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New concerns over right to detain travellers...

Civil liberty campaigners last night voiced fresh concerns over police and immigration counter-terrorism powers to question and detain for up to nine hours anyone travelling through a British airport, port or railway station.

The Home Office said this week it is to ask parliament to approve changes in the application of the powers, which critics say are the most widely drawn in the current counter-terrorist armoury because the police do not need even a suspicion of terrorist involvement to detain someone.

The exceptional powers, which can be used by police, customs or immigration officers to question and detain travellers, were introduced without controversy under the Terrorism Act 2000, before 9/11, and targeted at Northern Irish paramilitary splinter groups.

A Home Office consultation document to update their operation emerged this week in advance of Thursday's detailed proposals for a new counter-terror bill. But Liberty, the human rights organisation, said in the era of al-Qaida terrorism they were now a licence for "racial profiling" at ports and airports.

Gareth Crossman, Liberty's policy director, said: "These [powers] are even broader than the section 44 stop and search powers of the 2000 Terrorism Act because they allow for somebody to be detained without them being suspected of involvement in terrorism."

The powers are designed to be used to "detect, deter and disrupt terrorist movements in and out of the UK" and give officers the power to search travellers' luggage and vehicles, strip search their bodies, and seize and retain for up to seven days any property that is found. Access to a solicitor is allowed but the examination will not be suspended pending their arrival.

The revised code of practice proposed by the Home Office this week says that the powers are used exclusively by Special Branch officers "because of the sensitive nature of much of the intelligence which informs their application".


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GPs to ask patients about crimes.


Doctors are being forced to question some patients about crimes they have committed and fill out a form for a government database.

GPs, medical professionals and others working in drug treatment programmes will be required from this month to ask addicts whether, in the past four weeks, they have been involved in shoplifting, selling drugs, vehicle crime, theft or burglary, fraud, forgery or violence.

The "Treatment Outcomes Profile" form - which is aimed at measuring the success of drugs treatment - has troubled some doctors, who believe it could either deter patients from seeking treatment because they fear doctors will breach confidentiality, or will encourage them to lie.

The form has been introduced quietly by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA).

The aim of the one-page form is to assess the social activity and health of patients receiving treatment for the use of drugs including crack cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis and alcohol.

The form requires the name and date of birth of the patient, though the NTA has suggested the information can be "anonymised" before being passed on.

Concerns about the forms emerged on the website of Healthcare Republic, an on-line newsletter for doctors. One GP commented: "What on earth are providers of services supposed to do with the forced confessions they might receive?

"If you were receiving treatment, and were suddenly asked about criminal activity for the purpose of reporting it, how truthful would you be?"


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Reply All? World's Worst Email Blunders.
42 blunders every minute
42 blunders every minute

Called the Great Email Disasters it lists some of the best and worst examples of people sending the wrong emails to the wrong person.

But if you are one of the unlucky ones who have clicked "Reply All" by accident, then don't worry because you are far from alone.

A survey by search engine Lycos estimates 42 email mistakes are made every minute in the UK.

Of those, 60% sent an email to the wrong person, and 33% of the messages were steamy.

The survey also found nearly a quarter of wrongly addressed emails mocked the person they were accidentally sent to.

Perhaps the most famous example is Claire Swires, who cemented her place in cyber history by sending a saucy email to her then boyfriend while working at the London law firm Norton Rose.

Her boyfriend decided to forward it to a few of his closest chums, who then forwarded it to their pals, and before long before Claire was a global talking point, and the word 'yum' had a whole different connotation.

Here, the book's author Chas Newkey-Burden lists a number of his favourite howlers...

:: Chat-up cheese

Joseph Dobbie briefly met a woman at a barbecue party. He later acquired her email address and sent her a toe-curling message, describing her smile as "the freshest of my special memories" adding that he was sure she would "be able to see sincerity where others would see cliche".

Instead, she forwarded the message to her sister and millions ended up reading it. Dobbie had included his phone number on the message and was bombarded with mocking calls from around the globe.

:: Insult the aged

Headmaster Patrick Hazlewood and his school's bursar Barry Worth jointly received an emailed complaint from local pensioner Mary Kelly about some misbehaviour by their pupils. "Tell her to get stuffed," typed Hazlewood, thinking his response was only going to his colleague. Alas, he hit "Reply All".

