The football manager caught visiting a brothel was named on the internet site Wikipedia yesterday. A posting in his biography on the online
encylopedia said he was rumoured to have been caught visiting Thai prostitutes .
Another, in a pointed reference to his tastes, said: He is a big fan of Thai curry.
Both contributions were swiftly removed by Wikipedia editors.
Football websites have been awash with speculation since the Sun newspaper revealed the manager had been spotted entering a building on a shabby industrial estate where Thai prostitutes offer sex for £130 an hour. Many went as far as to name him
and his club.
On some discussion sites, contributors have put forward football chants with references to sex and Thai prostitutes. The songs are likely to be heard at future premier league matches.
Yet despite the manager's identity becoming more and more widely known, newspapers are effectively barred from publishing it because of privacy rules set down by senior judges over the past five years.
The Sun reported that earlier this month the manager spent more than an hour in the brothel, which advertises itself as a massage parlour. He arrived dressed in training clothes featuring his club logo and is said to have freely admitted that he knew it
was a brothel. It was said to be his second trip, following an hour-long visit in October.
If the Sun or any other newspaper published his name, it could face the threat of a hugely expensive privacy action in the courts.
British Airways cabin crew said they'll stage a 12-day strike over the Christmas and New Year holidays, grounding planes and
disrupting travel during what is normally one of the most profitable periods for the carrier.
A ballot of more than 12,500 workers produced an 80% turnout, with over 92% backing strike action, the Unite union said in a press conference.
British Airways is facing its first strike since 1997 after cutting cabin-crew levels last month when talks with unions failed to produce a compromise. The carrier is seeking to trim costs after a slump in air travel pushed it to a 217 million- pound
($352 million) loss in the six months ended Sept. 30.
The walkout will run from just after midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 22, until Saturday, Jan. 2, Unite said.
While BA must refund fares for canceled flights, only passengers with strike insurance who booked before the ballot was announced on Nov. 2 will be able to recover the costs of making new transport arrangements
People will be routinely asked to answer sensitive questions about their sexuality so a Government quango can compile
a massive equalities database.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is to take information given in confidence by millions and place it on a huge Lifestyle Database .
It will draw information from sources including visits to A&E departments, government surveys and the reporting of crimes to police.
In order for bureaucrats to measure whether gay or straight citizens are suffering greater inequality , the EHRC said everybody should be asked to provide information about their sexual identity. They will be asked if they are
heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual or other.
Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: This intrusive database is being built without even the smallest consideration for privacy. When people go to hospital, they don't think that information about their illness is going to be shared with
the EHRC. What possible right does the EHRC have to build this database, and then share what they've gathered with other people on their website?
Details of the plan emerged after the EHRC, led by chairman Trevor Phillips, began the tendering process for establishing the database.
Freedom of Information requests, obtained by the Old Holborn blogger, then revealed what the scheme involved.
Equalities bosses have decided they must work out whether citizens are suffering inequality based upon various different factors. These include age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, transgender status, ethnicity and social
class. Citizens' characteristics will be checked through their answers to various government surveys and information on whether they need hospital care or have called the police.
Police have been accused of misusing powers granted under anti-terror legislation after a series of incidents, ranging from the
innocuous to the bizarre, in which photographers were questioned by officers for taking innocent pictures of tourist destinations, landmarks and even a fish and chip shop.
Police are allowed to stop and search anyone in a designated Section 44 authorisation zone without having to give a reason. But amateur and professional photographers have complained that they are frequently being stopped and treated as potential
terrorists on a reconnaissance mission. Last night the Government's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws warned police forces to carefully examine how they use the controversial legislation.
Speaking to The Independent, Lord Carlile of Berriew said: The police have to be very careful about stopping people who are taking what I would call leisure photographs, and indeed professional photographers. The fact that someone is taking
photographs is not prima facie a good reason for stop and search and is very far from raising suspicion. It is a matter of concern and the police will know that they have to look at this very carefully, he added.
Lord Carlile's comments come just days after a BBC journalist was stopped and searched by two police community support officers as he took photographs of St Paul's Cathedral. Days earlier Andrew White was stopped and asked to give his name and address
after taking photographs of Christmas lights on his way to work in Brighton. And in July Alex Turner, an amateur photographer from Kent, was arrested after he took pictures of Mick's Plaice, a fish and chip shop in Chatham.
Most of those stopped are told they are being questioned under Section 44, a controversial power which allows senior officers to designate entire areas of their police force regions as stop-and-search zones. More than 100 exist in London alone, covering
areas such as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and other landmarks. Every train station in the UK is covered by a Section 44 order. But, due to the fear that the information could be used by terrorists to plan attacks, most of the the exact
locations covered by Section 44 authorisations are kept secret, meaning members of the public have no idea if they are in one or not.
Members of the British public will receive £500 rewards to shop their neighbours via telephone hotlines under a scheme
The handouts will go to the first 1,000 people who provide tip-offs that lead to an unlawfully occupied home being repossessed.
The government plans are aimed at the illegal sub-letting of social housing. In London, £250,000 will be available in rewards.
As well as hotlines, special websites and email addresses will be set up to allow informants to pass on their suspicions, while there will also be publicity campaigns to encourage reporting.
Ministers say the cash incentives will help ensure that all council and housing association homes are lived in by those genuinely in need.
