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UK prisoners to get phones in cells in a bid to curb violence

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Thousands of prisoners will be able to make calls from their cells, as part of government plans to reduce violence and crime in prisons in England and Wales.

The move is part of a £30m package of measures to be announced later today by Justice Secretary David Gauke.

The scheme, already in place at 20 prisons, is to be extended to a further 20 over the next two years.

Most prisoners currently queue for public phones which can be a trigger for violence, the government said.

It can also fuel the demand for illicit mobile phones, the Ministry of Justice added.

Mr Gauke will make a speech announcing government plans to invest £7m to install in-cell phones, which will be subject to strict security measures.

All calls, which will continue to be paid for by prisoners, will be recorded and they must be to phone numbers on an approved list.

The proposal is based on Lord Farmer’s report last year that found good family relationships are “indispensable” to the government’s prison reform plans.

Improving prisoners’ ability to maintain ties with relatives after they are jailed is seen as a key factor in reducing the reoffending rates.

HMP Altcourse in Liverpool, one of the prisons which already installs phones in cells, was praised earlier this year by the chief inspector of prisons for “bucking the trend” of rising violence.

The government announcement was welcomed by John McLaughlin, director of the privately-run Oakwood in Wolverhampton, which also permits calls from some of its cells.

He said: “Anything that enhances the contact between a prisoner and his family or loved ones is vital.

“I’ve worked in prisons where telephony is available on the landings, there’s a queuing system, people can’t get the contact with their loved ones at the appropriate time of day.”

As part of the £30m package aimed at improving safety, security and decency in jails, ministers will also unveil a new intelligence system for assessing the risks posed by offenders behind bars.

Every prisoner will be given a “risk rating” according to their chances of taking part in violence, escapes, disturbances and gang activity.

The new digital tool – which compiles data from law enforcement databases and prison incident reports – is being extended across the prison service after a pilot in 16 jails.

It has already identified 12 prolific criminals for transfer to more secure prisons.

About 6,500 prisoners are estimated by authorities to have links to organised crime in England and Wales.

Mr Gauke’s announcement comes a day before the publication of the annual report by the chief inspector of prisons.

BBC

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Chris Cash: The UK Parliamentary Researcher Accused of Spying for Beijing Authorities

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In March of this year, a British parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy. The researcher, Chris Cash, was revealed to be a 28-year-old history graduate with links to many Tory MPs. He had been seen associating with senior Tories such as security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns. Cash was believed to have been recruited as a sleeper agent while living and working in China and sent back to the UK to infiltrate political networks critical of the Beijing regime.

Cash was the leader of the China Research Group, a body advocating for a more hawkish British policy towards China. Co-founded by Tory ministers Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien in April 2020, the group focused on industrial, technological, and foreign policy issues. The group’s website claimed that it aimed to provide informed knowledge on China and promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.

Chris Cash was arrested in Edinburgh and released on bail until early October, along with another suspect. It is unclear how much access Cash had to foreign affairs intelligence or what kind of influence he may have held in Westminster. While he held a parliamentary pass, he did not have security clearance.

China has denied all accusations of involvement in an espionage scheme involving Cash, calling them malicious slander.

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Pope Sends Prayers to Comfort Morocco Earthquake Victims as Death Toll Surpasses 2,000

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On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and support for the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, resulting in the highest number of fatalities in over 60 years. During his Angelus message, he prayed for those injured and those who lost their lives, along with their families.

The Pope also expressed his gratitude towards the rescue workers who are working tirelessly to help the victims. He concluded by saying that they stand in solidarity with the people of Morocco during this difficult time.

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African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants

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The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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