation - on average we receive three disclosures [of forced marriage] for every school we go into," she said. "We went to one school in Birmingham and within seven days of being there we had dealt with over 11 disclosures."

She said the charity has heard "the most distressing" stories which displayed a dearth of awareness among teachers and social workers. She added teachers often view the issue as a cultural one, and fear it is not their place to intervene.

"After they have heard the presentation, teachers will come up to me and recall multiples cases of girls going missing and say 'I just thought it was cultural'. Some will say 'I did raise it but it wasn't taken seriously. I was told: 'It's their culture, respect it''."

The charity CEO said it was difficult for victims because they have never heard a counter narrative to their parents' plans for forced marriage - and argued they are subject to years of conditioning at home.

She also drew attention to the fact forced marriage is a hidden crime and is vastly underreported, adding: "Even government say that we are dealing with the tip of an iceberg - we are seeing just a scratch on the surface."

A teacher at a secondary school in Islington said she had not received any training from the school she works in about forced marriage. She also said she had never been told to be specifically alert during the lead-up to the summer holiday break.

"I don't think I've ever been told to in particular look out around the summer holidays for forced marriage," the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Independent.

"The training that school staff receive to help them spot these issues is really poor, meaning that a lot of people who work in schools have no idea how to even recognise that it is happening.

"Rather than there being any attempt to understand a different culture or why this happening to young girls it often becomes this very uncomfortable anti-Muslim conversation. Ultimately the really crap training that school staff get around this issue only puts these kids even more at risk because nobody knows what to look out for."

This echoes research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) from last year which found less than half of teachers said they had been given training to recognise the signs of forced marriage.

Rubie, a forced marriage survivor who is now in her 30s, said she was forced to leave the UK during the summer break.

"I and my younger siblings were taken to Bangladesh for the summer holidays but ended up staying there for 11 months in total," she said. "For the first six months, I enjoyed exploring my culture and the experiences of my parents' homeland; this was until my father told me that I would be getting married. Unknown to me, all along I was being held like a prisoner.

"I soon got married to a man twice my age, I got raped until I became pregnant as a guarantee for his child to be British born - to enable him to come over to the UK."

Rubie, whose Bangladeshi parents moved to the UK in the 1970s and lived in Wales, then became seriously ill and returned to the UK, where she tried to kill herself.

"I tried to take my own life," she said. "I didn't succeed and became desperate so I ran away from home with another man and had a second child from an abusive relationship. I lived my life in a dysfunctional way and became very depressed."

She has spent the last six years investing in education. The survivor, a member of Karma Nirvana's survivor ambassador panel, said: "I have started to enjoy my life and work towards achieving my passions and hobbies, which I did not have before."

Helen Porter, who chairs the ATL's equalities and diversity committee, also rang alarm bells about the issue of forced marriages spiking during the summer holidays.

Ms Porter, a teacher for 30 years, told The Independent: "It's an erosion of the girl's human rights if she is being taken from education and being forced to marry someone she is not choosing to marry. As a teacher, you know your pupil's aspirations and ambitions and suddenly it's all over for them. Her life chances are greatly reduced."

She argued the disappearance of girls has huge repercussions for their peers and the wider school community - with people left "disorientated" and "upset" by their absence.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK is a world leader in tackling the horrendous crime of forced marriage, and work to tackle it is an integral part of our cross government violence against women and girls strategy.

"We continually work with charities and police to highlight this important issue to the public and the work being done to tackle it, via the media and community engagement.

"[The] Border Force, the police and other agencies also regularly work together to raise awareness of harmful practices, including forced marriage, through joint operations aimed at individuals travelling to or from the UK, to countries where these practices are prevalent."

The Home Office said it was aware the school holidays may be a period of increased risk. It said earlier this month Border Force officers at Birmingham Airport had been leading an "operation to detect, intercept and provide assistance to potential victims who may be travelling abroad for the purposes of having FGM [female genital mutilation] conducted on them and/or being forced into a marriage overseas".

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office, leads the government's forced marriage policy, outreach and casework.

The FMU gave advice or support related to 1,196 possible forced marriages last year.

- Karma Nirvana's helpline number, for victims and professionals who need guidance, is 0800 5999 247

- The Forced Marriage Unit's helpline number is 0207 008 0151

- Adults worried about a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 and children can call Childline on 0800 1111 to speak anonymously to a trained counsellor.

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 19th August 2018 author Olivia Tobin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have discovered hundreds of cannabis farms in London over the last few years, official figures show.

One cannabis farm is found every two days in the capital, according to the Scotland Yard data.

The full scale of cannabis farming operations have been revealed in figures obtained via a freedom of information request.

The figures show that from January 2016 to April 2018, the police uncovered 314 cannabis farms, with instances of more than one farm appearing on the same street.

There were over 100 found in 2016 and 2017 and in four months of 2018, 37 have been found.

Cannabis farms, or factories, were found in every single borough of London, with a high amount being found in south London.

A policeman who works in Croydon, Sutton and Bromley also revealed that he has encountered a serious problem of Vietnamese teenagers who are being forced to work in such farms.

Detective Superintendent Lee Hill said there is a "human, emotional level" to recovering cannabis farms because he is often finding children being exploited and in dangerous situations.

Vietnamese boys and young people, he found, are being asked to watch over properties in case of police raids or rival gangs arriving.

He said: "I've recovered children who are being exploited. They are there to protect the properties."

He added this was a "big concern" to police, saying that often they are encountering victims of modern slavery and the operation of farms is "destroying young people's lives".

Of all the boroughs, Croydon had the highest number of cannabis factories, with 30 in total being found.

DSI Hill explained that the number in Croydon was high "for a number of reasons".

Its large population - the biggest in London - was one, as well as the area having gang and violent activity in it.

He said: "I think we can make links to gang activity. Some of the recoveries are within gang territory areas. A lot of it does comes down to organised criminality."

He added: "There's a link between violence and drugs, we do recognise that drugs underpin some of that."

He said: "When we look [at the number of] these raids, probably two thirds comes from information that has been generated by Crimestoppers and community intelligence."

From there, DSI Hill said the police are "really proactive" and "robust" in their approach to uncovering such farms.

After Croydon, the borough with the second highest number was Lewisham, 18, then Newham, with 17 and then Lambeth, with 16.

By contrast, the boroughs with the lowest number of factories were jointly Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea, with only two.

Addresses across the capital where factories were found have also been revealed by the police.

Busy high streets such as Kingsland Road, in Dalston and Streatham High Road, in Streatham were among the 292 streets the police said factories were found.

DSI Hill explained that, historically, farms were uncovered in industrial estates but the police is finding it more common to find them in attics, or residential properties.

The numbers of factories found do appear to be falling, though.

In 2016, there was 143 found and in 2017, this number fell to 134.

Although it is too early to tell about the numbers in 2018, DSI Hill says this is because locating and uncovering cannabis farms is a "priority" for the police.

Peter Reynolds, from CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform said he believed the number of farms in London would have been higher.

Mr Reynolds posed this may be because the police are not as tough as they once were in terms of cracking down of cannabis possession, saying they were "disinterested".

He added it was "right" the Metropolitan Police were discovering farms and prosecuting though.

He said: "There's just as many, if not more [farms] then there has been. It's absolutely right that the police should crack down on major operations.

"These are operations ran by wicked people that are associated with violence and trafficking. It's a good thing to see operations like that stopped."

Mr Reynolds argued it would be safer for all parties concerned if the distribution of cannabis was done legally.

He said: "You can get it properly run, under licence and employing people properly, regulated and safely."

Cannabis factories

Number of cannabis factories discovered by the Metropolitan Police between January 1, 2016 and April 30, 2018

Years (2016), [2017], 2018 - Jan to April

Barking and Dagenham : (9) [8] 0
Barnet : (7) [6] 2
Bexley : (5) [6] 2
Brent : (1) [5] 2
Bromley : (4) [7] 0
Camden : (0) [4] 1
Croydon : (14) [11] 5
Ealing : (4) [3] 2
Enfield : (6) [5] 3
Greenwich : (7) [2] 3
Hackney : (8) [2] 2
Hammersmith and Fulham : (2) [5] 0
Haringey : (6) [1] 0
Harrow : (3) [1] 0
Havering : (7) [4] 0
Hillingdon : (0) [3] 1
Hounslow : (5) [7] 0
Islington : (1) [2] 0
Kensington and Chelsea : (0) [2] 0
Kingston upon Thames : (1) [3] 1
Lambeth : (9) [6] 1
Lewisham : (5) [9] 4
Merton : (0) [2] 1
Newham : (9) [8] 0
Redbridge : (6) [2] 1
Richmond upon Thames : (2) [2] 0
Southwark : (4) [4] 0
Sutton : (1) [3] 0
Tower Hamlets : (9) [6] 1
Waltham Forest : (7) [4] 4
Wandsworth : (0) [2] 0
Westminster : (3) [3] 0

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 17th August 2018 author Nadeem Badshah)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of prosecutions in England and Wales has reached a record low despite an increase in recorded crime overall, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

The data showed 1.61 million people were either prosecuted or given an "out-of-court disposal" in the year ending March 2018, a fall of 7% and the lowest number since records began in 1970.

Out-of-court disposals are sanctions given by police on admission of guilt, and include cautions, cannabis warnings, fixed penalty fines and restorative justice.

A decrease in prosecutions for motoring offences resulted in the number of people prosecuted at magistrates courts falling by 5% to 1.38 million compared with 1.45 million the previous year, the Criminal Justice Statistics published on Thursday reveal.

The report also shows there has been an 11% increase in overall crime, a total of 5.5m offences, although not all offences recorded result in a charge or prosecution.

The MoJ put the rise down to "improved recording among police forces and victims' greater willingness to report crimes".

The fall in prosecutions comes amid a rise in violent crime, with the latest annual police figures published in April showing a 22% year-on-year increase in knife crime and an 11% rise in gun crime.

The figures for 2017 from the Office for National Statistics showed police forces recorded 39,598 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year to December 2017, the highest number registered since comparable records started in 2010.

In May, Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick said she was "sure" cuts to her force's budget have contributed to a rise in violent crime.

Responding to the latest figures on prosecutions, an MoJ spokeswoman said: "Under this government the most serious offenders are more likely to go to prison, and for longer - helping protect the public and keep communities safe.

"Sentencing is a matter for independent courts, who take into account the circumstances of each case."

Decisions on whether to prosecute suspects are taken by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

In 2017/18 the CPS prosecuted 533,161 cases and secured 448,327 convictions. In magistrates courts, its conviction rate was 84.8% while the rate for crown courts was 79.9%.

A CPS spokeswoman said: "We will always prosecute cases referred to us by the police where there is enough evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest.

"Last year the CPS prosecuted more than 530,000 cases, with a conviction rate of 84%. Although the number of cases has decreased, there has been an increase in the complexity of the cases we prosecute.

"This is reflected in the growth in digital evidence and, in the case of sexual offences, reliance on vulnerable victims and witnesses."

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 16th August 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

Scotland Yard is deploying convoys of vehicles with 70 or more officers to knife crime hotspots in a fresh tactic to combat violence.

The line of police vans, unmarked cars and patrol vehicles arrive on estates or streets blighted by crime - but instead of raiding homes, police meet and talk to local people.

The tactic is being used by the Met's Violent Crime Taskforce in an effort to engage with communities battling a surge in gang activity and stabbings.

Detective Superintendent Sean Yates, head of the task force, said: "The public are saying they do not see so many police any more so this is a highly visible message of reassurance. We go into shops, talk to people on the streets and carry out weapon searches, but it also gives people a chance to talk to us and tell us what they want us to do."

Police deployed a convoy of 14 vehicles to Peckham yesterday - racing through London with lights and sirens - before arriving at Pulse leisure centre. There were traffic officers on motorbikes, local borough police, detectives from the task force and firearms officers. The local borough has seen two murders of young men in recent weeks, including drill rapper Siddique Kamara, 23, known as Incognito. The member of Moscow 17 was stabbed in Camberwell.

Residents had a mixed reaction to the initiative. Anne Thomas, 57, said: "It's a good idea but you don't see any of them when there is a crime. We need more police on the streets."

Jacqui Fergus, 58, said: "It is a joke, a PR stunt. These crimes are happening because there is nothing for these children to do. There are no community centres or play areas for children." But Adeleke Labake, 49, said: "Police cannot stop the killings on their own, they need the help of the community and this is going to help. They have closed the local police station so people want to see more officers on the street.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick, who joined yesterday's operation, said: "We have had a very positive reaction. We want to make an impact in a short period of time, obviously we come and then we go, but we leave a trace and the knowledge that we will be back. This shows that the Met are here, that we want to protect them, we want to find out what they think, and at the same time it sends a strong message to criminals."

She added: "We are being thanked for providing a presence everywhere we go, even in places where in previous times people have felt upset by police actions. They are coming up and thanking us."

There have been more than 90 murders in London this year. The Met claims the surge in violence is stabilising, with a fall in the number of murders each month and fewer stabbings involving young people. Operations involving the Violent Crime Taskforce have resulted in more than 1,000 arrests since April.

(4th September 2018)

(The Register, dated 16th August 2018 author Gareth Corfield)

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is enforcing new rules that obligate banks to publicly reveal the number and frequency of online outages - including whether these were caused by malicious actors.

Billed as part of consumer-friendly changes to the small print for online banking services, new rules from the FCA and the Competition and Markets Authority will make financial institutions proactively reveal how often they have had to report "major operational and security incidents".

The move was telegraphed by the FCA over the past few months, having begun with the TSB fiasco in April.

Banks will have to "publish the information on their websites in a consistent format" according to the FCA, while big banks will be expected to dish it up via an API compliant with the Open Banking Standards specs.

A quick squint at the Bank of Scotland's OBS API (other flavours of moneymen are available) reveals four public incident reporting metrics are currently in use: "total number of incidents reported"; "incidents affecting telephone banking"; "incidents affecting mobile banking"; and "incidents affecting internet banking".

"More than any other industry, banks still contain a mix of archaic legacy systems, new cloud platforms, and yet are under pressure to accelerate their software development to combat the threat of their 'digital-first' competitors," opined Dave Anderson, a marketing bod from API-making biz Dynatrace, in a canned quote.

Another marketer, Andrew Stevens of customer service biz Quadient, gravely intoned: "Banks should see this as an opportunity to improve their relationship with customers. By opening up a conversation and being clear about any disruptions to service, internal changes, or even changes to accounts will go a long way in positioning the bank as a trusted provider which cares about its customers.."

Small comfort for folk who were locked out of their TSB accounts earlier this year. Still, better to bolt the stable door before the rest of the herd make a dash for it.

(4th September 2018)

(Guardian, dated 15th August 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

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The investigation into the alleged terror attack outside parliament is one of hundreds being conducted by authorities in the UK.

Downing Street officials revealed on Tuesday that counter-terror police and MI5 had 676 investigations open at the end of June.

Police and the security services have previously said there are around 3,000 active "subjects of interest" plus a wider pool of more than 20,000 individuals who have featured in inquiries and are kept under review.

The staggering numbers raise questions - particularly when an individual slips through the net - about how security services decide where to focus their resources. The Met police on Tuesday said the suspect in Tuesday's incident, Salih Khater, did not appear to be known to authorities.

Since 2011, MI5 and the counter-terror police network have used a "triage" process for sorting incoming threat intelligence. The system is regularly reviewed for adjustments according to the "waxing and waning" of risk.

On receipt, new intelligence is checked for links to existing investigations. If there is a connection to an ongoing inquiry, the information is passed to the relevant team. If not, the intelligence is assessed to establish whether a new lead or investigation should be opened.

A lead is intelligence or information not linked to an ongoing investigation that, after initial assessment, suggests activities of national security interest.

Investigations are given a priority according to the risk they carry. There are four broad categories:

- Priority 1: investigations into individuals or networks where there is "credible and actionable" intelligence of attack planning.

- Priority 2: investigations into high- and medium-risk extremist activity, such as a serious intent to travel overseas and fight, terrorist training or large-scale fundraising.

- Priority 3: investigations into uncorroborated intelligence, where further action is needed to determine whether a threat exists.

- Priority 4: investigations into individuals who have previously posed a serious threat to national security, who are not currently deemed to be involved in such activities, but where there is a risk of "re-engagement".

Targets will be prioritised according to their position or importance within most investigations. These can fall into three tiers: the main targets of an investigation; key contacts of the main targets; and contacts of tier 1 and 2 targets who are likely to be involved only in marginal aspects of any activities.

There are no strict rules for what resources are given to a particular investigation.

Priority levels are regularly tested at senior level and can be changed to take account of shifts in activities or the aspirations of individuals or networks being monitored.

A report from parliament's intelligence and security committee published in December revealed that MI5's counter-terrorism activities were increasingly focused on "high-risk casework".

This typically relates to individuals who have received terrorist training or are attempting to procure the means to carry out an attack, but who may not yet have a current plan.

Previously, such cases represented a smaller share of MI5's work, with a greater proportion being "slower burn" and requiring less resource-intensive monitoring, such as radicalisation or fundraising cases.

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th August 2018 author Mark Blunden)

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Squeezing in and out of London's tight parking spaces can be infuriating, especially if you return to find your car has been clipped.

Now the boroughs where drivers have the highest chance of being in a prang have been revealed.

Such accidents include hitting a bollard or barrier, or shunting another driver's car while it is stationary.

Manoeuvring into spaces in ­Richmond and Kingston proved the most precarious, with the neighbouring ­boroughs accounting for nearly a fifth of London's total prangs, or 9.75 per cent each.

Accidents in ­Bromley made up 9.14 per cent of the capital's bumps and scrapes, while the Square Mile was third, with 9 per cent, and Greenwich fourth, at 8.7 per cent. Male and female drivers were about evenly matched for their number of minor crash claims.

Pensioners made up the largest age group for such claims, at 15 per cent, and drivers aged between 17 and 24 accounted for 7 per cent of the total. Although drivers in Westminster were most likely to get a parking ticket, they were least likely to get bumped by another car, according to the data.

The central London borough accounted for just 4.7 per cent of all claims, followed by 5.2 per cent in ­Barking and Dagenham and 5.4 per cent in Camden.

The figures come from motoring insurer Admiral, which last year paid out a record £123 million on £151 million of policies bought by customers.

Payouts were up from £106 million the previous year, with Admiral blaming much of the rise on thousands of low-speed crashes in ­London.

Sabine Williams, Admiral's head of motor product, said: "Parking prangs are common car insurance claims and account for one in 10 cases we deal with.

"Parking is a set manoeuvre on the driving test so all drivers should know how to park correctly, and safely.

"While things like parking sensors can assist with manoeuvring into tight spaces and can reduce the risk of bumping into something as you park, they certainly aren't fail-safe."

Best / Worst London boroughs for parking accidents


=1 Richmond 9.75%
=1 Kingston 9.75%
2. Bromley : 9.14%
3. City of London : 9.09%
4. Greenwich : 8.7%
5. Havering : 8.6%


29. Hackney : 5.76%
30. Newham : 5.70%
31. Camden : 5.40%
32. Barking and Dagenham : 5.23%
33. Westminster : 4.7%

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 15th August 2018 author Staff Reporter)

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Scientists believe they can identify paedophiles based on characteristics of their hands, and potentially track their movements around the world.

Dame Professor Sue Black, of Lancaster University, has developed a forensic technique to identify suspected offenders based on pictures of their hands.

She has worked on the process since 2006 and hopes eventually to automate it. She began building a database to work out the probability of two hands having the same features while working at the University of Dundee.

She said: "If we're able to automate, then we would be able to use these algorithms that we'll develop, to sift through the millions of images that are held on databases by police forces around the world."

"The chances of you being able to link them before have been close to zero, so we can maybe get to a point of being able to track where these perpetrators have been going around the world."

Currently all analysis is performed by eye, Prof Black said.

She added: "It's a spot-the-difference type comparison, that game you used to play as a child. I've got this image, I've got that image. What's the same and what's different?"

"We will look for patterns of skin pigment. We will look for vein patterns, superficial vein patterns. And we will look for the pattern of creases of skin over the knuckles."

The technique will now feature in a BBC documentary, The Hands That Convicted A Paedophile.

The broadcaster said Prof Black's analysis technique had already been used to secure the conviction of one paedophile.

Jeremy Oketch, now 38, was convicted in 2015 of raping a two-year-old girl and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He had filmed himself doing so, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said, and the footage was described as "exceptionally disturbing".

Scientists compared footage of Oketch's hands with photographs taken in custody, and matched "every anatomical feature", Prof Black said.

Pharmacist Oketch pleaded guilty, GMP said in a press release at the time.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Larkin, who investigated the rape, told the BBC for the documentary: "It was brilliant. It had gone beyond my expectations. She had proven beyond all reasonable doubt that he was guilty."

(4th September 2018)

(CNN, dated 15th August 2018 author Amanda Jackson)

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Don't worry, Los Angeles commuters, your time rushing through the metro system won't be held up by these body scanners.

Instead, these new high-tech scanners, at the bottom of the escalators, will scan you as you walk by. They scan your naturally occurring body waves looking for any indication of concealed weapons or explosive devices.

The Transportation Security Administration partnered with LA Metro to test the portable passenger screening devices and announced on Tuesday that Metro will be the first in the nation to equip its surface transportation agency with them.

"Metro has been an industry leader in testing new technologies to meet the evolving threat to our nation's public transportation infrastructure," said Sheila Kuehl, LA County supervisor and Metro Board chairwoman, in a statement.

"This new technology will augment our aggressive safety and security posture and help us proactively deter potential attacks to our system."

So how do they work ?

They scan your body for objects that are blocking your naturally produced body waves. Both metallic and nonmetallic objects can be picked up by the scanner.

"When an object is hidden in clothing or strapped to a person, these waves are blocked and detected by the system's software," reads a news release from LA Metro. "The software generates generic avatars and creates either a black spot on the area of the body where the item is concealed or overlays a color indicator."

No radiation is emitted and the scanners will not display anatomical details. The technology has been tested this past year at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station.

"TSA is pleased to have been a partner during the evaluation and testing process, which ultimately led to the purchase of a recommended system to help detect and deter potential acts of terrorism while keeping the traveling public safe," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in the news release.

(4th September 2018)

(Belfast Live, dated 14th August 2018 author Joseph Wilkes)

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Think you know the Highway Code like the back of your hand?

We have compiled a list of 32 things you might do while you're driving that are actually illegal - and we're not talking about obvious offences like drink driving.

You might already unintentionally do some of these things, such as using your phone as a sat-nav in an unfixed position.

Here is a list of laws to be aware of, as reported in the Cambridge News (dated 24th February 2018)

1. Using your mobile phone as a sat nav in an unfixed position

It is illegal to use your phone as a sat nav if it is not fixed on your windscreen or dashboard. The phone must also be in clear sight for use while driving, without you having to hold it.

Due to the recent law change, if you are caught breaching this, you will receive six points on your license and a £200 fine. If you have had your licence for less than two years, you could also face a driving ban.

2. Flashing your lights to give way

Many of us will flash our lights to other motorists to let them go through, but you are not legally allowed to use your lights to do this.

Headlamp flashes should only be used to warn other drivers of your presence. If you are caught flashing your headlights for any other reason, such as using them to warn others of a speed trap, you could face a minimum of a £30 fine.

3. Eating or drinking while driving

While eating or drinking behind the wheel might not be strictly against the law, it is frowned upon. But if you're distracted by doing things such as snacking, drinking, applying makeup or changing a CD in your car, the police can prosecute you, as you may not be in complete control of your vehicle.

If you are distracted and not in control, you could face a £100 fine and anything from three to nine penalty points.

4. Splashing a pedestrian with rain water

Believe it or not, if you splash a pedestrian on the pavement with rain water, you could face a fine of anything from £100 - £5,000. This is because it is classed as an offence to drive "without reasonable consideration for other persons."

5. Paying with your phone at a drive through restaurant

Whilst it may seem like the easiest option to swipe your phone through the machine and go, you could face a maximum £1,000 fine or six penalty points if you use your smartphone to pay for your meal at a drive thru.

If you do prefer to use your phone rather than a contactless card, you must make sure your engine is switched off and your handbrake is applied.

6. Driving in the middle lane of the motorway

If you spend most of your time in the middle of the motorway and don't pull into the inside lane after overtaking, then you could see yourself slapped with a fine.

Staying in the middle lane falls into the category of 'careless driving' and punishment for this is three penalty points and up to a £100 fine.

7. Having a dirty number plate

If there's one thing you should do before getting behind the wheel, it's check your number plates. This is because dirty and 'unreadable' number plates could leave you with a fine of up to £1,000. Cars are inevitably going to get dirty on the roads, but just don't let them get too filthy.

8. Letting pets out of the car if you're broken down on the hard shoulder

If you are broken down on the hard shoulder you are not allowed to let your pets out of your car. This a rule that is stated in the Highway Code. It is only in an emergency you can actually let them out. Failing to do so can land you with a driving-offence charge.

9. Beeping your horn in anger

We've all had those days where we've experienced a little road rage and been tempted to honk our horns in frustration. But it is important to always avoid doing this. Beep your horn for any other reason than alerting someone of your presence and you could receive a £30 fine.

10. Sleeping in your car when drunk

If you find yourself over the limit DO NOT think that sleeping in your car to sober up is a good idea. The law states that those in charge of a motor vehicle should not be inebriated. Police have been known to class sleeping as being in charge - so always avoid doing this to be on the safe side. You could potentially get a minimum of 10 points and a fine.

11. Not clearing your windscreen before driving

The Highway Code states that when driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.

This means getting rid of any snow or frost on your windows.

It's also the law that all your mirrors are clear and de-misted, and all lights are clearly visible too.

12. Undertaking

This is quite tempting when you confront one of the aforementioned middle lane hoggers. Don't let yourself succumb to the temptation though.

Undertaking is a criminal offence. Not only is it dangerous, you could find yourself in court.

13. Taking prescription drugs before driving

In March 2015 new road-side drug screening devices were introduced, along with new driving limits for a string of prescription drugs.

Over-the-counter drugs including codeine, for example, could see you banned from driving. While many other drugs could potentially cause problems because they induce drowsiness. Obviously illegal and recreational drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are included in the drug-driving laws, but there is a long list of prescription drugs that could see you banned.

The legal medication that could result in a drug-driving charge:

- Amphetamine, eg dexamphetamine or selegiline
- Temazepam
- Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
- Oxazepam
- Clonazepam
- Lorazepam
- Methadone
- Diazepam
- Flunitrazepam

14. Getting out of the car on a single yellow line

You're taught that you can't park on single yellow lines, so naturally you'd expect that the driver shouldn't really get out of the vehicle.

Single yellows are fine for dropping people off or picking people up, but the driver should not get out of the vehicle at any time.

15. Smoking

Since October 2015 it has been illegal to smoke in your car if any passenger is under the age of 18.

As the driver, you are also responsible for other passengers who choose to smoke if there is a child in the vehicle.

16. Crawling

While there is no minimum speed limit on most UK roads, driving too slowly can still be a punishable offence if it proves to be hazardous to other motorists.

Roughly 140 accidents are caused by slow drivers annually, according to The Department for Transport.

The maximum penalty for slow driving could be as many as nine points on your licence and an unlimited fine.

17. Driving with snow on the roof

You might be late for work, or freezing cold but in the eyes of the law, you need to clear the snow before you go.

The Highway Code says that you must have a clear view of the road when driving in adverse weather conditions.

This means that you must be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle, by law.

Failure to do so could lead to a fine, reports the RAC, and could place you and others in danger.

Comment 1 - Can I drive with snow on the roof of my car?

Ask The Police website states that while there is no specific offence relating to snow on a vehicle's roof, it could lead to other offences.

If snow slips onto the windscreen or flies into the path of another road user it could cause a hazard to you and other road users and leave you open to being penalised.

Offences could include driving without due care and attention or 'using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition'.

Comment 2 - Demisting

Make sure you demist all your windows inside your car so you can see out of them. Mirrors also need to be de-misted - you could find yourself open to a £60 fine and three points on your licence if you don't do this.

Comment 3 - Lights and plates

It is also law that all lights and number plates are clearly visible too.

This is especially important in winter so it might be wise to drive with your sidelights or dipped headlights on so other drivers can see you.

18. Leaving a car parked with the engine running

Stationary idling is an offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

The Act enforces rule 123 of the Highway Code which states: "You must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road."

Of course, it doesn't mean you've got to cut your engine at every red light: you are allowed to leave your engine running if you're stationary in traffic or diagnosing faults.

19. Throwing something out of the window

Most of us wouldn't throw a McDonald's bag out of the car window when we're finished (though we've probably seen it done). But you might have chucked out an apple core (it'll rot, right?) or a cigarette butt. Well, you can't do that either.

