December 8th, 2017




With a focus on broadening opportunities for learners across the region, East Riding of Yorkshire Council delivers teaching, learning and assessment from four sites covering a wide geographical area. Jayne Wilcock, curriculum and data manager, explains how the council uses data to meet learners’ needs.

To make a real difference to people’s lives, organisations delivering education and skills in local communities increasingly need to focus their resources on ensuring people get the opportunity to study the right courses, in the right places to maximise learning outcomes.

We provide residents from 16+ with access to high-quality teaching, learning and assessment opportunities. This includes individual support to help build confidence, promote wellbeing and enhance skills development to ultimately boost the career prospects of learners across the region. We can welcome up to 1,000 learners at any one time.
With a large catchment area and a wide range of courses on offer, learners often travel long distances to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. So, we use technology to help us ensure courses are having the desired impact.

Forging successful learning pathways

The first step to learner success is making sure individuals are on the most appropriate courses and a key part of this is allowing them the option to apply online for their course.

As an adult and community learning provider, our aim is to be responsive to local need and as a result, our course offerings can be updated frequently. An online portal allows us the flexibility to do this quickly and efficiently.
Paper based course information is expensive to produce and distribute and impossible to update and change without incurring further costs. By moving the enrolment *process online, we can get new information to prospective learners in a cost effective, efficient way.

Individuals can browse course options, make enquiries, book and pay online. We’ve also found we can often engage with them before they have even enrolled on their course, something which didn’t happen before.

The technology links the learner through to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council website – we use the UNIT-e management information system (MIS) from Capita. Here they can find more information about financial support options and learning assistance available in the classroom. They could also see information such as what qualifications and skills an individual might need to get the most from a Level 2 counselling course or guidance which computing course level would be most appropriate for them, to help them make their choice.

The ability to communicate quickly and easily with learners online improves the support they receive. But technology can increase the chances of them completing their courses too.
Engaged learners stay on course

With learners across four sites, it was previously difficult to spot if there was a high rate of absence on a specific course, which can be an early indicator that an individual or group might be struggling with their learning. If left unchecked, this can lead to withdrawals that might potentially be avoided, with the right support in place.

Moving from paper-based registration process to recording attendance electronically in UNIT-e has made it easier to identify falling attendance rates earlier so that we can intervene sooner and provide the support needed to keep learners on track to completing their course. This has helped us reduce the percentage of learners who drop out – during the 2016-17 academic year, retention was boosted by 4% points on the previous academic year and we achieved a 6%-point rise over a three-year period. Our overall achievement rates also rose by 4% points in the same three-year period.

A fresh mindset

Business intelligence has given us a fresh mind-set to fine-tune our provision and the way we support learners and staff. We have simplified the day to day learner management processes too, which has reduced administration and provided our teaching staff with more hours in the day to do what they do best, teach.

Being able to make more informed decisions on what courses should be delivered where, coupled with our ability to provide support sooner, means an all-round improved experience for our learners and an expanded scope of opportunities for employment and career development across the community served by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Jayne Wilcock is curriculum and data manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, who use the UNIT-e management information system from Capita’s further and higher education business.



Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police Have expanded their drone fleet with the purchase of a range of specialist UAVs.

The drones, which will be supplied by COPTRZ, are equipped with optical zoom and thermal imaging capabilities. Their primary use will be in missing person searches, crime scene investigations and fast response to major road traffic collisions. They will also help search the forces’ 600 miles of coastline.

Earlier this year, Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police were the first force to announce their intentions to employ full-time UAV pilots and create a dedicated drone unit. Investment in the new drones follows 18 months of successful trials across the region. During trials, it was reported that the use of UAVs significantly reduced response time and increased cost effectiveness of the forces’ aerial assets.

Steve Coulson, Founder & Managing Director of COPTRZ, commented, “We are delighted to be working alongside the UK’s first dedicated police drone unit. The demands of the contract were strict, however due to our unique supplier partnerships we have been able to provide a bespoke solution that will prove to be an excellent asset to Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police.”

It is expected that the new drones will be fully operation in early 2018.



Graham Kavanagh, chief product officer at Capita One, discusses the challenges around tackling youth unemployment and looks at some of the ways local authorities are keeping the numbers moving in the right direction.

There’s no single answer to the question of how local authorities keep young people in education, employment or training after the school years. A complex mix of factors can contribute to the issue – such as deprivation, low aspiration or a history of poor attendance in school.