:: Human Relations

Senior personnel officer John Crook recommended one of his colleagues for a pay rise and was asked by his line manager why he felt his colleague deserved it. He gave his reasons and jokingly added: "She was a grrrrrrrrreat shag as well!" He lost both his job and a subsequent claim for unfair dismissal.

:: Jo Moore has a very bad day

As the World Trade Centre crumbled on September 11, 2001, Transport Secretary Stephen Byers' special adviser Jo Moore emailed colleagues suggesting it was a good day to bury bad news. She had to apologise after the email became public and later lost her job over accusations she had made a similar recommendation for the day of Princess Margaret's funeral.

:: Pundits panned

When BBC Five Live acquired the services of football commentators Andy Gray and Jonathon Pearce for the 2002 World Cup, executive editor of BBC Sports News Graeme Reid-Davies jokingly emailed a colleague saying: "I think they're both crap." He accidentally copied his message to 500 members of the BBC sports staff - including Gray and Pearce. "I can't believe I was such an arse," he later reflected.

:: Racist and sexist

When black secretary Rachel Walker announced her resignation from his firm, lawyer Adam Dowdney emailed a colleague saying: "Can we go for a real fit busty blonde this time?" Walker saw the message and sued for sex and race discrimination. She received £10,000 out of court.

:: Match of the day

City worker Trevor Luxton emailed friends recounting how he sat watching a football match on television, being fellated by a female friend, while he chatted to his oblivious fiancee on the phone. After the email was leaked he resigned from his firm, his fiancee dumped him and he later claimed that he'd made the whole story up.

:: Penta-gone

Devon schoolgirl Claire McDonald found herself receiving emails containing top secret information from the Pentagon after being accidentally added to a round robin list by a navy commander. One of them was offering advice to the UK on how to prevent secrets from being leaked.

:: Web Browser

Shortly after Gordon Brown returned from a charm offensive in China, Treasury press officer Robbie Browse sent an email to some friends which made fun of Chinese people's eyes. He accidentally copied it to his press list, containing 83 leading national newspaper journalists. One them immediately replied asking: "Will we all be invited to your leaving party?" Browse faced disciplinary action.


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Mark Thomas tells of his campaign against the Act which requires anyone wishing to protest near the Houses of Parliament to obtain a permit.
 
Welcome to the world of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

This is the law that requires you to get permission from the police to demonstrate in Parliament Square. However, what counts as a demonstration according to the police is one person with a banner or one person with a badge standing in Parliament Square for just one minute.

Being arrested for wearing a badge or a T shirt seems a tad Kim Jong Il to me.

These are strange times and we have a strange law- its a mix of Kafkaesque absurdism and British bureaucratic prowess which has lead us to the state where a woman was threatened with arrest for having a picnic in Palriament Square. Her cake had the word PEACE iced upon it and the police insisted this counted as an unauthorised political protest.

The law has seen Maya Evans arrested and convicted for reading out the names of Iraqi and British war dead by the Cenotaph.

And on Red Nose Day I had to apply and receive permission from the police to wear a red nose in Parliament Square. The police advised me that if I wore a red nose without permission I could be arrested for an having unathorised demonstration.

The show celebrates peoples protests against this law as well as trying to show the absurd lengths it has gone to.

If you have any questions about the law or want to find out how to organise your own protests or just want to argue about the programme then feel free to drop me a line here.

Mark

If you want to find out more about this act use the form below to send us your questions, Mark will be back to answer them over the coming week.

Or
read what the Home Office have to say about the Act.

Useful Links:

See the area covered by the Act

The BBC's Action Network web site

Mark Thomas' own web site

The Home Office web site

Mark Wallinger's State Britain exhibition


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THIS IS A WAKE-UP CALL FOR SCOTLAND.
 
TERROR TARGET SCOTLAND
 
We have grown accustomed to terrorism being someone else's problem while believing that our country was a safe haven .. this illusion is now shattered forever.

IT MIGHT have been called global terrorism but Scotland always assumed that didn't mean us.

The attack on Glasgow Airport has hammered the terrorist threat home.

It was a stark reminder that we have been wrong to see Scotland as immune.

