Are UK drug consumption rooms likely?

  • 12 October 2017
  • From the section UK
A hand holding drugs Image copyright Getty Images

How close is Britain to creating places where all drugs are legal?

What does the Home Office really think about drug consumption rooms - safe and supervised places where addicts can inject or inhale illicit substances without fear of prosecution?

DCRs, as they are called, are used in other countries to reduce the risk of chronic drug users dying from an overdose or an infection.

But the idea of creating spaces where illicit drugs are effectively decriminalised goes against the government's long and carefully maintained line that illegal drugs are dangerous, and those who possess them should be prosecuted.

This summer, as record drug deaths were reported in the UK, the Home Office had to respond to recommendations from its drug advisors, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), on how to reduce "Opioid Related Deaths in the UK".

Local successes

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The government nudges itself over race

  • 10 October 2017
  • From the section UK
Prime Minister Theresa May talks to primary pupils during a visit to the Dunraven School in Streatham, south London, ahead of the publication of details of the Government's Race Disparity Audit Image copyright PA
Image caption Theresa May has pledged to tackle social and racial injustice in the UK

It is fitting, perhaps, that the launch of the government's so-called "race disparities audit" comes the day after American economist Richard Thaler was awarded a Nobel prize for his work on behavioural economics and nudging, because that is what this project is about.

It is a giant nudge to change behaviour on issues of race inequality. The odd thing is that the project is not a government trying to nudge the people. It is a government trying to nudge itself.

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How big game hunting is dividing southern Africa

  • 10 September 2017
  • From the section Africa
An elephant kicks up dust outside Kingspool Luxury Safari Camp in the Okanvango Delta on June 18, 2010 Image copyright Getty Images

Drifting down the Zambezi in Zimbabwe, I overheard two American men swapping hunting stories.

"First shot got him in the shoulder," a white man in his late sixties explained to his friend. "Second hit him right in the side of the head!" Pointing at his temple, he passed his phone with a picture. The animal in question was a dead crocodile.

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Why don't many British tourists visit Victoria Falls?

  • 3 September 2017
  • From the section Africa
The statue of David Livingstone next to the Victoria Falls
Image caption The statue of David Livingstone next to the Victoria Falls has few British visitors

In August 1934, a memorial statue to one of Britain's greatest national heroes, David Livingstone, was unveiled alongside his beloved Victoria Falls.

A thousand people attended the grand ceremony, including British government dignitaries and hundreds of Africans, some of whom had travelled for days to honour him.

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'Legal high' review after laughing gas cases collapse

  • 31 August 2017
  • From the section UK
Discarded nitrous oxide canisters at a festival Image copyright PA
Image caption Empty canisters of laughing gas are a common sight in fields after music festivals

The Home Office says it will continue to prosecute those who sell nitrous oxide, despite the collapse of the first contested cases under new laws.

The Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing two cases after a judge and the government's own expert witness said "laughing gas" was exempt.

Read full article 'Legal high' review after laughing gas cases collapse

Grenfell Tower: A shadow over the capital

  • 13 July 2017
  • From the section UK
General view of the Grenfell Tower from Wood Lane station in west London. Photo taken 11 July Image copyright PA

Drive over London's Westway, and Grenfell Tower demands your attention. It is a black nail that has been hammered into the nation's conscience.

In its shadow, the faces of the missing are everywhere - on lamp-posts and bus shelters, railings and walls. Unblinking they stare, it is hard to hold their accusatory gaze.

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Has British democracy let its people down?

  • 12 June 2017
  • From the section UK
Union flags and England flags flutter in foreground, with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the background Image copyright Getty Images

Parliamentary democracy is one of the British values that English schools are now required, by statute, to promote during lessons - not debate, not discuss, promote.

If some teachers interpret their new role as propagandists for this kingdom's existing system of governance, that would be a shame, because right now there are questions about how well our form of democracy is serving the UK.

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Manchester bombing: An attack on innocence

  • 23 May 2017
  • From the section UK
Ariana Grande fans after the show Image copyright Getty Images

It was a deliberate attack on innocence and joy. Children buzzing with energy at the end of an exciting show by their favourite pop star, with music in their ears and smiles on their young faces.

That was the moment someone chose to indulge their own bitterness, their spite and their hate. With explosives and nails and unfathomable cruelty.

Read full article Manchester bombing: An attack on innocence

How should politicians reconnect with voters?

A bus travels along Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament Image copyright Getty Images

Excited about the election? Travelling around Britain and talking to people about politics, the sentiment which emerges as strongly as any is that they feel disconnected from power. Their voice isn't heard. Elections don't change much. Democracy doesn't work for them.

More than anything else, I think it was that which drove the Brexit vote, a feeling among millions that decisions that changed their lives and their communities were being made in a faceless office in Whitehall or, worse, a mirrored-glass building in Brussels.

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Ian Brady: How the Moors Murderer came to symbolise pure evil

  • 20 May 2017
  • From the section UK
Ian Brady Image copyright PA
Image caption Ian Brady's notoriety and significance goes beyond the criminal to the political and the cultural

Ian Brady's mug shot has become visual shorthand for psychopathic evil. With his accomplice Myra Hindley, he occupies an especially ignominious place in our national folklore.

Margaret Thatcher described their crimes as "the most hideous and evil in modern times". A BBC News article in 2002 suggested the so-called "Moors Murderers" had set "the benchmark by which other acts of evil are measured".

Read full article Ian Brady: How the Moors Murderer came to symbolise pure evil