Nonetheless, the latest government figures remain encouraging. They reveal that just 11.1% of 16 to 24-year-olds are now not in education, employment or training (Neet), compared with 16.2% five years ago.

So, what initiatives have worked well for local authorities? And how can they continue to drive youth unemployment down?

Working with schools

Many councils have introduced initiatives to tackle youth unemployment well before a child leaves school, following the maxim that prevention is better than cure.

To do this effectively, the first task is to understand what issues put young people at greater risk of being out of education, employment or training. These factors will vary from area to area. One way local authorities gain insight into how they can work with schools to improve outcomes for young people is to scrutinise historical data from previous cohorts of these young people.

For some local authorities, being excluded from school has been found to be a key factor that can prevent a child from reaching their full potential. For others, it might be having English as a second language. More broadly, councils may also find that whether or not a child is looked-after has an impact on their future employment prospects.

Knowing the issues affecting outcomes for young people can put council staff in a stronger position to take action that will help to keep children on track with their learning throughout the school years. This might be an overhaul of the council’s alternative education provision for children excluded from school, or a school-wide initiative to boost the achievement of looked-after children or those whose first language is not English.

Whatever the key issues, being able to pinpoint them and work closely with schools to address them has been an important first step in many local authorities that have been successful in improving the life chances of young people in their area.

Delivering on the September Guarantee

As the end of Year 11 draws near, councils focus on meeting the requirements of initiatives such as the September Guarantee, a government-led pledge for all school-leavers to be offered an education or training opportunity by the end of September.

To support this, councils need to capture a range of information about all young people in their area leaving school. This includes their intended destination – further education, a part-time training placement or an opportunity that combines volunteering with an apprenticeship, for example. It is also vital for staff to know if the offer has been accepted, the young person is undecided or they have refused the opportunity. That way, alternative pathways can be identified, wherever possible.

Some local authorities take this a step further by putting strategies in place to ensure that young people take up the opportunities they have been offered. With their permission, staff might follow school leavers up by phone, or via social media, to keep their records up to date.

With data sharing agreements in place with a range of organisations – schools, colleges, training providers and employers – local authorities can help ensure that staff with the appropriate authorisation have the latest details of a young person’s situation to hand.

But, what can staff do when someone does not turn up at the college they were expected to join or the training placement offered to them? Many local authorities take a proactive approach to finding out why.

Engaging with the hard-to-reach

There could be any number of reasons why a young person might not take up an offer under the September Guarantee. The issue could be circumstantial – they have had to start caring for a family member who has fallen ill unexpectedly, for example. They may have had a change of heart or been unable to meet the necessary transport costs. This is where the local authority can make a real difference.

By understanding the issues, the council can put the right support in place, at the right time to prevent the most vulnerable children and young people from becoming jobless in the future.

This targeted support might be all that is needed to help local authorities keep the Neet figures falling and put young people on the road to a happy and fulfilling career.



In this feature Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells and Alexandra Whittington present their view of the city of the future.

The city of the future will be human, smart and sustainable – in the coming decades, the planet’s most heavily concentrated populations will occupy city environments where a digital blanket of sensors, devices and cloud connected data are being brought together to enhance the city living experience for all. Smart concepts encompass all of the key elements that enable city ecosystems to function effectively – from traffic control and environmental protection to the management of energy, sanitation, healthcare, security, and buildings.

Purpose, Engagement and Vision

In a fast-changing world, it can be hard to develop a clear future vision and strategy – when every sector is being disrupted and all our assumptions are being challenged. However, that’s exactly what we have to do. City governments must create inclusive processes that inform citizens about the forces shaping the future and then engage the population in dialogue about the kind of future we want to create.

Alongside this we need to articulate a clear vision and direction around education, environment, public services, access to justice, city administration, and civic engagement. These pillars then provide the guiding requirements which will in turn influence the design of the physical, digital and human elements of a smart city infrastructure.

Observation and Surveillance

Smart cities are designed to inform decisions by capturing massive amounts of data about the population and its patterns, such as water use and traffic flows. This information gathering results in what is called big data, and it is essentially gathered via surveillance. The data can be collated from a constantly evolving and expanding Internet of Things (IoT) – encompassing traffic lights and cameras, pollution sensors, building control systems, and personal devices – all literally feeding giant data stores held in the cloud. The ability to crunch all this data is becoming easier due to rampant growth in the use of devices algorithms, AI, and predictive software – all running on networks of high performance computing and storage devices.