Ministers say the scheme, which will cost £4 million, will help tackle other problems such as prostitution, drug production, illegal immigration and anti-social behaviour that can occur in sub-let housing.
But critics said the payments were a further dangerous example of ministers encouraging unwarranted snooping. Dylan Sharpe of campaign group Big Brother Watch claimed the move showed the Government was creating an army of citizen snoopers .
Paris may attract more visitors than any other city, but after dark the City of Light risks becoming the Capital of Sleep unless
something is done to perk up its nightlife, according to the latest French protest movement.
We must do something or soon everyone interested in nightlife will be forced into exile in London or Berlin, said Eric Labbé, an aficionado of electronic music who has launched a campaign to help to save the Paris club scene from
His petition has attracted 13,000 supporters who are appalled at a rigorous clampdown on noise and the closures of famous clubs. Part of the problem, says Labbé, is the growing intolerance of the increasingly bourgeois Parisians about noise after
dark. This has resulted in the police imposing a law of silence on a city which was once hailed as a centre of nocturnal revelry.
Paris nightlife is becoming so dull, says the petition, that people in search of nocturnal thrills go to London and other European cities for fun. The point is made by a photograph attached to the petition which shows an announcement on a poster outside
a club: Closed due to dead city. Please apply to the neighbouring capital.
The Moulin Rouge and its cancan girls have kept alive the idea of Paris as a city of fun, but supporters of Labbé's petition lament that such institutions are only for tourists.
Today we are a museum city, said one. There's more excitement to be had in London or New York.
A smoking ban in force since January is being blamed for complicating matters for nightclub owners as revellers spill onto the pavements to smoke and make noise.
Complaints from neighbours result in fines for clubs and several well-known nightspots have had their licences taken away, including Le Batofar, a nightclub ship moored on the banks of the Seine.
The protesters, who will hand in their petition to the culture ministry at the end of the year, are demanding tolerance zones in areas known for their nightlife, an initiative that seems to have won support from Bertrand Delanoe the mayor of
Paris. He recently launched a bilingual internet website called Paris Night Life to promote the city after hours.
A night-time competitiveness study commissioned for the town hall showed Paris ranking fifth behind Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin and London.
Fingerprint checks on foreigners at border controls will begin at the end of November, says the UK Border Agency.
In addition to usual checks at UK border controls, from 30 November 2009 overseas nationals arriving in the country will have their fingerprints scanned.
All passengers with biometric UK visas, entry clearances and identity cards for foreign nationals will undergo the new procedure.
The purpose of these checks is to verify that the individual entering the United Kingdom is the same person who gave their biometrics when they applied for their visa, entry clearance or identity card for foreign nationals, said the UK Border
Agency in a statement. Using fingerprints enables us to do this with greater certainty.
Political leadership is urgently needed to protect the British brand of policing after years of drift and piecemeal initiatives, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary told The Times last night.
Denis O'Connor said that the principle of policing by public consent had been severely undermined, most visibly by aggressive and unfair tactics at protests such as the G20 demonstrations.
In a highly critical report O'Connor depicted how deploying officers in riot gear had become a routine response to lawful demonstrators because of ignorance of the law surrounding protest and a lack of leadership from chief officers and Home Office
O'Connor said that he had been particularly alarmed to discover that some forces trained officers to use their riot shields as offensive weapons. The potentially dangerous technique had spread by word of mouth.
His report was commissioned after the G20 protests in the City of London in April when one man died and hundreds of complaints were made about police violence, abuse of powers and the tactic of kettling or containment of crowds.
The 150-page document exposed the ad hoc nature of public order policing, with forces across the country differing in the equipment they bought, their training methods and their understanding of their powers to stop, question or arrest protesters.
The failure of police to understand the law was in part explained by the complexity of legislation, with 90 amendments to the Public Order Act since it was passed in 1986.
I would welcome some senior politicians addressing these issues, O'Connor said. We don't have these difficulties, albeit there are some terrible challenges, in defence. There are lots of discussions about health. Can we not elevate the
discussion about policing?
He said that the British policing model, as set down by Sir Robert Peel, should be nurtured and protected and that every policy initiative should be examined to see if it was compatible with the principle of policing by consent.
He added: It gets eroded, potentially, by each new bit of legislation, each new initiative — health and safety, whatever else — to the point where you end up with a shadow of what you thought you had.
It has happened by drift, by the absence of somebody asserting what matters. We need to think about the principles as well as the technical matters.
Police are arresting innocent people in order to get their hands on as many DNA samples as possible, senior Government advisers revealed last night.
The Human Genetics Commission said the Big Brother tactic was creating a spiral of suspicion among the public.
The panel - which contains some of Britain's leading scientists and academics - said officers should no longer routinely take samples at the point of arresting a suspect.
They also called for all police - including support staff - to place their own DNA on the national database in a show of solidarity with a public being routinely placed under suspicion.
By law, officers are only allowed to make an arrest if they have reasonable suspicion that a person has committed a crime. But the HGC, which has carried out a lengthy review of the merits of the database, said evidence had emerged of police
arresting people purely so they could take their DNA.
Its chairman, Professor Jonathan Montgomery, said: People are arrested in order to retain DNA information that might not have been arrested in other circumstances.
The claim, which was backed by evidence from a senior police officer, delivers a significant blow to the Government's defence of the database - which contains more than 5.6million samples.
The Commission said one of the consequences of current DNA laws was that young black men are very highly over-represented , with more than three quarters of those aged 18-35 on the database.