While England has endured terrorist atrocities for decades, the most recent incident to affect Scotland was Lockerbie which was nearly 20 years ago.

Since then, the nearest Scots have come to the threat has been watching it on TV from their armchairs.

Now it's on our doorstep. Being a small country made us think we were too insignificant for the militants to trifle with.

But Scotland was not small enough to slip under the terrorists' radar.

If anything, the fact that we have had so little experience of direct attacks has made us a soft target.

There was no reason why terrorists would not perceive us as legitimate a target as any other western country.

We have been dangerously apathetic to the seriousness of the threat.

The timing of the attack is a reflection of our nation's increasing profile.

Gordon Brown's appointment brings to Westminster the first Prime Minister from a Scottish constituency since 1963.

While the bomb plot is a message that a change of leader won't appease the militants, it doesn't mean Brown's Scottish roots haven't been noted.

The plot also coincided with the opening of the Scottish parliament by the Queen and the knowledge that security resources would have been focused on Edinburgh.

It was the start of the Scottish school holidays, which saw Glasgow Airport packed to the gunnels.

MAXIMUM impact is an even greater priority to the Islamic extremists than geography.

Geography was crucial in the conflict in Northern Ireland, with Scotland escaping any attack from either the IRA or the Loyalists.

Irish terrorists viewed the Scots as Celtic brothers, with a perceived camaraderie between small nations.

While London and other English cities were being blasted with bombs, Scotland was left in peace. As a result, we have grown accustomed to terrorism being someone else's problem, England's specifically.

Perhaps Scotland assumed that its fervent opposition to the war in Iraq would win favour with the militants.

But terrorists don't care how many of us take to the streets in protest against Iraq.

They have no respect for democratic movements.

While the anti-war activists mobilised against the war, Scotland's soldiers were at the forefront of the fighting.

Only last week, two Black Watch privates from Gordon Brown's Fife constituency lost their lives in a car bomb attack in Basra. Eight Black Watch soldiers have died in the last four years, among the highest number of fatalities for any infantry regiment which has served in Iraq.

Scotland is embroiled in the conflict whether it likes it or not.

It is reassuring that the bombers were not Scots. It would be more depressing if our attackers were home-grown.

Scotland has always been proud of it's good race relations and, as a consequence, we have not considered Islamic extremism to be our problem.

But terrorism doesn't recognise borders, militants travel. Islamist fanatics don't care that Scotland's Muslims have been happily integrated in to the country.

Our nation has welcomed diversity and, on the whole, there has been tolerance and understanding between communities.

Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman for the Muslim Association of Great Britain says there has "not been a peep of extremism in Scotland to date".

There has certainly been little evidence that any of Scotland's imams or mosques have been preaching hatred or extremism.

Th general message from our Muslim community continues to be one of moderation. There has been some evidence of a problem of Islamic militancy in Scotland, albeit small.

MI5 sent a regional intelligence squad north to monitor Muslim extremism here.

There have been reports of militants recruiting in our universities, with Muslim activists in Dundee causing the greatest concern.

Extremist groups Al-Muhajiroun and Hizbut-Tahrir have a presence in Glasgow and Dundee.

But Scotland has seen nowhere near the level of militant activity present south of the Border.

Scotland's Muslims are as horrified by the attacks as the wider community and terrified of reprisals.

First Minister Alex Salmond was correct to emphasise that individuals, not communities, were responsible for their actions.

VICTIMISING Scotland's minority communities would be morally reprehensible and playing into the hands of the fanatics.

We should be grateful that Scotland escaped relatively unhurt from Saturday's attack.

It could have been so much worse.

Scotland has woken up to the reality that it is a target and it can no longer afford to be complacent.

The police and airport staff were rightly commended for their swift action at the scene of the bomb attack.

But Scotland was caught off guard.

There are suggestions that US intelligence agencies warned of a potential attack against Britain's aircraft or airports.

The police and MI5 say they had no specific intelligence warning of a plan to attack Scotland.

But there had been two failed car bombs in London and yet Scotland had not significantly increased security at its airports.

The terror threat warning is now critical but, as the First Minister has suggested, it is important that we remain calm.

If life stops in Scotland, it will be a victory for the militants.

But that is not to say we can delude ourselves.

