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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

Savile: 'How could this be allowed to happen?'

  • 26 February 2015
  • From the section UK
Jimmy Savile

"How could this be allowed to happen?" That was the understandable question asked by the Prime Minister David Cameron when presented with details of Jimmy Savile's abuse.

The answers are many and various, today's investigation into his activities at Stoke Mandeville concludes, before adding that "one of the most compelling is quite simply that the basic building blocks of legislation, policy and procedure designed to maintain both public safety and probity were bypassed".

The report suggests that essential safety nets were waived by ministers and senior civil servants in Whitehall because the Thatcher government wanted to use Savile as the poster-boy for charitable funding of the NHS.

"Successive politicians and NHS and DHSS senior officers feted Savile and placed him in a position of authority and trust," the report says, singling out Health Minister Dr Gerard Vaughan for particular criticism.

"It is evident to the investigation that in his desire to promote a public /private partnership an unorthodox arrangement was put into place (that) bypassed statutory frameworks and resulted in the disempowerment of NHS commissioners and managers."

Read full article Savile: 'How could this be allowed to happen?'

Where's the evidence for Lincoln's legal high problem?

  • 24 February 2015
  • From the section UK
Lincoln at night

Are legal highs really causing anti-social behaviour in Lincoln's historic city centre?

The council insists they are and will rubber-stamp an area ban on their consumption at a meeting tonight. The move is being watched by local authorities across the country.

Read full article Where's the evidence for Lincoln's legal high problem?

Housing problems for the future

  • 19 February 2015
  • From the section UK
Derbyshire house under construction

With the release of the final housebuilding figures before the general election, we can judge how successful the coalition has been in its pledge to "unlock the housing market, get Britain building again, and give many more people the satisfaction and security that comes from stepping over their own threshold".

And the short answer is "not very".

Read full article Housing problems for the future

'Don't give up on us,' police tell ministers

  • 22 January 2015
  • From the section UK
Starsky & Hutch Ford Gran Torino

With crime now having fallen to levels not seen since David Soul (Hutch from US cop drama Starsky & Hutch) topped the charts with "Don't Give Up On Us" in 1977, police are worried the statistics will cue even deeper cuts to their budgets.

The argument goes that, if crime remains historically low, we don't need as many officers.

Read full article 'Don't give up on us,' police tell ministers

UK government 'most transparent' in the world

  • 20 January 2015
  • From the section UK

The UK government is the most open and transparent in the world, according to global rankings looking at public access to official data.

But web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, whose organisation compiled the table, says the country has "a long way to go" before it has a fully open government.

Read full article UK government 'most transparent' in the world

Boxing Day Family Puzzler 2014

  • 26 December 2014
  • From the section Magazine
Illustration

Boxing Day wouldn't be Boxing Day without my annual Family Puzzler - now in its seventh sensational year.

This is the festive quiz for people who don't like festive quizzes because they worry they won't know the answers. In my quiz, no-one is expected to know the answers.

Read full article Boxing Day Family Puzzler 2014

Whitehall v town hall

  • 18 December 2014
  • From the section UK
Leeds town hall

The swirling wind of anti-politics that has swept across the Westminster parliament in recent times stems from a conviction that the politicians sitting on warm green leather in the House of Commons are oblivious to the harsh realities of ordinary life.

It is that sense of a London elite, out of touch with the real world, that has encouraged politicians of all stripes to talk of the importance of localism.

Read full article Whitehall v town hall

What is an English law?

  • 16 December 2014
  • From the section UK
An image of the English flag with the words 'Home Rule' was projected onto the Houses of Parliament by democracy group POWER2010 as part of a St George's Day protest to demand an end to non-English MPs voting on English laws at Westminster.
April 2014 protest to demand an end to non-English MPs voting on English laws

It all sounds so straightforward - only English MPs should vote on matters that affect only England.

But defining an English law is far from easy. For a start, any law that involves government departments spending extra money in England, or which reduces the amount of money spent in England, will have a knock-on impact on how much money other parts of the United Kingdom receive under the Barnett formula - the system for allocating Treasury funds to devolved administrations.

Read full article What is an English law?

Learning the facts about learning

  • 26 November 2014
  • From the section UK
Pupil holding pencil

School uniforms instil discipline and improve performance. Streaming pupils gets better results. Teaching assistants take the strain off hard-working teachers and help children learn. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

New government-commissioned research into "what works" suggests many of the approaches we think make a difference are either a waste of money or may make matters worse.

Uniform policy? NO.

Read full article Learning the facts about learning

Don't have nightmares - crime is down

  • 18 November 2014
  • From the section UK
Police officer in dark with back turned

Recorded crime has always been an unsatisfactory way to measure crime trends and it is a mistake to think that improving recording practices will make it a more accurate indicator of whether particular crimes are rising or falling.

Despite the assertion today from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) that police force crime data is an important factor in providing "as clear as possible a picture of the levels of crime", it does no such thing.

Read full article Don't have nightmares - crime is down

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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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