Daily Archives: 23/10/2014

Alex Younger appointed as next Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service

With the agreement of Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has announced that Alex Younger is appointed as successor to Sir John Sawers as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service. Younger will take up the appointment in November.

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), often known as MI6, collects Britain’s foreign intelligence. The Service is based at Vauxhall Cross in London and provides Her Majesty’s Government with a global covert capability to promote and defend the national security and economic well-being of the United Kingdom.

Philip Hammond stated: “I’m pleased to announce that Alex Younger has been appointed as the next Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service. The work of MI6 is world class and its operation vital to the safety and security of the United Kingdom. Alex brings a wealth of relevant experience to the role, including his work in Afghanistan and helping keep the country safe during the London 2012 Olympics.”

Hammond added: “I’d also like to thank Sir John Sawers for his strong leadership and personal commitment to a modernising agenda. I wish him well for the future.”

Alex Younger: the next Chief of MI6

Alex Younger: the next Chief of MI6

Commenting on his appointment, Alex Younger said: “I’m delighted and honoured to become Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and lead one of the best intelligence agencies in the world. Our dedicated staff work tirelessly against an array of threats that this country faces. They do so in close partnership with both MI5 and GCHQ with whom I’m looking forward to co-operating very closely.”

Younger also commented: “I would like to pay tribute to John Sawers for his lifetime’s dedication to the country and particularly to his time as Chief of MI6. He brought us into a new era, and I’m determined to build on this and bring my ideas for a modern Service to life.”

In response, Sir John Sawers said: “I’m delighted that my colleague and friend is taking over from me. He has played a vital part alongside me in modernising the SIS and ensuring that the Service is in the best possible shape to play its part in defending the country’s security and our values.”

Alex Younger: the Curriculum Vitae

Alex Younger is a career SIS officer and has been in the Service since 1991.

For the last two years he has been overseeing the Service’s intelligence operations worldwide. Younger has held overseas postings in Europe and the Middle East and was the senior SIS officer in Afghanistan.

He has filled a variety of operational roles in London, including leading the Service’s work on counter-terrorism in the three years running up to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Before joining the Service, Younger – an economics graduate – served as an officer in the British Army.

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Learning tool for CCTV operators launched by CPNI

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has launched an interactive e-learning course for CCTV operators that’s ideal for those members of the security staff whose role includes monitoring CCTV images for suspicious behaviour.

CCTV operators face significant challenges. As individuals, they’re required to deliver consistently in an environment where technology is constantly changing and increasingly complex.

For their part, host organisations need to ensure their security staff are attentive, vigilant and motivated at all times. Effective training, of course, can assist greatly when it comes to increasing staff motivation.

Are your CCTV operators responsible for resolving suspicious activities? Do your officers know what suspect behaviour looks like?

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure has launched an interactive e-learning course for CCTV operators

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure has launched an interactive e-learning course for CCTV operators

The CPNI’s new CCTV operator e-learning course can help members of the security team understand why it’s often difficult to spot suspect behaviours. It explores some of the elements that affect those operators, such as vision and memory, how this impacts on what is seen, how it is understood and then subsequently acted upon.

The course explores ways of overcoming these natural restrictions. The learning programme also covers the consequences of failures and the effect they may have on how a given situation is interpreted.

In essence, this is an interactive e-learning package for CCTV operators who, as part of their job, are responsible for proactively monitoring and responding to suspicious activities. The modular course takes approximately one hour to complete and may be reviewed individually or as part of a group.

Downloadable fact sheets provide a handy aide memoire and there’s a certificate of completion available for personal development records.

Learn more at: http://www.cpni.gov.uk/advice/Physical-security/CCTV/E-learning-for-CCTV-operators/#sthash.zvVo3Iti.dpuf

Tony Porter: UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner

Tony Porter: UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner

UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter has fully endorsed the e-learning package with a short introductory video. “This e-learning from the CPNI is extremely welcome and useful for anyone operating CCTV.” Watch the video…

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Fire minister calls for smarter procurement across Fire and Rescue Services

Fire and Rescue Services across the country could save millions of pounds in taxpayers’ cash by improving the way in which they source and purchase fire-fighting equipment and clothing. That’s the verdict of the latest research published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Research findings in the 82-page Fire and Rescue Procurement Aggregation and Collaboration document highlight examples of Fire Services buying identical kit at vastly different prices, with the report stating that, across the country, the 46 Fire and Rescue Services could save millions by streamlining processes and standardising ways in which they buy clothing and equipment.

Prices for the same kit can vary by as much as 200%. For example, a fire helmet can cost between £105 and £131 but even when the same contract is used there can still be a significant price range of 66%. A typical fire protection coat can cost anywhere between £220 and £366.

The report concludes that Fire and Rescue Authorities could achieve savings of no less than £18 million from a total spend of £127 million per annum. Indeed, those savings could be even greater if applied to all purchases made by all Fire Services. On a collective basis, the Fire and Rescue Services spend an estimated £600 million each year on buying equipment and fire engines.