Proposals within the Crime and Security Bill - published last week - will for the first time put a time limit, in most cases six years, on how long profiles are stored when the alleged offender is either not charged or later cleared. But there are no
plans to reduce police powers to take samples on arrest.
LibDem spokesman Chris Huhne said: The Government's cavalier attitude to DNA retention has put us in the ridiculous situation where people are being arrested just to have their DNA harvested.
Tories last night attacked reported Government plans to charge innocent people a £200 fee to apply to have their names removed from the national DNA database.
The ducks show what they think
of Sandwell litter wardens
Occasionally we at Big Brother Watch come across a story about our overbearing state that leaves us genuinely open mouthed, and this is one such example.
A young mother was given a £75 fixed penalty notice for throwing bread to the ducks in her local park.
According to the report, a warden approached Vanessa Kelly and her 17-month-old son Harry, and issued them with the fixed price notice for littering.
There simply is no defence for this action and Sandwell Council should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Yet again our overbearing state has created a criminal out of an otherwise law-abiding citizen. The whole thing is completely quackers!
Big Brother Watch has just been in touch with Vanessa Kelly and she has accepted our offer to help her in her fight against Sandwell Council. Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said:
I am proud to be helping Miss Kelly in her fight against this ludicrous fine. Sandwell Council should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves – can there be a more absurd example of the Big Brother State in action? She will not pay, nor should she.
A former soldier who handed a discarded shotgun in to police faces a manatory five years imprisonment for doing his duty .
Paul Clarke was found guilty of possessing a firearm at Guildford Crown Court on Tuesday – after finding the gun and handing it personally to police officers on March 20 this year.
In a statement read out in court, Clarke said: I didn't think for one moment I would be arrested. I thought it was my duty to hand it in and get it off the streets.
The court heard how Clarke was on the balcony of his home in Merstham, Surrey, when he spotted a black bin liner at the bottom of his garden.
In his statement, he said: I took it indoors and inside found a shorn-off shotgun and two cartridges. I didn't know what to do, so the next morning I rang the Chief Superintendent, Adrian Harper, and asked if I could pop in and see him. At the police
station, I took the gun out of the bag and placed it on the table so it was pointing towards the wall.
Clarke was then arrested immediately for possession of a firearm at Reigate police station, and taken to the cells.
Defending, Lionel Blackman told the jury Clarke's garden backs onto a public green field, and his garden wall is significantly lower than his neighbours.
He also showed jurors a leaflet printed by Surrey Police explaining to citizens what they can do at a police station, which included reporting found firearms .
Prosecuting, Brian Stalk, explained to the jury that possession of a firearm was a strict liability charge – therefore Mr Clarke's allegedly honest intent was irrelevant. Just by having the gun in his possession he was guilty of the charge, and
has no defence in law against it, he added. But despite this, Blackman urged members of the jury to consider how they would respond if they found a gun.
Paul Clarke will be sentenced on December 11.
Judge Christopher Critchlow said: This is an unusual case, but in law there is no dispute that Clarke has no defence to this charge. The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant.
A Conservative council has been criticised for recruiting 2,000 residents to snitch on their neighbours for litter infringements and anti-social behaviour.
Harrow Council in north west London wants 2,000 people - one for every 100 residents - to sign up as a Neighbourhood Champion and report minor crimes, anti-social behaviour, litter and vandalism.
Campaigners have accused them of recruiting an army of snoopers and said the scheme would lead to less trust and more surveillance .
The council spokesman claimed they wanted to restore old-fashioned community values .
If the £70,000 plan is approved this week, officials will begin recruiting volunteers with the aim of starting the scheme next year.
Each one will be given training from town hall officials and police officers and issued with a manual setting out their role. Once the scheme is up and running, they will be given access to a council website to record their reports.
A council spokesman said they wanted the volunteers to be a point of contact for the council and report abandoned cars, graffiti and other problems.
Four fifths of residents questioned in a survey backed the idea of street champions for every neighbourhood.
But Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said the Orwellian scheme would create an army of council snoopers .
He said: So now councils are trying to get us to spy on one another. If they're successful it will lead to even less trust and ever more surveillance. An Orwellian big brother culture depends on everyone spying on everyone else - just as Harrow has
Sabina Frediani, campaigns co-ordinator at human rights group Liberty, said: Everyone should feel able to report suspicions of crime without any special badge of approval from the local authority. But as the recent abuses of surveillance powers
demonstrate, giving some citizens extra responsibilities is difficult and potentially dangerous. Civic duty is one thing but policing is best left to the professionals.
Family homes could be invaded by health and safety inspectors checking that parents are keeping their children safe.
Whitehall is recommending that inspectors make sure parents have fitted smoke alarms, stair gates, locks on medicine cupboards, windows and ovens, and temperature controls to stop bath water getting too hot.
The proposed scheme was condemned by critics as a nightmarish intrusion into family life.
The Department of Health has already had the National Institute of Clinical Excellence draw up guidelines to reduce unintentional injuries among under-15s in the home .
Its draft guidelines call for inspections of home safety to be carried out by trained staff from the NHS or councils. Officials would identify homes where children are thought to be most at risk of accidents and offer home risk assessments .
The guidance states: A home risk assessment involves systematically identifying potential hazards in the home, evaluating those risks and proving information-or advice on how to reduce them.
There will be repeated return visits to check that parents have maintained their safety devices.