We should consider the Glasgow attack to be a narrow escape and a warning that Scotland is now a target.

Terrorism has travelled north and we have to be vigilant.

The illusion that Scotland is a safe haven has been shattered forever.


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SHE COULDN'T HACK IT...
 

Moscow mum Yekaterina Petrayeva, 71, who was kept awake by her son Valery's sex sessions with a string of girlfriends, killed him with an axe.

 

She faces jail but said: "I'll get a decent night's sleep."


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JUSTICE minister Kenny MacAskill yesterday toasted the courage of Glasgow airport hero John Smeaton.

Baggage handler John, 31, won plaudits after tackling one of the terror suspects. Admirers have pledged money to buy him 1000 drinks for his bravery.

MacAskill said: "A thousand pints waiting behind the bar of the airport hotel for him may not accord with the Executive's policy on responsible drinking, but God bless John Smeaton."

MacAskill was speaking of his pride in ordinary Scots' spirit.

He added: "They have shown great resilience in their determination to get on with their lives."

The SNP MSP was visiting a mosque in Edinburgh with the message that the attacks at the airport and London would not divide Scotland.

He met people from different faiths to reassure them the Executive would work to strengthen community relations.

MacAskill also condemned racial incidents in the aftermath of the attacks. He said: "We will not tolerate the venting of such racist spleen."

The Nat spoke of the major contribution Muslims make to life in Scotland, adding: "We must bear in mind these attacks were carried out by individuals, not by a community."

Mosque spokesman Sohaib Saeed said MacAskill's comments were "reassuring".


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If you feel you have been wronged in the press, here are the people to contact:

Press Complaints Commission

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'Goldfinger' swindler arrested...

 

 
A BRITISH swindler accused of heading an international criminal network was arrested by Spanish police today.

John Palmer, 57, is accused of cheating tourists, drugs and weapons trafficking, counterfeiting, bribing public officials and assault.

Palmer was arrested in Tenerife, where he made his home after being released from a UK jail sentence for timeshare fraud.

It was in Tenerife that he built a multimillion-pound timeshare business that cheated thousands of Britons who wanted a holiday home in the sun.

Two decades ago Palmer was cleared of handling proceeds from the £26million Brink’s-Mat bullion raid at Heathrow in 1983.

Since then the former jeweller, who once ranked 105th in the Sunday Times Rich List, has been nicknamed “Goldfinger”.

He is accused of using his real estate assets in Tenerife and in the Costa del Sol region of southern Spain in an elaborate time-share fraud.

In 2002 Palmer, originally from Bath, was ordered to pay a record £35m plus in confiscation, compensation and costs payments at the Old Bailey.

This was later overturned by the Court of Appeal because of procedural blunders by the court.

At the time he was serving an eight-year jail term, originally as a high risk category A prisoner, for masterminding the sophisticated fraud.

The sentence followed an intensive investigation by detectives which uncovered evidence that Palmer was a serious organised criminal.


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This year is set to be one of the warmest on record in Scotland, environmental campaigners say.

WWF Scotland has analysed Met Office figures and concluded that the last month in particular had been exceptionally warm, dull and wet.

June was warmer and wetter than average and the spring season in Scotland was the second-warmest ever.

The summer of 2006 was unusually warm, and thanks to an exceptional autumn, the year as a whole broke all records.

WWF Scotland's director, Dr Richard Dixon, said the Scottish government's Climate Change Bill should be welcomed.

But he said the target of reducing greenhouse gases by 80% before 2050 did not remove the need to take action now.

"While the proposed target is very welcome, we need action now, even before the bill is written to make sure we don't lose momentum in addressing our contribution to climate change," he said.

"Scotland escaped the major flooding which hit the north of England but it was still a very wet June here.

"Yet again people felt it was cool but the temperatures were actually still nearly a degree above the long-term averages, with 2007 still on course to be one of the warmest years on record."


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Anna's Tale: Coke hell took me to the brink...

ANNA pulled on her shoes, carefully shut the front door and set off to commit suicide.

For three long years she’d battled a cocaine addiction, and the drug had taken its toll.

Trudging to the Thames in London the mum-of-two ranted and shouted angrily at passers-by.

She wanted to leave the pain behind, and felt the kids would be better off without her.

