Report on the proposed strategic review of policing in England and Wales

The first half of 2022 saw the launch of the report A New Model of Protection, which contains the final paper of the strategic review of policing in England and Wales. The report is based on the desire to redesign public safety for the 21st century.

The paper is set in the early days of the creation of policing in England, characterised by the development of a policing model in which the work of officers did not depend primarily on the use of power, but rather on confidence and cooperation with society. Unfortunately, 200 years later, they recognise that there is a crisis of public confidence in police institutions.

The report finds that the percentage of people who think the police do a good or excellent job has been declining in recent years. And that lack of confidence in the police is most pronounced in London, related in part to recent cases of police misconduct. However, this report reveals that there are also much deeper, long-standing causes why this model of policing no longer seems able to meet society’s expectations.

However, it is not only society that has lost its confidence, many police officers have also done so, as despite working hard and having a desire to serve the citizen, they too often feel inadequate. Another cause would be the impact of austerity between 2010 and 2017. The number of police officers decreased from 143,000 to around 123,000, which resulted in citizens complaining that they did not see uniformed police officers on the streets and therefore felt less safe.

In this regard, frustration in the police also arises from the fact that they only collect theft reports superficially in order to give free rein to insurance companies, but there is no investigation behind them. All this is occurring in a time of profound changes due to globalisation and the evolution of technology. 40% of all reported crimes are frauds, and most of them cyber.

The report highlights that crime in the digital age is being tackled with an analogue policing approach. The police have also become a public service of last resort, picking up on the previous failures of other social services, such as missing persons calls, most of which come from young people in care.

To address some of these issues, the paper proposes, among others:

  • A radical shift towards a more systemic preventive approach. It proposes the creation of a Crime Prevention Agency, with strong regulatory powers, especially for businesses.
  • Significantly improve the capacity to tackle cross-border crime and organised crime. It proposes the creation of a National Crime Agency.
  • Strengthen local and neighbourhood policing. This would be the best way to restore society’s confidence in the police.
  • Provide police officers with better tools to perform their job and encourage the entry of qualified people with specialised skills through salary supplements.

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Police Scotland urged to develop protocols for the use of body-worn video cameras

Research commissioned by Police Scotland finds that there is widespread public support for officers to wear body cameras when required for all types of incidents, but also warns of the pitfalls that should be avoided.

A team from the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy (CRISP) at the University of Stirling has produced a report on the use of body-worn video (BWV) cameras, based on a literature review and semi-structured interviews with experts on these types of cameras.

The researchers emphasised that, before introducing BWVs, Police Scotland must ensure that there are effective governance and control processes in place, especially with respect to data management.

Professor William Webster from the University of Stirling’s School of Management, who led the work in the report, believes that body-worn video cameras seem like a simple concept, as it is a camera that police carry everywhere, but how it is used influences a complicated set of relationships, starting with the relationship between the citizen and the state. It is important to understand the consequences of this use and how technology shapes behaviour, to be sure that these cameras are used in the interest of society and not just in the interest of the police.

Webster believes that the police like the use of BWVs because they offer protection during police interventions, even more so if these involve risk, as they can help, for example, to de-escalate violence, while also being able to collect evidence in the event of a trial. However, they also put the police under surveillance, as there have been cases in other police forces of law enforcement officers being recorded smoking while on duty or talking on their mobile phones while driving. This also has to be taken into account, given that trust in technology and the police can easily be lost. Clear protocols and training on the use of BWVs should therefore be established.

The research also considers that it should be clear who manages the recordings, given that they are sensitive data of citizens. Along these lines, it asks whether officers should download the recordings at the end of shifts, where they should be downloaded to and where they should be stored, who can access them and what circumstances justify keeping these recordings.

Therefore, it is concluded that there is a need for a monitoring mechanism where recordings are randomly checked, possibly with lay persons, to control how BWVs are used.

He also stresses the importance of organisations such as the police continuing to consult with citizens and academics on the introduction of new technologies.

In this regard, the Chief Superintendent of Police Scotland, Matt Richards, was in favour of introducing BWVs in Scotland’s police force.

Institutionally, it is considered that the introduction of BWVs requires significant financial investment, but has the potential to enhance the vital bond of trust between police and citizens, which underpins their legitimacy.

What researchers and police agree on is that the deployment of BWVs should be ethical and transparent and should be supported and guided by ethical, human rights and civil liberties considerations.

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Decline continues in arrests of juveniles in the United States for violent crimes

The number of young people – aged 0 to 17 – arrested by police in the United States for committing violent crimes (murders, homicides, robberies with violence, etc.) is still in decline since the year 2000. During 2020, the number of arrests for violent crimes committed by juveniles reached a new low, 78% below the 1994 peak, and half the number of ten years earlier.