Fire and Rescue Procurement Aggregation and Collaboration was funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and jointly commissioned with the Chief Fire Officers Association through PA Consulting to identify how Fire and Rescue Services currently procure, where there are opportunities to buy more efficiently and highlight a range of strategic options on how these opportunities may be taken forward.

Penny Mordaunt MP:  Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government

Penny Mordaunt MP: Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government

Best value for taxpayers’ money

Speaking about the report, fire minister Penny Mordaunt MP said: “It cannot be right that the price of the same piece of kit or protective clothing varies so much for different Fire Services. This report clearly shows that the 46 Fire and Rescue Services must come together to maximise the buying power of the £600 million they spend and realise the best possible value for money for taxpayers.”

Mordaunt continued: “In the last decade, there has been a 46% reduction in call outs and incidents, while accidental deaths from fires in the home have reached an all-time low. However, expenditure and fire-fighter numbers have remained broadly the same. The case for change, then, is compelling. Taxpayers are right to expect the most cost-effective purchases so Fire and Rescue Authorities must seize this opportunity to make changes and drive better procurement.”

Fire and Rescue Procurement Aggregation and Collaboration recommends that Fire and Rescue Authorities seize the opportunity to deliver significant potential savings by:

*agreeing a common classification of goods and services for the 46 Fire and Rescue Authorities
*producing an index of prices paid on kit to avoid paying more for the same product
*securing internal sponsorship and partnership arrangements
*managing supplier relationships and contracts on a better basis
*developing a strategy for buying common non-fire goods and services together
*developing a national procurement pipeline plan that documents existing contract periods, future tendering exercises and large-scale procurement opportunities

The report determines it’s likely that standardisation of products will deliver even greater savings. Alongside greater volumes through collective procurement, this could add to the wider economies of scale. For example, if more Fire and Rescue Authorities bought the same vehicles then they would not only save on the vehicles themselves but also on the parts, maintenance and training.

Collaboration means the same procurement is not repeated time and time again in different services, in turn saving time as well as money. All of these findings make the case for collaborative procurement stronger than ever.

Sir Ken Knight

Sir Ken Knight

The Knight Review – Facing the Future

These findings follow last year’s report by former chief fire-fighter Sir Ken Knight which highlighted the scope for finding £200 million in savings while safeguarding emergency operations and protecting public safety.

The Knight Review revealed that huge variations exist between how the 46 different Fire and Rescue Authorities operate, with the cost per head of providing a service almost double in some areas to that of others.

Sir Ken identified that the 46 Fire and Rescue Authorities across England each had their own management structures, senior leaders and operational differences. Between 2008 and 2012, total reserves held by stand-alone Fire and Rescue Authorities increased from just over £200 million to more than £400 million. Ultimately, this highlights the potential for investing in spend-to-save type projects.

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FT Remark and Wipro survey reveals firms may be missing opportunities to fortify business process resilience

A new report compiled by FT Remark and Wipro confirms that business process resilience is mission-critical, but also highlights that companies may well be missing opportunities to fortify themselves.

In the global survey of 330 C-suite executives, nearly all respondents (98%) agree that technology risk management is important or very important to the overall running of their firms, while 84% feel their firms’ technology risk management programmes add value.

However, 35% describe their firms’ spending on technology risk management as ‘focused on the next year’, with a further 17% working on a ‘project-by-project basis’.

Less than half (41%) describe their company’s spending as ‘focused on the long-term’. In addition, only 15% of those surveyed state that decisions on technology risk management are made at Board level, even though system failures have implications that reverberate throughout a given business’ ecosystem.

The FT-Remark/Wipro report entitled ‘Building Confidence: The Business of Resilience’ seeks to identify how businesses are rising to the challenges that technology presents, and how they are making their operations more resilient in the process through strategies, investments and partnerships.

According to a new report from FT Remark and Wipro, business process resilience is absolutely mission-critical, but companies may be missing out on opportunities to fortify themselves

According to a new report from FT Remark and Wipro, business process resilience is absolutely mission-critical, but companies may be missing out on opportunities to fortify themselves

“In developing resilience plans, businesses should consider the full range of their operations, from customers to third party suppliers,” explained Nick Cheek, managing editor at Remark (which is part of the Mergermarket Group). “Businesses should also concentrate on making themselves agile and modular so that they can minimise the impact of negative events.”

Data is power

Technology has realised fantastic opportunities for businesses of all sizes. Data is power: the more businesses can understand about their customers, partners and products, the more agile and effective they can be.

“Firms should think of business process resilience in the broader sense,” stated Alexis Samuel, global managing partner at Wipro Consulting Services. “Rather than being considered fodder for CIOs or CTOs, corporates should view these issues as Board-level ones that have far-reaching implications for disparate business arms.”

Balasubramanian Ganesh, CEO for the Products and Solutions business at Wipro, added: “Over the years, the level of investment has not kept pace with that required to address inherent and emerging risks when it comes to the provision of services to customers. The aggregate impacts of this under-investment, accompanied by an increase in customer expectations, have created risks to services which are no longer acceptable. Such risks will typically need to be addressed by a significant and sustained programme of investment.”