NICE has also called for a computer database to be set up to pick the homes and families who will be targeted for safety inspections.
Researcher Patricia Morgan said: This is a nightmarish prospect. This is vetting and barring extended to the home. It is a major step towards total state control. When state intervention creeps into your home, where does it end? Will you have to have
cameras in your house?
Shami Chakrabarti, of Liberty, the human rights group, said: Why can't we have a public information campaign before we rush into creating databases and intrusion and introducing bureaucracy to the living room?
Simon Davies, of watchdog group Privacy International, said: The problem here is the additional powers that would go to government authorities. Anybody who stands in the way of inspections will be considered suspect. This represents a landmark
expansion of government intervention in home life. It must be regarded with great concern and suspicion. If the database identifies you but you are uncooperative or you refuse to comply, the next step will be your door broken down at five in the morning.
That will happen as surely as night follows day.
Cars could be fitted with aircraft-style black boxes, under European Commission plans that opponents fear could lead to a further expansion of the big brother state.
The European Commission has spent £2.4 million on Project Veronica, a study on how the boxes would work. The boxes, known as an Event Data Recorders (EDR), could monitor vehicles' speed and the actions of the driver - when and how often the brakes,
indicators and horn were applied.
Supporters say they could be used to reconstruct what happened in the event of a commission which would make it easier for insurance companies to decide who was at fault and, where necessary, enable police to take action against the driver.
However, the proposals are likely to trigger concern among civil liberties groups over the growth of the surveillance state.
Simon Davies, of Privacy International, warned that in future, such a system could be combined with other technology to keep a constant eye on motorists' every movement: If you correlate car tracking data with mobile phone data, which can also track
people, there is the potential for an almost infallible surveillance system, he said
However such concerns have been dismissed in the Project Veronica report. Anonymised EDR data would be of very limited use in the judicial process and in that regard there is no obvious reason for which data privacy rights should supersede public
order and crime investigation, it notes.
The EDR would be triggered by a sudden change to the car's speed - such as abrupt braking. It would record the events 30 seconds before a crash and 15 seconds afterwards, with the information being downloaded by the police or at special workshops.
The use of black boxes would, the report adds: Help explain the causes of accidents, will make motorists more responsible, speed up court proceedings following accidents, lower the cost of court proceedings and enable more effective prevention
measures to be taken.
These black boxes could also be used by car-hire companies to both to sue a motorist who was at fault in the event of an crash and, according to the report, to compile a black list of drivers who are involved in accidents but do not report them
But there is likely to be consumer resistance at plans to put the boxes, which could cost up to £500 each, into every vehicle. Norwich Union tried installing black boxes as part of its pay as you drive insurance policy, but eventually abandoned the
Dylan Sharpe, campaign director for Big Brother Watch, said: These boxes are yet another means of surveillance that will give anyone with the means to decode them the ability to find out exactly where you have been. It starts with the police and
insurance companies and ends with vicious employers and jealous partners watching your journeys.
Google has released a dashboard that shows all the data it has from the Google products you use. That includes Gmail, Docs, Web History and YouTube among others. For example in the Gmail category, Google tells you how many e-mails you've sent and
received and how many conversations you've had through its chat client.
The dashboard is also a central hub with links out to the privacy settings on all of these apps, so you can manage your personal information easily. It doesn't include several of Google's newer apps including Wave, along with analytics and book search.
When Kelly Brook signed up to appear in the latest cast of the stage play Calendar Girls advertisers must have looked forward to making the most of her assets on its promotional literature.
Alas, they did not count on the prudery of London Underground. David Pugh, the producer, tells me that three different posters of Brook, 29, covering her nude torso with iced buns of ever-increasing size were submitted to Transport for London to appear
inside Tube trains and to adorn the sides of escalators, before finally winning approval. Apparently they are worried about titillating customers, he says. It is ludicrous. These buns are almost impossible to lift now. They are more like flans.
I thought they were joking when we got the first response. We certainly never had this problem with Jerry Hall.
A spokesprat for London Underground says: We asked for a few tweaks to the pictures but they are fine now.
The annual Hallowe'en Nude Pumpkin Run in Boulder, Colorado, was called off this year because participants feared being labeled sex offenders.
For the last decade, dozens of men and women have taken part in the stunt, in which naked people run around the main streets of Boulder, Colorado wearing nothing but pumpkins on their heads.
But this year, 100 police officers were stationed around the town and members of the public were warned they faced arrest and charges of indecent exposure if they participated in the run. If convicted, that could lead to them being placed on the sex
Bouder police chief Mark Beckner said the event had gotten out of hand and had become a "free-for-all", so he decided to stop it.
The American Civil Liberties Union accused police of violating naked runners' constitutional rights.
On its website, the group running the event, warned that violation of the Western societal more, enforced by law, of unclothed public exposure can indeed land you legal consequences. Furthermore, the decision to participate is yours and yours alone.
On Saturday evening, as Hallowe'en festivities unfolded in Boulder there was no sign of naked pumpkin runners and only one arrest was made.
The cost of UK air tickets increased on 1st November as the first of two increases in Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax takes effect.