Males accounted for 80% of all arrests of juveniles for violent crimes in 2020, but their share of arrests for murder (92%) and robbery (88%) was much higher.

The 16-17 age group accounted for more than half (55%) of all youths arrested, but for the crime of murder they accounted for 76% of all arrests.

White youths accounted for nearly half (49%) of all juvenile arrests and 57% of juvenile arrests for serious assaults.

During 2020, there were an estimated 424,300 arrests of persons under the age of 18, 38% less than the corresponding figure for 2019 and half the number of arrests than 5 years earlier.

Overall, arrests of persons under the age of 18 accounted for 7% of all violent crime arrests, a decrease of 7 percentage points from 2019, which was 14%.

During 2020, young people between the ages of 18 and 24 accounted for 19% of all arrests and 21% of arrests for violent crimes.

Although juvenile arrests for robbery and assault have been on the decline, arrests for murder have increased since the low point had been reached in 2012. That being said, the number of arrests for violent crimes involving young people decreased by 56% between 2010 and 2020. The smallest decrease was in robberies, which shows a decrease of 24%, while among adults the decrease was 5%. And juvenile arrests for serious assaults fell by 29%, while adult arrests increased by about 1%.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the year 2020 was the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and it should also be emphasised that a single offence may entail the arrest of more than one person. The latter may have affected data collection policies, procedures and situations, where many arrests resulting from a single offence are relatively common.

In addition, stay-at-home orders and school closings likely prevented increases in juvenile law-breaking behaviour. For these reasons, the numbers of arrests should be put into context and not draw the attention of law enforcement agencies to the year 2020.

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Agreement on transparency in the transfer of cryptographic assets and against money laundering

The European Union is making it harder for criminals to misuse cryptocurrencies for criminal purposes. Negotiators from the presidency of the Council and the European Parliament have come to an agreement on the proposal to update the rules on information accompanying transfers of funds, extending the scope of application of these rules to transfers of cryptoassets.

The introduction of this new regulation will guarantee financial transparency in crypto-asset exchanges and provide the EU with a robust and proportional framework that complies with the highest international standards on crypto-asset exchanges, in particular recommendations 15 and 16 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global watchdog on money laundering and terrorist financing. This is particularly appropriate in the current geopolitical context.

The objective of this reform is to introduce the obligation for crypto-asset service providers to collect and make accessible certain information on the origin and beneficiary of the transfers of cryptoassets they operate. This is what payment service providers are currently doing for bank transfers, which ensure traceability of crypto-asset transfers to better identify and block potentially suspicious transactions.

The new agreement will allow the EU to address the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing involved in the use of these new technologies, while reconciling competitiveness, consumer and investor protection, and the protection of the financial integrity of the internal market.

The new agreement requires the full set of originator information to travel with the transfer of cryptoassets, regardless of the amount of cryptoassets being transacted.

In terms of data protection, legislators agreed that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is still applicable to fund transfers and that no separate data protection rules will be established.

Improved traceability of crypto-asset transfers will also make it more difficult for persons and entities subject to restrictive measures to attempt to circumvent them. Furthermore, crypto-asset service providers will be required to put in place adequate internal policies, procedures and controls to mitigate the risks of evasion of national and Union restrictive measures.

More generally, the totality of sanctions already applies to all natural and legal persons, including those operating in the cryptocurrency sector.

In due course, Member States will have to make sure that all crypto-asset service providers qualify as obliged entities under the fourth AML directive. This will allow the EU to align itself with the FATF recommendations and level the playing field between Member States, which have so far developed different approaches in this regard.

Legislators also agreed on the urgency of ensuring the traceability of crypto-asset transfers and opted to align the implementation schedule of this regulation with that of the regulation of crypto-asset markets (MiCA).

This proposal is part of a package of legislative proposals to strengthen EU rules against money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) presented by the Commission on 20 July 2021. The package also includes a proposal to create a new EU authority to combat money laundering.

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Affected by ransomware? No More Ransom provides you with 136 free tools to rescue your files

Six years after the birth of the initiative No More Ransom, more than 10 million people have already downloaded its decryption tools.

Ransomware attacks have been increasing in number and severity in recent years, with headlines focusing on ransom demands, which have risen to amounts that were previously unthinkable. Although the data is alarming, this does not mean that you are defenceless against these extortion attempts or the high technologies used to carry them out. The No More Ransom initiative offers more than 136 free decryption tools to rescue files taken hostage.

On its sixth anniversary, No More Ransom provides keys to unlocking encrypted files, as well as information on how to evade getting infected in the first place.

Launched by Europol, the Dutch National Police (Politie) and IT security companies, the No More Ransom portal initially offered four tools to unlock different types of ransomware and was only available in English.