Additional key findings of the report

• At 65%, the largest share of respondents state that integrating new technologies with old is one of their biggest challenges. This is followed by projects being too difficult or complex (52%)
• The most pressing area of concern over the next 12 months is business continuity and disaster recovery planning, with respondents rating this at 4.09 on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 is not at all important and 5 is very important)
• Regarding social media, 74% of respondents say that reputational or brand damage is a potential pitfall
• For those who agree that technology risk management adds value, 72% say that it does so by increasing customer satisfaction or confidence
• When thinking about business process resilience, 88% of respondents consider their own firm with only 65% thinking about their customers

‘Building Confidence: The Business of Resilience’ identifies key trends in business process resilience (defined as a firm’s ‘ability to cope with change, both expected and unexpected’), particularly in relation to managing technology risk.

With globalisation and hyper-connectivity, resilience is being taken very seriously at Board level and external consultants are being brought in to bridge the skills gaps that exist as new technologies emerge.

For the purposes of the report, FT Remark interviewed 330 C-suite executives from corporations with an annual turnover of US$500 million or greater. The interview pool was comprised of 113 respondents from Europe, 100 respondents from the USA, 80 respondents from the Asia Pacific region and 37 respondents from Africa.

To qualify for participation in the study, respondents must have allocated budget to technology risk management in the past two years or have plans to do so in the coming year.

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CPS Report: ‘Conviction rate for hate crime now at an all-time high’

According to the Seventh Edition of the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) Hate Crimes and Crimes against Older People Report, published this morning, almost 85% of hate crime prosecutions now result in a conviction. As the number of cases referred to the CPS has also increased, so too has the proportion which are taken forward to court, in turn indicating that stronger cases are being prepared (almost 80% of hate crime referrals from the police result in a decision to prosecute).

Hate crime references any criminal offence committed against a person or property that’s motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality or national origins, religion, gender (or gender identity), age or sexual orientation.

A new CPS Action Plan has also been published today. Its contents are aimed firmly at building on these improvements and focusing on the handling of disability hate crime cases where conviction rates have also increased but numbers of prosecutions haven’t risen as expected.

Alison Saunders: the Director of Public Prosecutions

Alison Saunders: the Director of Public Prosecutions

The proportion of successful outcomes of disability hate crime cases for 2013-2014 increased from 77.2% to 81.9%. However, the number of convictions fell slightly over the year from 494 to 470. Addressing this issue – and focusing on the CPS’ handling of these difficult cases – underpins the publication of the new Action Plan.

Identifying and recording elements of disability hate crime

The Action Plan includes a commitment to improve how the CPS identifies and records elements of disability hate crime, assures that cases are identified and prosecuted correctly and provides prosecutors with new tools for the job. The document recognises that disability hate crime exhibits unique features including violence and verbal abuse, but also more insidious or exploitative types of offending.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), commented: “It’s very reassuring to see that the hard work and effort we have undertaken to improve our performance on hate crime has seen such positive results. Not only has the volume of cases referred by the police increased on a general level, but the ‘decision to prosecute’ and conviction rates have also risen.”

Saunders continued: “Of course, I recognise that there’s more work to be done, most notably around disability hate crime. While I’m delighted to see a record high conviction rate and that the rate of cases we are charging is up to 80% from 72.4% last year, we will be working with the police service to encourage more disability hate crime cases to be referred to us and will really focus our attentions on the handling of these cases through the court system. I’m doing this through our new Disability Hate Crime Action Plan, which addresses where we must improve our handling of disability hate crime cases.”

In conclusion, the DPP explained: “Hate crimes can be particularly devastating to victims who have been targeted simply because of their race, their religion, their sexuality, gender, disability or age. These crimes display an ugly element of our society and one which it’s very important both the police service and prosecutors alike feel empowered to tackle such that they can bring offenders to justice.”

Further information included in the report

*The number of hate crime convictions increased from 10,794 to 11,915
*The hate crime conviction rate also increased from 82.6% to 84.7% (this conviction rate has been on an upward trend over the past six years)
*Of the 11,818 racially aggravated cases prosecuted last year, 85.2% resulted in convictions and 75.9% of all convictions involved guilty pleas
*In 2013-2014, 550 cases involving religiously aggravated hostility were prosecuted and 84.2% resulted in a conviction
*The proportion of homophobic and transphobic hate crime cases resulting in a guilty plea increased from 71.6% to 72.3% against a backdrop of an increase in the number of guilty pleas over the year from 785 to a total of 819
*There was an increase in the rate of decisions to charge for disability hate crime from 72.4% to 80%
*Since 2008-2009, the number of prosecutions for crimes against older people steadily increased from 1,004 to 2,922

Key actions in the Disability Hate Crime Action Plan

Disability hate crime can be more difficult to identify than other forms of hate crime as it often comes in the form of exploitation or crimes committed by those pretending to befriend the victim. The CPS has introduced – and is introducing – more training and guidance for prosecutors to ensure this incorporates the full range of offending.

The CPS wishes to improve the experience of victims of disability hate crime. On that basis, the CPS has been conducting detailed research to ensure that victims’ experiences are improved and that prosecutors have all the resources they need at their disposal in order to recognise – and prosecute – cases of disability hate crime.

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