The promise to slash the maximum stake is welcome – but more must be done to tackle problem gambling
The government’s promise to slash the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to just £2 is both welcome and long overdue. Matt Hancock, the digital, culture, media and sport secretary, was right to describe the UK’s 33,000 machines as a “social blight” preying on some of the most vulnerable in society.
A bit of fun? A little flutter? Hardly, when users can wager £100 every 20 seconds in the grip of an anxious, joyless compulsion. The government’s evidence is damning: in England, 13.6% of players of such machines are problem gamblers – the highest rate for any major gambling activity. Players are disproportionately likely to live in areas of high deprivation. And those who are unemployed are more likely to most often stake £100 than any other socioeconomic group. The buzz of gambling depends on uncertainty, but these machines have ensured two things: huge profits for the high street bookmakers that house them, and misery for a significant number of their users – and those gamblers’ families. In a single year, there were more than 233,000 cases of individual gamblers losing more than £1,000.
The case of a man facing 12 years in prison for shoplifting shows a growing trend in America: corporations successfully pushing state prosecutors to increase shoplifting charges to felonies
It was late afternoon on 26 December 2016 – the day after Christmas, a day when most stores are busy processing the returns for unwanted gifts – when Curtis Lawson entered a Walmart in Knoxville, Tennessee. He had a receipt for $39.57 in purchases made earlier that month. He needed cash. He walked through the store, picking up the same items he had purchased previously – dishwasher detergent, Oral-B refills, and a pair of girl’s jeggings – and put them in a shopping bag. He brought them to the register, returned the items using his receipt, and received $39.57 in cash. Lawson had committed what is known as “return fraud” – pretending to return items that you didn’t buy.
A big box retailer’s desire to reduce shoplifting and a prosecutor’s penchant for punishing those who are more unlucky than dangerous
The only people who have access to the notices are loss prevention staff.
The extension of private influence over parts of the criminal justice system that benefit third parties, like retailers
Across the country, more state legislatures are increasing the penalties for multiple shoplifting offenses
Private prisons have for years enriched themselves by exploiting detained immigrant labor. They must be held accountable
In 2017, officials at the Stewart immigration detention center in Georgia placed Shoaib Ahmed, a 24-year-old immigrant from Bangladesh, in solitary confinement for encouraging fellow workers to stop working.
Ahmed, who was paid 50 cents per hour to work within the facility, was upset because his $20 paycheck was delayed. His punishment was solitary confinement for 10 days, where he was subject to deplorable conditions – a cell with no access to other workers, only an hour of out of cell time per day and showers only three times per week. Detailing the impact that severe isolation has had on his mental health, Ahmed said: “I think the segregation will kill me.”
CoreCivic’s exploitation of detained immigrants’ labor as part of its profit-making constitute a modern form of slavery
Anti-LGBT crimes must be made equal under law to those motivated by race or faith, but education must change hearts and minds
What happened to Will Mayrick was undoubtedly a hate crime. Back in October, he was physically and verbally harassed on the London underground by two teenagers (aged 16 and 17) who forced him to apologise for being gay. This week, the two boys were sentenced to attend youth offender meetings for 12 months and pay £170 in compensation and costs.
For such a nasty, unprovoked attack motivated purely by Will’s sexuality, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. The inadequacy of this sentencing highlights a wider problem with how anti-LGBT hate crimes are tackled. As it stands, not all hate crimes are treated equally under the law. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity are not considered aggravated offences, meaning they carry a lower maximum sentence than racially or faith-motivated hate crime. This sends an extremely hurtful and damaging message that anti-LGBT attacks are less serious than those based on other factors. It’s something the government committed to addressing in its 2017 manifesto, and must deliver on.
Related: Homophobic attacks in UK rose 147% in three months after Brexit vote
Related: Hate crime linked to schools in England and Wales soars
In a land where sexual predators are emboldened by a weak legal system and the stigma that reporting assaults brings, justice is elusive for young victims
When Anab’s madrasa teacher in Mogadishu told her to stay behind after classes, everyone but her two younger brothers left. He ordered the boys to face the wall, then assaulted their six-year-old sister.
Anab’s father, Yusuf, says he clearly saw the “shock and horror in the face” of his daughter later that day.
Related: The woman who braves bullets and bombs to uphold her father’s legacy in Somalia – podcast