20. Using your phone

Checking Facebook? Got a text? It is illegal to use a mobile phone held in the hand while driving or while stopped with the engine on.

21. Leaving a child alone in the car - even at a petrol station

We've all been there. You're filling the car up at the petrol station and your child is fast asleep in the back.

Do you wake them up and take them with you when you go in to pay for your fuel, or do you leave them?

According to, it is illegal to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.

Parents are urged to use their judgement on how mature the child is before they decide to leave them alone - whether that be in a car or at home.

It warns that parents can be prosecuted if they leave their child unsupervised 'in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health'.

Chris Cloke, head of safeguarding in the communities at the NSPCC, told the Hull Daily Mail : "When left alone in a vehicle, young children can very quickly start to get anxious and distressed.

"Even if they're sleeping peacefully when you leave they could well wake up and get very upset when you're not there to look after them.

"They would not be able to protect themselves in an emergency and may even try to leave the vehicle to find you.

"As children become older parents need to exercise their own judgement. if they can see the car the whole time it may be sensible depending on your child's maturity.

"Every child is different and every parent knows their child's readiness to be left in this scenario."

22. Misusing the hard shoulder

Highways England is using cameras on smart motorways to catch people misusing the hard shoulder, normally only opened if there is an incident in another lane.

If you drive in the hard shoulder when it is closed, you could be issued with a fine from March 2018.

Highways England has reportedly sent 80,000 letters to motorists ignoring signs not to misuse the hard shoulder, and will be punishing motorists with fixed charges of £100 and three penalty points from spring.

23. Parking at night

Drivers must not park on a road at night, facing against the flow of traffic, unless in a dedicated space.

24. Placing babyseats in seat with airbag

A rear-facing baby seat must not be used in a seat with an activated front airbag.

25. Towing speeds

Vehicles towing a caravan or trailer on a motorway must not exceed 60mph.

26. Picking children up outside school

Drivers must not stop to set down and pick up passengers on school entrance markings.

27. Car seat weight

Children must use a car seat suitable for their weight, up until their 12th birthday, or until they reach 135cm tall - whichever comes first.

28. Incorrect use of lanes

On roads with more than one lane, you must stay in the left hand lane unless overtaking, or turning right.

29. Going off road

You must not drive on a pavement, footpath or bridleway, unless gaining access to a property, or in an emergency.

30. Parking close to junctions

Drivers must not stop or park within 10 metres of a junction, unless in an authorised space.

31. Not telling the DVLA about changes to your details

It is illegal to change your name and address and not tell the DVLA.

32. Not telling the DVLA about medical conditions

It is illegal to not tell the DVLA of a medical condition, or disability, such as epilepsy, strokes, neurological and mental health conditions, physical disabilities and visual impairments.

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 13th August 2018 author Holly Thatcher)

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When it comes to following the rules of the road, most of us have a pretty good handle on what is - and what isn't - allowed.
Even so, there are still some unusual rules that can land you in hot water if you're not aware of them.

Here are six laws that could affect each and every driver in the UK - but which you might not have known about...

Offence 1: Splashing pedestrians

It's infuriating when it happens: getting drenched from head to toe in muddy water after a careless road user drives through a puddle. Worse still is the fact that it's not always accidental.

We've all wished we could see justice for this type of driver, but in actual fact they are breaking the law and the penalty is pretty severe.

Under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to drive "without reasonable consideration for other persons", and this includes any instance of "driving through a puddle causing pedestrians to be splashed".

The maximum punishment is a level five fine of £5,000 in instances where driving "amounts to a clear act of incompetence, selfishness, impatience or aggressiveness".

You are more likely to be be issued with a £100 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points if you are caught.

But if you refuse to pay and take the matter to court you could see a maximum fine of £5,000 imposed.

Offence 2: Buying from a drive-through using your smartphone

We all know that using our phones while driving is strictly forbidden, and quite rightly so. But what is sometimes forgotten is that this rule also applies on private roads and land where the public has access.

Feel like paying for your tasty takeaway or refreshing iced coffee using contactless on your smartphone? Think again.

While it would take a particularly strict law enforcement officer to penalise you for this crime, it is technically possible for an officer to issue a fixed penalty of £200 and give you six penalty points.

Offence 3: Leaving your engine running

One of the more surprising rules of the road is that you must have your engine switched off when stationary. This law was not, originally, to prevent pollution - it was designed to reduce noise. The fine is £20, although in London it could be higher (up to £80) because of strict emissions rules.

The law itself dates from the 1986 Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Act, but it doesn't mean you have to turn off your engine when in a traffic jam or stopped at lights. That said, if you're stuck for a while, switching off is a great idea.

Offence 4: Sleeping in your car

We all know that drinking and driving a car isn't acceptable, but if you find yourself stuck after a night of heavy drinking then you might be tempted to sleep in your car.

This may seem like a sensible idea if there's no other way to get home, but it's actually illegal and you can be prosecuted for being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. It doesn't matter if the keys are out of the ignition and you're sat in the backseat, you could face a fine and a maximum of ten penalty points.

Offence 5: Using a phone in the passenger seat

Using your phone while driving is illegal and if you're caught you can get six points and a £200 fine. But what a lot of people don't realise is that this same law applies to anyone teaching a learner driver too.

Learners need to be supervised at all times and so the law takes a dim view of their instructors - professional or not - being distracted by mobile phones. So no witty social media updates and absolutely no Spotify playlist curation while you're teaching someone to drive.

The answer, therefore, is the same as it would be for anyone driving a car. Either keep your phone in your pocket, bag or invest in a mobile phone holder.

Mounting the phone to the windscreen keeps you legal although the drivers view must not be obstructed.

Offence 6: Driving with a broken brake light

If your vehicle has something wrong with it, e.g. a broken brake light or no screenwash, the police may give you a 'vehicle defect rectification notice'.

You'll need to get your vehicle fixed and provide proof that it's been fixed (for example, a receipt for the work from a technician). You have 14 days from the date of the notice to show the proof to the police.

Uaware comment

It appears this article was sponsored by Halfords.

(4th September 2018)

(Sunday Times - Driving, dated 13th August 2018 author James Allen)

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THE METROPOLITAN Police weren't able to solve 97% of crimes committed by scooter (often erroneously described as 'mopeds') riders - despite the force increasing its capacity to tackle these incidents.

According to data released by the London police service, just 2.6% of all cases involving scooter gangs were successfully solved in the 12 months preceding May 2018. In contrast, the same period the previous year was mildly higher, at 3.1%.

The statistics also revealed the remaining 97% of unsolved reported cases amounts to a rather high number of crimes, with the Metropolitan Police being unable to bring about justice in 23,651 recorded incidents.

However, more recent statistics show a slight improvement in the numbers of offenders being detained. In April and May this year, Scotland Yard solved 4.1% of the 2,436 offences that occurred in the capital.

The increase is likely in response to a wave of measures the Met Police introduced from October 2017, following a boom in crimes involving scooter gangs and related increase in media attention.

The new techniques range from increased motorbike police patrols to DNA tagging sprays and remotely-operated tyre deflation technology.

Speaking to The Times, the Met's Detective Superintendant Lee Hill confirmed: "Following the introduction … of slim-line motorcycles, DNA forensic tagging and our dedicated Operation Venice teams, we have seen a decline in offences and more offenders being caught and brought to justice."

An additional statement from the force reiterated that point, by highlighting how the London constabulary is "actively targeting moped-enabled criminals to ensure we maintain public safety and make offending difficult for those intent on committing these crimes".

(4th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 13th August 2018 author Henry Bodkin)

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An "invisible barcode" which can be sprayed onto joints of meat and scanned by consumers using a smartphone will thwart future food fraud, scientists have claimed.

The accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) is developing an edible signature with an agent used in spices and powdered milk that promises to reveal how the animal was raised, what it ate and where it was processed.

The new electronic etching procedure is due to be launched in Australia and China within the next 12 months.

Once in widescale use, the technology should help regulators and shoppers avoid food fraud such as the horse meat scandal which rocked the British meat industry in 2013.

The procedure begins at the abattoir, where meat is sprayed with fine particles of silicon dioxide.

This can create a distinctive pattern which is capable of being recognised by a hyper-spectrum gun, which shines a light onto the microparticles and reads back a unique wavelength.

The tagging could be done at every stage of the meat production process, potentially enabling individual steaks or other cuts of meat to be identifiable.

Initially, however, the micro tag will be embedded into meats's primary packaging only.

This is while PWC obtain regulatory approval to use the silicon, which is used as an anti-caking agents in some food stuffs, to be used for tracking and serialisation.

A similar system is already in use in the pharmaceutical industry for tracking drugs.

The accountancy firm described the technology as "step one in a multi-step approach to beat the fraudsters".

PWC is trialing the system with an Australian beef producer, Vic's Premium Quality Meat, and is planning to roll it out next year.

It is also developing the software into an phone-supported app.

Anthony Puharich, from the butcher's firm, told Financial Review: "The public will be ecstatic but there are a lot of people who have profited from selling products that aren't what they claim they are.

"This will enable full transparency of the product's provenance."

Food fraud is estimated to cost the the UK food and drink industry up to £11 billion a year.

The horsemeat scandal unfolded from January 2013 when Irish food inspectors revealed they had found the substance in frozen burgers sold as beef.

This prompted a number of retailers and manufacturers to admit their "beef" products contained horse DNA.

Following the revelations, some surveys showed that only just over half of consumers felt confident they were buying exactly what was advertised.

(4th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 12th August 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

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Attacks on the police is on the rise as a Scotland Yard officer warned officers are being sent to respond to crimes alone. Around 72 police officers are attacked attacked every day in England and Wales, according to the latest statistics, which translates to an attack every 20 minutes.

Home Office data from all 44 police forces found that a total of 26,295 police constables were assaulted on duty between April 2017 to April this year.

That equates to a 34 per cent rise from figures from 2013, when a total of 19,670 police officers were attacked while in uniform and a rise of 10 per cent on last year, where just under 24,000 cops were assaulted.

The Met Police recorded the highest number of assaults with 3,975 in the past year, with West Yorkshire second with 1,366 assaults, followed by Hampshire with 1,159, Kent with 1,112 and Greater Manchester with 1,031.

The numbers of attacks, however, are likely to be "far higher" as many officers don't report some attacks as crimes.

One officer, who has been in the Met for more than 10 years, said assaults on officers were going up at the same time as officer numbers were going down.

He said: "Most of us don't report minor assaults, so the figures will be far higher than 26,000.

"The problem is that there are less and less officers to deal with crime, so when we turn up to an incident we are more often than not by ourselves.

"If we don't get the situation under control pretty quickly it can easily escalate and that's when things get dangerous."

He added: "The simple statistics show that one officer is assaulted every 20 minutes - that's just not acceptable."

Speaking to Police Federation magazine Police in the most recent edition, John Apter, the new chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said prison sentences needed to be tougher for those convicted of assaulting police officers.

He said that officers faced "daily" dangers by not have adequate access to equipment such as Taser and spit guards.

He said he planned to tackle "the inadequacies that exist in law and sentencing, which mean that there is not a strong enough deterrent to prevent assaults on police officers" .

Nick Smart, the chair of the West Yorks Police Federation, said that a two-year prison term was "not unreasonable" for anyone who assaults a police officer.

The Home Office said: "In 2017/18 there were over 26,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales.

"18,114 were crimes of "assault without injury on a constable" recorded across all forces, an increase of 10 per cent compared with 16,536 in the previous year.

"8,181 crimes of assault with injury on a constable recorded across all forces

"There were also just over 250 assaults involving injury reported to force health and safety teams by Police Community Support Officers."

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 12th August 2018 author Nada Farhoud)

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Fifteen acid attacks take place in Britain every week, a Daily Mirror investigation has found.

And disturbingly, many involve children - both as victims, and as attackers.

We found one case where a child of just two years old was the target, and another carried out by a boy of six.

From January 2015 until May this year, there were a total of 2,602 such crimes - equivalent to 15 a week. Yet from 2007 to 2011, only 100 were logged in total.

Acid attack survivor Adele Bellis told us: "The thought that children as young as two have been caught up in these barbaric attacks is heartbreaking.

"We have to act now to protect others in the future."

Even the figures we have may not give the full picture - four police forces did not respond in time to our requests for data. And many victims fail to report the crime for fear of being targeted again.

The Mirror is campaigning for tighter laws on the sale of acid, found in household products from paint stripper to drain cleaner. We are also demanding a crackdown on online sales.

Web giants Amazon and eBay both removed a 91% sulphuric acid cleaner from sale after we highlighted the ease with which it could be bought.

The product had been used in several attacks that led to hefty jail sentences. The number of crimes involving children is especially alarming. They include attacks in Cumbria by boys aged six and nine, targeting girls of just four and five.

In Manchester a "violent offence" was logged, using bleach against a six-year-old boy, and teens aged 14 and 15 were attacked on the train network.

And in Hertfordshire, two 11-year-olds were charged for attacks on older teens, while 12-year-olds used acid against others of the same age.

Gwenton Sloley, 34, a community out­­reach worker and former gang member from Dalston, East London, said acid and similar substances were now playground weapons.

And he called for primary schools to show the lifetime of harm attacks can cause.

Gwenton said: "It will play on their consciences later."

Almost three quarters of attacks - 73 per cent - took place in London. Substances used also included bleach, paint stripper and caustic soda.

Beautician Adele, of Lowestoft, Suf­­folk, suffered horrific injury when acid was thrown over her on the orders of former boyfriend Anthony Riley in 2014.

Adele, 26, said: "One moment of evil changed my life forever, it was worse than murder. I'm left scarred, broken and with my own life sentence.

"I wholeheartedly support the Mirror's campaign to stop these deadly substances falling into the wrong hands."

(Mirror, dated 8th August 2018 author Rob Grant)

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Police have recorded 2,000 acid attacks in the past three years - including one alleged rape and numerous serious assaults.

Devon and Cornwall Police revealed they are treating an alleged rape that took place in 2016 as an acid attack.

The force identified a suspect but problems with evidence meant they couldn't proceed any further.

The case was among 2,006 given in response to the Mirror's enquiries from 30 police forces around the UK that took place from January 2016 to May 2018.

His former girlfriend Katie Leong was jailed for life after being found guilty of trying to murder him by pouring acid on him while he slept at home in Leicester.

He was left with severe scars following the attack - but he revealed last year that he has now found love with girlfriend Anna Catanga, who he met as she cared for him in recovery.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain : "The acid took something from me that I'm never going to get back. I will never be the same.

"I will never forget the shock, then the pain as the acid burnt through my skin and the helplessness of not being able to stop it. Then the realisation my life changed forever.

The shocking statistics were revealed after the Mirror sent FOI requests to all police forces in the UK asking for cases of acid attacks from January 2016 to May 2018.

We defined acid attacks as any criminal offence where someone threw acid or a similar chemical on their victim in order to harm them.

Thirty forces sent us back data, although different forces defined acid attacks differently.

Many police forces said they knew of cases where the criminals used acid or similar corrosive substances to carry out wounding or grievous bodily harm with intent.

This is a serious crime punishable with a possible life sentence behind bars.

In West Yorkshire there were four cases of acid attacks on police officers during this time.

The vast majority of the cases were in London.

Some 63 per cent of this year's cases in London were violent crimes such as burglary and sexual offences.

Newham in east London had the most acid attacks recorded in the capital with 273.

In London the average victim was about thirty years old and the average suspect between 24 and 25.

Men were more likely to be both victims and suspects in London acid attacks than women.

Acid attacks, Jan 2016 to May 2018

2016 : 749
2017 : 1,011
2018 : 193

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 10th August 2018 author Sophie Evans)

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A terrifying new drug that 'turns users into the Incredible Hulk' has sparked a crisis in a UK city - where it's bought for as little as £2 a hit.

The synthetic drug, dubbed 'monkey dust', is sending increasing numbers of people into violent and psychotic episodes in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Police have sounded the alarm over the psychoactive substance, which has been blamed for a series of gruesome 'face-eating attacks' in the US.

Also known by the sinister monikers 'Zombie Dust' and 'Cannibal Dust', it stops users from feeling pain and causes hallucinations, agitation and severe paranoia.

It can also induce hypothermia by producing high body temperatures.

One officer described how users of the drug appear to have superhero-like strength.

PC Rich Frost told Sky News : "When you are trying to restrain them it's like you are dealing with someone who thinks they are the Incredible Hulk."

He added: "The strength is unbelievable."

Meanwhile, a West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedic reportedly described how driving through Stoke was "something like a scene from the Living Dead".

Emergency services are said to be dealing with an "epidemic" in the city, where they encounter violent, psychotic patients hooked on the substance nearly every day.

Although 'monkey dust' has emerged over the last two years, local police, paramedics and hospital workers have reportedly seen a surge in cases this summer.

It is being used in other cities and there are fears it could sweep across the country.

Worryingly, the drug, also called MDPV, can be picked up for as little as £2.

Footage, obtained by Sky, shows one alleged user fighting paramedics with a bone protruding from his arm, and another leaping from the rooftop of a building.

More than 170 incidents involving 'monkey dust' have been logged by WMAS since April - with a staggering 131 of these calls made in North Staffordshire.

As well as making users feel impervious to pain, the drug is also known for making their sweat smell distinctively like prawns, Gloucestershire Live reports.

And it can make them believe they are being chased.

Earlier this year, the substance was said to be prevalent in Worcestershire - prompting West Mercia Police to issue a warning about the effects of it.

Detective Chief Inspector Carl Moore said at the time: "It is our duty to alert people to the fact that there appears to be a particular drug called Monkey Dust in circulation within Worcestershire.

"It completely distorts reality for the user and they often have no recollection of their actions while under the influence.

"Heavy use can cause lesions to appear on the skin and they have a pronounced after-smell of vinegar or prawns emanating from their sweat.

"The health risk associated with taking this drug could be even higher. It is not only illegal to buy and sell drugs but can also be very dangerous and potentially fatal.

"We are urging the public not to be tempted to take any illegal drugs - you don't know what they are made of, where they have come from or what effects they may have on you."

'Monkey dust', similar to PCP, typically comes in the form of a powder

The effects of the dangerous substance can last two or three days, with the most serious cases requiring emergency hospital treatment.

Despite Staffordshire Police raids, the source of the supply in Stoke remains unclear.

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 10th August 2018 author Julie Delahaye)

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Dubai is renowned for being filled with glitz and glamour from its epic shopping mall and breathtaking sights to the picture-perfect beaches.. and then of course its incredible bar and restaurant scene.

But for those wanting to check out the nightlife be warned - UAE laws on alcohol are very, very different to those in Britain.

There's a common misconception that you can't drink in Dubai, which is untrue - but there are some strict laws, and if you break them you could face some hefty punishments.

Essentially you can drink in Dubai if you're a tourist; but you have to stick to the designated areas, and you can't be drinking, or intoxicated, in public.

We take a look at the main rules you need to know before setting off, as well as the FCO travel advice :

What is the drinking age in Dubai?

You need to be aged at least 21 years old to drink alcohol in Dubai.

Where can tourists drink in Dubai?

You can only drink in approved venues which hold the correct alcohol licences such as hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants and clubs.

However, take note; it is illegal to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public . That means any time you are out and about whether you're walking in the street or soaking up the rays on the beach.

The FCO warns: "British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law, often in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence or matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour".

Can you buy alcohol in shops?

No - it's an offence for tourists to buy alcohol from an off-licence. The only exception is you hold a UAE-issued alcohol licence which allows you to purchase alcohol to drink at home, but this is available to residents only.

Think about what you post on social media

Yes, your cocktail might be really pretty, but if you can it's worth avoiding alcohol-related posts. If you do post, considering the captions and hashtags you use - try to avoid mentioning alcohol/drinking. Stick to sharing the beautiful views and sights instead!

FCO advice on alcohol in Dubai

"Non-Muslim residents can get a liquor licence to drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. These licences are valid only in the Emirate that issued the licence. Residents must also get a permit to be able to drink in licensed venues.

"Liquor licences are not available to non-residents, but it is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs.

"However, you should be aware that it is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public. British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law, often in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence or matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour.

"Generally, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi, but a Ministry of Tourism by-law prevents hotels from serving alcohol to those under the age of 21. In Dubai and all other emirates besides Sharjah, the drinking age is 21. Drinking alcohol in Sharjah is illegal.

"Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested."

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 10th August 2018 author Nadeem badshah)

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Butlin's has said up to 34,000 guest records may have been accessed by hackers.

The holiday camp firm said the customer data at risk included names, home addresses, email addresses and phone numbers, but that payment details were secure.

The incident has been reported to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The firm is contacting people who may have been affected to inform them and tell them what they should do.

Butlin's said its own investigations had not found any fraudulent activity related to the data breach.

People who believe they may have been affected should be cautious about giving any additional details when contacted by individuals purporting to be from the leisure company.

Butlin's managing director, Dermot King, said: "Butlin's take the security of our guest data very seriously and have improved a number of our security processes. I would like to apologise for any upset or inconvenience this incident might cause.

"A dedicated team has been set up to contact all guests who may be affected directly. I would like to personally reassure guests that no financial data has been compromised."

Meanwhile, Liverpool football club is writing to a group of supporters who used online ticketing services or telephone sales in 2012 to advise them to change their password after "unauthorised external access to an employee account".

The club has reset the online ticketing passwords for fans and is recommending other steps to a wider group.

It said there was no evidence that any supporter accounts had been accessed and no financial information was involved.

A number of large companies in Britain have been targeted by hackers in recent years.

Carphone Warehouse was fined £400,000 by the ICO in January for a series of "systemic failures" uncovered after a data breach in 2015.

The fine, one of the largest ever issued by the ICO and the same as the fine given to TalkTalk in 2016, came after the personal data of more than 3 million customers and 1,000 employees, including credit card details, names, addresses and phone numbers, was accessed.

During the investigation, the ICO discovered 11 separate issues with the company's data protection and security practices that would have breached the Data Protection Act on their own.

In May, Grant West, 26, who carried out cyber-attacks on companies including Sainsbury's, Asda, Uber, Argos, Ladbrokes and Coral before selling customers' data on the dark web, was jailed for more than 10 years.

He obtained the email addresses of more than 160,000 people and sent them phishing scams masquerading as the online food order and delivery service Just Eat to get their personal data.

West, who used the online identity "Courvoisier", sold the information on the dark web, stashing his £1.6m profits in online caches of bitcoin.

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 8th August 2018 author Miles Brignall)

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The Essex towns of Romford and Ilford have been named as the UK's worst places for car theft, with Birmingham coming in a close third.

Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, is the safest place to keep a car, alongside Jersey and neighbouring Guernsey, which reported no car thefts last year according to an analysis by the comparison website Moneysupermarket.

It examined 5m car insurance enquiries over the year to June and found that drivers in Essex faced the highest risk of car theft, with a reported rate of 13.5 per 1,000 in Romford, followed by 13 in Ilford.

Gangs are known to have targeted Essex in the past because of the large numbers of high-end cars owned in the area made infamous by the TV programme The Only Way is Essex.

Birmingham had a claims rate of 9.5 - considerably higher than the West Midlands as a whole, which sits at 6.1. Halifax came in fourth with a rate of 8.6, followed by Liverpool at 8.2 and Southend, also in Essex, at 8.1.

Kirkwall, Dumfries, Inverness and Perth all had tiny theft rates, making Scotland the safest area in the UK, the analysis found.

Kevin Pratt, a consumer affairs expert at Moneysupermarket, said: "When it comes to car thieves, it turns out that the only way is Essex, as the county has three of the UK's car theft hotspots.

"Make sure your vehicle is protected with the right insurance, but prevention is always better than cure. No matter where you are in the UK, it's important to defend your property against planned and opportunistic theft, whether of the vehicle itself or belongings left inside."

He said east London was in seventh pace in the rankings, with a car theft rate of 7.2 per 1,000 capita - significantly higher than London as a whole, which sits at 6.1. Bromley in Kent, Bradford, and Stockport experienced the same theft rates as east London.

Truro in Cornwall and Exeter in Devon were rated as the two safest places in England to leave a car.

Those aged 30-49 are the most likely to report their car stolen, while drivers under 19 face the least risk as they drive the least attractive cars to thieves.

The company advises the owners of cars with the latest key-less entry systems to consider old-school devices such as a steering lock. It also says owners should avoid leaving keys near their front door where they can be easily grabbed by an opportunist thief.

(4th September 2018)

(i News, dated 7th August 2018 author Claire Schofield)

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Staying safe and healthy is paramount to all holiday-makers, but some locations require extra precautions to reduce the risk of becoming ill.

While travellers may be keen to jet off, sometimes that holiday bliss can be ruined by picking up a common bug in one of the world's most popular travel destinations.

The countries with the biggest health risk

According to research by medical travel insurance provider GetGoing, India tops the list of countries that pose the biggest threat to holidaymakers and is notorious for the infamous 'Dehli Belly' - known more formally as traveller's diarrhoea.

Diseases including Typhoid fever and Hepatitis A are also common there due to poor sanitation, putting tourists at high risk of illness.

Kenya followed as a hotspot for contracting sickness, with the East African nation on the danger list for as many as five travel-related illnesses, including Malaria and Dengue, resulting in travel insurance claims as high as £11,746.

More than 216 million people have contracted the deadly Malaria virus while abroad, and diarrhoea affects 30 per cent of travellers, with countries including India and Kenya among the highest risk locations.

Thailand, Peru and Indonesia were also named as high risk countries, with Typhoid fever and Hepatitis A being among the most prevalent diseases.

The 12 most dangerous nations for travel bugs

- India (high risk)
- Kenya (high risk)
- Thailand (high risk)
- Peru (high risk)
- Indonesia (high risk)
- Sri Lanka (intermediate risk)
- Dominican Republic (intermediate risk)
- Mexico (intermediate risk)
- South Africa (intermediate risk)
- Costa Rica (intermediate risk)
- Cuba (intermediate risk)
- Egypt (intermediate risk)

The most common travel bugs

While travel-related illnesses can include everything from diarrhoea to sunburn and motion sickness, these are the most common, more serious travel bugs and where they are typically contracted:

- Dengue - most commonly contracted in Africa, South-East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean; symptoms of the virus include high fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting.

- Malaria - transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, the symptoms are much the same as Dengue, although Malaria is typically contracted in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, and the Dominican Republic.

- Typhoid fever - caused by ingestion of food or water that is contaminated, typhoid is common in most South Asian and African countries, and in Central and South America.

- Hepatitis A - typically transmitted through food or water contaminated by human faeces, symptoms include jaundice, loss of appetite, fever and nausea, travellers are most at risk of Hepatitis A in developing countries.

- Yellow fever - caused by mosquito bites, yellow fever induces jaundice, bleeding and internal organ damage, and is common in the majority of Central and South America and Africa.

How are bugs transmitted?

While tourists may be keen to sample new cuisines on holiday, contaminated food is one of the main sources of illnesses, with under cooked or unwashed foods contributing to illnesses like traveller's diarrhoea.

Contaminated water and ice can also put travellers at risk of contracting diseases such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid fever, cholera and diarrhoea, and while many believe freezing the water will kill the bacteria, doing so will actually preserve it.

Poor sanitation also ranks highly for causing illness, with travellers advised to steer clear of tap water and ice in drinks to avoid disease in risky locations where there are open sewers and a lack of clean water.

Travellers should also be wary of insect bites when abroad; particularly mosquitoes which result in more than one million deaths every year.

Avoiding danger zones for Malaria and Dengue is advisable.

How to stay healthy abroad

To ensure a safe and healthy holiday, travellers are advised to take the following precautions when heading abroad - especially in high risk areas for illness:

- Visit your doctor prior to travelling to ensure your vaccinations are up to date, and to find out if you need any other medication before visiting your destination

- Avoid ice and drinking water from taps - stick to branded bottles of water instead

-Use a repellent containing DEET to keep insects such as mosquitoes, fleas and bugs at bay

- Wash your hands or use hand sanitisers after handling money and before eating

- Make a note of the country's emergency services number and seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 7th August 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

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Police have have been ordered to improve the way they record crime after an inspection found domestic abuse survivors and other victims were not being given support.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS) found that almost one in five violent crimes reported to Cleveland Police "never make it onto the books" amid a nationwide rise in stabbings.

The assessment was one of three published in the latest batch of nationwide inspections, which have recently exposed that other forces including the Metropolitan Police are failing to properly record tens of thousands of offences.

Cleveland Police was ranked "inadequate" after a probe found that more than 3,100 violent crimes are not being recorded every year and domestic violence abuse victims were being put at risk.

"When a crime isn't recorded properly, victims might not receive the support services they need and, in some cases, an investigation may not begin," Inspector Matt Parr said.

"In Cleveland Police, we found that only around a quarter of domestic abuse victims received adequate safeguarding when a crime was not logged. This leaves them exposed to an unacceptable level of risk and, potentially, harm."