BA's customer services director Silla Maizey said: These huge tax hikes are very bad news for holidaymakers - and completely unjustified. The Government says the tax is environmental, but its own figures show that aviation already meets its
environmental costs without any increase in APD.
from 1st Nov 2009
from 1st Nov 2010
economy < 2000 miles
economy 2-4000 miles
economy 4-6000 miles
economy >6000 miles
business < 2000 miles
business 2-4000 miles
business 4-6000 miles
business >6000 miles
Note London to Bangkok is just under 6000 miles.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: Although Sunday's increase is going ahead, we'll continue our efforts to make the Government see sense on next year's rises, which will be even higher than Sunday's. It may well be by then that we have a
different political party in power and it will also be even clearer just how damaging these increases are both to the UK economy and those nations worldwide that depend heavily on tourism.
He said he was urging all Abta members to raise customers' awareness of this socially-useless tax which even the Government has stopped pretending is solely a 'green' tax but in fact a significant money raiser for the Treasury.
A Treasury spokesman said: The Government maintains that air travel should pay its fair share in tax. APD is an important contributor to the public finances, while helping the Government achieve its environmental goals.
(What a load of bollox, the tax will all be spent on something else that will also use up world resources).
Just how funny was that story of the man in Fairfax County, Virginia, who got up early on Monday morning, October 19, and walked naked into his own kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee? The next significant thing that happened to 29-year-old Eric
Williamson was the local cops arriving to charge him with indecent exposure.
It turns out that while he was brewing the coffee, a mother who was taking her seven-year-old son along a path beside Williamson's house espied the naked householder and called the local precinct, or more likely her husband, who turns out to be a cop.
Yes, I wasn't wearing any clothes, Williamson said later, but I was alone, in my own home and I just got out of bed. It was dark and I had no idea anyone was outside looking in at me.
The story ended up on TV, and in the opening rounds the newscasters and network blogs had merciless sport with the Fairfax police for their absurd behaviour. Hasn't a man the right to walk around his own home dressed according to his fancy? Answer,
obvious to anyone familiar with relevant case law: absolutely not.
Williamson will be lucky if they don't throw a cobbled-up indictment at him
Peeved by public ridicule, the Fairfax cops turned up the heat. The cop's wife started to maintain that first she saw Williamson by a glass kitchen door, then through the kitchen window. Mary Ann Jennings, a Fairfax County Police spokesperson, stirred
the pot of innuendo: We've heard there may have been other people who had a similar incident.
The cops are asking anyone who may have seen an unclothed Williamson through his windows to come forward, even if it was at a different time. They've also been papering the neighbourhood with fliers, asking for reports on any other questionable
activities by anyone resembling Williamson.
I'd say that if the cops keep it up, and some prosecutor scents opportunity, Williamson will be pretty lucky if they don't throw some cobbled-up indictment at him. Toss in a jailhouse snitch keen to make his own plea deal, a faked police line-up, maybe
an artist's impression of the Fairfax Flasher, and Eric could end up losing his visitation rights and, if worst comes to worst, getting ten years in jail and being posted for life on some sex offender site.
You think we're living in the 21st century, in the clinical fantasy world of CSI? Wrong. So far as forensic evidence is concerned, we remain planted in the 17th century with trial by ordeal, such as when they killed women for being witches if they
floated when thrown into a pond.
The Australian Sex Party will nominate human rights advocate Zahra Stardust, who also is a burlesque dancer, for the Bradfield
By-election on 5th December.
The organization calls Stardust, aka Marianna Leishman, a strong generation Y woman who believes in changing the world from upside down and using the stage as a space to talk about social injustice.
Stardust is a feminist writer and law graduate who also works as a trapeze artist, burlesque performer, showgirl, fire twirler and pole dance instructor.
We look forward to hearing from and consulting with the youth and women of Bradfield about issues affecting their rights, priorities and desires and providing a more nuanced representation of the beautifully diverse electorate of Bradfield,
Parents are being banned from playing with their children in council recreation areas because they have not been vetted by
Mothers and fathers are being forced to watch their children from outside perimeter fences because of fears they could be paedophiles.
Watford Council was branded a disgrace after excluding parents from two fenced-off adventure playgrounds unless they first undergo criminal record checks. The rules were imposed at Harwoods and Harebreaks adventure recreation grounds from
Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council play rangers who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.
Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds unchecked .
But furious parents attacked the move and threatened to boycott the playgrounds.
Concerns were raised last night that other councils around the country are adopting similar policies amid confusion over Government rules and increasing hysteria over child protection.
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill argued the council was merely enforcing government policy at the play areas. Sadly, in today's climate, you can't have adults walking around unchecked in a children's playground and the adventure playground is not a
meeting place for adults, she said. But the Tories claimed the row showed the Government's heavy- handed approach to safeguarding was completely out of control .
The mayor says that this enforces government policy. Actually that's not true because no government policy has yet determined that
parents may not supervise their own children in a playground.
It seems possible that the mayor and her appalling council may be in breach of article 8 of the Human Rights Act - the right to family life.
A mother of three named Rebekah Makinson was quoted by reporter Neil Skinner as saying: Banning parents from an open access playground, I feel, is a breach of our personal freedom.
She is right. This is a fundamental breach of rights, but almost as serious is the offence to common sense. The council pretends that it is forced into this position to protect children under the new vetting and barring scheme but as parents point
out, the number of kids using the play areas and the range of ages means that some parents want to keep on eye on the children. Makinson said: We have used Harwoods since I was a child and my mother stayed with me. It has always had a fantastic
community atmosphere. Even with the excellent staff employed it is ridiculous to assume that three staff members can safeguard the high volume of children that currently use the playground.