Singapore is a leading example of a smart city, and is constantly evolving its “city brain,” a backbone of technologies used to help control pollution, monitor traffic, allocate parking, communicate with citizens, and even issue traffic fines. Singapore’s “brain” is attempting to modify human behavior; for example, one system rewards drivers for using recommended mapped routes, and punishes those who do not. The city is planning for 100 million “smart objects” including smart traffic lights, lamp posts, sensors, and cameras on its roadways, which will be used to monitor and enforce laws.

Always Connected

Smart cities rest on advanced technology to make sense of massive collections of information. Essentially IoT means that everything (“things”) – and potentially everyone – will become beacons and data collection devices, gathering data on ambient and behavioral patterns from its surroundings and from the information it is fed—and networking all this data via the cloud. Hence, after data, the IoT is the second driving force behind the rise of smart infrastructure; for everything from air conditioning to parking meters to function in a smart city, the use of microphones, sensors, voice recognition, and all sorts of other high-tech gadgetry must be hooked up to the IoT.

Companies and planners are already beginning to explore the possibilities. For example, a case study from India suggests that light poles along the highways can offer both smart city and connectivity solutions. In addition to helping monitor road conditions, the light poles could be fitted as high-speed data connections. Data is a critical element of the smart city/smart road future. However, because this option will further expand the relationship between internet service providers, surveillance, and private business including advertisers, there are several issues around privacy to be considered.

Driving Smart Cities

In general, the concepts around smart cities, smart roads, and smart infrastructure are becoming less visionary and more strategic and sustainable by the day. As a smart infrastructure future unfolds, three important new technologies—big data, the IoT and renewable energy—are working in tandem to transform the day-to-day.

For example, South Korea is planning an entire network of smart roads by 2020, including battery-charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) as well as infrastructure to handle autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles will require roads to transform into information superhighways; the vehicles will need to communicate not only with each other, but also with the city infrastructure. The need for ubiquitous data is a critical step in the evolution toward self-driving cars. Mapping, traffic signals, and safety regulations, for instance, are all parts of the physical and digital infrastructure that will have to become highly coordinated for autonomous vehicles to function.

Low-Impact Strategies

All this data and awareness will enable decisions that make the best possible use of space, fuel, energy, water, electricity, and all resources, with an emphasis on sustainability. For example, a priority is being able to anticipate big traffic jams and provide alternate routes to save time, fuel, and reduce impact on the city infrastructure. Limiting waste is a logical outcome and benefit of the merging of big data, AI and IoT.

Electric vehicles are growing their market foothold, however, one of the biggest hurdles to electric vehicle adoption is keeping a charge across long distances. To help address this challenge, UK researchers are testing out smart road technology that charges electric cars while they are being driven. The achievement of smart infrastructures could drive the required policy and behavioral tweaks to enable wide adoption of today’s renewable resources.

A futuristic concept that would not require sunshine is the capture of renewable energy with piezoelectric crystals installed beneath asphalt on busy highways. Theoretically, the crystals could capture the energy released by vehicles driving over the asphalt, which could then be stored or used for powering highway infrastructure. Piezoelectric crystal pilot programs, though so far unsuccessful, provide a fresh perspective on renewable options for gathering energy to power our infrastructure and roads.

A Human Future

The smart city movement has the potential to transform the organization of people and physical objects in a way that transcends urban development as we know it. The shift to smart infrastructure is not simply fashionable or aspirational; in many ways, it can be argued that the future of human life on the planet rests on a smooth transition to cities that are more efficient, less wasteful, and more conscious of the impacts of the individual upon the greater good. This may include a range of new negotiations along the boundaries of freedom and privacy; for example, allowing self-driving cars to replace human drivers in the hope of preventing death and injury in auto accidents, increasing traffic efficiency and removing environmental impacts. Similarly, we might have to agree to invasive monitoring of waste generation, energy and water use in the home to reach municipal conservation goals. These are the kinds of tensions that future planners will need to wrestle with on a continuous basis.

A well thought through vision, enabled by a robust and well-executed smart city model could provide a foundation stone for the next stage of our development, where science and technology are genuinely harnessed in service of creating a very human future.

Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells and Alexandra Whittington are from Fast Future which publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and ensure a very human future. See:



Like many public services, UK police forces are determined to reduce their reliance on paper-based systems to record evidence and generate reports – and it’s not difficult to see why. But as the digital revolution continues to gather pace, Derek Way, managing director at Able Systems, explains why paper will always have a place in policing.

Digital technology promises to increase the accuracy and reliability of police evidence, helping to eliminate human error and ensure offenders are prosecuted for their crimes. Advocates of paperless policing say that it saves money, since officers are freed up from the burden of paperwork and can spend more time out in the community. Furthermore, data generated means that forces around the country are able to access, share and act on intelligence quickly and securely via cloud-based systems.

In comparison, the traditional police notebook certainly looks antiquated to many. Used at the crime or incident scene, these notebooks enable officers to take down key information about the offender, any witnesses and location. If called to give evidence in a court case, details in this notebook can be used to remind an officer of specific details captured when they are fresh. Naturally, this is governed by strict protocol, for example, all entries must be written legibly in black ink with the names of people and places in block capitals.

Notebooks and written reports from police interviews have been used as evidence in countless court hearings, including criminal trials and inquests. However, there are examples of cases being unable to proceed simply because of administrative mistakes. This is incredibly costly, but more worryingly it could pervert the course of justice by failing to secure a conviction or else preventing the defendant from clearing their name in an open court.

In 2015, an officer’s ‘poor record keeping’ led to the collapse of a case involving a motorist accused of driving while disqualified.[1] During an investigation by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, it was revealed that the officer had used a piece of paper during an interview because his notebook was full. He later transcribed the notes into the back of a new book, but the original paper had vanished in the meantime.

Digital systems undoubtedly have the power to limit scenarios like this. When an incident is captured via a mobile device, it can be transferred straight to the cloud and stored securely until needed. By holding it centrally, and making it available to those who need it, the onus is no longer on individual officers and local teams to preserve evidence, as it can be transferred directly to the Crown Prosecution Service in a matter of seconds.

Handheld smart devices can also play a pivotal role in helping officers gather accurate evidence. Instead of sketching a scene in a notebook, they can take photographs and record witness statements verbatim using an intuitive smartphone application.

Understandably, one of the chief concerns about digital policing is security. The cyber attack, which caused severe disruption across the NHS earlier this year, illustrates just how vulnerable IT systems can be. As with healthcare, the police hold sensitive information, so you could easily imagine forces being targeted with ransomware.

Of course, the consequences of this are potentially catastrophic. A total reliance on electronic storage means that, in the event of an attack, evidence may be lost and details of vulnerable witnesses compromised. Not only is remedying the problem extremely expensive, it is also likely to damage the public’s perception of policing and could make people reluctant to give evidence in future.

Despite this, it’s worth noting that cyber attacks are extremely rare and data systems are improving all the time. Most recently, Microsoft increased security of its Azure cloud platform, creating highly-protected areas for data to be stored.[2]

While nobody can predict what a cyber attack will look like, cloud-based software for the public sector now offers a level of security never before seen. Solutions such as UK Cloud, for instance, are compatible with the storage of ‘OFFICIAL’ and ‘OFFICIAL SENSITIVE’ information, as set out in the government’s guidelines, and all data is stored in the UK. Since cloud systems are easier to update across an entire network, there is less danger of users running old, unsupported versions that could be targeted in an attack.

Paperless offices are much talked-about in both the public and private sector, though it’s interesting that many still use paper for day-to-day tasks. Contracts that require signatures need to be printed out, even if they are subsequently scanned and the original piece of paper shredded. Laptops and tablets, along with applications like Evernote, might now be ubiquitous, but many people remain staunchly committed to pen and paper.

Certainly for the foreseeable future, paper systems will play a vital role in policing too, although technology is helping to make them as efficient as possible. Smartphones might be replacing police notebooks, however we must not lose sight of the security traditional methods offer. When police record details of an incident in their notebook, a suspect is asked to sign it to confirm they agree with it, or else they are given an opportunity to dispute it. This is more difficult with electronic systems and could even threaten some of the legal safeguards that ensure suspects are treated fairly.

When it comes to gathering physical evidence, whether it’s a weapon, fingerprints, clothing or hair, most items are placed in bags and labelled. This label has to remain legible for long periods of time, possibly even for decades, and therefore requires a robust method of printing if they are to withstand scrutiny in court even after storage in potentially hostile environments.