But he concluded that the force "has the right team in place to respond to our recommendations and make changes for the better".

Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Constable Simon Nickless said: "Whilst all calls to our control room are recorded and assessed, we recognise that we need to improve. "Since this inspection in 2017 we have already implemented changes and will continue to do so to ensure we provide the best possible service."

South Yorkshire Police's crime recording was graded as "requires improvement" by HMICFRS but inspectors found a "high level of accuracy in the recording of sexual offences" in the wake of the Rotherham grooming scandal.

"However, South Yorkshire Police still fails to record more than 17,000 crimes each year," Mr Parr said. We saw evidence that officers and staff simply did not understand the Home Office's crime recording rules, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse and vulnerable victims.

"Early support can be crucial for victims of crime, and these delays are preventing victims accessing the support they need."

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Forber said South Yorkshire Police had made "significant progress" since 2014, and in particular highlighted a victim-focused approach to crime recording.

"We do recognise there is further work to do to eliminate some identified administrative failings," he added.

"In those highlighted within the report, such as the sexual offence crimes, the majority of these are where a second crime has occurred, but not recorded. Where vulnerable victim crimes were not recorded, safeguarding was still undertaken in all appropriate cases.

"South Yorkshire Police has made a commitment to a victim-focused service and we take these recommendations seriously."

Bedfordshire Police's crime recording was also found to be requiring improvement, although 90 per cent of all reports were recorded.

"There is more work to do," Mr Parr said. "Violent crime is still under-recorded, with only 86 per cent of reported violent crimes making it onto the books.

"We saw evidence that officers and staff simply did not understand the Home Office's crime recording rules, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse and vulnerable victims. Our case file audit identified 32 crimes involving vulnerable victims, but just over half were not recorded by the force."

Deputy Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said the force was in the top six forces of the 26 inspected so far, adding: "We have put robust measures in place to improve this even further.

"While we may have missed recording in some instances due to procedural errors, there was never an occasion where someone hadn't been appropriately safeguarded. Work is already ongoing in force and a plan is in place to address those procedural issues and we are confident that this will lead to further improvements in our recording rate."

The inspections were published days after research published exclusively by The Independent found that victims are losing confidence in the criminal justice system as police "routinely" fall short of standard codes of practice.

Fifty-five per cent of those surveyed said the system failed to meet their needs, while only a quarter felt they were properly supported after reporting incidents to the police, a survey by Victim Support found.

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 6th August 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

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A no-deal Brexit will put public safety at risk and reduce policing capacity in Britain, leaders of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) have warned the government.

In a letter they said the loss of key EU databases, the European arrest warrant system and full Europol membership "could pose significant risks to our local communities".

"These shared tools, measures, initiatives and capabilities which have been developed over the last 40 years of cooperation across the EU have saved many lives," said the document, which was seen by The Independent.

"Considerable additional resource would be required for policing to operate using non-EU tools and that such tools would be suboptimal - potentially putting operational efficiency and public safety at risk.

"It is also recognised that recruitment, vetting and training of staff to use these tools would take a substantial amount of time."

The letter, which was sent to the Home Office last week, said ongoing Brexit negotiations come at a time when the threat posed by foreign offenders targeting the UK from abroad is increasing.

Britain risks losing access to systems including Europol, the European arrest warrant and Schengen Information System II (SIS II) - a huge database containing information on terrorists, criminals, missing people and objects, to which the police say there is "no alternative".

British officers checked it 539 million times in 2017 alone, with their equipment currently searching SIS II and the police national criminal database simultaneously.

At the end of 2017, there were 76.5 million alerts in relation to people and objects on the system, including 1.2 million from the UK.

The UK could also be excluded from the European arrest warrant system, which drives the extradition of up to 10,000 foreign offenders every year as well as allowing British criminals to be brought back to face trial.

The government has proposed a security treaty that it claims would allow information sharing to continue, but its refusal to be governed by the European Court of Justice could block transfers because of data protection laws.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said the UK would be locked out of policing and security databases in June, adding: "If you leave this ecosystem you lose the benefits of this cooperation."

He said that while there would still be some security cooperation, it would "rely on effective and reciprocal exchanges, but not on access to EU-only or Schengen-only databases".

The APCC's Brexit working group, which contains Conservative, Labour and independent commissioners, said 32 law enforcement and national security measures are currently used on a daily basis in the UK.

"Unless the government is able to negotiate the retention of these measures following the UK's withdrawal from the EU, police and law enforcement agencies face a significant loss of operational capacity," the group's letter read.

"A 'no-deal' scenario could cause delays and challenges for UK policing and justice agencies."

It called on the home secretary to prioritise access to EU-wide systems, while developing "effective contingency plans" for a no-deal Brexit and give the work the funding needed.

(London Evening Standard, dated 7th August 2018 author Sean Morrison)

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A hard Brexit would pose a risk to public safety, police chiefs have warned.

Police and Crime Commissioners have called on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to draft contingency plans for a "no-deal" Brexit immediately.

They said police forces would face a "significant" loss of operational capacity and lose access to cross-border investigative powers.

In a letter to Mr Javid, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) said for this to be avoided a deal with the EU must be struck.

The letter, which emerged on Monday, read: "We understand that considerable additional resource would be required for policing to operate using non-EU tools and that such tools would be sub-optimal - potentially putting operational efficiency and public safety at risk."

It continues: "There are 32 Law Enforcement and National Security Measures [Lens] that are used on a daily basis in an operational policing context.

"Unless the Government is able to negotiate the retention of these measures following the UK's withdrawal from the EU, police and law enforcement agencies face a significant loss of operational capacity.

"As Police and Crime Commissioners, we are increasingly concerned that such a loss of capacity could pose significant risks to our local communities."

The police chiefs also state the Brexit negotiations come at a time when the in-country threat from foreign national offenders targeting the UK from abroad is increasing, and when international co-operation is a key element of the fight against crime.

They further said that with the implementation period unlikely to be known until October this year, the five-month window until the end of March 2019 is "likely to be very challenging".

"We are therefore concerned that a 'no deal' scenario could cause delays and challenges for UK policing and justice agencies," the letter states.

The Commissioners have asked Mr Javid to ensure the need to retain Lens tools is prioritised, that he works closely with the APCC, NPCC and NCA to get a detailed understanding of the potential risks.

They asked also that he considers the financial provisions and extra resources needed to support contingency planning in the event of no security treaty being achieved.

The cross-party Brexit working group has requested a meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss "preparations, contingencies and the financial implications of post-Brexit policing".


uaware comment

The article implies that unsolved crimes will get worse. Worse than the current 90% of unsolved crimes quoted by the media ?

The media has also quoted that the UK's GCHQ is the envy of the World with its data gathering. In fact GCHQ supply intelligence to Europol. I did not realise that this information was "for Europol eyes only" !

So who will be depriving who ?

Perhaps it will be the current British Director of Europol who will be deprived of his job come March 2019 ?

Police and Crime Commissioners and their associations are paid to come up with nationwide contingencies. They have had 2 years to make suggestions and question the Home Secretary and Government on perceived problems and they have left it to the remaining 240 days !

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 6th August 2018 author Haroon Siddique)

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Farmers are resorting to medieval methods to combat rural crime which has risen to its highest level in four years, an increase being blamed on organised criminal gangs and policing cuts.

Offences against farmers and other rural businesses cost an estimated £44.5m last year, an increase of 13.4% from 2016, according to insurer NFU (National Farmers Union) Mutual.

The biggest increase was in in Wales, up 41%, followed by the Midlands, up 32%, and the south-east, up 30%. Only Scotland and north-east England showed falls compared with 2016.

The most targeted items were quad bikes/all terrain vehicles, followed by tools and machinery. But activities such as hare coursing and fly-tipping can also be devastating to farmers, injuring livestock and contaminating the environment.

Tim Price, the rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "There's no doubt that rural crime has changed massively in the last decade.

"Ten years ago it was largely unstructured, stealing from the next village, trying to sell it at a car boot sale. Now we are seeing organised criminals who have links to drugs and the county lines issues, money laundering, even in some cases, human trafficking."

In an attempt to frustrate the criminals, farmers are incorporating medieval measures into their security, according to the 19th Rural Crime report. It says farmers are putting up earth banks and dry ditches to block criminals who use 4 x 4 vehicles to get on to farm land.

In Kent, one farmer has spent 18 months surrounding his 4,500 acres with ditches and barriers to deter criminals from hare coursing and fly-tipping.

Others are using animals including geese, llamas and dogs as a low-tech alarm system, much as landowners did hundreds of years ago.

NFU Mutual, which calculated figures based on its claims data, said agricultural vehicle theft accounted for 13% (£5.9m) of the total cost of rural crime. In many cases, organised gangs were taking expensive machinery and shipping it across the world, in some cases winching it on to a vehicle and taking it straight to a port.

There have also been cases where loaders have been stolen and used to smash into village shops to steal cash machines.

Price said that as thieves had become more sophisticated, police forces had reduced resources because of budget cuts.

The impact, he said, was not just the cost, which can be recovered by insurance, but disruption to farmers' work and fear of being targeted again.

"The knowledge that people are hanging about watching homes and farms, what machinery they've got, that really does cause a lot of worry [among farmers]," said Price.

"We've had cases where people have decided to stop using livestock or stop use of fields because the mental anxiety someone will target them is so great."

The estimated cost of livestock theft last year reported to NFU Mutual was £2.4m. Thefts of large numbers of lamb have raised concerns that stock is being stolen for slaughter and processing outside regulated abattoirs before illegally entering the food chain.

Guy Smith, the NFU deputy president, said crime was "one of the most pressing, impactful and devastating issues farmers are dealing with at the moment". In response, the union has launched a dedicated anonymous rural crime reporting line with Crimestoppers UK.

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 6th August 2018 author Alex Matthews-King)

Full article [Option 1]:

Online doctor sites are doling out powerful painkillers and dangerous prescription medicines to UK patients, including recovering addicts, with few checks and no oversight from medical watchdogs, an investigation has found.

A loophole in the regulatory system means that firms operating in the UK but contracting GPs overseas to see patients and prescribe over email or video chat cannot have their safety inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The watchdog called for a change in law after a BBC Panorama investigation, to be broadcast later today, found vulnerable patients could access drugs through online doctor sites which would not be issued in person.

Former opiate addicts Sarah and Sunny were easily able to order drugs - including opiate painkiller dihydrocodeine and another drug, pregabalin, dubbed "the new valium" - through a company called UK Meds.

Volunteers for Panorama gave false medical histories when completing the online questionnaire and asked that their own GPs were not contacted.

"The package has arrived so quickly, less than 24 hours since I ordered the pills and they're here. How surprising is that? It's shocking and disgusting," said Sarah, after receiving her pregabalin delivery.

The company cannot be inspected by the CQC because it uses GPs based in Romania, contracted through its sister company EU General Practitioners.

TV medic Dr Christian Jensen features prominently in pictures and videos on its website, though he says he does not endorse any specific brand or prescribe medications.

UK Meds told the programme that patient care and safety is at the core of its business. A spokesperson added they are regulated by the UK drug regulator the MHRA and the General Pharmaceutical Council, and all the doctors they contract through the Romanian company, EU General Practitioners, are registered with Britain's General Medical Council.

The CQC inspects private and NHS GPs and hospitals, including online services, on a range of standards including the safety of their care and prescribing.

Another company, EuroRX, was set up by a former UK doctor Julian Eden, the Britain's first online doctor, who was struck off in 2009 after prescribing to a 16-year-old boy through his website E-Med.

Eleanor, who was treated for anorexia as a teenager, was able to order a three month supply of prescription slimming pills after giving false information in an online questionnaire.

The drugs were prescribed by a Romanian doctor hired through EuroRX and delivered in days.

"I've got so many diet pills here, and if I'd still been in the depths of my illness it would have been so dangerous for me, literally a massive, massive box of them," Eleanor said.

Julian Eden later told Panorama that he respects the CQC and has never sought to evade it's oversight. He said his shareholding in EuroRX is simply a sensible business investment in wider markets, all of which are subject to their own regulators.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice for the CQC, said of the programme's findings: "As a GP it makes me very angry that patients are put at risk, and as a regulator it makes me even more certain that we need to try and get the legislation changed so that people can't just bypass our regulatory activities."

(4th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 5th August 2018 authors Patrick sawer and Martin Evans)

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The cost of rural crime has soared to more than £44 million with organised gangs stealing farm vehicles and equipment and even targeting country businesses during busy shift changes to cover their tracks.

A new study will tomorrow reveal that the cost of crime in agricultural areas is now at its highest since 2013, with the Midlands one of the worst hit regions..

Estimates from NFU Mutual, which insures more than 75 percent of farms in the UK, will show the cost of thefts from rural homes, businesses and farms currently stands at £44.5m, an increase of 13.4 percent and the highest year-on-year rise since 2010.

With police forces overstretched rural residents and businesses are increasingly having to turn to social media in an attempt to combat crime and help each other monitor the activities of thieves in their area.

Tim Price, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "With police facing huge challenges - including budget cuts and extra workload - forces are finding it hard to resource rural policing and this may be one of the reasons for the rise in thefts we are seeing.

"However social media is fast becoming the new eyes and ears of the countryside, strengthening the community ties that help in the reporting and recording of crime and bringing thieves to justice."

In one particularly brazen case thieves tried to hotwire a farmer's pickup vehicle while he was working in fields and he had to chase them off.

But within days, his 750-acre Staffordshire farm was targeted again, when thieves sawed the locks in half on an outbuilding in broad daylight to steal tools.

Matthew, a third generation farmer who preferred not to give his full name, said: "There are half a dozen farms in the area that are being targeted. We are near the Shropshire border and between police forces, so they know it takes them a while to respond.

"They even target farms to coincide with shift changes to make it even less likely that they will be caught. Over the years we must have reported more than 50 registration numbers and we all have CCTV that records vehicles and people, but it doesn't seem to make any difference."

Matthew added that he has been forced to take desperate measures in an attempt to keep out the thieves.

"There is nothing you can buy that is strong enough to keep them out, so we are starting to make things ourselves. We have surrounded the workshop with concrete walls and built earthworks," he said.

Matthew said his family has had more than £50,000 of vehicles, fuel, tools and even lambing pens stolen as well as having machinery tampered with and his young daughter has been left becoming increasingly frightened by disturbances on the farm.

His wife Jacqui said: "We had one week where we were up three or four times because we heard noises and it has got to the point where it was really upsetting her. We managed to get her through it but is horrible not knowing when it is going to start again. It is relentless, it's crazy the lengths you have to go to try to keep the farm and everyone safe.".

Matthew added: "I've lived here all my life and to be honest it's quite scary knowing that you can be targeted day or night and it looks like it's only going to get worse."

(4th September 2018)

(Huff Post, 3rd August 2018 author Steven Hopkins)

Full article [Option 1]:

Renting a motorbike on holiday is a rite of passage for many young Brits holidaying abroad, despite many having little experience on two-wheels.

In Thailand, high-powered mopeds can be hired for the equivalent of just a few pounds a day and inexperienced riders are often tossed the keys after proving little more than an ability to navigate a car park.

But an increase in serious accidents over the last year has prompted the Association of British Travel Agents to issue a warning: British travellers should not hire mopeds or quad bikes while travelling abroad.

So is the warning justified?

What Is The Advice?

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) urged travellers to hire cars rather than mopeds and said quad bikes should only be used as part of organised tours.

Quad bikes are popular with tourists in places such as Cape Verde, Greece and Turkey.

"We're advising holidaymakers who have little experience on mopeds to think twice before hiring these vehicles, and only ride quad bikes if they are part of a properly supervised off-road excursion," Abta's Nikki White said.

Why Has A Warning Been Issued?

UK travel companies reported 36 quad bike accidents and seven moped accidents in 2017, but Abta said the actual number of incidents was likely to be much higher.

The organisation said travellers ignoring their advice risked "serious injury" and judging by recent tragedies involving Brits on motorcycles abroad, the advice seems well worth considering.

Last month, Swindon teenager Kieran Roche was killed after crashing a quad bike while riding with friends in a small village outside Crete, Greece.

In December 2017 Ross Davidson, 23, had a leg amputated after a moped crash in Thailand. Two months earlier, a 25-year-old woman nearly died in a moped crash in Vietnam.

And in May of that year pregnant Briton Sophie Anderson was killed while riding a moped with her partner, Danny Glass, in Thailand.

What's Causing The Accidents?

White said many holidaymakers who are involved in crashes have "little experience" of using the vehicles involved and are "unfamiliar with the local roads and driving standards".

What Are The Other Risks Involved?

As well as risking serious injury, White said tourists face being hit with huge financial costs if they have accidents abroad as "many travel insurance policies" do not cover activities like quad biking.

The BBC cited the case of Lewis Evans as an example. The 18-year-old from Thornbury, near Bristol, suffered "devastating injuries" when he came off a quad bike on the Greek island of Zante in 2016.

His family later raised almost £30,000 to bring him home via air ambulance as his holiday insurance did not cover quad biking.

(4th September 2018)

(The Register, dated 2nd August 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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The British government has sunk £100m into efforts to link up cops' IT systems, boost resource-sharing and develop digital forensics.

The UK's police forces have been battling to improve outdated systems for years. Multiple annual reports into the state of policing have concluded that cops lag far behind in their use of tech, and that failure to fix this puts public safety at risk.

In a bid to address the problem, the Home Office launched a Police Transformation Fund in 2016, and this week announced the second phase of investment.

Most of the budget, some £70m for 2018-19, is for four national police-led programmes, which emphasise the lack of interoperability and collaboration within and between forces.

They include projects to create a unified IT system that encourages joined-up work across forces, which is led by the City of London force, and to improve resource sharing between forces in key areas like cyber crime, which is being led by the Metropolitan Police.

There is also cash for a single online hub where people can report low-level incidents, so police officers don't have to spend time manually recording that information.

The final project is in a more controversial area, being aimed at boosting the use of biometrics and digital forensics. The police's use of such technologies has come under fire from civil rights groups and the biometrics commissioner Paul Wiles.

In his latest annual report, Wiles voiced concerns that the police's use of new biometric tech isn't always organised or systemic, with a "worrying vacuum" in governance and lack of oversight.

The latest funding round also hands out £42.7m to 15 other projects over the two years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

A Met-led project to develop a national technical capability and infrastructure for law enforcement agencies rakes in the most, some £14.8m over the two years.

The National Crime Agency pulls in £6m for three projects, including £4m for a National Data Exploitation Centre, while the West Midlands won £4.5m to develop a national analytics solution.

The Police ICT Company has been awarded £1m for the 100-day foundation phase of its ICT transformation programme, while Derbyshire police were handed £4.8m for work on cyber crime.

The first phase of the overall programme, which ran from 2016-17 to 2017-18, awarded more than twice as much cash as has so far been announced in phase 2 - some £223m - to 98 projects.

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 2nd August 2018 author Press Association)

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The Home Office has failed to protect British women and teenage girls forced into abusive marriages by granting their foreign husbands visas, charities have said.

Officials dealt with nearly 90 cases of victims trying to block visas last year, although almost half were still issued, data obtained by the Times suggests.

Women and girls are being physically and sexually abused by the men whose cases go unchallenged by authorities, charities say.

One group said some immigration officials were "turning a blind eye" amid concerns over cultural or religious sensitivities.

A Home Office source said it "categorically denies" the allegation.

Figures released under freedom of information laws showed the Home Office had received 175 inquiries about victims trying to block spouses' visas last year.

Of these, 88 became full cases, which included direct requests from victims, known as "reluctant sponsors", requests from third parties or instances where an official suspected a forced marriage.

The women had been forced to marry men in countries including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates.

Visas were still issued in 42 cases, while in 10 more the decision is still pending or an appeal is being heard.

There are concerns that the number of victims is far higher than the reported cases due to rules that require complainants to sign a public statement.

The founder of the forced marriage victim support charity Karma Nirvana, Jasvinder Sanghera, told the Times: "Even when officials know it's a forced marriage, they see tradition, culture or religion and they're reticent to deal with it. They are turning a blind eye."

Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom, which also supports victims, said it had seen "a number of cases like this and they go unchallenged".

"The girls are physically and sexually abused by the men that come over," she told the Times.

Laws making it illegal to force someone into marriage in England and Wales were introduced in 2014.

Anyone found guilty of doing so can be jailed for up to seven years.

As well as banning the practice, police were given powers to issue forced marriage protection orders to help victims, breaches of which are punishable by up to five years in prison.

Speaking at the time, Theresa May, then home secretary, said forced marriage was "a tragedy for each and every victim".

In 2013, the year before laws were introduced, the government's forced marriage unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage to more than 1,300 people.

In 2017 the unit gave advice or support in 1,196 cases.

The Home Office said on Thursday that the UK was a world leader in tackling the "horrendous crime of forced marriage".

A spokeswoman said: "Work to combat it is an integral part of our cross-government violence against women and girls strategy, published in March 2016.

"We take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously. If an individual refuses to act as the sponsor for a visa application then under the immigration rules, that visa should not be issued.

"There are a number of reasons why cases are referred to the forced marriage unit, not all of which are the result of a reluctant sponsor getting in contact. In some cases it will be decided, following inquiries, that no further action is necessary and a visa will be issued."

Bradford West Labour MP Naz Shah said the situation seemed "alarming". She told Sky News: "I certainly will be writing to the home secretary to make sure that we are looking at changing the law to protect the victims.

She added: "There is nothing racist about highlighting the fact that a girl is being forced into a marriage, or protecting that victim. Abuse is abuse regardless of any cultures, and that needs to be understood loudly and clearly."

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 2nd August 2018 author Associated Press)

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is considering ending screening of passengers at smaller airports across the country to focus security efforts at the largest airports.

It is unclear how advanced the proposal is and whether it will ever be adopted.

Still, aviation security experts reacted with alarm, saying that dropping security at smaller airports could make those flights an inviting target for terrorists.

CNN reported that the TSA is considering whether to end passenger screening at about 150 airports that serve planes with 60 seats or fewer. The report cited senior agency officials and internal documents from June and July.

In a statement, TSA said no decision has been made. The agency said that any changes "to better allocate limited taxpayer resources" would be preceded by "a risk assessment to ensure the security of the aviation system".

Security experts said that while passengers would still be screened before boarding the largest jets - the types used in the 9/11 attacks that brought down the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon - terrorists could still target regional planes at small airports. Those flights still carry dozens of passengers.

"I find that unbelievable, totally beyond comprehension," said Glen Winn, who spent more than 30 years in airline security, retiring as United's chief security officer, and now teaches security at the University of Southern California.

Terrorists, he said, "will just begin their plans immediately".

Jeffrey Price, an aviation security expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the TSA would save money by shutting down screening at smaller airports. The agency could take screeners who have a lot of time on their hands between flights at small airports and move them to bigger ones where there is more passenger traffic.

Price said smaller planes that would go unscreened are lighter and carry less fuel, making them less dangerous as weapons in the hands of terrorists like those who crashed four planes on 9/11.

But, Price added, a crash involving a smaller regional jet could still kill dozens of passengers. He said terrorists could also fly from an unprotected small airport and attack after reaching a bigger airport, where they would already be beyond the current ring of security checkpoints in terminals.

Ending screening at smaller airports would reverse a trend of tighter security measures under the Trump administration. Since last year, the TSA has introduced new procedures to help screeners examine laptops and tablets that might contain bombs.

TSA has backed away from controversial plans before. In 2013, the agency dropped a plan to let passengers carry small knives - something that was allowed before 9/11 - after an outcry from the public and flight attendants.

Broaching the idea of cutting back screening could also help TSA argue for more money from Congress.

The TSA said in its statement that as part of its yearly budget process, it is asked to discuss "potential operational efficiencies - this year is no different".

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd August 2018 author Fiona Simpson)

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One in 10 Britons has been a victim of stalking, shocking new statistics show.

A YouGov poll commissioned by media outlet Broadly and anti-stalking charity Paladin, showed nine per cent of 1,150 adults asked said they had been stalked.

A further one in five people (21 per cent) said they knew someone who had been stalked.

The majority of Brits believe more could be done by UK authorities to tackle the issue, the survey showed.

Fifty-six per cent of people polled said the government don't do enough to combat stalking while 53 per cent said police did not take reports of the issue seriously.

Three out of five people said they didn't report stalking to police.

Paladin has recently issued proposals for a new stalking register to be launched.

It would allow people to find out if their partner has previous convictions for stalking or domestic violence.

Seventy-seven per cent of people asked would support a register being introduced, the report showed.

A second survey of 13 to 24-year-olds who follow website Vice on video and photo messaging app Snapchat suggested young people are particularly vulnerable to stalking.

Of the 12,000 Snapchat respondents, 35 per cent said they had been victims of stalking while 56 per cent said they knew a victim of stalking.

The shock results came just days after a man convicting of stalking TV presenter Christine Lampard was handed a nine-month suspended sentence after waging a hate campaign over Twitter.

Christof King even turned up at Mrs Lampard's home in a two-and-a-half year campaign that left her too scared to leave the house.

The 39-year-old was handed a nine month sentence, suspended for two years, at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday.

In May, the Met Police became the first force in the country to set up a specialised unit to tackle stalking.

The Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (STAC) is a joint initiative in partnership with Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust (BEH) and victims advocacy service the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

The £1.4m project is part of Sadiq Khan's bid to stop violence against women and girls in the capital.

It will aim to improve the police response to stalking, offer specialist advice to borough officers and protection to victims.

The service, staffed by eight officers, two nurses, a nurse manager, a psychiatrist, psychologist and a victim advocate, will also offer rehabilitation services for offenders.

There is no legal definition of stalking, however, it has been described as a pattern of unwanted and persistent behaviour that is motivated by a fixation or obsession that causes a victim to suffer alarm, distress or a fear of violence, according to the Met Police.

Over 1,000 reports of stalking were recorded by police in London last year and there were 12,000 reports of harassment.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said of the two-year pilot scheme: "When we think of the impact on victims, violence is the most obvious concern that comes to mind, but, psychologically, stalking can also have a devastating impact that can leave victims feeling like they have no options but to alter their entire way of life.

"Our new approach to responding to stalking is through a fantastic multi-agency partnership that puts victims at the very heart of what we do."

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 1st August 2018 author Sarah Marsh)

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Thousands of vulnerable people in the UK are having their homes taken over by drug gangs who use the premises to stash weapons and sell illegal substances, the Guardian has learned.

The scale of cuckooing, as it is known, has been revealed and officers warn that the problem, which involves dealers befriending vulnerable individuals whose homes they turn into a place to keep and sell drugs - known as a traphouse - leaves victims facing violence and abuse. Diane Hill, a Metropolitan police sergeant, said: "Thousands of people across the UK are affected by this. In the last month in Greenwich West we have had three cuckooing incidents. Across the whole of Britain it's a vast problem,."

She added: "[The gangs] befriend people who are too vulnerable to realise what's going on … They are using their flat for [dealing] and it is not good thing. Maybe [the dealers] will pay the electricity bill or buy a TV and then they take over the flat and people are so vulnerable they don't realise the consequences."

Hill said those who fall victim tend to have mental health problems or addiction issues: "It could be a bigger problem than we realise … we dealt with one person last week and the mental health worker was aware of an issue but it took them months to tell us."

Commander Simon Bray, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead on drugs, said the number of people having their houses taken over could well be in the thousands. "It's hard to say whether it's a growing problem. What tends to happen is that more focus is put on a problem the more people become aware of it."

He added: "Cuckooing persists as a problem … it is a big problem. There has been investment in coordinating a national hub to bring in information form all forces to gather information."

Cuckooing has risen with the growth of county lines drug trading, also known as "going country" or OT (out there), where urban gangs move class A drugs and cash between inner-city hubs and provincial areas.

Urban dealers target homes of vulnerable individuals in small, rural and coastal towns where they can set up and sell drugs. They befriend the person whose home it is and then move in, taking over the property to operate from.

Police forces across the UK are launching campaigns to raise awareness about the problem. Wiltshire police said that during their last regional days of action, which assessed people's vulnerability, they came up with 70 names of those at risk of being cuckooed. "In addition, there are those who are not so obvious, such as females contacted through social media," they said.

In North Yorkshire, 75 householders are either victims of cuckooing or are vulnerable to it. The force said it was a growing issue and they have launched an awareness campaign.

Dorset police's county lines lead, superintendent Caroline Naughton, said in Weymouth alone there were about 25 properties containing vulnerable people they were concerned about. "One chap started taking drugs … then county lines started and his house got taken over. In the last four years he has had his teeth pulled out and been beaten up really badly. Earlier this year he got brain damage … it's really horrendous."

She added: "For the most part in Dorset it goes under the radar. We don't want to scare people but we need to be clear what is going on."

