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Government to give green light to mass exploration for shale gas, Chinese firm Huawei spends tens of thousands lobbying British politicians and student suicides rise during recession years

Government to give green light to mass exploration for shale gas

More than 60 per cent of the British countryside could be exploited for shale gas, government documents show, as ministers prepare to give the go-ahead for developing the country’s most significant new energy source since North Sea oil.

The Independent understands that Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, will soon end the current moratorium on shale gas production, which was put in place after fracking caused two small earthquakes near Blackpool in 2011.

Meanwhile, government emails released to the environmental group Greenpeace under the Freedom of Information Act show the extent to which officials in both the DECC and the Environment Agency have gone to reassure the public about the risks. Read more.

Oliver Wright | The Independent | 1st December 2012

Chinese firm Huawei spends tens of thousands lobbying British politicians

A documentary from Channel Four’s Dispatches lays bare the scale of lobbying on the British Government by Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications firm.

Huawei, which denies any link to the Chinese state or posing any security threat, is currently under investigation by an influential committee of MPs.

Freedom of Information requests also showed how the company had fixed up meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron and senior ministers in the Department of Business. Read more.

Christopher Hope | The Telegraph | 30th November 2012

Student suicides rise during recession years       

The number of students who have taken their own lives in England and Wales has increased dramatically since the start of the recession. Between 2007 and 2011, suicides by male students in full-time higher education grew by 36%, from 57 to 78, while female student suicides almost doubled from 18 to 34, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This comes year after a report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RPS) urged a “pressing need” for increased provision and support for studentmental health. Key recommendations included training academics and other university staff to recognise the warning signs of suicide and greater incentives for GPs interested in running health services for students.

The ONS figures were released via a freedom of information request by Ed Pinkney, 26, a Leeds University graduate and founder of student health charity Mental Wealth UK. The charity’s 25by2012 campaign, launched in the wake of the RPS report, was aimed at establishing mental health and wellbeing groups at 25 universities by the end of 2012. Read more.

Nancy Groves | The Guardian | 30th November 2012

2,000 under-12s arrested last year, says charity

More than 2,000 primary school-age children were arrested last year, an average of six a day, a charity has said.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said 2,117 children aged 10 and 11 were detained in England and Wales in 2011. Police arrested a total of 209,450 under-18s, down from 315,923 in 2008, the charity said. About a fifth of the children held each year are girls.

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC revealed that children as young as 11 had been detained in police cells because officers thought they were mentally ill. There were 347 such detentions under the Mental Health Act in England and Wales in 2011, and two forces had held a child for more than 24 hours. Read more.

The Guardian | 3rd December 2012

Attacks on Norfolk prison staff revealed

A prison officer was scalded on the face when a kettle of boiling water was thrown at him by an inmate at a Norfolk jail, a BBC investigation has found.

It was one of 21 staff injury assault reports at Norfolk prisons between January 2011 and October 2012, a Freedom of Information request found.

In another incident, a 21-year-old female officer at HMP Wayland was knocked out by an inmate.

Records gained by the FOI request to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show the original reports of injuries to prison officers at HMP Norwich, HMP Bure and HMP Wayland. Read more.

Charlotte Rose | BBC | 30th November 2012

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