Working together for a resilient Birmingham.

Government outlines next steps to make the UK the safest place to be online

The Prime Minister has announced plans to review laws and make sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online as the Government marks Safer Internet Day (6 February 2018).

  • New review launched into online laws
  • Code of practice will set new standards for online platforms
  • New guide for teachers to develop children’s online safety skills

The Prime Minister has announced plans to review laws and make sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online as the Government marks Safer Internet Day.

The Law Commission will launch a review of current legislation on offensive online communications to ensure that laws are up to date with technology.

As set out in the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper, the Government is clear that abusive and threatening behaviour online is totally unacceptable. This work will determine whether laws are effective enough in ensuring parity between the treatment of offensive behaviour that happens offline and online.

The Prime Minister has also announced:

  • That the Government will introduce a comprehensive new social media code of practice this year, setting out clearly the minimum expectations on social media companies
  • The introduction of an annual internet safety transparency report – providing UK data on offensive online content and what action is being taken to remove it.

Other announcements made today by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Matt Hancock include:

  • A new online safety guide for those working with children, including school leaders and teachers, to prepare young people for digital life
  • A commitment from major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter to put in place specific support during election campaigns to ensure abusive content can be dealt with quickly – and that they will provide advice and guidance to Parliamentary candidates on how to remain safe and secure online

DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said:

We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online and having listened to the views of parents, communities and industry, we are delivering on the ambitions set out in our Internet Safety Strategy.

Not only are we seeing if the law needs updating to better tackle online harms, we are moving forward with our plans for online platforms to have tailored protections in place – giving the UK public standards of internet safety unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said:

There are laws in place to stop abuse but we’ve moved on from the age of green ink and poison pens. The digital world throws up new questions and we need to make sure that the law is robust and flexible enough to answer them.

If we are to be safe both on and off line, the criminal law must offer appropriate protection in both spaces. By studying the law and identifying any problems we can give government the full picture as it works to make the UK the safest place to be online.

The latest announcements follow the publication of the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper last year which outlined plans for a social media code of practice. The aim is to prevent abusive behaviour online, introduce more effective reporting mechanisms to tackle bullying or harmful content, and give better guidance for users to identify and report illegal content. The Government will be outlining further steps on the strategy, including more detail on the code of practice and transparency reports, in the spring.

To support this work, people working with children including teachers and school leaders will be given a new guide for online safety, to help educate young people in safe internet use. Developed by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS, the toolkit describes the knowledge and skills for staying safe online that children and young people should have at different stages of their lives.

Major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter have also agreed to take forward a recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) to provide specific support for Parliamentary candidates so that they can remain safe and secure while on these sites. during election campaigns. These are important steps in safeguarding the free and open elections which are a key part of our democracy.

ENDS

Note to editors:

Included in the Law Commission’s scope for their review will be the Malicious Communications Act and the Communications Act. It will consider whether difficult concepts need to be reconsidered in the light of technological change – for example, whether the definition of who a ‘sender’ is needs to be updated.

The Government will bring forward an Annual Internet Safety Transparency report, as proposed in our Internet Safety Strategy green paper. The reporting will show:

  • the amount of harmful content reported to companies
  • the volume and proportion of this material that is taken down
  • how social media companies are handling and responding to complaints
  • how each online platform moderates harmful and abusive behaviour and the policies they have in place to tackle it.

Annual reporting will help to set baselines against which to benchmark companies’ progress, and encourage the sharing of best practice between companies.

The new social media code of practice will outline standards and norms expected from online platforms. It will cover:

  • The development, enforcement and review of robust community guidelines for the content uploaded by users and their conduct online
  • The prevention of abusive behaviour online and the misuse of social media platforms – including action to identify and stop users who are persistently abusing services
  • The reporting mechanisms that companies have in place for inappropriate, bullying and harmful content, and ensuring they have clear policies and performance metrics for taking this content down
  • The guidance social media companies offer to help users identify illegal content and contact online, and advise them on how to report it to the authorities, to ensure this is as clear as possible
  • The policies and practices companies apply around privacy issues.

Education for a Connected World: A framework to equip children and young people for digital life is available on the UKCCIS page of GOV.UK.