Six years down the line, No More Ransom offers 136 free tools for 165 ransomware variants, including Gandcrab, REvil/Sodinokibi, Maze/Egregor/Sekhmet and more. More than 188 public and private sector partners have joined the program, regularly providing new decryption tools for the latest varieties of malware.

So far, the scheme has helped more than1.5 million people successfully decrypt their devices without having to pay the criminals. The portal is available in 37 languages to better assist victims of ransomware around the world.

The best technique for protecting oneself against hijacking software remains diligent prevention. It is recommended to:

– Make regular backups of the data stored on your electronic devices.

– Keep an eye on your clicks: do you know where a link will take you?

Do not open attachments in e-mails from unknown senders, even if they look important and credible.

– Make sure your security software and operating system are up to date.

– Use two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect your user accounts.

– Limit the ability to export large amounts of corporate data to external file sharing portals.

If you become a victim, don’t pay! Report the crime and check No More Ransom for decryption tools.

You will find more information and prevention tips at http://www.nomoreransom.org.

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Personal Firearms Storage in the United States

Both public health and gun rights advocates absolutely agree that gun owners should store their firearms in a way that prevents unauthorised persons from gaining access to them.

Correct storage can help avoid unintentional firearm deaths and injuries among minors. Moreover, a strong theoretical case can also be made for preventing suicide by restricting access to lethal weapons.

The rand.org website has published a study on protection around firearms containing recent estimates, patterns and effectiveness of interventions.

Numerous studies have produced results in line with these theories, and public health organizations, such as the World Health Organization, generally agree on this.

Storing firearms under lock and key and unloaded is necessary to limit access to these lethal weapons. For these reasons, public health policy campaigns have been created and implemented to promote the safe storage of firearms owned by individuals.

This study analyses what is meant by safe storage of firearms and provides estimates of the storage practices of U.S. gun owners from representative surveys at the national and state level. This is complemented by research on selected populations with data from 2010, which includes populations of interest because of current events and at risk of harm, such as persons who purchased a firearm during the COVID-19 pandemic, households with minors, persons with mental health conditions or at risk of suicide, and military or veteran populations.

The report describes how Americans typically store their firearms and the rationale for storage practices. It also reviews research on the effectiveness of interventions that seek to change firearm storage practices. These interventions are qualified as clinical, community-based, and public policy interventions.

The study concludes that multiple groups of interested parties recommend that firearms be kept locked up and unloaded, and that ammunition be stored separately. Most empirical evidence to date indicates that approximately half of gun owners keep their firearms locked up, and one-third keep them locked up and unloaded. The greatest influence on storage practices among those who do not store their firearms as recommended are perceptions of risk and protection. Those with more guns and those with only handguns are less likely to store guns as recommended, while households with minors are more likely to store guns as recommended.

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The state and trends of terrorism in the European Union

Recently published by Europol, the European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2022 (TE-SAT) provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date intelligence study on terrorism in the European Union.

The Europol TE-SAT 2022 report is based on quantitative data provided to Europol by EU Member States on terrorist attacks, arrests and court rulings issued for terrorist offences. Europol’s partners also provided qualitative information and valuable insights that enrich the report’s conclusions.

The findings of TE-SAT 2022 confirm that terrorism still represents a real and present danger to the European Union:

In 2021, 15 completed, foiled, or failed terrorist attacks were recorded in the European Union. The four completed attacks included three jihadist terrorist attacks and one far-left terrorist attack.

EU law enforcement authorities arrested 388 suspects for terrorism-related offences in 2021. Of these, more than two-thirds (260) were carried out following investigations into jihadist terrorism offences in Austria, France, and Spain.

Court proceedings concluded in 2021 resulted in 423 convictions for terrorism offences.

Lone actors continue to be the main perpetrators of terrorist and violent extremist attacks in Europe. However, planned attacks involving several actors were also interrupted during 2021. Individuals who carry out attacks alone have been associated primarily with jihadist terrorism, right-wing terrorism, and violent extremism.

In 2021, terrorists used weapons that are relatively easy to obtain and do not require high skills for assembly or use. Weapons used in attacks in the EU in 2021 included bladed weapons, vehicles (in impact attacks), and improvised incendiary devices.

Furthermore, the terrorist propaganda spread online in 2021 continued to reflect COVID-19 related topics. Increased time spent online due to pandemic restrictions, among other reasons, is a risk factor in vulnerable individuals’ potential route to extremism.

Violent anti-COVID-19 and anti-government extremism, which is not affiliated with traditional terrorist and violent extremist activities, emerged in some Member States and non-EU countries. These manifestations of violent extremism took the form of open threats, hate messages spread on the web and, in some cases, the use of violence.