Record numbers of middle-aged people are being criminalised by a proliferation of new Labour laws and
The number of over-40s receiving a first conviction or caution has increased by half since 2001. After decades of abiding by the law, people are being punished for crimes such as motoring offences or refusing to pay wheelie-bin fines.
Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said they were being pursued so police could meet the targets imposed by Labour: Labour have criminalised a generation and treated tens of thousands of law-abiding middle-aged and elderly citizens like
Parliamentary answers show the number of first-time entrants to the criminal justice system who are over 50 increased by 46% between 2000/01 and 2007/08, from 16,400 to 24,000. In the 40-49 age group, the leap was 57%t, with 32,900 previously
law-abiding people being criminalised.
The figures reflect the fact that many of Labour's new spot fines for crimes such as overfilling a wheelie bin are aimed at householders. These are more likely than the general population to be middle-aged.
Motoring offences, including things like not wearing a seatbelt, make up half the cases dealt with by the courts. Drivers who challenge a speed camera ticket must go to court and will account for many of the punishments. Refusing to accept a
wheelie-bin fine can also lead to court.
Huhne, who obtained the figures, said: The soaring number of people being criminalised is a direct result of Labour's target-driven, box-ticking approach to policing. This Government has created a new crime for every day in office. When
motoring offences and rubbish-bin misdemeanours are worth the same as convictions for murder or rape, it is easy to see how we have slipped into mass criminalisation.
A recent report warned that the middle classes have lost confidence in the police. It said they have been alienated by a service which routinely targets ordinary people rather than serious criminals, simply to fill Government crime quotas.
Author Harriet Sergeant said incidents which would once have been ignored are now treated as crimes. She said: Complaints against the police have risen, with much of the increase coming from law-abiding, middleclass, middle-aged and retired
people who no longer feel the police are on their side. Sergeant said this was due in part to people becoming upset by the rudeness and behaviour of officers.
Demand for UK passports has fallen by more than 10% over the past two years because of the recession, as Britons holiday at home or put
off renewals until the last possible moment, a Parliamentary report reveals.
As a result of the drop-off in demand, the Identity and Passport Service has cut its staffing by 10% by loaning workers to busy JobCentres, said Home Office permanent secretary Sir David Normington.
Some 6.2 million UK passports were issued in 2006/07, but this figure reduced to 5.9 million in 2007/08 and 5.23 million in 2008/09. The cost of an adult passport has increased over the period from £66 in 2006 to £72 in 2007 and
Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee earlier this year before the latest price rise, Sir David Normington of the Home Office said: What has been happening in the last two years is that demand for passports has been falling and we think
that is because as the recession has come on people are delaying renewing their passports.
It is £72 for a passport. As air travel has got cheaper then £72 is a lot more at a particular point when you may be going on your holidays, it is quite a sizeable sum.
There are signs that people are either not renewing until the point that they go on their holiday or in the recession leaving it as late as possible and in recent times that has affected our forecasting.
BBC Worldwide is planning a paid for international version of the iPlayer, which would allow it to break ranks with iTunes
and raise charges for its premium content.
The global iPlayer would host premium catalogue material from the UK, such as Doctor Who , Torchwood and Top Gear , historical material from the BBC's deep archives and catch-up material from overseas channels.
BBCW has been working on the plans for more than six months but has yet to make a formal submission about the service to the BBC Trust.
Executive vice president Luke Bradley Jones, who heads BBCW's digital operations in the US and is managing director of BBC.com, told PaidContent that the global iPlayer would enable the business to raise its prices.
Millions of people love Torchwood and would probably pay 10 bucks an episode rather than two bucks, he said, referring to the price-ceiling imposed by iTunes. He did not indicate whether BBCW would continue to partner with iTunes.
Armed police officers are to patrol the streets of London for the first time in response to a rise in gang-related gun
Traditionally officers from the Metropolitan Police's specialist firearms unit - codenamed CO19 - have been deployed on the streets only when a response to incidents of gun crime is necessary or to protect VIPs.
The new initiative, announced yesterday, will see CO19 officers patrolling the capital's most dangerous streets and housing estates alongside neighbourhood officers. It has been described as a proactive response to the 17% increase in gun
crime over the past six months.
But it was immediately denounced by members of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), the body which governs the actions of Scotland Yard, which was apparently not consulted on the controversial decision. One MPA member described the move as totally unacceptable
while another called for an emergency meeting.
Joanne McCartney said: We want fewer guns on the streets not more, and people to feel safe in their community - not scared of those who are supposed to protect them.
There has been no debate, no consultation and apparently no consideration to the strong opposition that exists to arming the police. This is more than just an operational decision and should be brought before the police authority as a matter of
Jenny Jones, another MPA member, added: This is a totally unacceptable departure from normal policing tactics. I can't believe that the sight of a policeman with a machine gun will make people feel safer.
Are we heading down a slippery slope towards armed rather than community policing? I hope the Met will rethink this terrible decision immediately and think of a genuinely proactive way to prevent gun crime.
Pilot patrols have already begun in Brixton as well as Haringey and Tottenham, where three Turkish men were shot dead earlier this month in an apparent war between rival heroin gangs.
Attacking someone for being fat should be a hate crime, campaigners say.
They want so-called fat-ism to be made illegal on the same grounds as race, age and religious discrimination.
