Essex lorry deaths: Tricky task of catching the people smugglers

  • 23 October 2019
  • From the section UK
Lorries queue at Dover Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Dover is the single largest site for people smuggling operations, police say

Since the Calais migrant camps were shut three years ago and security measures were increased at Dover and the Channel Tunnel, people smugglers have increasingly moved to other routes.

Asked which ports are being used, the National Crime Agency told me: "All of them."

More dangerous methods are being used to get human cargo through.

The most common one is being hidden in the back of a lorry, but increasingly commercial shipping containers are being used, sometimes even refrigerated ones of the type seen on the back of the truck in Essex.

Risks are substantial for the migrants, who can pay £10,000 or more for a space on these vehicles.

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Citizenship test: How hard should it be to become British?

  • 30 August 2019
  • From the section UK
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Media captionWe invited a mixture of UK born, and newly made citizens to Wakefield Town Hall for a test of all things British.

The Home Office is reviewing the process foreign nationals undergo if they want to become UK citizens.

There is likely to be intense public debate over any changes which could include overhauling the "Life in the UK" test where applicants demonstrate their knowledge of UK laws and history.

A cash cow?

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How do you stop people dying from illegal drug taking?

  • 15 August 2019
  • From the section UK
Cooked heroin on a spoon Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The ONS has referred to a "marked north-south divide" in the rate of deaths as a result of drug misuse

There is real frustration among frontline drug workers, experts and academics at the record numbers of people dying from illegal drugs in England and Wales.

The blame game has begun with fingers pointed at government cuts and at a failure to implement evidence-based measures that would reduce deaths.

Read full article How do you stop people dying from illegal drug taking?

Dealing with the rising tide of knife crime

  • 4 March 2019
  • From the section UK
Generic picture of a young man holding a knife Image copyright PA

The knife has long been the most common murder weapon in Britain, but increasingly it has become the weapon of choice for teenage gangs in the big cities.

Two-thirds of police forces in England and Wales recently responded to a Freedom of Information request from Channel 4's Dispatches which showed that, in those force areas, the number of teenagers recorded as having killed with a knife had risen from 26 in 2016 to 46 last year.

Read full article Dealing with the rising tide of knife crime

Crossing Divides: Keeping the peace in Northern Ireland

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Media captionNaomi Burns and Rebecca Coggles have been part of a scheme to improve relations between Protestant and Catholic communities

Why, 21 years after the Good Friday Agreement, does religion still divide the people of Northern Ireland?

The peace walls of West Belfast snake through the city, adorned with colourful street art and murals. Buses and taxis pull up to let cheerful tourists write their messages of hope and love on the bricks.

Read full article Crossing Divides: Keeping the peace in Northern Ireland

Why vox pops are important

  • 21 January 2019
  • From the section UK
Mark Easton vox popping a woman

"A parade of ignorance and prejudice." "Cheap filler." "Lazy journalism." "Can't you find any proper news?"

The vox pop, the news segment where reporters ask the opinions of the public, comes in for some pretty hefty criticism on social media and elsewhere. But far from dismissing it as pointless padding, I believe it is a vital ingredient in trying to understand Britain - and never more than now.

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Boxing Day Family Puzzler 2018

  • 26 December 2018
  • From the section UK
Mark Easton game image

It's time once again for my Boxing Day Family Puzzler - a seasonal distraction now in its 11th year. As regular readers will know, this is the quiz where no-one is expected to know any of the answers.

The questions relate to events in the past 12 months - and all the solutions are numbers. This year, as a special treat in these troubled times, I've included bonus questions, raising the number from 20 to 23.

Read full article Boxing Day Family Puzzler 2018

Why August's 'silly season' is good for the soul

  • 18 August 2018
  • From the section UK
Aerial image of parasols on a beach in Albania Image copyright Getty Images

Around the world, the phrase "mind the gap" is regarded as a British curiosity.

Thousands of "hilarious" mind the gap T-shirts have been stuffed into holiday luggage since the practical health and safety warning was introduced on London Underground in the late '60s.

Read full article Why August's 'silly season' is good for the soul

How super-rich tourism may help the planet

  • 9 August 2018
  • From the section Africa
North Island, Seychelles

On a remote tropical island in the Indian Ocean, a man in a woman's wig has been hiding in a bush for hours. Armed with an air rifle, he plans to kill the island's last three surviving specimens of an exotic bird.

This, unlikely as it might appear, is the current front line in a conservation revolution.

Read full article How super-rich tourism may help the planet

Do people think heatwaves are un-British?

  • 1 August 2018
  • From the section UK
People sunbathing at the mixed bathing pond on Hampstead Heath, London Image copyright PA

How does Britain, known around the world for its famous grey skies and rain, react to a lengthy heatwave?

"Hallelujah," someone shouted, as a small boy ran into the street and started to dance.

Read full article Do people think heatwaves are un-British?