Tax staff staging 24-hour strike

July 31, 2006

Thousands of HM Revenue and Customs staff are staging a 24-hour strike over planned job cuts.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union at 10 centres which deal with tax claims are taking part.

About 8,000 workers are striking after it emerged that more than 12,000 jobs may be cut. Plans to change working practices have also caused anger.

BBC NEWS | UK | Tax staff staging 24-hour strike

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Corruption 'rife’ among prison staff, report claims

July 31, 2006

Corruption within the Prison Service is rife, according to a leaked report which reveals that there are more than 1,000 officers involved in corrupt practices.

The report, which is the result of a one-year inquiry by the Metropolitan police and the Prison Service’s anti-corruption unit, was leaked to the BBC.

Within it are claims that the corruption ranges from officers accepting cash payments from inmates to have them transferred to less secure prisons to bringing mobile phones and drugs into prisons.

The corruption stems from “inappropriate relationships” between prisoners and staff and there are nearly 600 of these relationships occurring, according to the investigation.

Corruption ‘rife’ among prison staff, report claims – Britain – Times Online


No armour caused soldier's death

July 31, 2006

A British soldier died in Iraq because he was not wearing enhanced body armour he had had to give up because of shortages, an official report found.

Sgt Steven Roberts, of Shipley, West Yorks, was accidentally shot dead when UK troops opened fire during a disturbance near Basra in March 2003.

The board of inquiry said bullet-proof plates on his Enhanced Combat Body Armour (ECBA) would have saved him.

BBC NEWS | UK | No armour caused soldier’s death


Organised crime 'on the increase’

July 31, 2006

Serious organised crime is “increasing in scope and complexity”, the agency set up to tackle it has said.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) says that trafficking in Class A drugs, people smuggling and fraud are the biggest threats posed to the UK.

Its “threat assessment” is Soca’s first report since launching four months ago.

The agency also says illegal immigrants are being smuggled into the UK from France for less than £150 and that criminals plan crimes in prison.

BBC NEWS | UK | Organised crime ‘on the increase’


NHS 'summer of discontent’ looms

July 31, 2006

Unions have warned of a “summer of discontent” over job losses and cutbacks in the NHS, including threats of industrial action over the Government’s health reforms.

Health unions representing doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and other health workers said they were committed to a major campaign against the “breakneck” pace of change.

A lobby of Parliament is being planned for October and there will be rallies and demonstrations across the UK as well as fringe meetings at the TUC Congress and Labour Party annual conference in September.

Workers in NHS Logistics are already gearing up to vote over strikes in protest at their jobs being transferred to a private firm, and there could be other ballots.

Unison said it was “shocked” at the scale of recent job cuts,

icUxbridge – NHS ‘summer of discontent’ looms


Government U-turn on free information

July 31, 2006

MINISTERS are to perform a U-turn on their commitment to open government by seeking to reduce the amount of information released to the public.

A confidential cabinet paper reveals that 18 months after Labour introduced laws allowing free access to government documents, it wants to block “the most difficult requests”.

The move by Lord Falconer, the constitutional affairs secretary, comes after a series of disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act have embarrassed ministers.

Government U-turn on free information – Sunday Times – Times Online


Banks to write off £4bn in bad debt

July 31, 2006

BANKING giants will this week announce they are writing off billions of pounds in bad debts while official figures show about 100,000 individuals might be declared bankrupt by the end of the year.

Analysts expect Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS, Barclays and Lloyds TSB to unveil combined bad-debt provisions of up to £4 billion because of the increasing number of people who are unable to honour their repayments.

The shock figures are likely to reignite debates over why Britons appear to be taking on unmanageable levels of debt and what the long-term impact of these bad loans is likely to be on the lenders.

Scotsman.com Business – Banking & Insurance – Banks to write off £4bn in bad debt