A demonstration was held outside the offices of the mayor of London asking him to lead the way in making sure employers are not prejudiced.
Protesters want the UK to follow San Francisco, where a law bans fat-ism in housing and employment and stops doctors pressing patients to slim down.
Sondra Solway, a San Francisco lawyer, said: The San Francisco ordinance says you may want to mention weight to the patient but if the patient says they do not want to talk about that then you are asked to respect those wishes.
People who are very overweight do experience a lot of prejudice both in their social life and working life and do need some protection. Dr Ian Campbell, Weight Concern
The campaigners, who belong to the Size Acceptance Movement, say surveys show 93% of employers would rather employ a thin person than a fat one even if they are equally qualified.
The Horn was again the African region with the most press freedom violations. Eritrea (175th), where no independent media is tolerated and 30 journalists are in prison (as many as in China or Iran but with a much smaller population), was ranked
last in the world for the third year running. Somalia (164th), which is steadily being emptied of its journalists, was the world's deadliest country for the media, with six journalists killed between 1 January and 4 July.
The process of adopting a Shield Law protecting the confidentiality of journalists' sources at the federal level is far from over in the United States (20th) but the judicial authorities are no longer jailing journalists and violating civil
liberties in the name of national security as they were in the Bush era. So the US is back in the press freedom top 20, as is appropriate for a country where the press has traditionally played its role as independent watchdog well.
One of the countries where prosecutions led to exorbitant damages awards, Canada (19th) fell a few places but still holds the hemisphere's highest position.
The authoritarianism of existing governments, for example in Sri Lanka (162nd) and Malaysia (131st), prevented journalists from properly covering sensitive subjects such as corruption or human rights abuses. The Sri Lankan government had a
journalist sentenced to 20 years in prison and forced dozens of others to flee the country. In Malaysia, the interior ministry imposed censorship or self-censorship by threatening media with the withdrawal of their licence or threatening
journalists with a spell in prison.
War and terrorism wrought havoc and exposed journalists to great danger. Afghanistan (149th) is sapped not only by Taliban violence and death threats, but also by unjustified arrests by the security forces. Despite having dynamic news media,
Pakistan (159th) is crippled by murders of journalists and the aggressiveness of both the Taliban and sectors of the military. It shared (with Somalia) the world record for journalists killed during the period under review.
The Asian countries that least respected press freedom were, predictably, North Korea, one of the infernal trio at the bottom of the rankings, Burma, which still suffers from prior censorship and imprisonment, and Laos, an unchanging
dictatorship where no privately-owned media are permitted.
Asia's few democracies are well placed in the rankings. New Zealand (13th), Australia (16th) and Japan (17th) are all in the top 20. Respect for press freedom and the lack of targeted violence against journalists enable these three countries to be
Europe & ex-USSR
For the first time since 2002, the press freedom index's top 20 is not quite so European. Only 15 of the 20 leading countries are from the Old Continent, compared with 18 in 2008. Eleven of these 15 countries are European Union members. They
include the top three, Denmark, Finland and Ireland. Another EU member, Bulgaria, has been falling steadily since it joined in 2007 and is now 68th (against 59th in 2008). This is the lowest ranking of any member of the union.
The biggest one-year fall of any EU member was Slovakia's. It sank 37 places to be 44th. This was mainly the result of government meddling in media activities and the adoption in 2008 of a law imposing an automatic right of response in the press.
Two candidates for EU membership also experienced suffered dramatic falls. They were Croatia (78th), which fell 33 places, and Turkey (122nd), which fell 20 places.
Turkey's big fall was due to a surge in cases of censorship, especially censorship of media that represent minorities (above all the Kurds), and efforts by members of government bodies, the armed forces and judicial system to maintain their
control over coverage of matters of general interest.
Middle East & North Africa
Israel cast down by Operation Cast Lead This is the first time that Israel (internal) is not at the head of the Middle Eastern countries in the press freedom index. By falling 47 places to 93rd position, it is now behind Kuwait (60th), United Arab
Emirates (86th) and Lebanon (61st). Arrests of journalists (and not only foreign ones), their conviction and in some cases their deportation are the reasons for Israel's nose-dive. Israel's media are outspoken and investigate sensitive subjects
thoroughly, but military censorship is still in force.
Iran at gates of infernal trio Iran (172nd) now stands at the threshold of the infernal trio of countries at the very bottom of the index after a major deterioration in its press freedom situation marked by blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi's death in
Evin prison, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi's arrest and the crackdown in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad's disputed reelection in June. Many journalists were arrested and a Stalinist-style show trial began in Tehran in which
the most basic rights of the defendants are still being flouted.
Smart meters could become a spy in the home by allowing social workers and health authorities to monitor households, adding to concern at
Britain's surveillance society.
The devices, which the government plans to install in every home by 2020, will also tell energy firms what sort of appliances are being used, allowing companies to target customers who do not reduce their energy consumption.
Privacy campaigners have expressed horror at the proposalss, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says there is theoretically scope... for using the smart metering communications infrastructure to enable a variety of other
services, such as monitoring of vulnerable householders by health authorities or social services departments.
It adds: Information from smart meters could also make it possible for a supplier to determine when electricity or gas was being used in a property and, to a degree, the types of technology that were being used within the property. This could
be used to target energy efficiency advice and offers of measures, social programmes etc to householders.