Naughton said that those susceptible tend to have drug habits. "It starts as a friendly relationship and it becomes worse and then the vulnerable person gets into debt to the dealer and there is violence."

Surrey police said they monitored all of the "partially closed" premises under the ASB Crime and Policing Act. These are locations where vulnerable occupants have been cuckooed but have remained in their homes after police powers have been used.

This year there have been 17 closure orders across Surrey, they said, the majority of which were partial closures, which allowed the occupant to remain in their home. In these cases support is put in place, the police said. They added that the information they have gathered so far indicates that once a closure occurs dealers tend to move on.

Paul Andell, a criminologist from the University of Suffolk, said: "The impact of this kind of behaviour is disproportionate in relatively deprived neighbourhoods and local residents usually suffer from intimidation from the gangs involved in selling the drugs and from human waste deposited in stairwells from desperate customers."

Andell noted that the business model of the distribution of crack and heroin can be ruthless in "its manipulation of vulnerable people for financial gain". He said it seemed that parts of the drug trade had changed, moving away from the social supply between friends towards a more organised business at the lower tiers.

"There is a need to assess local activities and involve communities in the development and feedback on interventions. A mix of targeted enforcement, tenancy support for vulnerable residents and exit and prevention strategies for those caught up in supply networks are needed," he added.

(4th September 2018)

(Huff Post, dated 1st August 2018 author Natasha Hinde)

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There are around 3,000 cases of Lyme disease - transmitted by ticks - in England and Wales each year. However a new report from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggests this might actually be more of a baseline figure, as there is no requirement to notify cases to local authorities.

The latest statistics from Public Health England show there were 133 cases in England during the first quarter of this year, compared to 200 in 2017. Of these, many were from London, the South East and South West.

While the decrease in cases is a positive sign, it's worth noting we did have a particularly cool start to the year and ticks thrive in the heat. There is currently no data available on whether cases have risen during the heatwave, and with some people going undiagnosed, the best thing to do is be aware.

What causes Lyme disease?

The disease is caused by a type of bacteria that is present in many animals, including mice, deer and pheasants. If a tick bites one of these animals it becomes infected and can then pass the bacterial infection on to humans by biting them.

It's useful to know that being bitten by a tick doesn't immediately lead to infection. One doctor, Richard Besser, previously told ABC News: "You think it bites you and you get the infection but actually you have about 36 hours from the time of the bite to remove it before you get sick."


One of the first signs of an infected tick bite is a rash, which looks like a bull's eye on a dart board. Other early symptoms include aching joints and muscles, plus a stiff neck and fever.

Symptoms are thought to begin showing at around 30 days after a person has been bitten.

If the condition is left untreated, symptoms can progress to numbness of the limbs and temporary paralysis of your facial muscles. In rare cases, Lyme disease can lead to inflammation of the heart muscles, which can cause the heart to beat irregularly.


Oral antibiotics are the most common treatment used for Lyme disease. In severe cases, antibiotic injections are sometimes used.

The good news is that if Lyme disease is spotted early, treatment can be effective.


- Ticks are more common in wooded and moorland areas, especially in long grass. If you walk your dog, or go on walking holidays, try to avoid these areas and stick to paths.

- Wear long sleeves and trousers, tucking the bottom of trousers into socks. By wearing light-coloured clothing you will be able to see if ticks are crawling on you.

- When you come back from the outdoors, check yourself, children and pets thoroughly for ticks.

- Wear insect repellent specifically designed to repel ticks.

- Remove any ticks found on your body as quickly as possible.

(4th September 2018)

JULY 2018

(CNN, dated 30th July 2018 author Rene Marsh)

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In a previously undisclosed Transportation Security Administration program, federal air marshals are tracking American citizens not suspected of a crime, not under investigation or who are not on any terrorist watch list, the Boston Globe first reported and CNN has confirmed.

The aim of the program, known as "Quiet Skies," is to gather details about the peoples' behavior on the plane to try to thwart any potential aviation threats, the Globe reported and a TSA official confirmed to CNN.

Before people board a plane and are watched by federal air marshals, officials use information from the intelligence community and their previous travel patterns to help choose whom to target, according to the TSA official. The official added the program has been in existence in some form since 2010, and said Congress is aware and provides "robust" oversight.

The Globe reported that thousands of what it called unsuspecting Americans have been the target of surveillance in the airport and aboard flights by small teams of air marshals, according to government documents it obtained. According to the Globe, officials look for such behaviors in those who are under surveillance as being abnormally aware of surroundings; exhibiting behavioral indicators such as excessive fidgeting, excessive perspiration, rapid eye blinking, rubbing or wringing of hands; with an appearance that was different than information provided; or if the person slept during the flight.

The TSA said the program is not targeting ordinary Americans. "The program absolutely isn't intended to surveil ordinary Americans. Instead, its purpose is to ensure passengers and flight crew are protected during air travel -- no different than putting a police officer on a beat where intelligence and information presents the need for increased watch and deterrence. The program analyzes information on a passenger's travel patterns while taking the whole picture into account and adds an additional line of defense to aviation security," the agency said in a statement.

An air marshal source told CNN some marshals have concerns about the program, saying focusing on passengers who "look suspicious" pulls the marshals away from their mission of protecting the cockpit because they are keeping up surveillance of the individual. That means rearranging marshals' seating and how they are deployed, meaning which flights they are on.

Marshals observe the people for behavioral cues that officials have previously associated with those of terrorists, the TSA official said.

All American citizens who enter the United States are automatically considered for inclusion in the program as officials check their names against watch lists and examine their patterns of travel, according to agency documents obtained by the Globe.

The TSA official would not divulge more details but said individuals are not targeted based on race or nationality.

Officials would not say whether any terrorist plots have been thwarted because of this program.

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 30th July 2018 author Chloe Chaplain)

Full article [Option 1]:

Shocking CCTV footage shows the moment a woman is attacked outside a Paris cafe after telling a man to stop sexually harassing her.

The video has sparked nationwide outrage in France and kick-started a debate in the country over how women are treated while walking the streets.

Student Marie Laguerre was walking past a cafe in the north east of the French capital when the man made comments and noises at her.

When she confronted him, they exchanged words and he forcibly slapped her round the face in front of a restaurant of shocked diners.

The man also threw an ashtray at her but missed.

Ms Laguerre shared the video online, and reported the incident to police, in a bid to take a stand against street harassment.

The CCTV footage has since been viewed thousands of times and sparked outrage across France, where new laws are poised to come into place making street harassment a finable offence.

Ms Laguerre, 22, said in a Facebook post that she was walking in the 19th district of Paris on Tuesday when a man began making humiliating and degrading comments to her, as well as noises of a sexual nature.

She said the harassment was not the first she had been subjected to "that day, that week or that month"

She said she told the man to "shut up" "because I don't tolerate this kind of behaviour".

The man then became angry when his advances were spurned, she said, and tried to throw an ashtray at her.

The pair exchanged jibes and the man walked back towards her. He is then seen striking her, with people sitting nearby jumping up in shock.

Ms Laguerre said in a radio interview she knew he was going to hit her when he walked towards her.

"I could have run off but there was no question of that. I wasn't going to look down and certainly wasn't going to apologise."

She added in a newspaper interview: "I felt hatred. I refused to be demeaned."

Witnesses remonstrated with the man and Ms Laguerre initially went home, before returning to the café to take witness statements. She said the owner let her use the CCTV and she filed a complaint to the police.

"Harassment is daily," she wrote on Facebook. "These men who think they're all allowed on the street, who can humiliate us and don't stand to be offended, that's unacceptable.

"It's time for this kind of behaviour to stop."

She told Le Parisien that she was "overwhelmed" by the response that the video has got since she shared it on her page.

"It's not about me now, it's about all women. It happens every day, women talk about it. As long as the phenomenon continues, we can never talk about it enough."

Equalities minister Marlène Schiappa, responsible for the new street harassment laws being introduced, told local media she was outraged by the incident.

An inquiry has been opened but, according to the BBC, the man has not yet been traced.

The new fines will come into play in the Autumn, with offenders paying up to €750 if guilty of street harassment.

(1st August 2018)

(Mirror, dated 30th July 2018 author Anna Slater)

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Tourists heading to Amsterdam are being warned to go home after dark because it is becoming a "lawless jungle."

The city becomes dangerous at night - with groups of unruly young men prowling the streets, drag racing, stealing, shouting with drunkards peeing in the streets.

But police are powerless to stop the gangs and "no longer have a handle on the situation".

Arre Zuurmond, the official city ombudsman, said these men are from the UK and other parts of the Netherlands.

They cause trouble during stag parties and pub crawls, particularly in the red light district.

Mr Zuurmond told Dutch paper Trouw issues have increased during illegal car and bike racing, and open drug trading.

He said: "The city centre becomes an urban jungle at night.

"Criminal money flourishes, there is no authority and police can no longer handle the situation."

Authorities set up cameras in the busy Leidseplein Square, near the bars and clubs, to asses the issue.
Leidseplein is a nightlife hotspot too.

But they were shocked at the results at one night, encountered 900 offences between 2am and 4am.

"The atmosphere is grim," Mr Zuurmond added. "There is an air of lawlessness.

Scooters race through the pedestrian areas. There is a lot of shouting. Drugs are being bought. There is stealing. People pee and even poop on the streets.

"There is violence but no action. You can even pee on the van of a mobile (police) unit and the driver won't say anything."

Mr Zuurmond has moved into the city for two weeks during the height of summer to observe the problem with his own eyes.

He claims 2,000 illegal taxis are also roaming the streets for fares.

The Red Light district has become so unsafe and so packed that it is unlikely an ambulance or a fire truck would be able to get through.

Solutions include cleaning the city up one area at the time, similar to the way the new York underground was dealt with 20 years ago.

(1st August 2018)

(Mirror, dated 29th July 2018 author Kara O'Neill)

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Drivers could be fined up to £5,000 for splashing puddles over pedestrian with their cars.

Two cases in recent years have hit the headlines, including the above video of a driver splashing children at a bus stop in Plymouth in 2009.

Police threatened prosecution - but the driver claimed she only did it because the children were enjoying it.

Then last year, police in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, launched a hunt from driver who "unbelievably" splashed a mum and her two kids - including one in a pram - by driving through a huge puddle.

The puddle - which had built up due to poor weather and a blocked drain - could apparently "easily be seen by motorists ". It is unclear if the culprit was ever caught.

While it may be highly unlikely that a person guilty of such an offence would be sentenced at the top end of the scale, it is still possible such a harsh penalty could be handed down in extreme cases.

Under British law, drivers could be hit with a maximum fine of £5,000 if they are caught driving through a puddle which causes a pedestrian to be splashed.

It is illegal to splash a pedestrian with water from the road while driving your car and you could also be slapped with a public order offence if you are seen to deliberately drive through puddles to target pedestrians.

Under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to drive "without reasonable consideration for other persons", and this includes any instance of "driving through a puddle causing pedestrians to be splashed".

The maximum punishment is a level five fine of £5,000 in instances where driving "amounts to a clear act of incompetence, selfishness, impatience or aggressiveness".

You are more likely to be be issued with a £100 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points if you are caught.

But if you refuse to pay and take the matter to court you could see a maximum fine of £5,000 imposed.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "Anyone unfortunate enough to have suffered a drenching by an inconsiderate motorist splashing them when driving through a puddle would probably welcome a sizeable financial penalty for the driver.

"Since 2013 careless driving can be dealt with by a Fixed Penalty Notice with a £100 fine and three penalty points.

"This is a take it or leave it offer for the motorist if they accept that they have committed the offence.

"If, however, they refuse then they will face a magistrate who could impose a fine up to £5,000, although the maximum is very unlikely.

"In such a case the fine would be appropriate to the level of distress and inconvenience caused and would hopefully send a clear message that inconsiderate and potentially aggressive driving is simply not acceptable.

"Drivers have a duty to show respect and care for their fellow road users and pedestrians."

(1st August 2018)

(Independent, dated 28th July 2018 author Mattha Busby)

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Cuts to policing are endangering the public, a police and crime commissioner has said, as national organisations expressed their concern over declining police numbers with many forces receiving record numbers of emergency calls.

West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson warned that having fewer officers to deal with rising crime is a "deadly equation" as a catalogue of crimes such as modern-day slavery and gang crime which need to be investigated grows.

Recent figures have shown how various serious crimes are on the rise, with almost 40,000 knife and gun crimes involving a knife or a sharp instrument recorded last year, as homicides across England and Wales rose 12 per cent in 2018, to 701.

Meanwhile, police forces in England and Wales have less money in real terms than they did in 2010.

"The homicide team in the West Midlands is actually at bursting point at the moment dealing with the many serious incidents they've had," he said, noting that homicides are going up rapidly.

"Add to that the sexual and domestic crime which has been much more important in the public's mind in the last one or two years.

"We really are at a point now where it's extremely difficult to see how we can sustain what the public would call an acceptable level of policing," he told the BBC's Today programme in an interview on Saturday.

Asked if cuts to police funding in recent years are endangering the public, he replied: "I think that's the inescapable conclusion.

"And I leave your listeners to work this out. You know, we have far fewer officers, we're not able to deal with all the incidents we could deal with. It's a deadly equation, isn't it?"

His remarks were echoed by the vice chair of the Police Federation, an organisation representing the majority of rank and file police officers, who said that policing is in a "critical condition".

"Even government investing significant financial resource into policing right now won't make an immediate difference," Che Donald, who has previously criticised the 18 per cent fall in officers' pay since 2009-10, told The Independent.

"This is because numbers have consistently been decimated over the last eight years. There is no magic box to go to and replace these officers.

"However, if moves are not made to reinvest in policing now, the time it will take to get policing out of critical condition will take significantly longer."

In the West Midlands, the force's chief constable said it had been forced to draw "the bar higher" on what it would investigate, although he stressed that this did not refer to offences such as serious assaults.

Accordingly, the "reality" of modern-day policing means the public are sometimes not getting the service they expect, he said.

"We may be dealing with it over the phone where they would like to see us, and I'm sorry about that but that is the reality of where policing is now," he said.

"And on some occasions ... the service will not meet what I want it to do and it will not meet the response that the public absolutely will want when they're at a time of vulnerability."

According to the latest inspection of police forces in England and Wales, the public were being provided with a good service, however a National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman noted the strain they are under "as they deal with rising crime and demand that is more complex and an unprecedented terror threat with fewer officers".

"This summer many forces have received record numbers of emergency and non-emergency calls," he added.

The Home Office says total investment in the police system will be increased by more than £460 million in 2018-19, with West Midlands Police receiving a cash increase of £9.9 million compared with 2017-18.

However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that police budgets fell by 14 per cent between 2010-11 and 2014-15; while the BBC has reported that there was around a 20 per cent cut in police funding in real terms between 2010 and 2017.

Home secretary Sajid Javid used his first major speech after his appointment in May to offer an olive branch to rank-and-file personnel, following years of acrimony over the funding cuts and staffing reductions.

He pledged to provide "tools, the powers and the backup that you need to get the job done", adding: "I am listening and I get it."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 26th July 2018 author Damien Gayle)

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More people have been using cocaine and ecstasy than at any point in the past decade, official statistics show.

About one in 11 people admitted to using drugs of any kind in the past year, according to the 2017-18 Crime Survey of England and Wales, about the same as the previous year's survey.

But responses also showed year-on-year rises in the numbers of people using class A stimulants, which have returned in popularity to levels not seen since 2008-09.

The figures will be a blow to the government, which has previously insisted its hardline approach to enforcement was cutting the numbers of people using drugs. The Home Office said it was worried about the rise in use of class A drugs.

Cocaine remained the most popular illegal stimulant. It was used by an estimated 875,000 people in the previous 12 months - the highest number in 10 years and a 15% year-on-year rise. There was a particular surge in consumption among young people, with the number of 16 to 24-year-old users up almost 22% year-on-year to an estimated 361,000.

The purity of street cocaine across Europe has hit its highest level for a decade, the EU's drugs agency reported last month. It was the most widely used illegal stimulant across the continent, but the highest rates of use were in the UK.

Prof Harry Sumnall, who researches substance use at Liverpool John Moores University, gave a cautious interpretation of the figures, saying that cocaine use prevalence had been relatively stable in recent years.

He added: "I do think it is worth monitoring what is happening with respect to powdered cocaine use, particularly in young adults.

"Anecdotally, cocaine is represented more on social media, hospital admissions have increased and police and border force seizure data shows cocaine is at its highest purity for many years, although the price hasn't increased in response, which makes it a more attractive purchase."

The second most widely used stimulant was ecstasy, or MDMA, with an estimated 550,000 recent users - 25% more than the previous year's survey. In recent years, a glut of high-strength MDMA has led to stronger pills and an increase in the numbers of deaths.

Overall, drug use prevalence has fallen since a high in 1998 when about one in eight people admitted to using a substance in the past year, which has been linked to a long-term decline in cannabis use.

Drugs devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities, a Home Office spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added: "While overall levels of drug misuse are similar to a decade ago, we are concerned about the increase in use of class A drugs and remain absolutely committed to reducing the use of these drugs and the harms they cause.

"Our drug strategy brings together police, health, community and global partners to prevent drug use in our communities and help those with drug dependency to recover and turn their lives around.

"As part of our drug strategy we will continue to support programmes which have a positive impact on young people, giving them the confidence, resilience and risk management skills to resist drug use."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 26th July 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Police firearms operations rose by 19% in the past year as the number of armed officers was increased and they took to the streets more often amid a growing threat from terrorism and violent crime.

The Home Office, which released the statistics on Thursday, said such operations in England and Wales had reached their highest level in seven years. Police in England and Wales carried out 18,746 armed operations in 2017-18.

Officers opened fire on 12 occasions, up from 10 the previous year, including the fatal shooting of three terrorists to stop the London Bridge terrorist attack in June 2017.

There were increased firearms operations in most regions, with the biggest increase in the West Midlands, which had a 53% rise in armed deployments, to 1,145. Gun crime in the West Midlands has been a problem, but in the north-west, which is broadly similar in terms of crime levels, there was a fall in armed deployments of 4%.

West Midlands police said: "We now have more armed patrol vehicles out and about on the streets than ever before keeping people safe and, as a result, we have the capacity to respond to more incidents."

Simon Chesterman, the national lead for armed policing with the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "The threat from international terrorism and increases in violent crime have both contributed to an increase in the numbers of armed deployments. A significant proportion of these will be where armed officers have been deployed as a contingency, for example at public events where there are large crowds."

The three regions with the most armed operations in England and Wales were London with 5,142, 27%, of the total number, followed by the West Midlands with 3,312 (18%) and Yorkshire and the Humber with 2,130 (11%).

The areas with the fewest armed police deployments were the north-east with 461 (2%), the east Midlands with 973 (5%) and Wales with 1,137 (6%).

The Home Office said the number of authorised firearms officers in England and Wales increased to 6,459, a rise of 181 or 3%., following a decision to increase the number to better cope with the threat of an armed terrorist attack.

The vast majority, 84%, of armed operations were carried out by officers in special gun cars called armed response vehicles, which drive around ready to be deployed.

The figures cover the "authorised deployment of armed officers where they may have to protect themselves or others from a person who is in possession of a firearm, has immediate access to a firearm or is otherwise so dangerous that the officer's use of a firearm may be necessary", the Home Office said.

"The use of firearms by the police should always be a last resort, considered only where there is a serious risk to public or police safety," it added. "However, where an operational need arises, specialist armed officers should be available to be deployed."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 25th July 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Twenty-three people died during or after police custody in 2017, the highest number for a decade, the police watchdog has said.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said three people died after being held in a police cell, and another five died after being held in a cell, becoming unwell and then being pronounced dead in hospital.

It said another nine people died in hospital after falling ill at the scene of an arrest.

The IOPC also said that 17 people had been subjected to the use of force or restraint "by the police or others" before they died, but that did not mean the use of force was a factor in their deaths. Of the 17, those restrained in custody numbered 11, the IOPC said, while six were not classed as having been in custody or detained.

The figures are open to interpretation, but the IOPC said the vast majority of those who died had prior problems involving mental health, drugs or alcohol.

Twelve had "mental health concerns", the watchdog said, and 18 "had links to drugs and/or alcohol".

Of the 17 cases where force was used, the IOPC said nine people were white and eight were black. That means the proportion of black people dying after the use of force or restraint continues to be higher than the proportion of black people in the population of England and Wales.

The number of deaths after the use of force or restraint rose last year, as did the number of people from an ethnic minority background who died after a clash with police. Of 11 deaths after police restraint or the use of force in 2015-16, three were from ethnic minorities. The figure for 2016-17 was five out of 15.

Among the deaths covered by the latest statistics are high-profile cases such as Rashan Charles and Edson da Costa in London. Those deaths led to tension in the streets between police and communities.

The spike in deaths will be of concern to ministers. Theresa May, while home secretary, was concerned about the issue and met families to hear their experiences and concerns.

A ministerial board to examine the issues has been set up. A report commissioned by the government and published last year called for sweeping reforms and said the system treated families badly.

The IOPC's director general, Michael Lockwood, said: "Numbers across the categories of deaths fluctuate year on year, and care needs to be exercised in considering them against a backdrop of the numerous interactions the police have with the public each year.

"The rise in deaths in police custody this year, which includes at the point of arrest, in transit, in cells or in hospital, is concerning viewed against a trend of falling numbers over the last decade. Each of these tragic deaths is subject to investigation and we await formal causes of death for most of them.

"What is clear is that many present a complex and challenging set of factors, with links to drugs and alcohol and mental health concerns being very prevalent among those who have died.

"The issues go wider than the police service, as officers can often be dealing with vulnerable people whose needs and risks may not have been adequately managed elsewhere. However, it is important when the police are involved that they are properly trained and equipped to manage the challenges they inevitably face, and that they learn from past mistakes."

Deborah Coles, the director of Inquest, which helps bereaved families, said: "These figures, the highest for over a decade, are an indictment of the failing systems of investigation, learning and accountability which follow police related deaths.

"Too many highly vulnerable people with mental ill health and addictions are ending up in the criminal justice system. The solution does not lie within policing. Many of these preventable deaths illustrate the impact of austerity and the historic underfunding of health and community services.

"The disproportionality in the use of force against black people adds to the irrefutable evidence of structural racism embedded in policing practices.

"Following the Angiolini review, this has been a year of widespread promises of change and learning lessons. Clearly real systemic change remains to be seen."

• This article was amended on 26 July 2018. An earlier version said that of the 23 people who died during or after police custody, 17 had been subjected to the use of force. In fact, not all 17 had been in custody.

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 25th July 2018 author Duncan Campbell)

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It is almost a hundred years since Charles Penrose wrote the popular music hall number, The Laughing Policeman - "He's too kind for a policeman/ He's never known to frown/And all the people say he is the happiest man in town" - but maybe it's time for a new version called The Dancing Policeman.

Six officers from North Wales police demonstrated their Zumba skills in the Big Bang Bounce at Prestatyn Carnival last weekend. They had asked a local dance and fitness instructor at the festival to coach them for a brief routine and duly performed it for the festival-goers. Inevitably, a video of their performance emerged and - equally inevitably - came the baleful tweets: "fantastic, they won't come round if your house is burgled, but can behave like prats," said one. "No wonder police have lost confidence of public." And another: "No wonder you can never get a cop when you want one. They're poncing about at carnivals."

Their local force stood up for them. "The officers, many of whom were specials and who were at the event anyway, took just a few minutes out of the day to join in the carnival fun with the community they serve," said a spokesperson.

It's not the first time police officers have been lambasted for larking about on duty - a few years ago, for instance, two uniformed Thames Valley officers were criticised after footage emerged of them pushing each other around in a shopping trolley late at night in Newbury.

So should we encourage such silly behaviour in this hot summer? Former detective Graham Satchwell, who wrote the entertaining memoir An Inspector Recalls - in which he records how one of his colleague's specialties when chasing villains was shouting "stop or I'll let the dog loose!" followed by a very realistic Alsatian bark - defended the dancers. "If it's something spontaneous like that, it's absolutely fine. I think it's a bit different when you see all those pictures of the police dancing at Notting Hill carnival that appear every year and you think, oh no, not again."

Still, while the police in France are in the news for beating up demonstrators, the people of North Wales may prefer that their officers were attracting attention for putting their left leg in - provided, of course, that they remember to take their left leg out when duty calls.

(1st August 2018)

(Independent, dated 24th July 2018 author Joe Sommerlad)

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A "stand-your-ground" law is a justification used in a criminal case permitting a person under physical attack to respond in kind.

A right to self-defence, the rationale assumes that any individual has the right to expect absolute safety in any place they have a right to be in. Any immediate or direct threat of bodily harm they are subjected to can be met with an equivalent retaliatory act to protect themselves.

This means the intended victim has no duty to retreat and can instead use "reasonable force" to fend off an assailant.

What constitutes "reasonable force", however, is open-ended and might be left to a court of law to decide on the appropriateness or otherwise of a defendant's actions in relation to the specific circumstances of the case.

Whether that defence is applicable might also be called into question depending on the context, for instance if a burglar were to fight back after being attacked by a home owner, given that they had no right to be on the premises in the first place, a common law notion known as a "castle doctrine".

In the US, several states have formal stand-your-ground legislation in place. These are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

This does not mean its application is free from controversy.

The case of a Florida man who was not charged after shooting and killing a fellow shopper following an argument over a parking space at a convenience store which had escalated violently drew local protests in mid-July 2018.

Florida's law entitles people to use "deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so."

There is no equivalent law in place in the UK although the possibility that inflicting harm might be necessary in self-defence is recognised.

Instead, citizens are expected to minimise harm as far as possible and consider whether retreating or running away might be the more appropriate response.

In the event that the victim's response to an attack is deemed to amount to a show of "excessive force" rather than "reasonable", they could be liable for prosecution, as in the case of Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, jailed for shooting a would-be burglar in August 1999.

An online petition to have a UK law enshrining "stand-your-ground" introduced under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government attracted just 39 out of the 10,000 signatures needed to push its discussion in Parliament.

(1st August 2018)

(i News, dated 23rd July 2018 author John Sutherland)

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The headlines are telling us that crime is rising.

Offences involving knives or sharp instruments went up as much as 16 per cent in the first three months of 2018, according to police-recorded crimes published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Meanwhile the total number of homicides - which includes both murder and manslaughter - rose 12 per cent.

But the figures can't tell us why this is happening. So here are ten brief suggestions from a retired police officer.

1. Falling Police Officer Numbers

There is an absolute connection between the number of police officers in England & Wales and the number of crimes committed in England & Wales. Whilst it is impossible to set out detailed cause and effect (crime is affected by a thousand different things), to deny the connection would be to abandon both common sense and professional experience.

There are 20,000+ fewer police officers in England & Wales now, compared with just eight years ago. That's a heck of a reduction.

2. Falling Police Community Support Officer Numbers

It's not just the reduction in warranted officers. PCSO numbers have been decimated - with inevitable consequences for street visibility and local community engagement.

3. Falling Police Staff Numbers

It's not just the reduction in warranted officers and PCSOs. Police staff numbers have also fallen very significantly - with inevitable consequences for a number of vital operational support functions which support frontline officers from behind the scenes, such as intelligence analysis and briefing.

4. Falling Investment in Neighbourhood Policing

The strain on police numbers has had direct consequences for neighbourhood policing. There have been huge reductions in the numbers of officers and staff dedicated to local crime prevention and problem solving.

5. Falling Investment in Specialist Police Resources

The pressure on police budgets has had hugely damaging consequences for the provision of specialist support functions - including dogs, horses and helicopters. Each of these is proven and effective in dealing with crime and each has been cut dramatically.

6. Falling Police Proactivity

The fall in overall police numbers and the movement of officers and staff from the frontline into important investigative and safeguarding roles - combined with deeply misinformed and damaging rhetoric on the police use of stop and search powers - has had a significant impact on police procativity in all its forms.

7. Rising Demand from Other Public Services

There has been an overwhelming increase in the demand placed on policing as a consequence of the huge gaps that have appeared in the provision of other critical frontline public services: Mental Health; Children's Services; Youth Services; Adult Social Care… the list goes on.

And every time the police pick up a responsibility that belongs to someone else, it has an immediate impact on their ability to fight crime.

8. Government Policy

Each of these first seven factors is - unavoidably and undeniably - the direct consequence of conscious, deliberate government policy. And we are beginning to see the first indications of the inevitable long term costs of short term cuts. Crime is not down. Police reform is not working.

9. Increasing Complexity

Policing has always been complicated, but it has never been more so than now - particularly in relation to the investigation of cyber crime. The web - and the dark web in particular - has become the enabler of an avalanche of enormously sophisticated criminality and, the more complicated it gets, the more people, time and resources it will take for policing to respond.

10. Beyond Policing

There are endless additional considerations that have little to do with law enforcement, but everything to do with the condition of the wider world - factors such as poverty and inequality and aspiration and hope.

