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.

But others say responsibility lies with many of the drug users themselves.

The Home Office notes that half of illicit drugs deaths are among users who have either never taken part in treatment or have not done so for many years.

Ministers like to emphasise the part played in the death figures by an ageing cohort of heroin users - people who started using heroin in the 1990s and 2000s, when its use spread across the country.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Can England become optimistic again?

  • 7 June 2018
  • From the section UK
Tower Bridge

The saccharine aroma of reminiscence pervades many an English front parlour. As mantel clocks tick, the faces of England stare regretfully through net curtains, yearning for yesterday.

Nostalgia, the old joke goes, ain't what it used to be. But in England it appears to be making a comeback, with half the country saying things were better in the past.

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What lies beneath England's allegiances and rivalries?

  • 5 June 2018
  • From the section UK
The cliffs of the Seven Sisters

Beneath the veneer of national identity, England is an elaborate tapestry of allegiances and rivalries.

For centuries, bureaucrats have drawn lines on the map without understanding the invisible ley lines of belonging that criss-cross the English countryside. There are deep loyalties to ancient counties, proud cities and towns, even legendary kingdoms.

Read full article What lies beneath England's allegiances and rivalries?