  • Guidance is given on eight different aspects of online education: self-image and identity, online relationships, online reputation, online bullying, managing online information, health, wellbeing and lifestyle, privacy and security, and copyright and ownership.
  • The Framework has been developed by members of the UKCCIS Education Working Group.
  • UKCCIS is a group of more than 200 organisations drawn from across government, industry, law, academia and charity sectors working in partnership to help keep children safe online.
  • The UKCCIS Education Working Group brings together ten leading organisations in online safety in education:, Barnardo’s, CEOP (the child protection command of the National Crime Agency), Childnet, Department for Education, Kent County Council, the NSPCC, Parent Zone, the PSHE Association, South West Grid for Learning and the UK Safer Internet Centre. It focuses on how education settings in the UK are responding to the challenges of keeping their pupils safe online.

Supportive statements:

Jonathan Baggaley, CEO of the PSHE Association said:

We’re delighted to have supported the development of the UKCCIS framework. Education plays a critical role in preparing young people for the opportunities and challenges of this rapidly changing digital world. The UKCCIS framework provides an invaluable tool for teachers, supporting them to plan a developmental curriculum which will help children to thrive online.’

Ken Corish, Online Safety Director at South West Grid for Learning said:

Children and young people use technology in empowering and sophisticated ways in online environments that have become increasingly complex. Our approach to educating in this area requires a sophistication to match; it should resonate; be relevant and prompt the outcomes that affect cultural change.

This UKCCIS framework has been designed to identify those opportunities for anyone shaping their teaching in this area from very young children right through to young adults. It brings the current online technology landscape into one document and maps those opportunities against age/developmental stage.

We think it is both challenging and relevant and hope it assists in creating online technology education that makes a difference.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

Barnardo’s welcomes this framework for educators to help children and young people of all ages stay safe and have a positive experience online.

The fast-moving digital world puts increasing pressures on children which can affect their self-image and make them vulnerable to potential bullying and grooming online.

This UKCISS framework should be used by the tech industry to incorporate age appropriate safeguards into their apps and platforms to help prevent abuse happening.

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Exercise TrentEx18 – Major flood exercise from the source of the Trent to the Humber

A major exercise is taking place this week (6th – 8th February 2018) that will test the response to a major flooding incident along the whole of the River Trent, the third longest river in the country. 

The scenario will test how the Environment Agency, emergency services, councils, government departments, utility companies, the Met office and the military exchange information, provide aid and test local and regional emergency plans.

The exercise is based on a period of long period of wet weather that has saturated the region, followed by an intense storm which causes significant flooding.

Local Resilience Forums from Staffordshire to Humberside will be involved alongside Strategic and Tactical co-ordination groups, with the Environment Agency injecting extra challenging scenarios for those involved along the way to keep everyone focused and ensure it challenges those involved.

Paul Lockhart, East Midlands Flood Risk Manager at the Environment Agency said: “We don’t get second chances during a major flooding incident so it is essential that we test our response through exercises like this one, to make sure every organisation can work together to do everything possible for communities when we are faced with the real thing.”

“We appreciate that major flooding events don’t take place regularly and therefore many people often don’t think about the potential consequences. It is great for the public to know that so many organisations will be looking out for them if the worst happened, but whilst we can reduce the risk of flooding, major weather events do occur which test flood defences and in the worst scenarios overwhelm them. 

“Flooding is dangerous and can happen very quickly. The effects can be devastating. There are a number of things you can do to prepare for flooding to keep yourself and your family safe. Find out if your home is at risk, sign up for flood warnings and be ready to take action. Visit www.gov.uk/flood or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

Learning from the exercise will be used to shape how organisations respond to a major flooding incident on the River Trent in the future.

 Notes to Editors

      We provide free flood warnings across England to warn of the risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and groundwater Anyone can sign up. Visit www.gov.uk/flood or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188. 

      We issue 3 levels of flood warnings: Flood Alert, Flood Warning and Severe Flood Warning. 

           Flood Alert – Prepare. Flooding is possible.

           Flood Warning – Act. Flooding is expected. Immediate action required.

           Severe Flood Warning – Survive. Severe flooding. Danger to life.  

Know what to do when you receive a flood warning and view our three point flood plan at https://floodsdestroy.campaign.gov.uk/

      If you live in an area at risk of flooding, prepare a bag of essential items now to take with you if you have to leave your home. Keep this in a safe place. You could include things like spare medication, glasses, clothing, important documents and contact numbers. 

      Create a checklist of things to do to protect your family such as turning off the electricity and gas to prevent a fire. You could also add important contact details such as the number of your insurance company. Download a template from www.gov.uk/flood

      Check if your community has a flood group, if not, set up your own, and complete a community flood plan. You can download a template from www.gov.uk/flood.   

      Monitor local water levels and weather conditions. You can check river and sea levels in England on www.gov.uk/flood. Visit the Met Office website for local weather forecasts at www.metoffice.gov.uk.