Policing is in urgent need of new investment. And society is in urgent need of a helping hand.

John Sutherland - served in the Metropolitan Police from 1992 until February 2018 and is the author of Blue: A Memoir. This post originally appeared on his blog, Police Commander :

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 22nd July 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Scotland Yard's anti-corruption unit is facing an investigation over claims of "serious corruption and malpractice" within its ranks.

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said the claims related to the Metropolitan police's directorate of professional standards. Among the allegations against the force are interfering in investigations, racism and turning a blind eye to wrongdoing.

The IOPC said one officer was under criminal investigation. That officer and two others have been formally notified they are under disciplinary investigation for gross misconduct. The watchdog is also considering whether it should investigate the conduct of around 10 other officers, but has made no decision yet on whether they need to.

The Met is Britain's biggest police force and the DPS is supposed to guard against lapses in its ethics, integrity and standards.

Jonathan Green of the IOPC said: "I can confirm we have begun an investigation into allegations of serious corruption and malpractice within the directorate of professional standards of the Metropolitan police.

"The investigation includes alleged interference in, and curtailment of, investigations by potentially conflicted senior officers, failure to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, systemic removal of the restrictions of officers under investigation and racial discrimination.

"As part of this investigation, three officers have been served with gross misconduct notices and one of those officers is also under criminal investigation. Assessments on the status of a number of other officers remains ongoing.

"Our investigation, named Operation Embley, followed a referral from the Metropolitan police service. It is still at an early stage and it is premature to be detailed about its scale and scope."

News of the investigation was not made public through an announcement by either the IOPC or the Met, but was first reported by the Sunday Times, which said the watchdog was examining claims including that the DPS shielded officers facing child abuse allegations, and allegations of fraud and physical assault.

The Met said no officers had been suspended or placed under restricted duties. It said it had referred the claims to the police watchdog.

In a statement, the Met said: "We can confirm the Metropolitan police service has referred allegations regarding the conduct of a number of MPS personnel to the IOPC which is conducting an independent investigation. The MPS is fully cooperating with the IOPC investigation."

The notices informing officers that they face investigation for breaking disciplinary rules do not mean they are guilty. They are supposed to allow an investigation and protect the officer's rights.

(1st August 2018)

(City AM, dated 22nd July 2018 author Adam Hignett)

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Fears that the growth of cryptocurrencies are opening up further opportunities for criminals to launder money have led to the establishment of a new training programme by the City of London Police.

Describing it as a "first of its kind", a spokesperson for City of London Police confirmed the addition of a cryptocurrency course at their Economic Crime Academy in response to officer's concerns that they are ill prepared to cope with the new technology.

"It is designed to provide delegates with the skills and knowledge required to recognise and manage cryptocurrencies in an investigation.

"On successful completion of this course, participants will understand how to detect, seize and investigate the use of cryptocurrencies in an investigative context.

"It will be the first of its kind and has been developed in response to feedback from police officers nationally who felt there wasn't enough training available in this area," she said, adding a pilot of the programme has already been undertaken, with another to take place in August.

Given its role in enforcing law and order in the heart of the world's pre-eminent financial centre, the City of London Police has been designated the National Lead Force for Fraud.

In this capacity it has a responsibility to share best particle on tackling fraud with other forces around the UK.

Once the second pilot scheme has been completed, City of London Police aim to roll out the cryptocurrency course nationwide during the autumn.

Earlier this year the head of Europol warned criminals could be laundering up to £4bn via cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, in Europe.

The announcement of specialist police training in tackling cryptocurrency comes shortly after City of London Corporation stated its intention to develop a new "cyber court" specifically designed to tackle cybercrime, fraud, and economic crime.

The new flagship 18 courtroom legal centre is to be built on the site of Fleetbank House, on the edge of The City.

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 21st July 2018 author Stephen Burgen)

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Much as Barcelona would love to shed its reputation as the bag-snatching capital of Europe, it is not in the gift of the city authorities to do much about it. Under Spanish law, if you steal something worth less than €400 (£357) it's a falta (misdemeanour), not a delito (crime). If you are caught, you will be fined, probably around €50, but however many times you re-offend, it remains a misdemeanour and as an offence it is not cumulative.

As a result, the thieves, who mostly operate in groups, do so with a sense of impunity, seeing the fines as little more than a tax. Understandably, the police find it demoralising, knowing that when they arrest a culprit he/she will be back on the street within hours.

There have been moves to change the law but the legal system is so bogged down with serious cases it has yet to proceed, and there is little appetite for further burdening the system by making bag-snatching and pickpocketing crimes. All the city authorities can do is warn people of the risks.

They have also made it easier to make a claim - necessary for insurance purposes. Before you could only do this by spending hours at a police station but it is now possible to do it online. The website is available in a variety of languages.

For most Barcelona residents, it's a source of shame. Friends come to visit, you tell them the dos and don'ts, and still they get robbed - the young, the elderly, in the street, on the metro, queuing to visit some sight. It's a plague.

Most of us warn people when we see them putting themselves at risk. And yet, despite all the warnings, in guide books and websites, over the public address system at the beach and on the metro, in several languages, we see so many people with their wallets in their back pockets, handbags draped over the back of the chair in a bar, or a camera or mobile on the table, and you think, well, what did you expect?

We sought a response from Tourisme de Barcelona and from the Ajuntament de Barcelona but as Guardian Money went to press had not received a reply.

How to beat the robbers

Lots of people responded to last week's story with advice for holidaymakers, especially those going to Barcelona.

Margot, who has a house just north of Barcelona, said: "No handbags. Never leave a rucksack or bag in the floor in a cafe or restaurant - you can buy hooks for attaching them to tables. Use money belts for keys, cards and cash. Never stop if anyone asks for directions, or if anyone offers to remove bird excrement from you. Never have a wallet in front or back pockets."

Many people recommended money belts. Many also suggested you keep a secondary wallet with valueless goods to hand to muggers, including Ducksis: "Carry your cash and credit cards in a money belt, but have a cheap plastic wallet filled with Monopoly money and old membership cards in your back pocket. Shout but don't fight back."

Many recommend taking photocopies or phone pictures of your essential documents. "I keep a photo of my passport and driving licence on my phone, and as email attachments. I know that itself carries some risks, but for me, the pros outweigh the cons," said one holidaymaker to Turkey.

Others say place everything in your wheelie bag until you get to your hotel. "Just put your easily pickpocketable goods in your suitcase and then lock it until you get your hotel, from where you can organise the cash you carry by day, so your wallet isn't bulging out of your front pocket," said BoyoUK.

Readers share their stories

Alison W from Kent said: "Exactly the same thing happened to us about four weeks ago. Yep, just off the plane, same station, same technique. I was suddenly surrounded by big burly men who pushed past me rudely and then shut the doors as I was trying to get on the train. I fell over these men and when I'd righted myself I saw they'd all jumped off. I knew immediately they had stolen something and, lo and behold, my purse had gone.

"The purse had about €150 in it but the evening before we left home I had carefully removed absolutely everything else of value and either left it at home or stored it in a belt inside my clothes."

"I was very lucky on the metro in Barcelona," said gixxerman006. "As I boarded a crowded train with my three friends a group of three men pushed and shoved to get on too. Thankfully the thief dropped the contents of my wallet, lifted from a zipped bum-bag under my clothing. He even had the audacity to hand a passport back as if helping me!

"I think what saved the situation was that I had two bum-bags clipped on, one more or less over the other, which made things difficult for the thief. They got off at the next stop, pretty much before we'd worked out what had happened. It was all so fast, the pushing and shoving to get on helped to create the confusion.

"Mind you, I thoroughly enjoyed Barcelona, lovely city."

Meanwhile, Follow_The_Bear wrote: "The train to and from Barcelona airport must be the worst route on earth for these criminals. I've witnessed a number of muggings, a friend who I was travelling with had a similar experience to the writer."

Thewookieisdown was among regular visitors who said that theft was rampant. "I think I have been to Barcelona six times, dating back to 1990, and every single time I have seen people attempting this sort of thing on public transport: the distracting kerfuffle. It obviously isn't the only city where this happens but perhaps it's the one where it's most prevalent?"

Moribola was robbed using the old "bird droppings on shoulder" trick while in Barcelona's Park Güell. "Hot, sunny, the park empty apart from a family approaching with a pushchair." As they drew near him the birdsong was idyllic. Then one of the family leapt forward to clean the "bird droppings" from his shoulder. He said it was all right, but they continued. After they left, he discovered there wasn't a bird in sight: they had a cassette of birdsong playing in the pushchair and a can of spray foam. The episode cost him more than €400.

In one terrible story, SH wrote of the dreadful consequences of fighting back. "My niece's boyfriend was sat on a bench with friends in Las Ramblas on his first night in Barcelona a few years ago. He felt his wallet being taken from his back pocket and chased the thief who turned and stabbed him. The victim ended up on a life support machine and his distraught parents had to make the decision to turn off the machine attached to their only child. The 14-year-old culprit was caught but many lives were devastated."

Many readers highlighted how muggings and robberies are common in popular tourist destinations and the "distraction" techniques used are standard worldwide. PamelaButler warned about a new threat - from selfie sticks near cash machines. "We were on our way home after a week in Copenhagen. At the railway station as I bought our train tickets from the automatic machine there was yet another young person with a selfie stick. We rushed on to the crowded train.

"Thank God we decided to get a coffee as soon as we arrived at the airport - as I immediately discovered my purse had been stolen. The youth with the selfie stick had been recording me as I keyed in my pin."

Meanwhile, LiverPlate wrote about his robbery on the number 38 tram in Lisbon, victim of the same pushing and shoving group routine. "I was also guilty of the same stupid and one-off forgetfulness about splitting the money. The tourist police station was crowded; it all seemed depressingly routine."


(The Guardian, dated 14th July 2018 author Patrick Collinson)

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It happened within an hour of arriving at Barcelona airport - and just a day after I had filed a piece on holiday money for these pages. What I hadn't reckoned on was the organised gangs that are out to target tourists, particularly, it has to be said, in Spain. And how, with just a few simple steps, I could have protected myself (and my money).

This is what you're supposed to do before you go abroad:

Take your wallet and empty it out. Remove all the things you really don't need for a week or two in Spain, that if they were lost or stolen would just be a pain. Your work /staff pass. Your Tesco Clubcard or Boots Advantage or Waitrose card. Your library or cinema membership card. Your driving licence (if you're not hiring a car). Credit cards you know you are not going to use. All those other little loyalty cards, receipts and general rubbish you keep in your wallet. Why take them abroad? Just leave them in the sock drawer until you're back home.

The next stage is to split things up. Why have everything in one wallet? By all means take two credit cards, one as a back-up. Secrete credit cards in pockets or toiletry bags. The same with your physical cash - leave some of your euros/sterling in your wallet to use while travelling, and hide the rest elsewhere among your bags and belongings.

It's what I always used to do. But of course, for some reason I didn't this time. Maybe it was the exceptionally early flight from Stansted (never again). Maybe it was the lackadaisical way I now treat flying. So there I was, with my partner, standing on a dark and humid platform at Barcelona's El Prat de Llobregat station, waiting for a connection to Sitges. Absolutely everything in one wallet, bulging out of my front pocket. Stuffed in the other pocket my phone and my passport. One hand dragging a wheelie bag, the other a small holdall.

I hope I am painting a cliched picture of a victim, for that is what I was. There were a bewildering few seconds before we even realised we were being mugged. As the train pulled in and we walked up to the sliding doors, there was a commotion as some people pushed and shoved to get off. Others, behind us, were aggressively pushing on. But it was entirely fake - devised by a gang to separate us, then rob us.

I looked down, to see my wallet in the hand of one of the men. Weirdly, as I wrestled it back, there was a pained expression on the thief's face, as if I were falsely accusing him. Meanwhile, my partner's bag was being slashed. Fortunately, we are both big enough (or stupid enough?) to fight back, and after a short tussle they scarpered.

These incidents must be rife in Barcelona, judging by the only mildly sympathetic shrugs we got from fellow passengers on the train. The Renfe security staff at our destination were similarly uninterested. At our hotel, the Spanish receptionist said an English tourist had arrived the week before, and was robbed of everything at the same station. Never use El Prat de Llobregat, she told us.

Fortunately, we lost little: two €20 notes nicked from the top of my pocket that weren't in the wallet that I had been able to grab back. My phone and passport were also safe. But it was a deeply upsetting way to start a holiday.

I don't blame myself - I'll save that for the nasty, vicious toerags who attacked us. But to anyone heading off this summer, take precautionary steps first. I wish I had practised what I preach.


(1st August 2018)

(The Times, dated 20th July 2018 author Richard Ford) [Option 1]

Murder, knife crime and gun offences soared in England and Wales last year and nine in ten crimes overall did not result in any charges, figures have shown.

The proportion of offences that led to a charge fell by two percentage points to 9.1 per cent in the year to March compared with 15 per cent three years ago.

In the 12 months to March 443,000 crimes out of 4.6 million resulted in a charge or summons, the Home Office said. The fall came as separate figures showed violent crime rising and the number of police officers down 738 to 122,404, its lowest level in 22 years.

Other nations appear to be doing better. In Germany crime fell overall by 9.6 per cent to 5.7 million offences last year; in France violent crime fell between 2016 and last year. The US murder rate rose by 1.5 per cent during the first six months of last year, but robberies fell by 2.2 per cent.

In Britain police figures showed that knife crime had risen by 16 per cent to 40,147 offences. The number of murders rose by 12 per cent to 701 - the highest for a decade. There was also a 30 per cent surge in recorded robberies, which may reflect a "real change" as well as improvments in recording.

Overall, recorded crime rose by 11 per cent to 5.5 million offences, the highest level in more than a decade. Trends were said to be "stabilising" after decades during which they had been downward from a peak in the 1990's.

Chief Constable Bill Skelly, the national policing lead for crime statistics, defended the charging rate fall, "Police forces are improving the way they record crime, including crimes that have no suspect and little prospect of a criminal justice outcome," he said.

"There are also significant rises in cases that are complex to investigate such as child sexual exploitation, abuse and online fraud. In many of these cases, multiple crimes are recorded which victims may not wish to take through to prosecution."

David Wilson, emeritus professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, said " We need to recognise that crime is going up, the proportion of crime being detected is going down and this has something to do with cutting police officer numbers by 10,000.

David Gauke, the justice secretary, told the Daily Telegraph that inmates should be given hope to stop the cycle of reoffending. He said that prison should "change the lives" of criminals instead of solely punishing them.

Nick Hurd, the police minister, said that the likelihood of being a victim remained low, but that the government was acting to tackle violent crime.

(1st August 2018)

(The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, dated 20th July 2018 authors Rob Grant and Robert Sutcliffe)

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The number of recorded crimes rose 11% in West Yorkshire last year - meaning a crime is committed every two minutes.

There were 265,520 offences recorded by West Yorkshire Police in the 12 months to March 2018.

Sexual offences were up 33% and robbery was up 28%. There was one crime committed for every 8.6 people in West Yorkshire last year, the third-highest in the country behind the City of London and Greater Manchester.

Overall, police recorded crime was up 13% in England and Wales. Knife crime was up 16% across England and Wales according to the police crime figures.

Meanwhile, NHS data shows a 15% rise in people admitted to hospital after being assaulted with a knife. The number of homicides rose for the fourth year in a row. Authorities measure crime in two ways - by the number of offences recorded by the police as well as using victim surveys carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

These victim surveys have shown that crime has generally fallen since a peak in the mid-1990s.

According to the crime survey most types of crime stayed a similar rate to last year, although vehicle-related thefts rose while crimes involving computers fell.

West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dee Collins said: "The latest figures show an 11% increase in recorded crime across the county - just over half of this relates to our ongoing work to improve crime recording practices and the rest relates to actual increases in crime.

"Across the country there was a rise of nearly 13%, however here in West Yorkshire the rate of increase is slowing.

"We are experiencing unprecedented levels of demand which remains a major challenge. In fact, last year we answered an extra 23,000 999 calls.

"Many of these were from vulnerable people requiring urgent help in increasingly complex situations including organised and cyber crime and often requiring our safeguarding expertise. Our experience is that this high demand has continued into the summer.

"We continue to work closely with our partners to provide a multi-agency approach to preventing crime, anti-social behaviour and other issues which harm our local communities.

"Our officers and staff are working extremely hard to provide the best quality service to people across the county but will always prioritise those in the most vulnerable circumstances.

"We would urge our local communities to support us by taking appropriate crime prevention measures and also thinking before they call either the 999 emergency number or the 101 non-emergency number. We have to prioritise our calls and ensure that we deal with emergencies first.

"There are lots of other ways people can contact us either by having a look at our website, the Ask the Police site, or using our on-line facilities. This help us manage demand and ensure that we target our resources where they are needed most."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 19th July 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

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Crime has surged while officer numbers have hit a record low, according to figures that reveal a bleak picture of policing in England and Wales.

A decades-long fall in overall levels of crime appears to be stabilising, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while police-recorded offences involving knives and guns have increased, and murder and manslaughter is on the rise too.

Meanwhile, figures released on Thursday show that the number of police officers has hit a record low and the proportion of recorded crimes that result in someone being charged or summoned to court fell to another record low at 9% - fewer than one in 10.

Rank and file officers have said they are not surprised by the rise in recorded violent crime as the number of police officers falls. The Police Federation said: "We are sleepwalking into a nightmare."

Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, who has campaigned against knife crime, declared a "public health emergency" and warned of an "epidemic".

It does not look good. Offences involving knives or sharp instruments rose by 16% to 40,147, according to figures recorded by police. Gun crime rose 2% to 6,492 offences over the period, which was a less pronounced rate than knife crime.

The total number of homicides - murder and manslaughter - rose by 12% from the previous year to 701, excluding exceptional incidents with multiple victims such as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

There were also increases in police-recorded burglaries and robberies, which rose by 6% to 437,537 and 30% to 77,103 offences, respectively.

Some caveats, however, temper the picture painted by some of these headline figures.

Firstly, the ONS acknowledged an increase in the number of crimes recorded by the police does not necessarily mean the level of crime had risen.

For many types of crime, police-recorded statistics do not provide a reliable measure of levels or trends in crime, statisticians warn. They only cover crimes that come to the attention of the police and can be affected by changes in policing activity, recording practices and the willingness of victims to report.

The latest estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), which runs alongside the police-recorded data and measures people's experience of crime shows that most types of offences remain at levels similar to the previous year.

Furthermore, most people did not experience crime, according to the CSEW. The latest survey estimates showed that two in 10 adults experienced any of the crimes asked about in the survey in the previous 12 months. This figure has fallen considerably over the long term. Around four in 10 adults were estimated to have been a victim of crime in 1995, although this was before the survey included fraud and computer misuse.

The drop in officers to 122,404 as of 31 March, from 123,142 a year ago, was also incontrovertible. But with regards to the link this has with falling or rising levels of crime, there was room for doubt. Violent crime as recorded by police has been increasing since 2014 but it was falling between 2009 and 2014 - as police officer numbers were being cut.

Home Office research also stated that - on a force-by-force breakdown of violent crime offences - not all forces with falling officer numbers were experiencing rises in violent crime.

What should perhaps cause most alarm was not the levels of recorded crime - but the already very low and falling detection rate.

A Home Office document released at the same time as the police workforce and crime data showed that police forces closed almost half - 48% - of cases with no suspect identified. It rose to 75% when looking at theft offences.

And the proportion of crimes that resulted in a charge or summons to court fell by two percentage points from 11% to 9% - fewer than one in 10. This is the lowest since the new system of measuring the detection rate was launched in 2015.

There is one caveat here, too: a changing mix of crime with rising numbers of complex crimes such as sexual abuse and an increasing volume of digital evidence, which may require more intensive work to investigate, may have had an impact on the detection rate.

Nonetheless, the fact that fewer than one in 10 of recorded crimes result in a charge or court summons will be deeply concerning for those unconvinced that England and Wales are living through a violent crime epidemic.

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 19th July 2018 author Martin Bentham)

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Londoners are suffering nearly half of all the robberies that take place nationwide in a fresh indication of the surge in violent crime in the capital, official figures revealed today.

The Office for National Statistics said there had been a 30 per cent surge in robberies in England and Wales, with 77,103 offences in the 12 months to the end of March this year.

But it said London had seen a "disproportionately high" number of the crimes and accounted for 42 per cent of all robberies in the two countries, with 32,751 muggings taking place in the capital during the year.

The statisticians also disclosed that a quarter of the robberies in London - which include muggings carried out by offenders on mopeds - had been committed using a knife.

Today's revelations were part of official national crime figures, which also show that there were 98 knife killings in London during the period covered by the statistics. That represents two thirds of all homicides.

The figures show that in London there were also 101 attempted murders involving a blade, 159 knifepoint rapes or sexual assaults, and 5,581 assaults with intent to cause serious injury carried out using a knife.

The overall number of knife offences in London totalled 14,721 - the highest level since 2011, and an increase of more than 50 per cent on the total of 9,688 recorded in 2015, when such offences were at their lowest.

Caroline Youell, of the Office for National Statistics, said most forms of crime were stable but that there had been increases in "high harm" crimes such as homicide and knife offending. She said these were "consistent with rises over the past three years" but that the nationwide rise in gun crime had been "much smaller than previously seen".

(1st August 2018)

(Computer Weekly, dated 19th July 2018 author Warwick Ashford)

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Cyber fraudsters are registering domains that appear to belong to UK universities so they can defraud supply companies, according to Action Fraud, the UK cyber crime reporting centre.

These domains are used to contact suppliers and order high-value goods such as IT equipment and pharmaceutical chemicals in the university's name.

Suppliers receive an email claiming to be from a university, requesting a quotation for goods on extended payment terms. Once the quotation has been provided, a purchase order is emailed to the supplier that is similar to a real university purchase order.

The purchase order typically instructs delivery to an address, which may or may not be affiliated with the university.

The items are then received by the criminals, but no payment is ever received by the supplier, with fraudsters impersonating one particular UK university estimated to have netted around £350,000 worth of goods in this way.

Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud said this this type of fraud can have a serious impact on businesses, which is why it is so important to carry out all the necessary checks, such as verifying the order and checking any documents for poor spelling and grammar.

"We know that there is a lack of reporting by affected companies and without this vital intelligence, a true picture of this type of fraud cannot be reflected," she said, urging any company that has been targeted in this way to report it to Action Fraud.

Official statistics show that cyber crime is on the rise in the UK, but the size of the problem in the business world is really unknown because not all victim organisations are reporting incidents. For this reason, UK law enforcement is encouraging all businesses to report cyber crime as soon as possible, regardless of the size of the organisation.

To combat this type of fraud, commonly known as European distribution fraud, Action Fraud is advising suppliers to verify and corroborate all order requests from new customers using telephone numbers or email addresses found on the organisation's website, not the details provided by email.

If the order request is from a new contact at an organisation that is an existing customer, Action Fraud advises that suppliers verify the request through an established contact.

According to Andy Norton, director of threat intelligence at security firm Lastline, this type of cyber criminal activity is similar to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, except that, impersonation not compromise has taken place.

In BEC attacks, fraudsters typically gains access to a corporate email account and spoofs the owner's identity to defraud the company or its employees, customers or partners of money. The FBI recently warned that global losses related to BEC scams have risen by 136% since December 2016 and global losses in the past five years are estimated at more than $12.5bn.

In this variation of BEC attacks, Norton said the best defence is to have robust policies and procedures that ensure a second pair of eyes validates business transactions and the shipment of goods, services or payment.

Spoofing sites big business

Kevin Bocek, chief cyber security strategist at Venafi, said spoofing sites is now big business, with more than 14,000 certificates used to set up phishing sites spoofing PayPal alone in 2017.

"This shows the power of the padlock for cyber criminals, allowing them to appear trusted so that they can trick unsuspecting businesses out of huge sums and damage brand reputations across the internet," he said.

According to Bocek, these attacks are part of a much larger problem that jeopardises the system of trust used throughout the internet and shows why a new system of trust built on reputation is needed.

"The padlocks [based on legitimate security certificates] are supposed to signify a trusted machine identity - a digital certificate that means a website is genuine.

"But now cyber criminals can obtain certificates allowing them to look authentic for virtually nothing," he said. "This is a high-risk, high-impact threat that security teams cannot ignore anymore."

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th July 2018 author David Cohen)

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The current approach to tackling the violent crimewave is failing and should be replaced by a pioneering system that has reduced the murder rate in another British city, according to a landmark report published today.

The Youth Violence Commission brands the bloodshed a preventable "national shame" and recommends that London adopts a public health-focused model that has more than halved the murder rate in Glasgow from 39 in 2005 and cut the teenage murder rate to zero.

Vicky Foxcroft, chairwoman of the commission and one of the authors of the interim report, accused Mayor Sadiq Khan of failing to show leadership on the issue and called for him to set up a body with London-wide authority to copy the Glasgow model.

London detectives are investigating at least 82 killings this year, many of people under 25, including Katerina Makunova, 17, who was stabbed to death at a block of flats in Camberwell on Thursday last week.

The report, prepared with cross-party support after 18 months of fact-finding, says London should learn from the work of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in Scotland.

Led by Karyn McCluskey, a forensic psychologist, the VRU transformed Glasgow from the most violent city in western Europe to one of the safest.

Speaking to the Standard in the wake of our special investigation into serious youth violence, Ms Foxcroft, the Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford, said: "I am loath to criticise City Hall because we need to work with them and Sadiq is a good mayor, but they need to embrace a different way of working. The problem is that we have 32 boroughs and each borough does its own thing.

"Sadiq needs to step up and create a central unit that has city-wide authority to cut youth violence and he needs to find a dynamic figure to lead it who will be the Karyn McCluskey of London."

Ms Foxcroft added: "Sadiq's approach has been to back a police-led approach through Mopac, the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, but the lack of trust between communities and the police in London means that a public health approach cannot be effectively led from within Mopac."

Sophie Linden, deputy mayor for policing and crime, rejected the criticism, saying: "The problem in London is not lack of leadership, it's lack of funding. We don't have enough police officers and vital support services. Mental health and youth workers have been cut by central government.

"Our crime strategy published last June focused around enforcement and giving police the resources they need. As for leadership, we adopt a partnership approach with the Metropolitan Police and London councils which I co-ordinate on behalf of the mayor."

But Ms McCluskey told the Standard: "It isn't about money, it's about leadership. The Scottish VRU only had about 20 people and was run on a budget of less than £1 million. It's about getting people to use money they already have better."

The Scottish VRU's goal was to diagnose the problem and treat its cause - just as a health epidemic would be tackled. It recognised that police tactics could only be part of the solution and instead brought in a co-ordinated response involving mental health services, schools, housing, social services, police and community groups.

Ms McCluskey also cast doubt on the Mopac-led strategy of City Hall. "When I started in 2005, our murder rate was the highest in Europe," she said. "At that time, we looked at youth violence through the prism of police and justice and we filled our jails. The breakthrough moment was understanding that violence works like an infectious disease - it's passed on, you can catch it.

"We realised that most young people caught up in violence have been victims at some point and that the violence clusters in hotspots, just like in Tottenham, Lambeth and Waltham Forest. Once you see this, you realise that it needs a public health approach that focuses on early years and prevention.

"I think Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick gets this. The police can do a lot but they cannot lead a public health approach. Fundamentally it's about a different type of emphasis and leadership. That leadership needs to be city-wide and it needs to come from the top at City Hall."

The new model

What is it?

The public health model recognises that most people involved in serious youth violence have a history of trauma. It understands that police tactics - from stop and search to stiffer sentences - can be only part of the solution. Instead, it seeks to approach youth violence with the same preventative and wrap-around care you would deploy to contain and disrupt the outbreak of an epidemic, but instead of cholera or HIV, here the "infectious disease" is violence.

Where has it been deployed?

It has been used to reduce violence in Scotland and in Chicago and in London it is being piloted by Lambeth council.

What are its hallmarks?

In Scotland they created a central Violence Reduction Unit with the authority to co-ordinate a response from mental health services, schools, housing, social services, police and community groups.

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 18th July 2018 author Stephen Burgen)

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Spain's socialist government is to introduce a law on consent aimed at removing ambiguity in rape cases.

Under the law, consent would have to be explicit. It states that "yes means yes" and anything else, including silence, means no. Sex without explicit consent would therefore be considered rape.

The move follows outrage over the verdict in the la manada (wolf pack) case. The five men involved were accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman in Pamplona during the bull-running festival.

Two of the men filmed the assault, during which the woman is silent and passive. The judges interpreted this as consent - one judge even commented that she appeared to be enjoying herself - and the charge was dropped from rape to the lesser crime of sexual assault.

Under Spanish law, rape must involve violence and intimidation. The la manada ruling provoked outrage and led to demonstrations across the country. The five men are out on bail pending an appeal against their nine-year sentence. Among them are a soldier and a member of the civil guard, both of whom have been returned to duty.

