- Tough on suicide, tough on
- Crime does pay for some
- Well done, that man
- "Taking our jobs"
- Get in there
Tough on suicide, tough on
Another statistic for our caring Home Secretary to be proud of.
The prison population has risen by 6,840 since the beginning of the year, to a record 72,500, and the number of inmates who have killed themselves has reached 89 since January, compared with 72 self-inflicted deaths in 2001.
The suicide rate in prisons in England and Wales is rising more rapidly than the increase in the prison population and has reached 116 for every 100,000 inmates, compared with 89 for every 100,000 a year ago.
"The number appears to be rising," Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers said. "Recently, there were eight suicides in one week, five of them within 24 hours. These shocking statistics are, of course, directly connected to prison overcrowding." Prisons booked in and out as many as 100 inmates each day, with many of them arriving late at night. This made carrying out risk assessments very difficult. Some of those inmates most at risk were simply not being identified.
Crime does pay for some
In the year to 30 September, Securicor increased the number of prisoners it tagged by 66% as courts acted to ease pressure on Britain's overcrowded prisons. This helped Securicor to increase its underlying annual profits by 16%, to £93 million.
There are now about 5,000 electronically tagged offenders in the UK. Securicor monitors more than 2,000 of them in the north of England, ensuring they meet the curfew requirements imposed by the courts.
This is good news for a company whose share price had been affected by City fears about possible litigation relating to security lapses at US airports on September 11th. A Securicor subsidiary, Argenbright Security, was responsible for passenger checkpoint security screening for two of the flights involved in the atrocities. Passengers on the United Airlines flight from Newark to San Francisco and the American Airlines flight from Washington's Dulles airport to Los Angeles, which were hijacked and crashed respectively in rural Pennsylvania and into the Pentagon, were monitored by Argenbright.
Well done, that man
Last year's "war on terror" against Afghanistan was claimed to be for women's rights, and hinged on support from Pakistan's military government.
Pakistan's main human rights body has reported that at least 461 women have been killed this year by family members in so-called "honour killings", where women are murdered to protect the "family honour" for immoral behaviour ranging from sex outside marriage, dating, talking to men, being raped or even cooking poorly.
The 2002 figure is up from about 372 honour killings the year before and demonstrates the need for increased protection for women in Pakistan, the private Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said.
The group said it also shows an apparent lack of commitment to fight the practice by Pakistan's military government, which had made repeated promises to improve women's rights. Another job well done, then.
"Taking our jobs"
The old racist lie that immigrants "take our jobs" and push down wages has been definitively disproved by an independent study by researchers at University College London.
Immigrant workers find it much harder to find jobs but those who get jobs do get paid on average more than UK-born people, with average gross weekly earnings of £433 a week compared with only £338 among British-born workers. The studies found that this 19% differential held true at virtually all skill and qualification levels. The immigrant community also tends to be better educated than white British-born residents, with 20% of them graduates compared with 15% of the indigenous population.
"Immigration is found to have, if anything, a positive effect on the wages of the existing population - using the most robust data source available, an increase in immigration of 1% of the non-migrant population leads to a nearly 2% increase in non-migrant wage," concludes the Home Office-commissioned study.
Get in there
George Bush's links to the oil industry are well known and have fuelled suspicion that the "war on terror" in Iraq is really a war for the US to get its hands on the oil. American oil companies, which have strong historical links with the Bush administration, have made no secret of their interest in Iraq. The US economy - the world's biggest consumer of oil - is highly dependent on a constant cheap supply of crude oil, risking recession if the price rises too high. Analysts have predicted that Iraq, if properly developed with the latest drilling technology, could supply half of America's daily demand of 20 million barrels.
But getting other allies, especially Russia, on board has been difficult. Why should they advance US interests? President Bush sought to allay those fears last month by saying that the US would respect Russia's economic interests in Iraq. So, in like whippets, two Russian oil giants, Zarubezhneft and Rosneft, announced yesterday that they were jointly preparing to sign a contract to develop the massive Nahr Umr oilfield in Iraq, which they said contains 3 billion tonnes of crude oil - worth an estimated £350 billion. Get in there, before it all goes up in smoke.