      Think about getting insurance to protect your home or business against flooding. Check if flood insurance is part of your buildings and contents insurance. If you are finding it difficult to get your property insured for flooding, the National Flood Forum may be able to help www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk  

      Think about making your property resilient to flooding. To reduce flood damage you can take steps such as laying tiles instead of carpets, moving electrical sockets higher up the wall and fitting non-return valves. Suppliers of flood products and services can be found on the Bluepages. http://bluepages.org.uk/.

 

New multi-million pound flood scheme in Birmingham opened

A new flood scheme that reduces the risk of flooding to more than 200 homes and businesses in Selly Park South was officially opened on Friday 19 January 2018.

The scheme, which cost £2.7million to construct, has been delivered as part of the Environment Agency’s programme of £2.5bn investment into flood defences across the country. The scheme was made possible through a partnership with Birmingham City Council and St Andrew’s Healthcare.

The flood defences include a 500m long embankment on the public open space next to Dogpool Lane bridge. By doing this, the Environment Agency has created a flood storage area which will store water from the River Rea during times of heavy rainfall and then slowly release it back into the river when river water levels go down. The Environment Agency have also built a new flood wall and a higher river bank at the rear of 15 homes which back onto the river.

Mike Adams from the Environment Agency said:

We’re pleased to deliver these flood protection measures for the people of Selly Park South. This community has experienced the terrible effects of flooding and the measures we’ve built here reduces future risk of flooding. We would like to thank local people for their patience and support throughout the building of this scheme.

Councillor Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for the Environment from Birmingham City Council said:

We’ve seen the devastating impact that flooding can have on communities, so I am delighted that these new measures are now in place. These will make a real difference by reducing the risk of flooding to hundreds of homes and businesses in Selly Park South.

Along with flood defences, knowing your flood risk is also important when protecting your family and property from flooding. People can check their risk and register to receive free flood warnings online or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

s300_image2__002_GOV Flood Scheme Selly Park

Public Summary of Sector Security and Resilience Plans

The Cabinet Office commissions Lead Government Departments (LGDs) responsible for the UK’s 13 critical sectors to produce annual Sector Security and Resilience Plans (SSRPs), which describe:

LGDs’ approaches to critical sector security and resilience;

their assessments of significant risks to their sectors;

their approach to security and resilience in the UK; and

activities they plan to undertake to mitigate and respond to those risks.

To see how the Cabinet Office works with a range of Government Departments to ensure critical functions are secure and resilient in the ‘Public Summary of Sector Security and Resilience plans. Public_Summary_of_Sector_Security_and_Resilience_Plans_2017__FINAL_PDF___1_

 

 

PHE launches Change4Life campaign around children’s snacking

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Public Health England (PHE) is helping parents take control of their children’s snacking by launching the first Change4Life campaign promoting healthier snacks.

This is because half of children’s sugar intake, currently around 7 sugar cubes a day, comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks, leading to obesity and dental decay.

Each year children are consuming almost 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; around 100 portions of sweets; nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams; washed down with over 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

On average, children are consuming at least 3 unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming 4 or more. The overall result is that children consume 3 times more sugar than is recommended.

The new Change4Life campaign encourages parents to look for ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ to help them purchase healthier snacks than the ones they currently buy.

Selected supermarkets are supporting the campaign. As part of their wider work promoting good health, Tesco will help parents – instore and online – choose affordable, healthier snacks that are 100 calories or less. Co-op will also provide tasty and healthy snacking products, making it easier for customers to make healthier choices on the go.

Parents can also get money-off vouchers from Change4Life to help them try healthier snack options, including malt loaf, lower-sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.

Many of the unhealthy snacks children consume regularly are high in sugar and also typically high in calories, for example:

  • an ice-cream contains around 175 calories
  • a pack of crisps contains around 190 calories
  • a chocolate bar contains around 200 calories
  • a pastry contains around 270 calories

The ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ tip applies to all snacks apart from fruit and vegetables, as children should also be encouraged to eat a variety of these to achieve their 5 A Day.

Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England, said:

The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned.

To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – look for 100 calories snacks, two a day max.

Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said:

The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mind-blowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren’t.

This rule of thumb from Change4Life will help parents make healthier choices, which can only be a good thing.

PHE’s improved Change4Life ‘Food Scanner’ app also shows parents how many calories, sugar, salt and saturated fat is in their food to help make healthier choices easier. It can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

With a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, tackling obesity requires wider action and is not just limited to individual efforts from parents. PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20% of sugar from the products children consume most by 2020, with work to reduce calories due to start in 2018.

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