In her summing up for the prosecution, Elena Sarasate said: "The defendants want us to believe that on that night they met an 18-year-old girl, living a normal life, who after 20 minutes of conversation with people she didn't know agreed to group sex involving every type of penetration, sometimes simultaneously, without using a condom."

Proposing the law, which was originally drafted by the leftwing Podemos party, Carmen Calvo Poyato, Spain's deputy prime minister and equality minister, said: "If a woman does not expressly say yes, then everything else is no."

Patricia Faraldo Cabana, a law professor at the university of A Coruña, who helped Podemos draft the legislation, said the proposal understood consent not just as something verbal but also tacit, as expressed in body language.

"It can still be rape even if the victim doesn't resist," she said. "If she is naked, actively taking part and enjoying herself, there is obviously consent. If she's crying, inert like an inflatable doll and clearly not enjoying herself, then there isn't."

In a letter to a Spanish TV station, the la manada victim wrote: "Don't keep quiet about it because if you do you're letting them win. No one should have to go through this. No one should have to regret having a drink, talking to people at a fiesta, walking home alone or wearing a miniskirt."

The law mirrors similar legislation that came into force in Sweden at the beginning of July.

(1st August 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 18th July 2018 author Helena Horton)

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Social media may be a driving force behind a record number of teenage deaths on railways, British Transport Police have said.

With seven teenagers killed on Britain's rail tracks in the space of 12 months, and a further 48 receiving life-changing injuries, there are fears that casualty rates will continue to rise following the deaths of three young graffiti artists who were hit by a train at Loughborough Junction, south London, in June.

A BTP spokesperson told The Telegraph that social media "could be a factor" in influencing young people to trespass, as they launched a new campaign with Network Rail, urging teenagers and children not to play on train tracks.

The BTP has previously warned the public against taking photographs for social media on the tracks.

A Network Rail spokesperson added their research shows young people do not realise the dangers of trespassing on tracks.

Trespassing by minors has increased by 80 per cent since 2013, rising by 21 per cent in the last year alone. In a study by Network Rail, one in ten teenagers admitted to illegally walking on a railway.

A video posted by the campaign tells the story of a teenager who received life-changing injuries from overhead power cables he did not even touch after trespassing on rail tracks as a friend filmed him on a smartphone.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explained: "Hundreds of people each year unintentionally take on the railway and lose. This year we have already seen a record number of young people losing their life or being injured on the track.

"The railway is full of both obvious and hidden dangers. The electricity on the railway is always on and always dangerous. Trains can also travel up to 125 miles per hour, so even if a driver can see your child, they can't stop in time and they can't change direction. Parents - please help us keep your children safe by educating them about what they take on when they step on the track."

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said: "The tracks are not a playground. They're incredibly dangerous and can easily result in serious injury or worse.

"We hope the campaign will help young people to understand the risks, and help them to make the right decision and stay away from railway lines.

"Equally, it will also help them understand that bad decisions don't just affect them, but they will have a deep and lasting impact on their families and friends as well. This campaign is not just for our young people but also their friends and family."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 17th July 2018 author Kevin Rawlinson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Nearly 10,000 crimes, including violent crimes, sexual offences and domestic abuse, have gone unrecorded by a UK police force over the course of a year, the police watchdog has said.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that nearly one in five crimes reported to Lincolnshire police were undocumented, potentially leaving some victims shut out from support services.

The issue was "of very great concern", the inspector of constabulary, Zoë Billingham, said. "Although safeguarding measures were in place for many of the victims of crimes, there was little evidence of investigations being undertaken where the crime had not made it on to the books. This is particularly true for cases of domestic abuse.

"The importance of correctly recording crime cannot be overlooked, or simply passed off as a bureaucratic measure. If a force does not correctly record crime, it cannot properly understand the demand on its services, nor provide support to those who need it most."

Victims can only access certain support services when a crime is recorded and a lack of accurate statistics can leave senior officers with insufficient information when allocating resources.

The watchdog examined records from the period 1 June to 30 November 2017 and estimated that about 9,400 reported crimes were not recorded per year - more than 18% of the total reported to Lincolnshire police.

The report said a "large proportion of common assaults and malicious communication offences and a small number of more serious crimes, including sexual offences, grievous bodily harm and rape", were not recorded.

Of particular concern was violent crime, where only 72.7% of reported incidents were recorded, with some crimes of grievous bodily harm and wounding where victims were badly injured not being properly documented.

"This means that on too many occasions, the force is failing victims of crime," the watchdog said.

Lincolnshire police's deputy chief constable, Craig Naylor, said measures had been put in place to improve recording and insisted the force's "service has not slipped".

He said: "We are deeply disappointed by this report and absolutely committed to ensuring we resolve the problem quickly and effectively. We have made mistakes and we will not shirk from accepting and correcting them."

Naylor added: "There are no 'missed' victims or offenders - what we have missed is the correct procedure for recording them."

A force spokeswoman said many of the cases in question were ongoing inquiries where previous, historical incidents had not been correctly recorded - for example, if a victim of domestic violence reports crimes stretching back years.

In a separate report, Humberside police were graded as "requires improvement" for recording reported crime. They were estimated to have failed to record 14.3% of the total crimes reported to the force per year. These included sexual offences, public order and violence offences.

(1st August 2018)

(Metro, dated 15th July 2018 author Kate Buck)

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Earlier this year, headlines claiming London's murder rate was higher than New York City's sent shockwaves around Britain.

It followed a violent start to the year in the capital - with 18 murders in February alone, compared to 14 in New York.

However, the month proved to be a one-off according to new figures.

In every other month of 2018, there has been more murders in New York than London, despite it having a smaller population.

With a population of around 10.6 million, London is considerably larger than the Big Apple, which has around 8.6 million residents.

Between January and June, there were 80 homicides in London, reports the BBC.

But in the same six months, New York has had almost twice as many murder cases - 141 so far.

A surge of violence in February saw police open up 18 homicide inquiries in the British capital, while the New York Police Department only opened up 14.

While the exact reasons for this are unknown, is it thought the extreme snow conditions may have contributed to the reduction in the American city.

The statistics prompted Donald Trump to wade into the debate during a speech to the National Rifle Association in May, claiming there 'was blood all over the floors' of a London hospital, although he failed to declare which one.

He added: 'They say it's as bad as a military war zone hospital. Knives, knives, knives, knives.

'London hasn't been used to that. They're getting used to it. It's pretty tough.'

What is noticeable is that the numbers of homicides in London began to fall when Scotland Yard established a violent crime task force in February.

London's murder rate compared with New York'


New York : 20
London : 10


New York : 14
London : 18


New York : 21
London : 16


New York : 22
London : 14


New York : 34
London : 13


New York : 30
London : 9

(1st August 2018)

(Tech New Statesman, dated 14th June 2018 author Oscar Williams

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The UK is a prime destination for hackers to spend and launder dirty money, according to Charlie McMurdie, the former head of the Met Police's cyber crime unit.

In a speech at a Datto-sponsored cyber security summit today, McMurdie said London is particularly attractive for cyber criminals seeking to cash out the proceeds of their crimes.

"If you're making millions from cyber crime you don't want to be in the back of beyond, where you can't spend your lovely cash and bitcoins," she said. "You want to be in the UK where you can go down to Harrods and Knightsbridge."

McMurdie, who left the Met in 2013, said the speed at which British banks transfer money is another reason cyber criminals gravitate towards the UK. "If you're making loads of money, you need to bounce it around the banks, to launder that cash," she said. "In the UK, it doesn't take two days to move money from A to B."

"The only bad side for cyber criminals is our banks are good at recognising these transactions and they're also pretty hot at working with law enforcement," she added.

In recent years, the UK has been named the top target for cyber criminals in Europe. While McMurdie said Brits are a prime target for hackers, citing affluence and the prevalence of tech, she cast doubt on the claim.

"We're more cited on what's actually happening, how it's happening, the scale of the problem, perhaps than our European and international counterparts," McMurdie suggested. "Perhaps our other partners are suffering the same sort of issues, but pushing them under the table, not sharing that information and not reporting it as much."

Research conducted by a criminologist at Surrey University earlier this year revealed that cyber crime now generates $1.5tn (£1.1tn) annually. By the same estimates, if cyber crime was a country, it would have the 13th highest GDP in the world.


(Symantec Corporation, dated 6th June 2018 author Beth Stackpole)

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To most, the world of cyber crime exists as a shadowy universe of hoodie-wearing hackers or nation state gangs pilfering identity data and hawking intellectual property (IP) on the dark web for big bucks. In reality, however, cyber crime has morphed into an economy in its own right, spawning new platforms and illicit marketplaces now generating close to $1.5 trillion in revenues every year.

The evolution of cyber crime from an overt criminal act or specific attack vector to a booming economy was the subject of a study conducted by Dr. Michael McGuire, senior lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey, in England. The Web of Profit research, presented at April's RSA conference, makes a case that cyber crime is now a hyper-connected economy capable of generating and supporting revenue at an unprecedented scale. In fact, McGuire argues that the cyber crime economy is nearly a mirror image of contemporary capitalism, including the rise of disruptive business models built on platforms and a place where data reigns supreme as the commodity currency used for trade.

"Both the legitimate and illegitimate economies come together within an increasingly cyber-criminogenic world-one where the tools and cultures of information crime become blurred and interchangeable with the tools and cultures of an information society and vice versa," writes McGuire in the 178-page report.

The $1.5 trillion annual revenue figure, equivalent to the 13th highest ranked global GDP, takes into account money made in illicit and illegal online markets ($860 billion), theft of trade secrets and IP ($500 billion), and data trading ($160 billion), among other sources. Because the illegitimate cyber crime economy is increasingly interconnected to legitimate business, McGuire contends companies must radically broaden their perspective in order to rally the right tools and partnerships that will ensure the enterprise is adequately protected.

"Cyber security professionals tend to look at the point of the attack vector, which results in most responses being very limited to a few types of criminality," he explains. "If we take a more holistic view of how the system is working, we can intervene more effectively."

Platform Criminality

One of the more significant themes of McGuire's research is that cyber crime, following in the footsteps of mainstream business, is shifting to a platform economy mimicking what you see with Facebook or Uber. Those existing platforms as well as new crimeware platforms serving up everything from hired cyber talent to DIY Criminal-Infrastructure-as-a-Service capabilities are now the frontlines for nefarious activity with data the coveted asset, McGuire maintains.

Existing online platforms are enabling and supporting crime (whether unwittingly or not) in a variety of ways. They've become key targets for data theft and hacks as witnessed by the Yahoo and SnapChat data breaches; they are fertile ground for malware distribution; they are increasingly used to distribute or sell illegal products and for money laundering; and they have become a resource for connecting criminals with victims, McGuire's research found. Another interesting parallel with the legitimate economy: McGuire says criminal enterprises are embarking on their own digital transformation journeys, diversifying resources to explore new areas of crime. In fact, McGuire claims cyber crime enterprises are reinvesting up to 20% of their revenue streams back into new efforts to advance criminal activities-a figure he estimates at about $300 billion.

All along the way, data is the centerpiece, requiring C-suite and security professionals to rethink enterprise security protections. "The cyber security attitude towards data is prehistoric," McGuire contends. "We need a more flexible attitude in understanding what data is and how it can be used so we can design more effective policies and strategies. It's not just about protecting access to data in a simplistic sense, but a ground up rethinking of what cyber security is doing."

McGuire's report makes a number of recommendations to help cyber security professionals revamp strategies to address the new realities of the cyber crime economy. Among them:

- Approach cyber crime more holistically, as a dynamic and evolving field of multiple actors and interdependencies.

- Consider cyber attacks through the lens of economic gain, not just damage or data breaches, which creates a path to different solutions in areas like visualization or scanning and tracking technology.

- Recognize the shift towards platform criminality, including new illegal online markets, which will require new tools for infiltrating and blocking activities.

- Initiate more sensitive policy solutions and invest in software tools that go beyond simple surveillance and monitoring to mitigate corporate IP theft.

- Work closely with financial agencies and law enforcement to identify strategic nodes and weak points within the ecosystem where protections and interventions can be applied.

- Evolve data protection beyond privacy-data needs to be handled like traditional currencies and safeguarded with the requisite restrictions.

The bottom line, McGuire says, is that security professionals need to move beyond firefighting mode to something bigger and more strategic. "We have to move beyond locking up [the enterprise] with keys to thinking about the whole terrain in which crime occurs," he says. "That's the most productive way to take cyber security forward."

(1st August 2018)

(Huffington Post, dated 12th July 2018 author Thomas Tamblyn)

Full article [Option 1]:

People who use their phones behind the wheel may soon be caught out by new smart road signs that pick up active phone signals.

The road signs, which are being trialled in Norfolk, can tell the difference between active phone calls and other activities based on the strength of a signal and how long it lasts. When it detects activity, it will flash up a red warning signal to drivers.

In case you're wondering if it'll wrongly call you out, the system is able to simultaneously detect bluetooth signals so that anyone legally in a call via their car's speakers is not wrongly issued a warning.

The technology cannot yet log number plates or be used to help catch offending drivers, but it is hoped it will act as a deterrent.

Holding a phone while driving is illegal in the UK but remarkably, 23% of people admitted to taking a call in last year's RAC Report on Motoring.

Inspector Jonathan Chapman from Norfolk Roads Policing said: "Any scheme which prevents this kind of behaviour is welcomed. Using a mobile phone at the wheel is one of the fatal four road offences which can have devastating consequences if it causes a fatal or serious collision.

"We will be using the information provided by Norfolk County Council's road safety team to help us target drivers in the future but the message is simple - leave your phone alone whilst you're behind the wheel."

Norfolk County Council's road safety team have worked with speed and warning sign specialists Westcotec on deploying the signs, which are a first for UK roads.

Although the signs are unable to log offending number plates, such a feature is being considered for development in the future. There is also no facility for the signs to record footage.

For now, a counter will keep track of phone usage on the road to help authorities understand driver habits.

Diane Steiner, deputy director of public health said: "Our priority in public health is to make Norfolk a healthy and safe place to live and the new technology enables us to provide a reminder to drivers who may be using their handset whilst driving.

"Whilst this is still not a perfect science, the new generation of sign is significantly more accurate and reliable than the first."

(1st August 2018)

(ZD Net, dated 12th July 2018 author Danny Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Cyber criminals are offering remote access to IT systems for just $10 via a dark web hacking store -- potentially enabling attackers to steal information, disrupt systems, deploy ransomware and more.

The sales of backdoor access to compromised systems was uncovered by researchers at security company McAfee Labs looking into the sale of remote desktop protocol (RDP) access to hacked machines on underground forums -- some of which are selling access to tens of thousands of compromised systems.

RDP access is a standard tool which allows one user to connect to and control another user's computer over a network. The process is often used for support and administration, but in the wrong hands, RDP can be leveraged with devastating consequences -- researchers point to how SamSam ransomware campaigns begin with RDP access as an example of this.

Leveraging RDP access also provides a bonus to the attacker because they don't need to use tools like spear-phishing emails or exploit kits.

Systems advertised for sale on the forum range from Windows XP through to Windows 10, with access to Windows 2008 and 2012 Server most common. The store owners also offer tips for how those using the illicit logins can remain undetected.

Examining the IP addresses of compromised machines listed in one online store led researchers to discover that three belonged to a single international airport.

"This is definitely not something you want to discover on a Russian underground RDP shop," said John Fokker, head of cyber investigations for McAfee Advanced Threat Research.

Further investigation found that two of the IP addresses were presented alongside a screenshot of a login screen which could be accessed via RDP with three user accounts tied to the system -- one of which being the administrator account.

Perhaps most significantly, McAfee says the accounts are associated with two companies which provide airport security: one in camera surveillance, and one in security and building automation.

But with tens of thousands of RDP logins for sale, the airport wasn't the only sensitive system found up for sale -- researchers discovered criminals selling access to devices in government, hospitals and nursing homes.

All of those organisations which have been identified as having access to their systems up for sale have been informed and McAfee is working with them to uncover how machines were compromised.

In order to protect against this type of attack, researchers recommend the use of complex passwords and two-factor authentication, and disabling RDP connections over the internet. It's also recommended that system administrators keep an eye out for suspicious IP addresses and unusual login attempts.

"Even a state-of-the-art solution cannot provide security when the backdoor is left open or carries only a simple padlock. Just as we check the doors and windows when we leave our homes, organizations must regularly check which services are accessible from the outside and how they are secured," said Fokker.

(1st August 2018)

(Independent, dated 9th July 2018 author Anthony Cuthbertson)

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Cyber criminals are sending text messages that appear to come from Argos in an attempt to fool customers of the retail giant into sharing their personal information, including their payment details.

One scam message shared by a would-be victim on social media, stated: "Your Argos credit card has a refund of £270 from an overpayment." The message includes a link to what appears to be the Argos website, however leads to a phishing website designed to steal a person's personal information.

Even more confusingly for recipients, the message appears in a messaging thread that includes legitimate texts from Argos in the past.

Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, issued a warning to any potential victims. "These fake text messages purport to be from Argos and claim that you're owed a refund," the agency said.

"Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text."

The official Twitter account for Argos customer service, @Argos Helpers, has been responding to tweets from concerned customers by telling them to ignore it.

One message read: "It is a scam and we have been made aware of it. Our team ourdoiing everything to investigate and protect our customers [sic]."

A spokesperson for Argos told The Independent: "Customers should always be mindful of phishing scams. These messages are not from Argos and we are advising customers to delete them."

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th July 2018 author Olivia Tobin)

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Nearly 300 children under the age of 12 were arrested for carrying a weapon in London over the last three years, figures show.

Metropolitan Police figures from 2015 to 2017 reveal children as young as ten being arrested in London - including arrests over serious violent crimes including rape and drug trafficking.

In the last three years, 1,423 children aged between 10 and 12 have been arrested in London, with the highest number of these arrests taking place in Bromley and Bexley.

Schoolchildren have been arrested on suspicion of committing arson, rape, harassment offences, possession of a weapon and drug trafficking.

The largest number of arrests among children was for weapons offences.

Between January 2015 and December 2017, 270 children were arrested for possessing an offensive weapon.

During the same time period, 243 children were arrested over 'assault with injury' offences, according to the data from Scotland Yard.

In the three year period, seven children were arrested on suspicion of rape. Children as young as ten were arrested in Camden, Barking, Hackney, Bexley, Richmond, Croydon and Hounslow. It is not clear how many of these youths were charged.

There was also 36 arrests for "other serious sexual crimes" in London.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard McDonagh explained how support is given to youngsters who are arrested through a partnered approach with police and local authorities.

He said it was of "paramount importance" to make sure a child is not arrested again, and they are set on the right path.

The boroughs with the highest number of children under 13 arrests were Bromley, with 124 youths arrested, Barking, with 90, and Bexley, with 86.

The boroughs with the fewest arrests were Kingston with only 16 arrests each in three years and Richmond, with 17.

DCI McDonagh, for Croydon, Bromley and Sutton, has sad a "combination" of factors could contribute to the high figure in the borough.

He said: "We have to look at things like the size of the youth population, although it is not as big as Croydon's, there are about 70,000 young people living in Bromley. We also have the issue of transient population of people coming in to the borough for schools and to visit.

"The other significant issue is people coming into the borough just for the shopping centre [The Glades]."

There is evidence that the number of children arrested for serious crimes is falling.

In 2017, 86 fewer children were arrested than in 2016. DCI McDonagh said this could be down to media campaigns and early intervention work by police.

DCI McDonagh added: "I would like to think there's less young people getting involved in crimes.

Total number of children under 13 arrested in each borough

Bromley : 124
Barking : 90
Bexley : 86
Southwark : 74
Sutton : 69
Newham : 66
Tower Hamlets : 63
Croydon : 55
Greenwich : 54
Enfield : 50
Harringey : 48
Brent : 46
Hammersmith : 45
Waltham Forest : 44
Lewisham : 44
Lambeth : 43
Islington : 42
Camden : 36
Havering : 35
Ealing : 32
Hackney : 32
Redbridge : 30
Hillingdon : 29
Westminster : 27
Barnet : 25
Kensington : 24
Wandsworth : 24
Harrow : 18
Wimbledon : 18
Richmond : 17
Hounslow : 16
Kingston : 16

(1st August 2018)

(ZD Net, dated 5th July 2018 author Charlie Osborne)

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The UK government has announced the creation of a specialist court to hear cases relating to cybercrime.

The deal has been inked between the City of London Corporation and the judiciary and will result in the establishment of an 18-courtroom center, the UK government said on Wednesday.

First announced back in October and now given the go-ahead, the court will be built from the ground up at Fleetbank House on Fleet Street.

The new center will replace the civil court, Mayor's and City of London County Court, and the City of London Magistrates' Court, which has been described as "aging." A new police station has also been thrown into the deal.

The purpose-built court will deal with civil, business, and property cases.

Lord Chancellor David Gauke said the deal represents a "message to the world that Britain both prizes business and stands ready to deal with the changing nature of 21st-century crime."

"This is a hugely significant step in this project that will give the Square Mile its second iconic courthouse after the Old Bailey," added Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation. "I'm particularly pleased that this court will have a focus on the legal issues of the future, such as fraud, economic crime, and cybercrime."

According to the Office for National Statistics' latest Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), 4.7 million incidents of criminal fraud and cybercrime were experienced by UK residents in the past year, with bank and credit card fraud forming the majority of cases.

Norton suggests that in 2017, £130 billion was stolen from the general public by cybercriminals, of which £4.6 billion in losses were experienced specifically by British consumers.

Now cybercrime is becoming ever more common, the launch of specialist courts with judges versed in not only the law but the applications of new technologies to crime is an important step in tackling, if not the source, at least the aftermath.

However, it will likely be some time before the building is ready, let alone for cases to be heard. Subject to planning permission and funding, the court is not expected to be complete until 2025.

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd July 2018 author Sophia Sleigh)

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Moped gangs are impersonating traffic police to pull over vehicles and threaten the occupants, in an escalation of the two-wheeled crimewave sweeping London.

Police warned motorists to be aware of the latest ploy after they were called when a cab was boxed in on Chelsea Embankment by two riders pretending to be undercover officers.

Both had fitted their helmets with blue flashing lights, which they switched on as they pulled alongside the car taking American tourists back to their hotel in Battersea at about 1.40am last Friday.

The black-clad, masked bikers told the occupants, a 44-year-old woman and her friends, that the cab had run a red light, but the passengers became suspicious when the riders refused to identify themselves.

They called 999, and the bikers fled.

In an email to residents, a police officer wrote: "Worrying report today where a taxi was made to stop by suspects on a moped and motorcycle… Suspects stated that they were undercover police.

"Luckily the taxi and passengers were able to get away unscathed … however it's an intimidating situation to be in. I would like to reassure all that police would not use mopeds to stop a moving vehicle." The number of crimes using mopeds in London has soared from 827 in 2012 to more than 23,000 in 2017.

In an incident on June 21, four thugs attempted to rob a mother while she was with her child in Richmond.

The Met police are using new tactics to deal with moped crime, including decoy bikes, identifying sprays and remote-controlled puncture spikes.

Former Met detective David Videcette said: "Police are struggling to deal with moped-enabled crime and criminals are taking advantage of the difficulties police have legally, professionally and practically."

(1st August 2018)

(i News, dated 22nd June 2018 author Gary Flockhart)

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Prospective tenants in the UK have lost more than £22m in rental fraud over the past four years new figures show, causing Action Fraud to warn those looking to rent property to look out for potential scams.

Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, has revealed that between April 2014 and March 2018, victims of property scams have reported losing £22,103,940, or an average of £1,396 per person.

Potential tenants - and students in particular - have been warned to look out for signs of potential rental fraud such as being asked to transfer large sums of money online instead of paying with a credit or debit card, or being asked to pay without first seeing a property.

Hundreds lost £5,000 or more

"Rental fraud happens when prospective tenants are tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property. In reality, the property does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time," says Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.

"Victims will lose the upfront fee they have paid and are not able to rent the property they thought they had secured. In 429 cases, victims reported losing £5,000 or more."

According to Action Fraud, scammers will often make contact with their victims online.

Students targeted

"The adverts will seem genuine and are often accompanied by photos and contact information. In some cases the victim will view the property in person, but in most cases the payment is made without prior viewing," says Action Fraud.

Action Fraud sees a spike in reporting levels in July and August. This yearly peak is likely due to people looking for holiday accommodation during the summer months, with holiday fraud accounting for approximately 27 per cent of all rental fraud reports during this period.

"Fraudsters will often target college and university students ahead of the new term with fake lettings in local accommodation, taking advantage of the huge demand to collect fees up front to secure a deposit.

"Between April 2014 and March 2018, 930 reports of university-related rental fraud, with losses of £1,103,416, were made to Action Fraud. However, the true figure is believed to be higher, as the figure is dependent on victims making their student status known when reporting to Action Fraud."

Impact on health

The number of reports peaked each year in September when students are likely to be organising their accommodation for the academic year. Sixty one per cent of university rental fraud victims reported a 'significant' impact on their health or financial wellbeing as a result of being defrauded.

"Whether you're booking a well-earned holiday or looking to secure university accommodation, it's important to be wary of devious fraudsters who are looking to take your money," says Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud.

"The impact of rental fraud can be severe, both emotionally and financially. By taking simple steps such as visiting the property you intend to rent or checking that the owner is on an approved accommodation list, you will be able to protect yourself from this type of fraud.

"If you think you have been a victim of rental fraud, contact Action Fraud."

Protect yourself from rental fraud

- Visit the property before you pay: Watch-out for adverts with no photos, or where multiple adverts have the same photos as they could be fake. Do not pay any money until you or a reliable contact has visited the property with an agent or the landlord.

- Be cautious about how you send money: The safest way to make a payment is by a credit card in person at the letting agent's office. Be skeptical if you're asked to transfer money via a money transfer service.

- Don't be pressured into transferring large sums of money: Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or another trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.

- Check that the owner is on an approved accommodation list: Check with your student union or accommodation office as many universities and colleges will have an approved housing list. Also look for accreditation membership such as National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

(1st August 2018)

(City AM, dated 28th June 2018 author Simon Migliano)

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As I write, thousands of employees are opening up Macs in cafes and trendy workspaces across the country, sipping on cortados, and getting ready to start their days.

These workers are part of what's being called the "remote working revolution", and they represent a movement away from the presenteeism that previously defined office working.

A blessing and a curse

Technology is at the centre of this non-traditional working boom - thanks to communication applications like Skype and Slack, staff are readily accessible anywhere in the world where there's a half-decent wifi connection.

The rise of virtual and augmented reality also means that employees can attend meetings despite being on the opposite side of the globe.

Unfortunately, these flexible working habits present a big cyber security risk, which companies and employees often aren't prepared to tackle.

Let's talk about wifi

We're an increasingly wifi-dependent society. For remote staff, good wifi is essential, so business owners and employees inevitably gravitate towards stronger hotspots - whether they are password-protected or not.

The problem is that when workers head to their favourite cafe and log into the convenient wifi that doesn't require a password, they are placing a huge amount of trust in the hotspot's owner and hoping that there aren't any would-be scammers around.

Newer routers are more secure, but rely on their owners to keep the hardware updated. The bigger threat is from fraudsters, who can eavesdrop on unencrypted activity using simple software, or even create fake wireless spots to mimic legitimate ones by naming their network after a cafe to make it look authentic.

Once hackers have done this, it's simple to intercept unencrypted data, wait for you to open unsecured sites, or even create phony versions of real sites in order to steal your private data.

This has created a bit of a perfect storm for small businesses and companies adopting more flexible attitudes to where their staff work.

Unlike banks, which have sophisticated security systems in place, it doesn't take much for businesses to open themselves up to potential fraud.

Most employees use email programs like Outlook or Gmail - and while the latter offers some protection due to its two-factor authentication, it wouldn't take much for a scammer on an unencrypted network to mimic a web-based email client, and then scrape a users' details when they try to log in.

Once that's done, hackers can log into accounts, and scan through reams of emails in order to dig out juicy company details such as payslips, invoice details, and personal data. Before you know it, scammers have access to the internal mechanisms of your company.

Securing your business

Businesses can protect themselves from attacks by: encouraging staff to avoid sites that aren't secure and don't display HTTPS in the URL; install firewalls, antivirus, and malware software on staff computers to make sure there aren't any chinks in the company's armour; and regularly install software updates, as they typically contain security patches.

It's also worth considering installing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) on work devices - VPNs essentially create encrypted tunnels through which your staff's online traffic can travel through securely. These can be set to work automatically, so require very little heavy lifting from employees.

It makes sense to dodge onerous overheads like offices while startups are getting up to speed - it's not unusual for startup owners to work out of cafes in the first few months of their existence - but they must be diligent, and secure themselves against cyber risks.


