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Met police tweets may encourage young people to carry knives, research finds

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Met police tweets may encourage young people to carry knives, research finds

Young people may be nudged into carrying knives by the police, research has found, as a new count showed the Metropolitan police circulated more than 2,100 images of seized knives on Twitter in a year.

In the same period, three leading violent-crime prevention charities – Hope Collective, the Ben Kinsella Trust and Dwaynamics – circulated two images of knives between them, according to research by the Green party in the London assembly.

“It’s deeply worrying to see police sharing such frightening images of knives when the charities involved in reducing knife harm don’t do this at all,” said Caroline Russell, a Green party assembly member who sits on London’s police and crime committee. “The disparity of approach is staggering, with the mayor’s own violence reduction unit sharing no images of dangerous knives.”

According to the Greens, between July 2020 and August 2021, images of knives were published 612 times by Met borough accounts, 229 times by the Met taskforce, 82 times by the roads and transport command, 16 times by the firearms command and 15 times by the main Metropolitan Police Service account.

Based on the average number of knife images posted by a sample of ward accounts from various boroughs, they estimated that local policing teams published a total of 1,176 images of knives.

There has been a long-running debate around sharing images of weapons on social media. The Met says it publishes pictures of seized weapons to reassure the public that its officers are committed to tackling violent criminals.

“We aim to include images of our officers in action showing the breadth of policing, alongside any images of weapons,” a spokesperson said. “This is not always possible. We always include wording which explicitly discourages weapon carrying and violence to accompany any imagery.”

Critics have said the images contribute to a sense that the carrying of weapons is widespread. At a youth violence summit in London, an adviser to the city’s violence reduction unit said photos of blades could prompt young people to consider “upgrading tools”.

That assessment seems to be backed by research published as a pre-print this month that suggests knife seizure images “potentially encourage knife-carrying”. Young people in Glasgow shown images of seized knives told researchers led by the University of Strathclyde that they thought the pictures contributed to a climate of fear and perpetuated negative stereotypes of certain groups and areas – although all said they were personally opposed to knife-carrying.

Dr Charlotte Coleman, a psychologist at Sheffield Hallam University who was involved in the study, said the researchers questioned young people in high- and low-crime areas. “For those young people that were living in high-crime areas, they felt quite stigmatised by the volume of knife imagery that was flooding their area,” she said.

Such images had the potential to frighten susceptible young people into carrying knives for self-defence, but equally others could be excited by them, prompting them to carry a knife because they thought doing so was “cool”, Coleman said.

Regarding the Met’s use of images of seized knives, she said: “I find it concerning that so many images are used. It’s not just the 2,100 times that they are posted by the police, because they are posted and reposted. So, actually, the exposure becomes amplified by the number of shares.” People more worried or excited by knives were more likely to share, she suggested.

There was a 31% year-on-year fall in knife offences recorded in London in the year to March. But an increase in the severity of attacks in early 2021 led to a rise in the number of killings by a quarter, and police have warned London could be on track for its worst year of young homicides since 2008.

A Met spokesperson said: “The Met is an evidence-driven organisation, and that extends to the way in which we communicate with Londoners. We look forward to the results of this research being published in the coming months, which will help inform our approach moving forward.”

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WHO Demands Fresh Data from China amid Outbreak of Pneumonia in Children

The World Health Organization (WHO) is requesting more data from China amid an outbreak of pneumonia in children.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said the agency was ‘following up with China’ as hospitals across the country continue to be overwhelmed.

Face masks and social distancing are again being recommended in the country.

The country is said to be grappling with a spike in pneumonia, dubbed ‘white lung syndrome’ because of the way lung damage shows up on scans, among children that has been attributed to a rebound in respiratory illnesses rather than an entirely new virus.



China had one of the most brutal and longest lockdowns of any country in the world which the WHO says robbed children of vital immunity against seasonal illnesses. 

Dr Van Kerkhove told the conference today: ‘Yes, we are seeing an increase in respiratory infections around the world.

‘We’re in autumn and entering winter months, so we are expecting to see rises in respiratory infections regardless.

We are following up with China. They are seeing an increase due a number of different infections

We are following up with our clinical network and following up with clinicians in China.