I firmly believe there is a need to combine digital technology with printing solutions and at Able Systems, we’ve developed a range of handheld mini printers that work with iOS, Android and Windows systems. This means that officers can gather evidence digitally, while still generating a printed record for the offender and their own records. It is the kind of ‘belt-and-braces’ approach that offers members of the public reassurance and saves administration time in the event of an electronic failure. Fixed penalty notices issued via email could easily be lost or disputed, unlike a paper receipt issued at the scene.

Earlier this year, we supplied 3,000 handheld Bluetooth printers to a major UK police force, allowing it to issue penalty notices for offences like littering and anti-social behaviour. Data protection was a top concern, so officers can now safely upload personal details to a central system but still issue a printed ticket to the offender. To enhance security further, our engineers worked with the force’s security teams to implement ‘undiscoverable’ modes and 8-digit access codes in line with National Police Agency (NPA) standards.

With more and more forces now using e-notebooks instead of a paper and pen, it’s clear that the march towards digital policing is getting quicker. For the most part, this will enhance operations, helping to provide more reliable evidence and improving the accuracy of statements made in court. But it’s important to remember that it should be seen as an integrated solution that involves electronic systems, backed up with streamlined paper records to ensure greater accountability, all the time safeguarding people against the consequences of a security breach.

For more information on Able Systems and its range of mini printers visit



Razzamataz are all set for their September openings after completing a week long extensive training session. The Razzamataz theatre company was founded by Denise Hutton-Gosneya former head of performing arts in a state school. See Publicnet RAZZAMATAZ THEATRE SCHOOL TAKES OFF

The new Principals have recently returned from the company’s Head Office in Penrith in the stunning Lake District where they have been learning everything about operating a part-time theatre school.

From utilising PR, marketing and social media to attract students through to the latest health and safety advice and child licensing laws, there is an enormous amount of information to digest initially.

“The training week is very intense but really we know that this is just the very start of our new Principals’ journey,” explains Denise Hutton-Gosney, “Throughout their launch period and in fact the entire time they are Principals, we will be in constant contact through Support Skype calls, webinar training sessions and regional and national meetings. We provide all the support, training and guidance that a new theatre school Principal needs and constantly keep up to date with any changes in regulations to pass that knowledge on to our theatre school franchisees.”

The class of 2017 is also excited to be able to go on this journey together and are already helping each other with advice and support. “Training was hard but very worthwhile,” explains Victoria Cooper-Jones launching Razzamataz Queens Park. “The encouraging thing was all the other new Principals were in the same boat and I have made some lovely friends and I can see us moving forward as a team. The opportunity given to me to become a Principal of a very reputable franchise makes me very excited and hopeful. To promote a successful launch and knowing I’ve got the ‘Razz family’ behind me means everything and I will do my best not to let the side down.”

Jessica Chandler Smith who will be launching Razzamataz Brentwood now feels ready to take on all the challenges that a new business will bring as she says: “I learnt so much at training that it really has made me feel prepared to open my theatre school. The Head Office team really make sure each and every angle is covered. I’m very excited to be able to do what I love for a career and watch children grow and succeed.”

There are almost 50 part-time Razzamataz schools up and down the UK with Principals coming from a wide range of backgrounds, achieving successful businesses that fit flexibly around their lifestyles.

Being part of a franchise has enabled many people to launch their own successful theatre schools even if they have not got any business background or contacts in the performing arts industry. Razzamataz Principals include teachers, stay at home parents, young graduates and retired performers.

To find out if franchising is the right option, the Head Office run Discovery Den days across the UK where potential franchisees get a chance to meet the team, find out more about franchising in general and discover what it is like to run a part-time theatre school.

To find out more, contact Suzie McCafferty on or call 07793 054 233. For more details visit:

Meet the new Principals

Victoria Cooper-Jones launching Queens Park in London

Victoria trained as a professional ballet dancer with Arts Educational School and Central School of Ballet. She danced with the Houston Ballet, the Boston Ballet and the Ballet Nationale de Marseille. Victoria’s career highlights include dancing in the Sleeping Beauty with the London Festival Ballet now ENB with Rudolph Nureyev. She has been teaching adults and children’s ballet lessons for the last seven years and has relished seeing the children learn and improve each week. Victoria lives with her daughter Lili aged 14 and her son Archie aged 12 and the new addition to the family Poppy the puppy. “Razzamataz offers the opportunity to allow me to continue to work on children’s development together with inspirational people and resources,” says Victoria.