But before she reached the river bank Anna had a miraculous moment of clarity and realised life was too precious to go through with suicide.

That day she gave up cocaine for good, and began an amazing journey of recovery.

Anna, 44, says: “I was broken spiritually and emotionally. It was rock bottom and I wanted to die.

“Walking to the river I was that mad woman you see on the street, screaming, shouting and out of control. Cocaine had crippled me.

“Suddenly, about 300 yards from the bridge, the madness melted away.

“I phoned a friend in desperation to talk things over and somehow I am still here.

“It’s hard to explain what happened but I haven’t used cocaine since.”

COCAINE CAPITAL OF EUROPE:

Recently the charity Cocaine Anonymous revealed its UK self-help groups have increased by 500 per cent in the last five years.

In 2002 there were 25 meetings a week around the country but now there are 125, and a UN report has warned Britain is the cocaine capital of Europe.

The drug is growing in popularity with young users here, but Anna was 35 when she snorted her first line and the nightmare began.

Anna recalls: “My boyfriend at the time did a bit of cocaine.

“I always felt drugs weren’t for me but we were at his house one day and I found myself taking some.

“I was a full-time mum to my boys who must have been around 10 then.

“Cocaine seemed naughty and exciting.

“There was a gap of a year before I did it again, but the next time it didn’t seem so bad.”

NO CONTROL:

After a spell away from London, Anna moved back to the capital and fell in with a group of regular cocaine users.

Around 910,000 people regularly use cocaine in the UK, but while many appear to wield control over their drug abuse, Anna could not.

Anna says: “I was quite nervous and shy around people.

“Cocaine made me feel the opposite – chatty and attractive.

“I seemed to fit in and I enjoyed the community vibe that came with doing something you’re not supposed to.

“My boys were away at school during the week, so I could misbehave more or less as I pleased.

“But when parties came to an end, everyone else would go home.

“At all hours of the morning I’d go looking for the next party and the chance to take more cocaine.”As Anna’s addiction progressed it became tougher to disguise the habit from her friends and family.

For days on end she’d abuse the drug - resulting in massive physical, mental and financial suffering.

She says: “Initially my life appeared shiny on the surface.

“I had the kids, a nice little house in London and a car.

“Everything looked rosy but eventually it became an unbelievable struggle to keep up the image.

“I’d take cocaine four days and three nights without food, then totally crash.

“There were times I’d spend all week promising to stop using on the Friday night so I’d be fit for the boys arriving home the next day.

“At six on Saturday morning I’d be sitting there using.

“I began isolating myself from my true friends because if they didn’t take cocaine I was uncomfortable in their presence.

“For several months I lived between the house and the corner shop.

“I only ever used powered cocaine, but started to think about injecting crack.

“It was absolute living hell.”

SUICIDE:

In a stupor after yet another four-day binge Anna went out to commit suicide.

Mercifully she came to her senses before jumping into the Thames, and Anna resolved to get her life back on track.

Contacting the support group Cocaine Anonymous proved a turning point in Anna’s attitude towards the drug.

Anna says: “My GP referred me to rehab. It was a strange time when I began to have hope again.

“After rehab I contacted Cocaine Anonymous, a group which helps anyone with a desire to stop using.

“At my first meeting I felt such relief because people were talking about their lives, and they’d been through the same thing as me.

“It sounds corny, but I felt like I’d come home.”

Cocaine Anonymous operates a 12 step to recovery programme for members, which Anna has completed.

Now she shares her amazing journey with others in the same unfortunate position.

Anna says: “At last I am free from the pain of addiction.

“I’d like all addicts to know there is help available and hope for the future.

“My life is full of love now and I’m enjoying being a really great mum.

“I have a freedom I never had, even before cocaine.”


Cocaine Anonymous can be contacted on 0800 612 0225


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Self Test For Cocaine Addiction 

 

QUESTION 1

Do you ever use more cocaine than
you planned?

 

Please direct technical comments or questions about this site to the Webservant
 


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Cannabis May Be Reclassified As Class B.

The penalty for possession of cannabis could be made more severe as the Government considers a U-turn on the controversial issue.

Cannabis may be reclassified
Cannabis may be reclassified.