(Sky News, dated 9th July 2018 author Alexander J Martin)

Full article [Option 1]:

BAE Systems has launched a new industry forum and lobbying group called The Intelligence Network to address increases in cyber attacks.

In April, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre and NCA warned that criminals were launching more online attacks against British businesses than ever before.

Attempts to tackle this by the biggest companies have included sharing intelligence on the attackers' methods, but this has been blighted by insufficient data-sharing occurring on an ad-hoc basis.

Speaking in London on Monday, James Hatch, the director of cyber services for BAE Applied Intelligence, acknowledged that collaboration between companies wasn't working well enough.

In a new report by BAE, with contributions from Vodafone, think-tank RUSI, startup accelerator CyLon and others, the Intelligence Network has called for more transparency in how businesses tackle cyber crime.

Although there may be an expectation on government to address this issue, the international nature of cyber crime and the rapid pace of change means that the political process can't address the issue.

Instead, a more formalised approach - although not to the level of collective NDAs - would enable herd defence, said Dr Adrian Nish - the head of BAE's cyber threat intelligence team.

Mr Hatch added that the consortium could work together to lobby the government for better laws which would encourage a high level of cyber security.

Alongside an increase in attacks from nation states including Russia and North Korea, both of whom have been explicitly criticised by the British government, other concerns need to be addressed.

The number of connected devices - with everything from toasters to thermostats now forming part of the internet of things (IoT) - has increased the opportunities for cyber criminals to wreak havoc.

In 2016, a botnet consisting of compromised IoT devices caused rolling internet service blackouts across the US when its controller forced the devices to target a domain name system provider.

Stating that "it's time to stop victim-shaming" businesses that have suffered a security breach, BAE has called for "like-minded organisations and individuals" to join the network.

(1st August 2018)

JUNE 2018

(Independent, dated 27th June 2018 author Joanna Whithead)

Full article [Option 1]:

Online travel agents attracting customers with 'too-good-to-be-true' budget deals have been discovered inflating prices and demanding further additional payment.

A Which? Travel investigation found cases of prices rocketing during the booking process, while other customers have received phone calls demanding more money under the threat of cancelling bookings just hours after they made a payment.

Other sneaky tactics used by companies include the sale of unnecessary add-ons. Gotogate is one of the worst offenders according to the investigation, with a list of 11 "extras".

These include a "platinum support" package costing £19.90, which guarantees customers will have their queries responded to quickly, and a bag tracking service through a company called Blue Ribbon costing £9, which can be bought directly from Blue Ribbon for just £3.80.

Gotogate also charges customers £39 for the US ESTA Visa, a document that can be purchased for just $14 (£11) directly from the US government website.

"Our business is based on offering our customers the cheapest available air fare," Gotogate told Which?. "We then offer several add-on products so they can customise their trip."

The suspect tactics don't just apply to extras, however. Holidaymaker John-Michael Clow used Gotogate to book a flight to India that was almost £200 cheaper than other flights he had looked at.

Upon arrival at the airport, Thomas Cook informed Mr Clow that his ticket was invalid and that they had notified Gotogate that there was a problem with the ticket at the time of booking.

When Mr Clow contacted Gotogate, they refused to accept responsibility and would not help him.

After eventually securing a refund from Gotogate, the company deducted £17 as a "refund fee". It took Which? Travel getting in touch for the company to accept liability, stating that it had made a mistake "due to human error". The company refunded the cost of booking a second flight and issued compensation of just over £300.

Gotogate told Which?: "We have many customers and, of course, make mistakes now and then. When that happens, we try to correct the mistake as soon as possible and compensate if necessary."

A woman who booked an urgent flight to Canada through Checknfly, meanwhile, was sent a message the following day asking her to call and confirm her flight. When Mrs Hughes did so, she was told that if she didn't pay a further £79, her flight would be cancelled.

When Which? contacted Checknfly it refused to accept responsibility, saying that the price had increased by £160 while she was making her booking. Checknfly said: "We were ready to bear half the loss and requested that Mrs Hughes pay £79 in order to secure the flights. When she refused we processed the full refund back onto the card she paid from."

Travellers are advised to research companies thoroughly before parting with any money and to opt for established, reputable brands; prices that seem too good to be true often are.

uaware comment

Is this a scam or "hyper" marketing where the words "buyer beware" are more appropriate.

So before you buy:

- Carry out comparative research between suppliers
- Check the terms and conditions
- If the offer is too good to be true, it probably is. Walk away.

(17th July 2018)

(Independent, dated 25th June 2018 author Ben Chapman)

Full article [Option 1]:

Thousands of food businesses across the country are failing to meet hygiene standards as overstretched local authorities struggle to carry out their inspection duties, new research has revealed.

Birmingham City Council and Hyndburn Borough Council were ranked as the worst areas in the UK for food hygiene enforcement for the second year running by consumer group Which?.

In Birmingham, 43 per cent of high and medium-risk food businesses didn't meet compliance standards while 16 per cent of the 8,000 businesses in the sector are yet to be rated by the council.

Hyndburn in Lancashire was the second worst area in the UK for food hygiene in 2016-17, analysis of data collected by the Food Standards Agency found.

Almost all businesses in the borough had been rated for risk but just two in five of medium and high-risk food companies met food hygiene standards, compared with 98 per cent in Harrogate, which is about an hour away in North Yorkshire.

Erewash Borough Council in Derbyshire was rated the best out of 390 local authorities for the second year running. The borough carried out planned interventions on all failing premises while 97 per cent of its medium and high-risk establishments are compliant with hygiene standards.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, both in Hampshire, were close behind with 96 per cent of medium and high-risk premises meeting food compliance standards and 99 per cent of food businesses inspected and rated for risk.

Three Rivers District Council, in Hertfordshire, saw the biggest improvement from the previous year. It jumped into the top 100 after being ranked among the worst 25 per cent of areas in 2015-16.

Which? analysed and ranked 390 local authorities across the UK using the following criteria: percentage of high and medium-risk food businesses compliant with food hygiene standards; percentage of food premises opened but not visited or rated for risk; and interventions required that have been carried out.

The consumer group warned that Brexit could further stretch local authorities' food safety inspectors as the UK will need to step up checks on imports and potentially look to negotiate trade deals with countries with lower food standards.

Alex Neill, a managing director at Which?, said: "When it comes to food, British consumers expect the very best standards for themselves and their families.

"But our enforcement regime is under huge strain, just as Brexit threatens to add to the responsibilities of struggling local authorities.

"Effective food enforcement must be a government priority, including robust checks on imports as well as cooperation with the EU and other countries on food risks".

uaware comment

Every food business must be assessed for their hygiene management of food they prepare and / or sell. If you are purchasing pre-prepared food the minimum standard (score on the door) you should accept is a 3. If the establishment does not display the certificate on their entrance door or elsewhere within the establishment there is a strong likelihood they do not do not meet the minimum standard for food hygiene and as a result your health maybe at risk.

Remember, Scores on the Doors is nothing to do with food quality, it is NOT a "Michelin star" rating, it is purely for hygiene.

The other problem is the age of the "Scores" certificate. Assessments are normally carried out every two years. A lot can happen in that time, employee's can change (Trained staff leave), businesses can be sold to new owners who haven't bothered to have training.

For the latest score of food outlets :

(17th July 2018)

(Independent, dated 23rd June 2018 author May Bulman)

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Police are failing to solve 63 per cent of knife crimes committed against under-25s as stabbing incidents soar, The Independent can reveal.

So far this year in London alone there have been 21 youth murders - while knife crime against young victims across England and Wales has surged by 69 per cent in the last four years.

Politicians and youth workers accused the government of failing to act on the rise in stabbings, and warned of the "disastrous" effect cuts to police and youth services were having on young people.

Figures obtained through freedom of information requests show the overall number of knife incidents against victims under the age of 25 surged from 3,857 in 2013-14 to 6,503 in the year to March 2018. The number of knife-related incidents involving youth that led to no further action by police increased in the past four years from 33 per cent to 63 per cent.

The number of these crimes that led to criminal charges plummeted, with the proportion of perpetrators who faced charges falling from more than one in three (35 per cent) to just 15 per cent, raising questions about why a growing number of these crimes are going unsolved despite the rise in young people getting caught up in knife violence.

Other outcomes included youth cautions and community resolutions. Collated from responses by 21 out of 43 police forces, the data paints a stark picture of the knife crime epidemic gripping the nation. All the forces were approached but many refused to hand over their figures.

Ministers have cited drug-related gang culture and social media as key drivers, but police have called for more funding to turn around the loss of thousands of officers while voluntary groups have condemned cuts to youth services.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told The Independent the increase in knife crime was "disastrous for our communities" and accused the government of failing in its "basic duty to keep the public safe".

"With this government's scathing cuts of 21,000 officers since 2010, it's no surprise that understaffed and overstretched police forces are struggling to cope," she said.

Vicky Foxcroft, Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford, who established the Youth Violence Commission, said: "Cuts in police numbers - particularly community support officers - are having an impact in terms of trying to get intelligence on these crimes. Young people need to know that if they've got an issue they can go to the police and they will keep them safe.

"The government's serious violence strategy contains warm words on prevention, but it must back that up with the necessary resources if we are to see a genuine reduction in serious violence.

"That means sustainable funding for youth workers, community support officers, mental health support in schools; you can't cut millions from youth work and schools funding and sure start and early childhood centres and not expect this to have a knock-on effect."

In London, the number of youth knife crimes soared by 79 per cent in the four years, from 910 to 1,630, with the number of young people killed by knives more than doubling, from 19 to 40, according to figures provided by the Metropolitan Police.

Yet the proportion of offences that led to charges dwindled from a third (33 per cent) to just 18 per cent over the same period, while those resulting in no further action increased from 62 per cent to 80 per cent of crimes committed, the data shows.

Thames Valley Police showed an even steeper rise in unsolved crimes, soaring from just 4 per cent in 2014-15 to more than half (58 per cent) in the year to March 2018, while the proportion of charges dropped from 44 per cent to just 16 per cent. The overall number of youth knife crimes in the area rose more than twofold, from 150 to 325.

The data also reveals a worrying upward trend in victims who decline to identify the suspect or do not support police action, which youth workers said was due to a fear of retaliation that has increased due to the rise of social media and diminishing trust in police.

In Northumbria, the number of young knife victims who did not support police action rose from just one in 2013-14 to 28 (26 per cent) in 2017-18. In Merseyside, it increased from two (2 per cent) to 26 (22 per cent) in the same period. A similar trend was seen across other police forces.

Leroy Logan, a former superintendent who retired from the Met Police in 2013 after 30 years of service, told The Independent the country was in a "crisis situation that is not showing signs of improving".

"This government has got blood on its hands because they have allowed vital services to erode and failed to understand the long-term impact of this," he said.

"When I was in the police, if someone had committed a murder you had a good chance of resolving it. Now, there's a good chance that person will get away with it.

"But when you cut all the police numbers, young people just don't feel safe. They don't have that relationship with the officers so they're not going to speak to them, and unfortunately they buy into the street justice and feel the need to carry a knife.

"So you get this vicious cycle of young people being sucked into that lifestyle, and it's not being offset by the safeguarding agencies which, like police, have also been run into the ground."

Tom Isaac, manager of Oasis Youth Support, a service that offers youth support to victims of violence in the emergency department of St Thomas's Hospital in London, said he frequently saw young stabbing victims who do not want to tell police about what happened.

"The biggest indicator for many of the young people we work with is the fear factor. They feel it will put them at more risk because if things aren't solved or they aren't protected and relocated, they could be labelled as 'snitching', and then might be at greater risk of further violence," he said.

"They feel that police can't protect them - they tell us they think it will make the situation worse.

"Young people often get direct threats after they get stabbed, often through messages or videos on social media. Things can spread quicker and get filmed these days."

Ebinehita Iyere, a youth worker in south London, said she had witnessed many young people taking situations into their own hands, describing a "cycle of retaliation".

"We're breeding kids who are leaving hospital beds, and the first thing they are going to do is pick up a knife," she said, adding: "There isn't enough emotional support for these young people."

In response to the figures, a National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) spokesman said: "Knife crime is on the rise and it is more important than ever for police forces across the country to robustly deal with this heinous crime.

"All police forces across England and Wales took part in the most recent phase of Operation Sceptre, which ran for a week in February. This major police operation saw forces carrying out weapon sweeps, knife surrenders, testing whether retailers are prepared to sell knives to children and holding educational events."

He claimed that although officers were using a range of powers available to them to crack down on knife crime, it was not something police forces could do alone and that it required a "whole system approach".

"We continue to work with schools, charities and community schemes to educate young people and explain why carrying a knife is never the right choice. This early intervention plays a vitally important role in stopping young people from turning to a life of crime," he added.

A government spokesperson said: "This government is taking action to end the deadly cycle of violence that has such a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities.

"Our new serious violence strategy puts a greater focus on steering young people away from violence alongside a tough law enforcement response, and our Offensive Weapons Bill will go further in restricting access to knives.

"Repeat offenders who carry a knife are more likely than ever to go to prison."

(17th July 2018)

(Independent, dated 20th June 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

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The delivery of knives and acid bought online to people's homes will be banned under laws proposed by the government to tackle a nationwide rise in serious violence.

The new Offensive Weapons Bill aims to make it harder for young people to purchase deadly weapons and make the possession of knuckle dusters, "zombie knives" and "death stars" illegal - even in private.

Sellers will be required by law to impose rigorous age verification measures to prove that anyone purchasing blades or corrosives is over 18, or face prosecution.

The proposals would also make it a criminal offence to sell a minor a corrosive product, either online or offline, and to possess a corrosive substance in a public place.

The Home Office said it had listened to concerns raised by police officers, who have struggled to stop people suspected of carrying acid and seize liquids for testing under current laws.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, said: "It is totally wrong that young people are able to get their hands on dangerous weapons such as knives and harmful acids. That is why we are making the laws around this even tighter.

"Earlier this week I saw the great work our frontline officers do to keep our communities safe - and I am determined to do everything I can to help them keep weapons off our streets."

The government said the law, which was first announced in April but delayed by Amber Rudd's resignation, allows exemptions from the home delivery ban for bladed items that cannot cause "serious injury", are made to order, are used for sport or are for historical re-enactments.

Delivery companies transporting products to under-18s on behalf of sellers outside the UK would also be prosecuted under the proposals.

It will be illegal to possess rapid-firing rifles and "bump stock" devices of the kind used to massacre 58 people in Las Vegas last year, with owners of prohibited items allowed compensation.

An existing law banning possessing offensive weapons in schools is also being expanded to cover other educational institutions.

Violent crime has risen by 17 per cent across England and Wales over the past year, causing fierce debate over the underlying cause of a bloody wave of attacks.

More than 70 people have been murdered in London alone, where officials vowed not to "accept that this horrifying situation is the new normal".

Steve O'Connell, chair of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee, said: "We need to understand the reasons why our communities have become susceptible to this malign criminality."

The new bill is part of the government response set out in its serious violence strategy, which was heavily criticised after leaks revealed that a Home Office document suggesting police budget cuts may have "encouraged" offenders was cut from the published version.

The document attributed increasing violence to factors including changes to the drug market and incitement on social media, while critics have pointed to the loss of 20,000 police officers since 2010 and cuts to youth services and mental health provisions.

On Tuesday, policing minister Nick Hurd told the Home Affairs Committee it was "too simplistic" to put the rise in violent crime down to a lack of police resources.

"I think the context has changed," he added. "The police system has been very stretched in recent years and in light of the evidence in front of us, we have taken steps to put more resources in the system - £460m more this year, £1bn more than three years ago, and we intend to do something similar for the 2019-20 settlement."

In a dramatic departure from his two predecessors, Mr Javid acknowledged that resources were "an issue" for struggling British police forces last month and vowed to fight for more cash in a government-wide spending review.

Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the influential committee, raised concerns that "across the board we are seeing more criminals getting away with it".

She pointed at figures showing a drops in arrests, charges and summons for violent crime, robbery and sexual offences, which are all rising.

"Serious crime is starting to go back up and the number of crimes brought to justice is dropping," Ms Cooper said. "It looks like the Home Office is not exercising its fundamental responsibility to keep people safe."

Mr Hurd argued that the changing nature of crime and dramatic rise in the amount of evidence being examined from digital devices meant offences were taking longer to progress through the criminal justice system.

He said that moped-enabled crimes were already falling, thanks to government and police initiatives, and vowed to help forces work more effectively.

In the same session HM chief inspector of constabulary warned that criminals are adopting increasingly sophisticated tactics fuelled by their exploitation of modern technology.

Sir Tom Winsor told MPs the "complexity and volume" of demand is the biggest challenge for police, after criticising technology companies for letting terrorists, paedophiles and organised criminals conceal their activities.

(17th July 2018)

(BBC News, dated 19th June 2018 author Zoe Kleinman)

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A security researcher has built a system for detecting illegal images that costs less than $300 (£227) and uses less power than a lightbulb.

Christian Haschek, who lives in Austria, came up with the solution after he discovered an image showing child sex abuse had been uploaded on his image hosting platform Pictshare.

He called the police, who told him to print it out and bring it to them.

However it is illegal to possess images of child abuse, digitally or in print.

"Erm... not what I planned to do," Mr Haschek said.

Instead he put together a homegrown solution for identifying and removing explicit images.

Mr Haschek used three Raspberry PIs, powering two Intel Movidius sticks, which can be trained to classify images. He also used an open source algorithm for identifying explicit material called NSFW (Not Safe For Work), available free of charge from Yahoo.

He set it to find images which the system could say with 30% or more certainty was likely to contain pornography - he said he set the possibility low so as to be sure not to miss anything.

He has since discovered 16 further illegal images featuring children on his platform, all of which he reported to Interpol and deleted.

He then contacted a larger image hosting service, which he declined to name, and found thousands more by running images uploaded to their platform through his system as well.

"When I first started working on my open source image hosting service PictShare I didn't think anyone but myself would use it," Mr Haschek said on his blog.

"Over the years the usage has increased and with increased usage of a site where you can upload images anonymously, there will be those who upload illegal things.

"There are thousands of images on PictShare - I can't look them through even in a year so I had to think of something else."

Prof Alan Woodward from Surrey University said Mr Haschek's project was encouraging.

"Law enforcement agencies around the world are struggling to find this horrible material and have it taken down. Sadly, the police have to work with tech firms and that takes time," he said.

"I like the idea that this particular site has taken responsibility and found a solution that mitigates the problem.

"The scale of the problem faced by the large tech firms is admittedly enormous and although these solutions could be scaled up, it takes money and effort. However, where there's a will there's a way."

(17th July 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th June 2018 author Robin De Peyer)

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Scotland Yard today admitted there is "more work to be done" as it emerged only about one in 20 burglaries in London are solved.

The Metropolitan Police said sanction detection rates, the way it measures cases that are solved, were 5.5 per cent for burglary and 7 per cent for robbery between April 2017 and April 2018.

That compared to an overall rate of 13.2 per cent for all offences included in the statistics.

The force also said it is putting a "huge amount of effort" into tackling a rise in moped-related crime after The Sunday Times revealed two streets in London are the worst-affected in the UK.

Holloway Road and Highgate Hill, both in north London had the highest number of moped crimes between 2012 and 2017.

Holloway Road saw 111 robberies last year, only one of which has been solved, while Highgate Hill saw 48, with none solved.

It came as Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed he fell victim to thieves on a moped who stole his phone near Euston station while, earlier this month, comedian Michael McIntyre was robbed of his watch by moped-riding crooks in a violent incident.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said the Met is "doing all we can to cut crime, pursue offenders and support victims to make London even safer".

She added: "Burglary presents particular challenges in regard to identifying those responsible and we accept there is more work to be done - and are always seeking ways to increase the number of these crimes we solve.

"A number of robbery offences can be attributed to scooter-related crime. The Met has been putting a huge amount of effort into stemming the rise in these offences and bringing offenders to justice."

According to the Sunday Times, national police data shows the proportion of suspects who are caught and punished for all crimes has more than halved to 9% over the past five years.

The figures also suggested only 4% of robberies were solved in England and Wales in 2017, while it was 9% in 2013.

Data for the same period indicated the burglary detection rate halved from 6% to 3%.

The National Police Chiefs' Council's spokesman on crime recording and statistics, Chief Constable Bill Skelly, told the Sunday Times there had been improvements in how police record their crimes.

Among the offences recorded are those with "no suspect and little prospect of a criminal justice outcome", he told the paper.

(17th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 17th June 2018 author Press Association)

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Britain's largest police force has said it is doing all it can to bring thieves to justice after figures suggested 95% of burglaries and robberies across the UK are not being solved.

The Metropolitan police said they were putting a "huge amount of effort" into tackling a rise in crime related to motor scooters, which they said had reduced.

They said burglary presented particular challenges in finding culprits, however they have accepted more work needs to be done to tackle such crimes.

There are fears over a wave of criminality in parts of the country, with scooter thefts attracting particular concern after a number of high-profile incidents.

On Sunday the home secretary, Sajid Javid, revealed he fell victim to thieves on a motor scooter who stole his phone and earlier this month, the comedian Michael McIntyre was robbed of his watch by scooter-riding thieves.

Scotland Yard said its London sanction detection rates - the way it measures cases that are solved - were 5.5% for burglary and 7% for robbery between April 2017 and April 2018.

That compared with an overall rate of 13.2% for all offences included in the statistics.

"Solving crime is a key priority for the Met and we are committed to doing all we can to cut crime, pursue offenders and support victims to make London even safer," a spokeswoman said.

"Burglary presents particular challenges in regard to identifying those responsible and we accept there is more work to be done - and are always seeking ways to increase the number of these crimes we solve.

"A number of robbery offences can be attributed to scooter-related crime. The Met has been putting a huge amount of effort into stemming the rise in these offences and bringing offenders to justice."

National police data shows the proportion of suspects who are caught and punished for all crimes has more than halved to 9% over the past five years, according to the Sunday Times.

The figures also suggested only 4% of robberies were solved in England and Wales in 2017, compared with 9% in 2013. The burglary detection rate halved from 6% to 3% in the same period.

(17th July 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 16th June 2018 author Steven Swinford)

Full article [Option 1]:

###Note : The original article includes a dropdown facility for the reader to check crime in their area.

Police should increase the use stop-and-search to tackle soaring tackle knife crime and violence in London, the former head of Scotland Yard who oversaw a huge decline in the use of the powers has said.

Lord Hogan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police between 2011 and 2017 when Theresa May was Home Secretary, believes that the surge in violence means "we now need to increase the amount of stop and search again".

Nearly 50 people have been fatally stabbed in London since the start of the year, while the overall number of knife offences in the capital rose by more than 20 per cent last year to 14,680.

He also linked migration and higher birth rates in parts of London to increased violence because it means that there are growing numbers of young men.

He said that "London is getting younger" that there is a "high correlation" between areas which have seen a significant rise in the number of young men and violence.

Speaking in the House of Lords last week, he said that one of the "large problems" in London is that so many people carry knives, meaning that "too often an argument is turning into murder".

The use of stop and search peaked in 2008 when Boris Johnson was Mayor of London in response to a significant rise in violence.

The powers were used 600,000 times in that year, but reforms introduced by Mrs May led to a dramatic decline in the use of the powers.

In 2015/16 they were used 160,000 times. It came after Mrs May introduced changes in 2014 that meant police were only allowed to stop people when there were "reasonable grounds for suspicion" amid concerns that the policy was alienating black and ethnic minority communities.

Lord Hogan-Howe said: "In my time as commissioner, we reduced stop and search very significantly. I cannot blame the present Prime Minister for this, because I believe it was the right thing to do.

"Yet even though we reduced stop and search over the succeeding four years by 60 per cent, we arrested more people-rising from 43,000 to 45,000 people-and we saw crime reduce by 20 per cent, including knife crime and violence.

"I think we now need to increase the amount of stop and search again, but it must be intelligently targeted or its risks will outweigh its benefits."

He said that the Home Office must help produce new scanning devices to make it easier for offices to find knives on people or in cars.

He also called for the development and role out of facial recognition technology to make it easier for police to identify suspects.

He called for more front-line police in parts of the capital which are struggling to cope with increasing levels of violence, linking the trend to increased birth rates and migration.

He said: "London getting younger is contradictory to what is happening in the rest of the country; there are contradictions, too, within London.

"It is in the north-east of the capital where we are seeing more young people. This is caused by higher birth rates and migration.

"Research shows us that where there are more young men in society we tend to see an increase in crime generally and an increase in violence in particular.

"If we look at a heat map of the violence in London during the past 18 months to two years, we see a high correlation between the increase in the number of young men and the increase in the incidence of violence."

(17th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 14th June 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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One of Britain's most senior police chiefs has intervened in the debate about rising crime, saying social inequality is a cause that needs tackling and that those arrested and jailed tend to be people with less money and opportunity.

The Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan told the Guardian that "children are not born bad" and called for a wider effort to deal with inequalities that leave people feeling like "they do not have a stake in society".

Gallan said: "I think we deal with the symptoms and the outcomes, but society at large has got to think about how we solve some of the other issues about what has been causing the crime in the first place. I don't think children are born bad. I don't believe that for one moment."

She added: "If we don't invest at the beginning we'll have to invest in it in terms of criminal justice and in the prison system."

Gallan leads Scotland Yard's specialist crime and operations, spearheading the fight against gun crime, homicides and high-harm and high-profile crimes. She sits on the Met's management board of senior leaders and is a key adviser to the commissioner, Cressida Dick.

Police chiefs have for years talked privately about the link between social inequality, poverty and crime, but Gallan commenting publicly is unusual and comes as she prepares to retire as a senior frontline officer.

She also said her race and gender meant she had faced extra challenges, but the police were a fairer employer than others.

Her comments are an attempt to kickstart a debate about the wider social factors behind crime, which is rising and driving law and order up the political agenda.

Gallan said her views were based on her experience first as the child of a church minister who saw the effect of poverty, then as a police officer over a 31-year career. She said she was offering "an explanation, not an excuse" for the deeper causes of offending behaviour.

"I think there are lots of causes of crime. This is a very personal view. If you start looking at where crime impacts, it happens in the poorest areas of society. Those that end up in the criminal justice system tend to be the people who have less money and less opportunity in our society.

"I think that is not good for society, for social cohesion, but also it is not good if people do not feel they have the stake in society. We have to look at and ask ourselves individually and collectively: why do people feel they do not have a stake in society?

"Because once you are involved in crime and once you go into the criminal justice system, it starts to get far more difficult for you, whether it is staying out of prison or getting a job."

Asked about the link between poverty and alienation and people committing crime, Gallan said: "I think if you are a young person and you haven't got opportunity necessarily - and this isn't an excuse for it, it is explanation - what's your risk? You've got a sense of belonging if you are in a group or a gang … and you get the material aspects that you would like, so that's part of the challenge. We're also a very instantaneous society now in lots of what we do."

Gallan said police forces should look like the communities they serve. The Met is thousands of minority ethnic officers short of this, and Gallan said: "I am disappointed that we still look as we do. I think we made great efforts but then we collectively in policing and probably in society thought, well, we've kind of done that, and I think the problem is you can't stop doing it, you've got to keep at it."

She added: "If you see people look like you, there might be some understanding of what it's like to be you."

Gallan said the fallout from the Met's errors in the Stephen Lawrence case, which led to the damning Macpherson report in 1999 that found the force was institutionally racist, had paved the way for people from her background.

"If it was not for Baroness Lawrence [Stephen's mother] and the Macpherson inquiry, I would not be sitting here today," she said. "We had a mirror held up to us, which many people didn't like but was the truth in my view."

Gallan said she had received extra abuse from the media and on social media because she was a black woman. "I do think there is an issue. Whether people agree or not with [the Labour MP] Diane Abbott, I think she's spoken the truth. She's spoken about people saying various things about her and targeting her because she is a black woman.

"If a man is direct that is fine and if a woman is direct people find it difficult. And if a black woman is direct they find it even more difficult. I'm pretty direct and straightforward. Not everybody likes that."

Gallan said austerity had affected policing, and reduced police numbers and rising demands placed the Met under strain.

She served mostly in the Met in London but also in the Merseyside force. Gallan said her two biggest mentors were former Met commissioner Ian Blair, appointed under Labour, and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, appointed under the Conservatives.

She said she was leaving policing proud of the force and of her fellow officers. "I have great confidence in the police and I have great confidence in the Met."

(17th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 13th June 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

Full article [Option 1]:

An online dating platform has been spanked by the Competitions and Markets Authority as the UK government issued love match websites an etiquette guide for fair play.

Venntro Media Group - which has about 3,500 websites targeted at specific interests, hobbies, localities, ethnicity or religion - was the subject of a probe by the CMA after complaints about misleading claims and unclear data-sharing.

