Mark Easton, Home editor

Mark Easton Home editor

This is where I discuss the way we live in the UK and the many ways in which that is constantly changing

What is extreme?

  • 30 September 2014
  • From the section UK
Theresa May

Home Secretary Theresa May has proposed a significant shift in government policy, expanding the counter-terrorism strategy to include fighting what she describes as "the full spectrum of extremism".

The Conservatives have long-argued that they have sought to tackle both violent and non-violent extremism, but existing legislation and the courts have always limited restrictions to those organisations or individuals who it can be demonstrated are concerned in terrorism.

Now Mrs May is proposing a future Tory government introduce banning orders and extremist disruption orders for activities that clear a much lower bar. The model "will reflect the existing proscription system" for terrorist groups, but the criteria will be different.

So what would constitute an extremist group? There are three kinds of activity listed as reasons for designating an organisation or an individual as extremist:

Harm is defined as:

Read full article What is extreme?

Welfare Freeze: Who Would Be Hit?

  • 29 September 2014
  • From the section UK
George Osborne talks to party members

Cutting welfare goes down well with voters. But it is notoriously difficult to achieve meaningful savings without hurting the very people you are looking to support and encourage.

So it is with George Osborne's announcement today. The proposed freeze on working-age benefits, if the Conservatives are elected in 2015, looks eye-catching. But its effect may cause some to reflect.

Read full article Welfare Freeze: Who Would Be Hit?

We need Miss Marple

  • 4 September 2014
  • From the section UK
Joan Hickson as Miss Marple

Fighting crime is, surely, a job for us all.

Amid press and, apparently, popular outrage at the idea of the police "forcing the public to act as DIY detectives", it is, perhaps, worth asking whether that is really such a bad thing.

Read full article We need Miss Marple

When we look, we find

  • 27 August 2014
  • From the section UK
Prof Alexis Jay
Prof Alexis Jay delivered the damning report about sexual abuse in Rotherham

The sexual abuse of children was, until relatively recently in Britain, a subject rarely discussed in public. Now, hardly a day goes by without some new horror hitting the headlines.

We are witnessing an important and significant shift in awareness and response. The latest revelations about the crimes committed in Rotherham are shocking to us in their violence and their scale. But they should be seen in a wider context, of a society belatedly confronting a deeply disturbing aspect of its character.

Read full article When we look, we find

Z is for Zanzibar

  • 14 August 2014
  • From the section UK
Zanzibar beach

Z is a destination, standing enigmatically at the extreme end of the alphabetical line. Crazy zigzags at odds with a gentle song, its qualities are both puzzling and exotic. After Z there is nothing.

Zanzibar, fittingly, enjoys not one but two Zs. It is a word that buzzes with African mystery and rare spices, of foreign adventure and dark magic. For a country looking to attract travellers and tourists, its tantalizing name is perhaps one of its greatest assets.

Read full article Z is for Zanzibar

Advice for foreigners on how Britons walk

  • 18 July 2014
  • From the section Magazine
Pedestrians walking across a London bridge with Shard in background

We drive on the left, but which side do we walk on?

Some friends from Australia asked me this question as we battled down London's Oxford Street the other day, weaving our way through determined shoppers, rushing office workers and ambling tourists.

Read full article Advice for foreigners on how Britons walk

Should teachers 'promote' British values?

  • 10 June 2014
  • From the section UK
Sports spectator with abundance of Union Jacks

Come September and every school in England will be required to promote British values.

Promoting something is not the same as teaching something or having respect for something. One can respectfully disagree. One can inform without endorsing.

Read full article Should teachers 'promote' British values?

'Trojan horse' scandal - extreme or diverse?

  • 9 June 2014
  • From the section UK
Park View school

Where does diversity stop and extremism begin? That, it seems to me, is the central question posed by the so-called "Trojan horse" affair.

It is official government policy to create a "more diverse school system" with academies and free schools liberated from some state controls. They don't have to follow the national curriculum and they operate independently from the local education authority.

Read full article 'Trojan horse' scandal - extreme or diverse?

Is Britain really becoming more racist?

  • 28 May 2014
  • From the section UK
Black and white hands together

Journalists like their stories to fit into an accepted current narrative. With domestic politics dominated by concerns over Europe and immigration, and the rise of the far-right elsewhere in the EU, it is understandable that editors are alert to evidence of rising racism in Britain.

But today's figures are not evidence of rising racism. In fact, if anything, the trend is of flat or declining levels of self-reported racial prejudice.

Read full article Is Britain really becoming more racist?

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About Mark

Mark joined his local paper after leaving school, inspired to become a journalist by playing Waddington's Scoop aged 13.

He has won numerous awards for his reporting. Most recently, his writing won a Royal Statistical Society award for excellence and was a finalist in the online journalism awards in San Francisco.

His ambition is to try to chronicle the story of changing Britain, and for Arsenal to win some silverware.

Before becoming BBC News home editor in 2004, Mark was home and social affairs editor at Channel Four News and political editor at Five News.

He is married with four children.

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