The drug was downgraded from class B to class C in January 2004 - making its possession a largely non-arrestable offence.

But Gordon Brown told MPs today that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith would consider moving the drug back to class B.

Any such move would be part of a wider review of the Government's drug strategy.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) will be asked to look at reports that cannabis is becoming more dangerous because stronger strains of the drug are more widely available.

More potent forms of cannabis could have harsher side effects on mental health.

It is the second time the ACMD has been asked to review former Home Secretary David Blunkett's decision.

His successor Charles Clarke commissioned a review but in 2005 announced that cannabis would remain a class C drug.

Mr Blunkett said: "I'm quite relaxed about yet another re-examination.

"However, it is worth reflecting that cannabis use amongst young people has fallen and the campaign to educate and inform young people has been the most successful government information programme in recent years."


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Scottish motorists now more likely to be breathalysed than ever before...

HAVE you ever had one for the road? Or driven the morning after when you weren't sure whether you were still over the limit? Drivers across Scotland are now more likely to be breathalysed if stopped for minor traffic offences, such as having a broken brake light or failing to stop at a stop sign, in a bid to deter the shockingly high number of Scottish drivers who are still risking it on our roads.

Two weeks of focused activity, launched by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, is set to tackle the growing complacency among Scots drivers towards the risks of drink-driving. Recent figures show that, despite years of widespread, high-profile advertising campaigns, the number of people caught drink driving is still at an unacceptable level. This is in the face of the extreme stigma faced by drink drivers in a culture where drink-driving is seen as socially unacceptable.

So why are so many people still taking the risk? John Vine, Chairman of ACPOS Road Policing, believes the problem lies in the belief among certain drivers that they can still have a few and risk it without getting caught.

"There is still a persistent minority of Scots drivers who believe they can have a few drinks and be fit to drive. It seems people who drink and drive believe the risks of killing, being killed or getting caught, are low. The evidence clearly points to the contrary. One in seven road deaths in Scotland is a result of drink-driving. Police forces across Scotland are always vigilant to drink-driving but this campaign means you're more likely than ever to be stopped, breathalysed and prosecuted."

The number of people being caught drink-driving the day after the night before is worrying. Michael McDonnell, director of Road Safety Scotland, said: "It takes much longer than you think for your body to process alcohol so the chances of you being over the limit the morning after a night out are high. In fact, it can take over an hour for your body to process one unit of alcohol but this can vary depending on gender, body weight and metabolism."

The campaign will see drivers being breathalysed when stopped for something as simple as using a mobile phone, speeding, not obeying a traffic sign or not wearing a seatbelt.

Said John Vine: "The thought of losing your licence over a broken brake light will hopefully finally hammer home the message to those Scots who are still drinking and driving that it's just not worth the risk."

Penalties for drink-driving are severe, including an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months and the risk of a £5,000 fine and six months in prison. Drivers can also expect their insurance premiums to triple and to have a criminal record for at least 20 years if convicted.

Coping with these penalties and other restrictions can have huge repercussions on people's lifestyle, employability and relationships, says Michael McDonnell: "The consequences of drink-driving just start with losing your licence and no amount of alcohol is safe. Drink or drive, but don't do both. It's simply not worth the risk".

To find out why drink-driving is now even riskier visit donttaketherisk.com.

 


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GADGETS that detect mobile speed traps are to be banned within months...

Drivers caught using them will face stiff fines, penalty points and could even have them confiscated.

The crackdown is to stop motorists using the popular devices, which can cost hundreds of pounds, to outwit mobile police cameras.

It will target those that use laser or radar technology to warn drivers. But sat-nav and other devices that show the location of fixed speed cameras or areas where mobile traps are used will still be legal.

The Department for Transport said yesterday: "The starting point would be the standard three points and £60 fine."

Paul Smith, founder of campaign group Safe Speed, said: "There is no evidence that banning them will provide any road safety improvements whatsoever. It's more spiteful than sensible."

Road law expert Nick Cotter said: "I suspect the DfT realise they're losing out on revenue from mobile cameras and want to see some of the money back."

Products likely to be hit include Road Angel and Snooper devices.

Graham Mackie, of Road Angel Group, said: "The laser alert can be disabled in many cases by the owner using the menus to keep them legal.


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