The Berkshire-based biz has more than 55 million users worldwide, but concerns were raised about how their data was shared between the various sites, as well as a lack of clarity over the terms and conditions of use.

The CMA's investigation found that some users were unaware that their information would be stored in a central database - and that their profiles might be visible on other sites.

Others complained that they had signed up for sites featuring explicit adult content without realising what was on offer.

The CMA said that the end result was that customers may not have been shown people who shared their interests - the whole point of being on the sites.

"We took action against Venntro because we were concerned people's profiles were being placed on sites without their knowledge or permission, and that they were being misled about how likely they were to meet someone with common ground," said appropriately named George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA.

Venntro has pledged to mend its ways, committing to make the cross-registration process more clear, issue a warning before auto-renewal of long subscriptions, and scrap a clause that gave it the right to unilateral variation of its Ts&Cs.

In addition, the CMA said it had sent warning letters to 14 other leading dating websites and app providers demanding they review their terms and practices to make sure they are in line with data and consumer protection laws.

The CMA, together with the Information Commissioner's Office, has issued a set of dos and don'ts for such firms. The sage advice includes ensuring customers know what information is collected on them, how it is used and asking permission to share it with other sites.

Firms should not make untrue claims or promises about the nature or membership of the service - such as fluffing up the number of users by using historical figures - or misleading them by creating company-controlled profiles to communicate with them.

"With millions of people trusting dating sites to find their perfect match, it's important they fully understand how personal information will be used, before they sign up, and that sites tell the truth about what they can offer," said Lusty.



Online dating and consumer law - advice for business (Published 13th June 2018)

Link [Option 1]:

If you provide an online dating service, we strongly encourage you to review your terms and conditions, as well as your business practices, to ensure that they are fair. We recommend that you read the CMA's summary which explains the terms and practices we consider to be a problem.

Do's and don'ts for online dating service providers:


- clearly and prominently tell customers from the beginning what personal information you collect about them, where it is collected from, and explain how it is used. For example, explain if you collect information from linked social media accounts

- before sharing customer's data with any other dating websites (including any controlled by you), explain to your customers that you do this and provide them with a list of websites where their data may appear. You should also obtain their permission to do so

- explain to customers what filters and/or search functionalities are available on your service

- be clear from the beginning about how and when customers' subscriptions renew and how they can cancel this

- let your customers know a reasonable time before if their subscription is about to renew, and before payment is taken

- allow customers to exercise their statutory right to cancel within 14 days of signing up to any contract, or renewing a fixed term contract

- give customers adequate notice of any changes to your prices or terms of service, and give them the right to cancel with a pro-rata refund if they do not wish to accept these changes


- make claims or promises about the nature or membership of your service that you cannot back up or are untrue. For example, claims about how many members you have should be based on the number of regular users rather than historical figures for all current and previous users of the website

- mislead customers by creating your own dating profiles to communicate with them and not making it clear and prominent that these profiles are provider generated

- require customers to accept that they may communicate with profiles generated by you, or on your behalf, without any recourse to your business

- make it difficult for customers to cancel their membership and/or delete their data when they cancel their membership

Why is this important?

People need clear information about your services so that they know what to expect and can make an informed choice about whether your dating service meets their needs.

Under consumer law, if your terms or practices are unfair (including because the terms are unclear and/or the practices are misleading), you could face action by the CMA or Trading Standards Services, as well as directly from consumers in certain cases. Unfair terms are also not binding on consumers.


(17th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 13th June 2018 author John Leyden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Retailer Dixons Carphone has gone public about a hack attack involving 5.9 million payment cards and 1.2 million personal data records.

In a statement (PDF), Dixons Carphone said that "unauthorised access" of data held by the company had prompted an investigation, the hiring of external security experts and efforts to shore up its security defences. It has informed police, regulators at the Information Commissioner's Office and the Financial Conduct Authority.

It goes on to offer the not-entirely-reassuring reassurance that it has "no evidence to date of any fraudulent use of the data as result of these incidents" before admitting the compromised information included (incomplete, in some cases) payment card data.


Our investigation is ongoing and currently indicates that there was an attempt to compromise 5.9 million cards in one of the processing systems of Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores. However, 5.8 million of these cards have chip and PIN protection.

The data accessed in respect of these cards contains neither PIN codes, card verification values (CVV) nor any authentication data enabling cardholder identification or a purchase to be made. Approximately 105,000 non-EU issued payment cards which do not have chip and PIN protection have been compromised.

As a precaution we immediately notified the relevant card companies via our payment provider about all these cards so that they could take the appropriate measures to protect customers. We have no evidence of any fraud on these cards as a result of this incident.


The retailer has suffered hacks before. Three years ago a seemingly similar incident exposed the credit card details of 90,000 Dixons Carphone customers.

The latest incident also potentially exposed the personal details of 1.2 million people (name, address, email address), leaving customers more exposed to potential phishing attacks as a result.


Separately, our investigation has also found that 1.2 million records containing non-financial personal data, such as name, address or email address, have been accessed. We have no evidence that this information has left our systems or has resulted in any fraud at this stage. We are contacting those whose non-financial personal data was accessed to inform them, to apologise, and to give them advice on any protective steps they should take.


Dixons Carphone chief exec Alex Baldock apologised to customers for the inconvenience, adding (as is standard in post-breach statements) that the company takes security seriously.

"We are extremely disappointed and sorry for any upset this may cause," he said. "The protection of our data has to be at the heart of our business, and we've fallen short here. We've taken action to close off this unauthorised access and though we have currently no evidence of fraud as a result of these incidents, we are taking this extremely seriously."

Some security experts said that the leaked personal information was arguably a greater threat than the compromised card data.

Chris Boyd, lead malware analyst at Malwarebytes, commented: "Cancelling cards is always a pain, but the bigger issue is the personal data harvested by the criminals. The possibility of phishing attempts using this information is a good one, and people could be caught off-guard if they can't remember buying something from Dixons Carphone in the first place.

"Treating all communications with suspicion for the next few months is probably a good idea, especially in situations where any form of login details are required."

Others compared the Dixons Carphone breach to the compromise of US retailer Target in arguing lessons have not been learned. Paul German, CEO at Certes Networks, commented: "Despite the well-publicised Target data breach, it seems that other retailers are still not adopting appropriate cybersecurity strategies. As a multinational organisation, Dixons Carphone would have been well aware of the Target breach."

(17th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 8th June 2018 authors Patrick Greenfield, Anne Perkins and Pamela Duncan)

Full article [Option 1]:

Officers from the Metropolitan police are being disguised as takeaway delivery drivers as part of operations to catch and disrupt moped-riding criminals in London, the Guardian can reveal.

The covert tactic forms part of a range of measures deployed by authorities to combat last year's surge in thefts, robberies and violent crime involving mopeds, when delivery drivers were frequently targeted. More than 23,000 moped-enabled crimes were recorded in London in 2017, compared with fewer than 900 in 2012.

The tactic is understood to be entirely operational and police officers are not delivering takeaway food to members of the public.

More police resources have been dedicated to tackling moped crime since protests last July when hundreds of delivery drivers gathered outside parliament after an acid attack in east London on Jabed Hussain, an UberEats driver.

On Friday Theresa May said new powers for the police to pursue moped thieves were under active consideration in Whitehall after meetings between the Met police and the Home Office.

"One of the things we're looking at is in terms of the pursuit," she said. "We are ensuring that they have the powers they need and are able to pursue them and to take the action that we all agree that they ought to take."

The increased efforts come during a deadly period for food delivery workers in the capital. On Tuesday a 14-year-old boy was charged with murder over the death of Mark Fontaine, 41, who was reportedly working as a delivery driver when he was fatally stabbed in Kensington, west London, on 30 May. Some drivers are refusing to work in parts of the capital after dark due to safety concerns.

Moped-enabled crime in London has fallen by more than 55% since it peaked in July last year, when 2,593 offences were recorded in a single month, but hundreds of crimes are still being committed every week. In May, 1,154 crimes were recorded by the Met, the lowest monthly figure since January 2017.

Food delivery companies have also recorded a fall in incidents, but they emphasised that serious violent crime against their drivers was the primary concern and an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in parts of the capital was a daily issue.

On Friday a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old were arrested on suspicion of robbery in connection with an incident that left a 24-year-old woman in a critical condition after she was punched when two men on a moped stole her mobile phone and bag.

A 14-year-old boy who has been charged in connection with seven moped robberies in the capital is due to appear at Highbury Corner magistrates court on Saturday.

The teenager is alleged to have been a pillion passenger on a moped during a string of incidents in the space of an hour on Thursday.

Scotland Yard said robberies were reported in Hornsey, Crouch End and Muswell Hill, all in north London, between 1.15pm and 2.15pm.

Police identified two suspects on a moped in nearby Middle Lane at about 2.20pm, and detained the passenger. The driver of the moped fled.

The teenage suspect, from Tottenham, was taken into custody. A total of 13 mobile phones were found in his possession, Scotland Yard said.

Although the vast majority of moped-enabled offences in the UK have occurred in London, delivery companies have also raised concerns about parts of Birmingham. Last year a freedom of information request by Birmingham Live revealed that more than 80 moped-enabled offences had been committed in the city, including thefts, robberies and assaults. On Tuesday in the south of Birmingham a Ford Fiesta was stolen after the driver was threatened at knifepoint by a group of people on mopeds.

Jordan, a delivery driver in Birmingham, was robbed at knifepoint by two people riding a moped in December. "They came up to me as I was delivering a parcel, so I just gave it to them. It's much worse in London though. I had my phone stolen in January by a moped rider with the guy on the back swinging a hammer," he said.

In London, food delivery companies such as Deliveroo and UberEats have stepped up cooperation with the Met and the Home Office to help tackle moped-enabled crime. Deliveroo has hired 50 staff to help improve rider safety across the UK.

Last October the Met started using slimline motorcycles that can drive down narrow streets, remotely activated spikes and a fluorescent DNA spray with a unique code that stays on skin for up to eight weeks and on clothes indefinitely.

The government is consulting on new police pursuit rules that would make suspects responsible for their own driving and prevent officers from being prosecuted for their driving during a chase. The law currently allows emergency services to break the speed limit, but police officers can be prosecuted for driving considered dangerous or careless. This has led some officers to avoid pursuing suspects due to fears they could be prosecuted.

When asked to comment on the use of delivery driver disguises, a Met spokesperson said: "We cannot confirm or deny the existence of such an operation or tactic, nor can we comment on covert policing methods or tactics due to operational reasons.

"We are using a range of tactics, both overt and covert, and every borough is mobilised to tackle offenders using local knowledge to tailor the policing required for their area, which may include automatic number plate reader deployments, conducting proactive investigations and operations which focus on high-volume offenders, and DNA capture."

A campaign has been launched encouraging drivers to lock, chain and cover their scooters and motorbikes. More than 15,000 were stolen last year in London, accounting for about half of all vehicles taken in the capital.

Since the start of this year, the Met has recorded a 22.2% reduction in scooter theft.

The policing minister, Nick Hurd, said: "The Metropolitan police is working hard to tackle moped crime, which has been falling virtually month on month in the capital since its peak in July last year.

"We are determined to support the police in their fight against crime and that is why we are consulting to change the law to give officers greater confidence to chase suspects on the roads."

Moped-enabled crimes have risen sharply in every major crime category since 2015


Theft : 3266
Robbery : 632
Vehicle offences : 349
Violence against the person : 67
Other : 313


Theft : 5625
Robbery : 1536
Vehicle offences : 1068
Violence against the person : 184
Other : 629


Theft : 12155
Robbery : 2902
Vehicle offences : 1352
Violence against the person : 364
Other : 831

(17th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 7th June 2018 author Patrick Greenfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police in London dealt with an average of more than 430 crimes committed using mopeds per week over the past year, it has emerged in the wake of a series of high-profile muggings in the capital.

However, while the figures represent a sharp increase on the previous 12 months, police said moped crime has been falling steadily since last July and there were significantly fewer instances in the past four months than in the previous four.

In the 12 months to May 2018, there were 22,025 such crimes, or about 423 on average per week, while in the previous 12 months there were 14,699, or about 282 on average per week.

Yet the figures also show that scooter-enabled crime has more than halved in London since it peaked in July last year.

In May, police recorded 1,154 incidents in which a scooter, moped or motorcycle was used to commit a crime, a fall of more than 55% since July 2017 when 2,593 offences were recorded.

The news comes as a woman remains in a critical condition in hospital after she was attacked during a moped robbery in north London on Monday evening. The 24-year-old was punched by the pillion passenger after two men on a moped approached her, stealing her mobile phone and bag.

The same day, comedian Michael McIntyre was robbed by moped thieves armed with hammers as he waited to pick up his children from school. The 42-year-old was forced to hand over a watch during the robbery after the windows of his black Range Rover were smashed with hammers.

The Met has employed a range of new tactics to combat the surge in scooter-enabled crime over recent years, which has exploded from 827 incidents in 2012 to more than 23,000 in 2017.

The police introduced slimline motorcycles that can drive down narrow streets, plus remote-control activated spikes and a fluorescent DNA spray which stays on skin for up to eight weeks in October last year.

A new campaign to encourage drivers to lock, chain and cover their scooters and motorbikes has also been launched. More than 15,000 were stolen last year in London, accounting for about half of all vehicles stolen in the capital.

Since the start of 2018, the Met has recorded a 22.2% reduction in scooter theft, but thousands of motorcycles were still stolen.

Speaking at the police crime committee at City Hall on Wednesday, Met assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt said: "We are prioritising our resources where there is the greatest risk, harm and threat to communities. Moped-enabled crime is a huge priority and we've seen significant reductions."

The recent spike in moped crime has been felt mainly in London, but other areas are not immune. On Tuesday, thieves on mopeds forced a driver from his car at knifepoint on a residential road in Birmingham and stole the Ford Fiesta.

A West Midlands police spokeswoman said: "We were called to an armed robbery on Beechwood Road , Birmingham at around 3pm yesterday afternoon [5 June].

"It is believed a number of people on mopeds, armed with knives, threatened a driver before making off in a stolen Ford Fiesta. Police arrived at the scene within minutes, but the offenders had already fled the scene."

(17th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 5th June 2018 author Kat Hall)

Full article [Option 1]:

Just one in three police forces in the UK are able to tackle cybercrime such as DDoS, malware attacks and online fraud, a Home Affairs Committee heard today.

Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, told MPs that research conducted last year revealed a lack of skills across the country's 43 police forces.

"Work has been drawn up to build cyber units within forces," she said, adding that agreements have been put in place with the National Crime Agency on what that structure might look like. "We've got some plans, but it is still a work in progress."

The National Crime Agency recently warned that UK cybercrime activity rose in "scale and complexity" last year. It blamed encryption for making it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect dangerous offenders.

Thornton also welcomed plans by Home Secretary Sajid Javid for MI5 to declassify and share information on UK citizens suspected of having terrorist sympathies.

In his counter-terror strategy yesterday, Javid said new detection techniques, data analytics and machine learning all have the potential to dramatically enhance counter-terrorism capabilities.

However, handling the volume and complexity of data remains a key challenge for forces, said Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner. She told MPs she was "deeply concerned about the exponential rise in digital data and the impact that is having".

Cops have said that 90 per cent of crime has "a digital element", meaning an increase in the amount of data stored and seizure of phones.

Dick added there were also "ethical and legal issues that the data age poses to law enforcement" - citing police use of controversial facial recognition technology.

"There is a whole series of things that are moving extremely fast and the ability of the law to keep up with that... in a meaningful way in the absence of ethical discussions and legal frameworks is a real challenge for us."

uaware comment

Have you been in a Met Police station recently (well those that still exist anyway). Many are still using Microsoft XL. So here we are critising the police officers because for their lack of cyber-savviness. With decreasing numbers, extra overtime to cover depleted numbers how will they fit in the training ?

(17th July 2018)

(CITY AM, dated 4th June 2018 author James Booth)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has appointed an ex-Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) lawyer as its new director.

Lisa Osofsky joins the SFO from Exiger where she was Europe, Middle East and Africa regional leader and head of investigations.

A dual American-British citizen, she was previously the deputy general counsel for the FBI and was also the money laundering reporting officer at Goldman Sachs.

She will join the SFO on 3 September for a five-year term, replacing interim director Mark Thompson who will return to his role as chief operating officer.

Osofsky said: "I am honoured to be the next director of the Serious Fraud Office. I look forward to building on the SFO's successful record in the fight against economic crime and leading an emboldened SFO to even greater heights."

Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP, whose office oversaw Osofsky's appointment, said: "The SFO will continue to undertake crucial work to investigate and prosecute serious and complex economic crime, as an independent body that works closely and collaboratively with other UK and international authorities to best protect the public.

"I have no doubt Lisa is the exceptional candidate we were looking for to lead the SFO at such a critical time. It is clear that economic crime is committed across national boundaries and Lisa's experience of working at an international level will enhance the SFOs capabilities in this area."

Osofsky's appointment has been widely expected but it is not without controversy.

In the past she has publicly supported Prime Minister Theresa May's long-held desire to merger the SFO with the National Crime Agency (NCA), in the face of widespread opposition in the legal sector.

The plan was in the last Conservative manifesto but was quietly shelved after the party's disastrous performance in the polls.

She has since said: "My comments about the NCA and SFO were in relation to my assessment on an announced policy at that time. They did not represent my own view of the preferred future direction of the SFO. The SFO's independence is not up for debate and I look forward to leading the SFO as an independent organisation when I assume the role of director, continuing the investigation and prosecution of serious economic crime."

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner Robert Amaee, former head of anti-corruption at the SFO, said: "Her plate will be pretty full from day one, getting to grips with the heavy case load under investigation and in court, and keeping the DPA train on track."

The SFO has had some recent success, Four Barclays traders were convicted over the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) rigging and in March Christian Bittar, a former star trader with Deutsche Bank, pleaded guilty over rigging the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor).

The SFO has also piloted the use of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) which have seen companies such as Rolls Royce and Tesco pay millions to settle cases.

However, its case against Barclays connected with the bank's Qatari capital raising during the financial crisis was thrown out by the High Court last month.

Read more: SFO writes to justice committee over witness debacle in Libor trials

It has also faced criticism over the use of an expert witness in the Libor trial who it later emerged was texting friends mid-trial for help explaining the evidence.

Former chief David Green QC stepped down in April to be replace by Thompson on an interim basis. Green is now reportedly in talks to join magic circle law firm Slaughter and May.

(17th July 2018)

MAY 2018

(The Telegraph, dated 31st May 2018 author Patrick Sawer)

Full article [Option 1]:

The increased targeting of luxury watches by ruthless street robbers and smash and grab gangs has led to a dramatic rise in the number of stolen timepieces being registered with a crime prevention database.

The surge in thefts - which has seen more than £1m of watches stolen in central London in the first quarter of this year alone - has led to a rush of owners using the Watch Register in a bid to trace their items.

The register, an offshoot of the Arts Loss Register - set up in 1990 to locate stolen works of art - allows dealers to check whether a watch brought to them for sale has been stolen.

It also allows police, insurers, individual owners and jewelry shops to search for stolen watches being sold on elsewhere.

With a surge in scooter gangs snatching designer watches from passers-by or breaking into high end jewelry shops to steal fashionable brands, 10,000 stolen watches have been added to the Watch Register in the past 12 months.

That compares to the 60,000 registered with the Arts Loss Register in the whole period between 1990 and 2014, when the Watch Register was set up as a separate database.

There has also been a significant increase the number of stolen watches recovered as a result of the register being searched, with brands such as Omega, Rolex, Breitling, Tag Heuer, Cartier and Patek Philippe found and returned to their rightful owners..

In 2016 at least 45 stolen watches were recovered, though the number is likely to be higher with other stolen watches found by police as a result of the search.

By last year that figure had nearly doubled to at least 8. That number seems likely to be exceeded this year, with 44 already recovered and in the first five months of 2018.

Katya Hills, the director of the Watch Register, said: "The increase in the number of watches on our database is certainly in part due to the increase in the number of thefts from smash and grab raids on jewellers and street snatches.

"The fact that luxury watches are being targeted will have led more people to use our services in an attempt to combat that increase in thefts."

In a striking success for the Watch Register Nadeem Malik, a London-based dealer, was last year jailed for 18 months on two counts of "concealing and converting criminal property" after he tried to sell a Rolex worth £13,500 to a trader in the Hatton Garden jewellery quarter.

When the trader checked the watch against the Watch Register it showed the Rolex had been stolen from shop in Mayfair in 2016 as part of a smash and grab robbery by a moped gang.

Scotland Yard says the rise in watch thefts has been partly fuelled by the growing popularity if luxury watches with a high resale value.

Detective Constable Kevin Parley of the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad, told the Financial Times: "There has been a huge explosion in watch crime in recent years, much of it due to the fact that there are now many, many more dealers specialising in pre-owned models, but also because of increased brand awareness - for a long time, Rolex was the only name many people recognised."

In a separate move a 20-year-old student whose family run a luxury watch business in San Remo, Italy, last year set up a service to reunite owners with their missing watches.

Fabio Giannone's currently holds the details of around 30,000 watches lost and stolen worldwide.

(16th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 30th May 2018 author Gareth Corfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

New drone laws will be brought forward by the British government today in Parliament - but we won't see the long-awaited Drones Bill.

The new laws will make it illegal to fly a drone weighing more than 250g without first registering with the Civil Aviation Authority and passing online safety tests.

In addition, the existing 400ft legal maximum height for drone flights will be applied to drones weighing between 250g and 7kg (at the moment that only applies to craft weighing more than 7kg) and a 1km exclusion zone will be applied around all airport boundaries, defined as EASA certified aerodromes, licensed aerodromes and government aerodromes.

This suggests that unlicensed but active aerodromes such as Popham airfield in Hampshire, as well as farmyard "field strips" used for microlights and other light aircraft, will not be subject to the 1km exclusion zone rule.

Failing to register with the CAA or pass the online tests before flying will become a criminal offence carrying a £1,000 fine.

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman confirmed that these new laws will not repeal the existing 1,000ft height limit for consumer drones fitted with first-person-view tech, telling The Register: "Certainly for the time being, FPV flying will not change," and emphasising that FPV flyers must follow the existing guidelines in the exemption.

Aviation minister Baroness Sugg said in a statement: "Whilst we want this industry to innovate and grow, we need to protect planes, helicopters and their passengers from the increasing numbers of drones in our skies. These new laws will help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly."

She was joined by Gatwick Airport's chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, who chipped in to say: "These clear regulations, combined with new surveillance technology, will help the police apprehend and prosecute anyone endangering the travelling public."

The laws will be introduced through amendments to the Air Navigation Order, which are said to be laid before Parliament this afternoon. The height and airport proximity rules will come into force (if passed) from 30 July this year, while the registration and online testing moves will become binding from 30 November 2019.

It's a 'mixed bag', says industry

The drone industry has mostly welcomed the proposed new laws while awaiting precise detail in order to assess its likely impact. At the commercial end of the scale, Chinese drone-maker DJI's European public policy chief, Christian Struwe, said the amendments "strike a sensible balance between protecting public safety and bringing the benefits of drone technology to British businesses and the public at large". He also praised DfT's "commitment to accessible online testing as a way of helping drone users to comply with the law".

In contrast, drone security researcher Ian Povey of Clear View Security, while agreeing that the 400ft height limit and airport exclusion zone are good things, branded the rest of it "a rushed, half-baked, temporary measure to plug some gaps", adding that in his view "it does nothing to improve the educational environment or public awareness".

Fellow licensed drone operator Ian Hudson told The Register that the changes were a "mixed bag", praising the 400ft legal limit as being helpful to courts in prosecutions of "deliberately high flying, of which there are many examples on YouTube and Facebook", but branded the drone register as "a token gesture that will be of little practical benefit".

Hudson also pointed out that current enforcement is lax, raising the question of whether new laws will be any better enforced than what we currently have.

"The question is," said Hudson, "given existing legislation isn't routinely enforced, why should we expect these amendments will be? If the plan is to say 'register or else the police will prosecute you' that will have little to no effect as everyone can see enforcement isn't happening so it's a blunt threat. I'd also raise the rhetorical question: 'Why isn't anyone pressuring YouTube and Facebook to take down irresponsible drone videos to begin with?' That will remove the motivation for the internet narcissists to show off."

A rather thoughtful Phil Tarry, another licensed drone operator who spoke to The Register in a private capacity (and not with his Royal Aeronautical Society drone committee hat on), opined: "It's not going to be a comprehensive solution to the problem of people flying drones illegally ... hopefully, as happens in society in general, society will tend to self-regulate, so once people become more aware of what is required, other people will start to approach people flying and say hey, have you done your tests, or have you registered your drone, and then society starts looking after itself because it's been given the tools to do so."


When we say licensed drone operator, we, of course, mean someone who has the appropriate permission slip from the Civil Aviation Authority. There is, pedantically speaking, no such thing as a UK drone licence. Yet, if it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it's a duck. And if it looks like a licence, and is required like a licence, then, well...

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 28th May 2018 author Hannah Summers)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 3,500 reports of forced marriage were made to police over a three-year period, a Guardian investigation has found, as charities warned that there were thousands more victims living in conditions of modern slavery in homes across the UK.

Data shared exclusively with the Guardian revealed 3,546 reports between 2014 and 2016. But experts warn that the figures, collected by the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation under the Freedom of Information Act, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Over the same three-year period, one national helpline run by another NGO received 22,030 calls from individuals or agencies concerned about a forced marriage. In 2017, the NGO Karma Nirvana received a further 8,870 calls, including more than 200 from or about children under 15, and gave advice regarding eight new clients under 10.

The new figures reveal the shocking extent of forced marriage in Britain - a crime that experts say should be investigated and prosecuted as a form of modern slavery.

They point to the fact that a guilty verdict last week against a mother who trafficked her daughter to be married in Pakistan was the first of its kind in the country despite the large number of reported offences.

Legal experts and campaigners say modern slavery legislation could lead to an increase in convictions for a crime that is notoriously hard to prosecute because victims are reluctant to testify against family members.

Last week's landmark conviction resulted in a mother from Birmingham being jailed for four-and-a-half years for duping her 17-year-old daughter into travelling abroad and forcing her into marriage.

The woman had threatened to rip up her daughter's passport if she did not marry the 34-year-old Pakistani national who had got her pregnant when she was just 13.

Karma Nirvana said the case was typical of reports it heard every week from those suffering domestic and sexual servitude within forced marriages.

Its director, Jasvinder Sanghera, said: "We know there are thousands of women and girls in Britain - but men, too - living behind closed doors in forced marriages, yet the crime is woefully under-reported.

"Treated as slaves and subjected to threats and violence, victims endure the added burden of their own families pressurising them to stay in these marriages to avoid bringing them shame."

The majority of callers to its helpline are British citizens. Others have been brought to the UK by a British spouse before being exploited. Threatened with deportation, often unable to speak English and without access to public funds, they find themselves in a cycle of abuse.

A teenage girl confined to the house and raped on a daily basis; a Moroccan woman made to marry her gay British groom to conceal his sexuality and then used as a cleaner; and a West Yorkshire man coerced into handing over all his wages to his in-laws are among forced marriage victims who have contacted UK charities in recent months.

A leading barrister and adviser to the United Nations has warned the government is failing to recognise these people, and thousands like them, as requiring the same protection as those suffering other forms of exploitation.

Parosha Chandran said: "The modern-day meaning of slavery doesn't require in law that you own somebody. Instead it means you treat someone as if they were your property. It's crucial authorities acknowledge this in forced marriage cases.

"There has been no proper consideration in legal terms that a forced marriage involves elements of slavery - where a person is treated as if they are the property of the family they were married into."

While forced marriage is among the acts prohibited under human trafficking EU law adopted by Britain in 2013, the legal provision has not translated to policy.

Referring to last week's conviction, Chandran said: "This was also a human trafficking case with the girl taken abroad for the purposes of exploitation.

"Had the mother also been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, not only would she have faced a more severe penalty, but the judge should have considered ordering her to pay compensation to her daughter for effectively allowing her to be raped at 13 and forcing her to marry the perpetrator at 18."

Forced marriage is not listed as an indicator of modern slavery under the national referral mechanism drawn up by the Home Office. Nor is there prosecuting guidance linking forced marriage and slavery crimes.

There have been just two convictions for forced marriage since it was criminalised in 2014. Last week's conviction was the first to be secured after a victim gave evidence against a relative.

Chandran said: "Prosecuting guidance should include forced marriage among the exploitative purposes for which someone could be trafficked. Families who force their children to marry should know that is also a modern slavery offence carrying a sentence of up to life in prison."

Mark Burns-Williamson, the national lead for human trafficking for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, agreed that a better understanding of the links between forced marriage and slavery was needed.

He said: "We are still working through the nuances of the Modern Slav