Poverty means super-profits for some. Demand for pawnbrokers—where people hand in their possessions for cash or as a guarantee when they borrow money—has hit “record levels” in Britain. That’s because of high inflation and a shortage of alternatives, according to the boss of Britain’s biggest operator.
H&T Group said pre-tax profit rose 31 percent to £8.8 million in the first half of this year compared with 2022. Its “pledge book”—loans against customer assets such as jewellery and watches—was worth £114.6 million in June, up from £85.1 million in the same month last year. Chief executive Chris Gillespie said demand had reached “record levels” partly because of the high cost of living. Pawnbroker Ramsdens is also on the up. Pre-tax profit in the six months to March rose 68 percent to £3.7 million on a 33 percent rise in revenue.
A company created to help the government chase unpaid fines, loans and council tax saw its profits rocket by 132 percent last year. Integrated Debt Services (IDS), which trades as Indesser and whose parent company is the credit information firm Equifax, saw its pre-tax profits rise to £18.1 million in 2022.
That’s sharply up on 2021’s figure of £7.8 million. The pandemic had caused IDS, which acts as a link between the government and debt collection agencies, to pause some of its operations, the accounts said, but there was an “acceleration of activity” in 2022.
The company paid a dividend of £12 million to the Nottingham-based debt collection firm TDX Group, which is ultimately owned by Equifax. IDS was created in 2014, the idea of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. Its first six customers were HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office, the Student Loans Company, the Legal Aid Agency and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
BBC presenter Stephen Nolan has said he is “deeply sorry” following claims that he shared a sexually explicit photograph with staff.A number of claims were made in The Irish News last week, including that he had sent the image of the reality television star Stephen Bear to other members of staff in 2016.
Nolan allegedly said he would send further pictures of Bear’s penis unless the disgraced celebrity was booked on his show. Bear was sentenced to 21 months in prison this year for two counts of revenge porn and one of voyeurism after he circulated footage of Georgia Harrison, his former girlfriend, engaged in sexual activity. She won £200,000 in compensation. Nolan, is the fifth‑highest paid BBC “star” on £400,000 a year. Addressing the allegations on his radio show on BBC Radio Ulster, he said, “I am not ignoring the story. It is just that the BBC has processes in place to deal with staff complaints and I do need to totally respect those processes.”
A serving Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with rape and a string of other offences, some of which were allegedly committed while he was on duty.PC James Murray, who was attached to Met Operations, was arrested on Wednesday and charged the following day. He is accused of rape, non-fatal strangulation, actual bodily harm, misconduct in public office, possession of a firearm (Pava spray), and four counts of possession of an offensive weapon in a private place.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between January and August, with some of them allegedly taking place while Murray was on duty. He has been suspended from duty and a referral has been made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. A Scotland Yard spokesman said a woman who is known to PC Murray is receiving support from specially trained officers.
Big drug sweeps, narcotics seizures and mass arrests of dealers have been a cornerstone of America’s war on drugs since the 1970s. But new research published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests drug busts and police crackdowns on dealers may actually be making the overdose crisis worse.
The study is based on data gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana, that found patterns of overdose and death that followed drug seizures in the city. With opioids we saw overdoses double in the area immediately surrounding a seizure, within maybe a five-minute walk of that seizure over the next several weeks,” said Jennifer Carroll, a medical anthropologist at North Carolina State University and co-author of the article. It shows that after seizures people with addiction wind up buying fentanyl, methamphetamines and other high-risk street drugs from strangers selling drugs of different potency—often with different, more dangerous ingredients.
When people experiencing severe addiction are forced to go without drugs—even for a short period of time —it can alter their level of tolerance. When they begin using again they may be more vulnerable to overdose and death. Legalising drugs and prioritising treatment for those who need it is the only safe way forward.
Documents in the case of Andy Malkinson show the DNA of another man was identified three years after he was wrongly jailed for rape. Yet he was not freed until 15 years laster. Malkinson was found guilty in 2004 of raping a woman in Greater Manchester and only had his conviction quashed last month.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) accepted that DNA obtained long ago from the victim’s clothing—but never fully and repeatedly tested for matches—pointed to another man. The key agencies involved in Malkinson’s case knew by 2009 of this exonerating DNA. In December 2009, the scientists told CPS lawyers and the cops they were sure they had identified DNA from an unknown man.
‘I have been overwhelmed by the love and support of the British people’
Rishi Sunak last week
‘One reporter was even briefly denied the chance to go to the toilet, being told that we would be able to leave “soon”’
Journalists said they were banned from photographing Rishi Sunak—with one even being denied access to the toilet—and were looked in a room for an hour when he visited the Midlands
‘Work more and harder’
Spokesperson on why Liz Truss used the official plane usually reserved for the prime minister and the royal family for 69 of the 78 flights she took between September 2021 and July 2022 at a cost of £1.8 million
‘164 extra police for Gloucestershire’
Leaflets from Tory Sarah Atherton MP bombard Wrexham constituents with ‘Wrexham News’—but full of information for a constituency which is 100 miles away
Crushing legal fees add to the repressive armoury
Troublemaker looks at the week's news
Troublemaker looks at highlights of the week's news
Troublemaker looks at the week's news