Guy Herbert, general secretary of NO2ID, said: Information from smart meters might be useful to energy providers and perhaps even their customers, but there's no reason for any public authority to have access to it - unless they've a warrant to
do so. This document is a prime example of government efforts to shoehorn data sharing and feature creep into every new policy. For example, it suggests that NHS or social services could use the system to monitor 'vulnerable householders', or that
companies could use the system to spam customers with adverts for their services - having paid the government for the privilege, no doubt.
The DECC document adds households could even have their power to some appliances turned off remotely to help the national grid if there is too much demand. It says: In terms of potentially intrusive non-physical behaviour unrelated to data,
smart metering potentially offers scope for remote intervention such as dynamic demand management, which is designed to assist management of the network and thus security of supply. This could involve direct supplier or distribution company
interface with equipment, such as refrigerators, within a property, overriding the control of the householder.
The Information Commissioner's Office said it had already discussed the issue of smart meters with some suppliers, including Eon, Scottish Power and British Gas. A spokesman said the ICO would continue to maintain a close dialogue to ensure
that their introduction does not compromise customers' privacy . He added: Important issues include what information is stored on the meters themselves, in particular whether information identifying the householder will be held. In any
event energy companies will clearly need to hold records linking meters with householders and all the information must be held in line with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.
US-based toy retailer Toys 'R' Us has been reprimanded for gender discrimination following a complaint filed by a group of Swedish
sixth graders about the store's 2008 Christmas catalogue.
Last winter, a sixth grade class at Gustavslund school in south central Sweden reported Toys 'R' Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro), a self-regulatory agency which polices marketing and advertising communications in Sweden to ensure they are in
line with guidelines set out by the International Chamber of Commerce.
According to the youngsters, the Toys 'R' Us Christmas catalogue featured outdated gender roles because boys and girls were shown playing with different types of toys, whereby the boys were portrayed as active and the girls as passive ,
according to a statement from Ro.
13-year-old Hannes Psajd explained that he and his twin sister had always shared the same toys and that he was concerned about the message sent by the Toys 'R' Us publication: Small girls in princess stuff…and here are boys dressed as super
heroes. It's obvious that you get affected by this .
Upon reviewing the case, the Reklamombudsmannen agreed with the sixth-graders complaint, and have issued a public reprimand of the toy retailer.
According to the Ro's advisory committee the Toys 'R' Us catalogue discriminates based on gender and counteracts positive social behaviour, lifestyles, and attitudes . Specifically, the committee found that the catalogue feature boys playing in action filled environments
while girls are shown sitting or standing in passive poses .
Taken together, the catalogue portrays children's games and choice of toys in a narrow-minded way, and this exclusion of boys and girls from different types of toys is, in itself, degrading to both genders, Ro said in a statement.
The public reprimand has no accompanying sanctions for Toys 'R' Us.
Police told over 50 girls to cover up after they stripped down to their underwear to win free outfits.
A new Joy store in North London had offered to give away clothes to the first 25 customers who came to the shop dressed only in their undergarments. Over 50 style lovers stripped down to their underwear to win a promotion for free clothes
Would-be fashionistas queued ahead of the midday opening in a light-hearted bid to win the trendy items. But five miserable police officers dashed to the scene to tackle the partially clothed girls - and even ordered a shop assistant to cover up a
raunchy picture in the window display.
Maureen O'Brien, buying director for Joy, who have 21 branches nationwide, said: I think there's been a sense of humour failure on behalf of the police.
We've done this in the City by St Paul's Cathedral, by the Tate Modern, in shopping centres in St Albans, Glasgow, Edinburgh - this is the only place in the country where they haven't allowed us to do it.
A Met Police spokesprat said: Police attended a clothes shop in Upper Street at around midday. They advised the owners against holding a promotion whereby people were asked to come to the shop in their underwear in order to receive free
clothing. The officer decided that we had a duty of care to the public and that with the variety of different people on the street, which included children and the elderly, this could be seen as inappropriate.
Drinking in streets and parks will be soon be banned in miserable Britain. Town halls are drafting new laws to introduce the
first blanket bans on public drinking applying to entire towns.
Nottingham is set to bar drinking alcohol in streets, parks and other public places from next year. Nottingham intends to be the first city to implement the ban. It is taking advantage of repressive new legislation which, for the first time, will
allow bylaws to be passed without needing approval by a Cabinet minister.
Nottingham said other town halls were also keen to introduce blanket bans - potentially outlawing street drinking across huge swathes of the country.
Council leader Jon Collins said: People understand clear messages. There's no confusion in alcohol-free zones. I do not think it's a civil liberties issue. It's about saying we do not want people drinking in the street.
Richard Antcliff, Nottingham's chief antisocial behaviour officer, said the council wanted to target loutish behaviour and street drinkers who intimidate law-abiding members of the public.
The Tories backed Nottingham and said it was absolutely right they should get tough on binge drinking on the streets.
Town halls will also be given new powers to strip late-opening pubs of their licences, removing the requirement they must have first received a complaint from residents or the police.
Currently, street drinking can be restricted only by Designated Public Place Orders, introduced by the Home Office in 2001. These are confined to very specific areas, where there must be a history of anti-social behaviour.
However, there are concerns that some councils may be too heavy-handed in the way they introduce new byelaws, possibly putting an end to picnics in the park. Dylan Sharpe of Big Brother Watch said: This is yet another piece of legislation with
the potential to create criminals out of law-abiding people.