Geopolitical developments in key regions outside the EU influence terrorist narratives and propaganda spread in Member States. The current terrorist threat to Member States appears not to have been directly affected by the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. However, it increased global attention to religiously motivated insurgencies and thus provided jihadists affiliated with both Al Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) terrorist group with opportunities to promote their arguments.

TE-SAT delves into the following types of terrorism: jihadist terrorism, right-wing terrorism, left-wing and anarchist terrorism, ethnonationalist and separatist terrorism, and other types of terrorism.

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The threat of environmental crime in the European Union

Environmental crime generates millions of euros of dirty money every year in the European Union alone, but it remains extremely difficult for law enforcement to connect cases to organised crime activities. Legal discrepancies among countries, low risk of detection and marginal penalties make environmental crime a very attractive business for criminal entrepreneurs.

However, something is changing: crimes against the environment are attracting more and more attention as climate change has become a crucial matter in the agenda of policy makers.

Europol’s new threat assessment, Environmental Crime in the Age of Climate Change, offers the most comprehensive intelligence study yet on this criminal phenomenon in the EU.

Law enforcement investigations across the EU show that there is an organised crime component behind most environmental crime schemes, which are often led by legal companies. Europol has also seen a significant increase in the number of cross-border cases.

Environmental crime covers a range of activities that infringe environmental legislation and cause significant damage or risk to the environment, human health or both. The main risks include the following:

• Most of the individuals involved in environmental crime are opportunistic legal business owners/operators who decide to increase their chances of profit by establishing a criminal enterprise.

• To launder the illicit proceeds, criminals mainly use the same legal businesses in which they operate (i.e. waste management businesses, retail stores, fishing companies, etc.). Document fraud, abuse of discrepancies in legislation and widespread corruption are the pillars of the environmental crime infrastructure.

• EU criminal networks are increasingly targeting Central and Eastern Europe to traffic illicit waste produced in Western Europe. Outside the EU, European traffickers mainly target South-East Asia as a destination for illicit plastic waste and end-of-life ships, and Africa for waste of electric and electronic equipment.

• The EU functions as a hub for global wildlife trafficking. It is the main destination for trafficked wildlife, but it is also a point of origin for endemic fauna trafficked to other continents.

• The waste related to the production of synthetic drugs and synthetic drug precursors is one of the main sources of environmental damage linked to organised crime in the EU.

The Europol report delves into the main typologies of environmental crime investigated in the EU, namely: waste and pollution offences; wildlife trafficking; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; forestry offences and the illegal pet trade. Special attention is given to climate change, which functions as a push and pull factor for organised crime. The growing scarcity of natural resources is likely to trigger organised crime interests in terms of profits in the immediate future.

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Extremists and the use of social networks in the U.S.

Isolating and comparing the social networking habits of two different types of extremists may better prepare justice system agencies to prevent and respond to extremist violence in the United States.

Research sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has found that study samples of individuals in the United States who have been involved in violent and non-violent hate crimes and other forms of extremist crime were influenced by social networks.

One of the key findings of this study is that extremists may mirror the general population in their use of various social networking platforms, especially in terms of dependence on Facebook. Although the sample size was relatively small and less than 20% of this sample said they used this social network, Facebook usage was found to be markedly higher than that of any other social networking platform.

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) carried out the study of social media use as part of a larger investigation, which tapped into two major national databases of extremist events and individuals:

ECDB. Extremist Crime Database: ECDB is a database that tracks violent attacks, homicides and financial crimes committed by extremists in the United States. Attacks tracked in ECDB include bombings, shootings or other violent assaults resulting in at least one death. The database primarily, but not exclusively, tracks left-wing, right-wing and jihadist extremists.

PIRUS. Profiles of individual radicalization in the United States: PIRUS is a database of individuals in the United States who radicalised to the point of committing ideologically motivated violent or non-violent criminal activity, or ideologically motivated association with a foreign or domestic extremist organisation. The PIRUS database includes individuals who are typically considered to be perpetrators of hate crimes, i.e., violent acts or spontaneous threats against another person on the basis of gender identity, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation or sexual preference. In the PIRUS database the data are anonymous.

The research studied 2,100 cases in ECDB and 1,500 cases in PIRUS. Of these, 454 individuals from the PIRUS database were matched with individuals identified in ECDB.

In a study segment focused on the use of social networks by extremists, researchers searched various social networking platforms for data revealing the use of a specific platform by individuals found in PIRUS or ECDB and associated with an act of violence.

The study focused on cases occurring after 2007. This period has seen a significant increase in the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, according to the researchers’ report.

The results of the social networking research segment suggest that the patterns of use of different platforms vary according to ideological groups and may reflect the use of these platforms in the general population. Differences may also reflect conflicting interests of individuals with respect to groups. The research report noted the need for further research examining the use and quantity of social media posts expressing ideological beliefs within and across radical ideological agendas.

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