Jessica Chandler launching Brentwood in Essex

Jessica has gone to theatre schools since the age of 9 and has appeared in TV shows such as The Bill and Holby City as a teenager. As well as continuing to work in the performing arts, Jessica also owns a children’s entertainment company providing princesses and superheros. Jessica is looking forward to creating a Razzamataz family atmosphere in her local area and selected Razzamataz because of our ethos in believing every child deserves the opportunity to learn and gain confidence through the performing arts. Jessica is mum to Paige age 11 and Dawson who is 3
“I am a very creative individual and love performing and shows and feel there is no better job than getting to do all of the above for a living,” says Jessica.

Chris Leonard launching Pendle in the North of England

Chris has an experienced background as a singer and dancer. He has performed in a variety show at Her Majesty’s Theatre, worked as a singer and dancer with TED Talent where he got to meet various artists and performers such as Billy Ocean, Gareth Gates, Bay City Rollers, Jimmy Cricket and many more. Whilst his time on the parks he did some character work for Marvel. He has worked for a touring panto company and was the supporting act for Joe Pasquale. Chris is looking forward to helping every child that attends his classes the opportunity to work hard to be the very best they can be. He is excited to watch them grow, develop and enjoy themselves week on week. Chris is dad to a four-year-old. “I am most excited to learn new skills and be able to provide a service that I believe can help children gain confidence, learn new skills and make new friends,” says Chris.

Emily Connor joint Principal in Medway

Emily trained at the prestigious Urdang Academy, graduating in 2013 with a 1st Class BA Honours in Professional Dance and Musical Theatre. Her professional credits include backing singer for the 2013 Final of Britain’s Got Talent, dancer/swing in Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Beauty and the Beast Pantomimes, Singer/Dancer for the Potters Theatre Company and most recently singer in the Laserlite choir for Paris Fashion week. Alongside performing Emily is proud to say she has worked for Hayley Limpkin at Razzamataz Medway since the school opened in 2010. Her role within the school has developed over the years from Teaching Assistant to Assistant Principal and now Emily is delighted and privileged to become joint owner and Principal with Hayley for such an incredible school of amazing staff, parents and students. “I’m excited for the future of Razzamataz Medway and can’t wait to continue to share my experience and knowledge with the students and ultimately watch them achieve their full potential for which Razzmataz provides the perfect platform,” says Emily.



The CIPD is calling on Government to invest £13m a year to provide HR support to small businesses, as new research shows that it could be a key part of efforts to unlock the UK’s productivity puzzle.

The call is based on the evaluation of year-long ‘People Skills’ pilots providing HR support for SMEs in Hackney, Stoke-on-Trent and Glasgow.

People Skills was developed by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, with support from J.P. Morgan through the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. It provided up to two days’ worth of free HR support to small firms, including face-to-face advice, a telephone helpline, online information and templates, as well as group training events.

The evaluation report found that, while much of the support provided by the People Skills initiative was fairly basic, such as establishing workers’ terms and conditions or job descriptions, there was evidence that this provided a foundation for boosting workplace productivity.

Ben Willmott, CIPD Head of Public Policy, said: “People Skills shows the potential benefits of targeted investment to improve small firms’ capability around the management of people through co-ordinated high-quality, locally-delivered business support via channels such as Local Enterprise Partnerships, chambers of commerce and local authorities.”

The service helped more than 400 small businesses employing between 5 and 50 employees across the three areas and was regarded as so successful in Glasgow that the city council continued to fund the programme once the research grant ran out.

In the evaluation report, owner managers were more likely to report their organisation was better or much better than similar firms in their sector on measures of workplace relations, labour productivity and financial performance after using the People Skills service than they were prior to using it. These benefits also came through in the in-depth qualitative interviews with owner managers that participated in the People Skills initiative.

Willmott continued: “If policy makers are serious about addressing the UK’s long-standing productivity deficit – particularly among the nearly 1.3 million small businesses that employ between 1 and 50 people – then they have to start seriously thinking about how to improve management quality, which the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane has identified as a key area for focus. People Skills provides a template of how to actually do this on the ground among small businesses.

