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Dominic Casciani, Home affairs correspondent

Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

Come here for reports and insight into home affairs as well as stories and content from around the web

Did removing lead from petrol spark a decline in crime?

21 April 2014
Car exhaust

Many Western nations have experienced significant declines in crime in recent decades, but could the removal of lead from petrol explain that?

Working away in his laboratory in 1921, Thomas Midgley wanted to fuel a brighter tomorrow. He created tetraethyl lead - a compound that would make car engines more efficient than ever.

But did the lead that we added to our petrol do something so much worse? Was it the cause of a decades-long crime wave that is only now abating as the poisonous element is removed from our environment?

For most of the 20th Century crime rose and rose and rose. Every time a new home secretary took office in the UK - or their equivalents in justice and interior ministries elsewhere - officials would show them graphs and mumble apologetically that there was nothing they could do to stop crime rising.

Then, about 20 years ago, the trend reversed - and all the broad measures of key crimes have been falling ever since.

Thomas Midgley at work
Thomas Midgley, creator of tetraethyl lead

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Cardboard Citizens: Acting out a positive future

6 April 2014

A theatre group comprising actors who were once homeless or in prison is touring the country in an effort to intervene in the lives of offenders leaving jail. But how can theatre make a difference to the life of a convicted criminal?

Jess runs across the kitchen and punches her mother's boyfriend, Paul. He reels away from her almighty right hook. The family begins to disintegrate. Jess ends up pregnant on the streets.

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Analysis: Yashika Bageerathi and the law

3 April 2014
Protest against Yashika Bageerathi's deportation
Demonstrators in London's Parliament Square highlighted the case

Why was Yashika Bageerathi sent back to Mauritius? The Home Office says the case didn't pass the asylum test.

The law is quite clear that an asylum application must be based on the internationally-agreed criteria of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

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Dominic added analysis to:

Police fail domestic abuse victims - HMIC report

27 March 2014

For more than 20 years the police have thrown resources at theft-related crimes. Every force knows how to use intelligence-led strategies to identify serial burglars and bring them to book.

HMIC says domestic abuse deserves the same bread-and-butter resources and core tactics - gather the evidence, identify offenders and protect the victims.

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Dominic added analysis to:

MPs back moves to decriminalise TV licence fee non-payment

25 March 2014

The difference between a criminal and civil offence is that one leads to a criminal punishment because it is an offence against all of society, while the other seeks to redress a wrong committed by one person against another.

In practice, magistrates don't jail people for criminal failure to pay a TV licence unless they have refused to pay a fine. That's because prisons are a last resort - reserved for the worst offenders. However, they do get a criminal record.

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Dominic added analysis to:

Labour set to back TV licence fee powers change

24 March 2014

The difference between a criminal and civil offence is that one leads to a criminal punishment because it is an offence against all of society, while the other seeks to redress a wrong committed by one person against another.

In practice, magistrates don't jail people for criminal failure to pay a TV licence unless they have refused to pay a previous fine. That's because prisons are a last resort - reserved for the worst offenders.

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Dominic added analysis to:

Ministers back TV licence fee powers change

21 March 2014

The difference between a criminal and civil offence is that one leads to a criminal punishment because it is an offence against all of society, while the other seeks to redress a wrong committed by one person on another.

In practice, magistrates don't jail people for criminal failure to pay a TV licence unless they have refused to pay a previous fine. That's because prisons are a last resort - reserved for the worst offenders.

Read full article

The man from Martyrs Avenue who became a suicide bomber in Syria

20 March 2014

On 6 February, Abdul Waheed Majeed, from Crawley in West Sussex, drove a truck bomb into the gates of a prison in Syria. Does his death represent everything that the government fears about radicalisation on a foreign battlefield?

A little boy is standing on the sun-bleached pier at Brighton beach, next to his brother.

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Hacking trial: Defence story so far

15 April 2014

The trial of former News of the World journalists accused of a conspiracy to hack mobile phones is now well under way at the Old Bailey.

It is a long and complex trial and the jury of nine women and three men has been listening to many months of evidence.

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About Dominic

Dominic began his career in local newspapers after studying languages at university.

Since joining the BBC in 1998 he has focused on stories relating to law, order, society and belonging - including immigration, ethnicity, the rule of law and terrorism.

He has spent most of his BBC career working online and was one of the pioneers of live online reporting for the BBC, filing stories from the field in the days when mobile phones looked like bricks and we had no idea when the data would reach the news editor.

He is married with two children. His unspellable surname is Italian.

When not undertaking family or work duties, you'll find him cycling up and down hills dreaming of Tour de France greatness.

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