“We calculate that about £40m from the Government’s National Productivity Investment Fund would support the £13m annual cost of running a People Skills-type service across all 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships in England for three years and could revolutionise the quality of business support for small firms.”

Hang Ho, EMEA Head of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, said: “Small business success is an essential element of the UK economy and a critical component in creating thriving local communities. Today’s report shines a light on the importance of basic HR practices to the success of small businesses, whether that is improving productivity, boosting the effectiveness of the management team or handling crises.

“While we hope the People Skills pilot will benefit participating companies in the long term, the findings clearly also demonstrate to policy makers a real need for HR support amongst SMEs.”



In this articled Julie Newberry describes the differences between paedophilia and child pornography and highlights why it matters.

Two topics which are bound to cause consternation are the taboo subjects of paedophilia and child pornography, so why am I putting my head above the parapet? It is chiefly because as a psychotherapist, I see so much pain in the lives of those who are wrongly labelled as paedophiles. I hope that by removing some of the misunderstanding held by society, porn addicts will be viewed more compassionately and those in need of help will seek it out.

Society is quite rightly concerned about the large numbers of paedophiles, sexual offending and child protection. However, my therapeutic experience is that a person who views child abuse images, though committing a sexual offence, is not necessarily a paedophile. A paedophile has a primary sexual interest in children. I suggest that for some people, it is porn addiction rather than paedophilia, which is the cause. A person, usually a man, who has no sexual interest in children, can find himself ‘crossing the line’.

Addicts to internet porn follow the typical addiction symptoms of craving and preoccupation, followed by increased frequency, duration, intensity or risk to achieve the desired effect. Alongside this, they experience negative consequences in important areas of their lives (e.g. work, relationships, emotional, financial).

It is very easy to have many internet sites running at the same time and whilst seeking and searching for pleasure, dopamine, a neurochemical, rises with the anticipation. Dopamine reinforces the reward circuitry of the brain which is where we experience cravings and pleasure and where we get addicted.

Research has shown that dopamine declines with habituation and surges again with novelty. For some porn users, as each new experience becomes boring they seek out more unique material, even to the point of wanting something that is way beyond what they would find acceptable normally. Dopamine also increases with shock and anxiety; hence a heterosexual male may well look at porn that isn’t consistent with their sexuality or their value system. With an endless supply of images and videos, internet porn sites provide a difficult environment for addicts to escape from.

To add to the problem, our brains record what turns us on. When a person masturbates to the images, the pleasure of an orgasm will be unconsciously linked to that imagery. Our primitive reward circuitry becomes associated with the events associated with sexual excitement (orgasm linked to certain stimuli). It doesn’t consider the type of porn or whether society approves of it. It merely responds to a dopamine spike and in turn to the accumulation of a protein called DeltaFosB, a molecular switch that initiates lasting brain changes.

Poignantly, clients have told me “This is not who I am” – “I don’t recognise myself” – “I feel alone, this isn’t something I can talk about to anybody”. They are males with adult partners, and have no interest at all in sexual contact with children. They are not paedophiles, but have been reported as such in the press.

They didn’t go onto the internet with the intention of looking at child abuse images, but nevertheless ended up there. They couldn’t understand why they continued to do something that that disgusted them and which they knew was illegal. I suggest that each of them became desensitised to mild porn and sensitised to extreme porn. Their higher thinking brain, compromised by addiction, could not win the battle, even when it came to viewing child abuse images. Porn sex was too powerful a need and withdrawal too difficult.

Eventually perpetrators get caught. If not directly by the police, who monitor certain sites, then by someone else – for example, their employer, their partner or even a repair engineer.

The process from initial arrest to final sentencing can be excruciating for all involved. Laptops, PCs, hard drives, memory sticks, phones and so on are taken, without warning, so that all the images can be counted and catalogued for severity. The process is slow, often taking 12 -18 months.

If the offender has children, he may be asked to leave the home. Ongoing contact with his children may be supervised or withheld. Similarly, relatives and friends with children will probably be informed, as at this stage the assumption will be that the offender is a danger to their children. Relationships often don’t survive this.

In short, the life of the internet offender hits rock bottom. They are often alone, living with a shameful arrest, financially struggling as they may have to rent alternative accommodation. A job loss may be inevitable leading to more financial strain and social isolation.

Sentencing may or may not result in time in prison. It will almost certainly result in being listed for 5-10 years on the Sex Offenders Register. In turn there will be travel restrictions and reporting requirements. It will show up on DBS checks and will make future employment more difficult. And there are usually weekly probation meetings for up to a year and often a 30-week rehabilitation course to attend.

These life changing events are particularly difficult for someone who is not actually a paedophile. It often leads to suicidal thoughts and mental health issues. They have great need for support. Fortunately StopSO (Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending) has a pool of trained therapists able and willing to work with those who have committed a sexual offence. They also help partners who are caught up in the aftermath. In addition, StopSO encourages those who have not been caught, but who want to stop, to get in touch (

Dr Julie Newberry is a Counselling Psychotherapist with StopSO, and is registered MBACP (Accredited)

StopSO: The Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending works to prevent sexual offending through therapy. StopSO is an agency that connects clients asking for help with a specially trained, experienced psychotherapist (or counsellor) who is geographically close. This service is available to anyone who feels at risk of committing a sexual offence, as well as those who have already committed a sexual offence. StopSO also offers therapy to the family members of sexual offenders. StopSO’s aim is to reduce sexual offending by offering therapy to the (potential and actual) perpetrators in order to prevent harm, and thus protect society. Telephone 07473 299883



The Government’s announcement of an independent review of building regulations and fire
safety following the Grenfell Tower fire in June has caused concern about the impact on PFI projects. This S & P report assess the impact on public finance initiative projects.

The main conclusion of the report is that accommodation-based PFI projects are likely to be effected to a limited extent, because such projects are generally structured to pass the risk of changes in building laws and regulations on to the revenue counterparty, or because protection is provided through a change-in-law reserve.

The report highlights a greater risk from fire safety standards falling short of current regulations. The complexity of fire safety conformity exposes social infrastructure projects to potential defects, the liability of which could fall to the project company. However, assets built under the PFI framework are mostly compliant with current fire safety regulations due, in part, to the stringent contractual construction scope, the relative newness of the assets, and the thorough operations and maintenance requirements.

The Grenfell Tower fire has focused the attention of public bodies, universities, project company boards, investors, and insurance companies on fire safety. There is also great public concern about fire risk. This attention is not likely to lead to demands for capital expenditure, but it will result in greater demands on time and resources of management teams responsible for PFI projects.




The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, said that the average new home will have to last 2,000 years if the sluggish rate of house building and replacement continues.

In a report published today, the LGA argues that the country has not built enough homes for decades. As a result, existing homes must house more people and last for much longer, which has led to the country spending nearly as much on the repair and maintenance of existing homes as it does building new ones.
But analysis reveals that one in 10 new home buyers are dissatisfied with the quality of their new home and one in six would not recommend their house builder to a friend.

The research, carried out for the LGA, also reveals most local areas have more homes built before 1930 then from any other period of time, demonstrating the age of much of England’s housing stock.

The LGA is calling on government to help councils build a new generation of high quality, genuinely affordable and additional homes, supported by adequate infrastructure and services. Housebuilders also need to work with councils to ensure new homes are built to a good quality, and will stand the test of time.

With increasing numbers of people in the private rented sector, council leaders are also concerned that 28 per cent of privately rented homes are not decent, an increase of 150,000 homes since 2006. In comparison, council homes are more likely to be better quality, with 85 per cent meeting the decent homes standard, an increase from 70 per cent in 2008.

Local government leaders insist a “national renaissance” in council housebuilding must be central to solving our housing shortage and improving quality, and for delivering the mix of different homes that meet the growing and changing need of communities.
For this to happen, the LGA said councils need to be able to borrow to build and to keep 100 per cent of the receipts of any home they sell to reinvest in new and existing housing.

Cllr Judith Blake, LGA Housing spokesperson, said: “Our country’s failure to build enough homes over the past few decades is putting huge pressure on our existing housing stock.

“Families are having to spend more on rent or mortgages every month and deserve a decent home that is affordable. But as costs are rising, so is dissatisfaction with the standards of new homes.

“Everyone deserves an affordable and decent place to live. It’s crucial that all new and existing homes are up to a decent standard.

“Councils need to be able to ensure quality through the planning system, and to encourage high standards in rented and owned properties across the board.

“To spark a desperately-needed renaissance in council housebuilding, councils also need to able to borrow to build new homes and keep all receipts from any homes they sell to reinvest in building new homes that are of a good quality and affordable.”

The report is available from