‘In terms of acute respiratory infections, we are looking at the burden on healthcare systems and looking at the healthcare capacities of systems.’

It comes after Chinese Health Ministry spokesman Mi Feng urged people in the country to again consider wearing face masks and distancing.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, he said: ‘Efforts should be made to increase the opening of relevant clinics and treatment areas, extend service hours and increase the supply of medicines.

‘It is necessary to do a good job in epidemic prevention and control in key crowded places.

‘[This includes] in schools, childcare institutions and nursing homes, and to reduce the flow of people and visits.’

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433 Foreign-Trained Doctors Fail MDCN Qualifying Exams

No fewer than 433 out of the 836 foreign-trained medical graduates who sat the qualifying examination organised by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) failed

The qualifying examination was held at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital between 22 and 23 November 2023.

The assessment for the foreign-trained medical graduates was in a Computer Based Test format with the graduates taking the examination in four different centres, namely:  BMG Institute of Information Technology; JAMB Professional Test Centre; Kano Cooperative CBT Centre and Treztech, all in Kano State.

The examination comprises a computer-based test, a picture-based test, and an objective structural clinical examination.

Findings showed that most of the medical and dental graduates performed poorly in the CBT.

A list of shortlisted candidates in Abuja showed that a total of 836 candidates with medical degrees from foreign universities were selected for the examination initially. However, only 403 candidates passed, according to the results obtained on Monday.

Every year, thousands of Nigerians aspiring to become medical doctors and dentists enrol in foreign universities, spend a fortune on tuition and accommodation fees, and dedicate between four and seven years to pursuing the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery course.

Among the favourite destinations for Nigerians studying medicine are Ukraine, Sudan, Cyprus, Egypt, The Caribbean, Russia, Belarus, India, Hungary, Guyana, Niger Republic, and Benin Republic. But on completion of their studies abroad, to get a licence to practise in Nigeria, they are required to pass the MDCN assessment.

The MDCN is the body that regulates the practice of Medicine, Dentistry, and Alternative Medicine in the country to safeguard the nation’s health care system.

The MDCN conducts the assessment twice a year.

The examination tests the candidates’ ability to apply their basic medical sciences and clinical skills in a healthcare setting.

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UK Confirms Never- Seen- Before Strain Of Swine Flu in Human

The UK’s first human case of swine flu strain H1N2, very similar to what has been circulating in pigs, has been detected, the UK Health Security Agency said on Monday.

Routine surveillance in general practitioner surgeries picked up the case after the person suffered a mild illness.

The UKHSA said it is now carrying out contact tracing to prevent further spread of the virus.

It is not known at this stage how transmissible the strain is or if there could be other cases in the UK.

It is also too early to say if the strain could have pandemic potential.

The UKHSA has notified the World Health Organisation of the latest case.

There have been about 50 reported human cases worldwide of the H1N2 virus since 2005, none of them related genetically to this strain.

The person involved is not known to have worked with pigs and has fully recovered.

The case was detected as part of routine national flu surveillance undertaken by UKHSA and the Royal College of GPs, which was in place even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The patient was tested by their GP in North Yorkshire after experiencing respiratory symptoms.

The strain was identified via Polymerase Chain Reaction testing and genome sequencing.

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The UKHSA said people with respiratory symptoms should continue to follow the existing guidance, avoiding contact with other people while suffering symptoms and taking particular care around vulnerable people and the elderly.

It said it was “monitoring the situation closely and is taking steps to increase surveillance within existing programmes involving GP surgeries and hospitals in parts of North Yorkshire.

“To assist in the detection of cases and assessment of transmission, those people who are contacted and asked to do the test are encouraged to do so.’’

Meera Chand, incident director at the UKHSA, said, “It is thanks to routine flu surveillance and genome sequencing that we have been able to detect this virus.

“This is the first time we have detected this virus in humans in the UK, though it is very similar to viruses that have been detected in pigs.

“We are working rapidly to trace close contacts and reduce any potential spread.

“In accordance with established protocols, investigations are underway to learn how the individual acquired the infection and to assess whether there are any further associated cases.’’

Chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said, “We know that some diseases of animals can be transferred to humans, which is why high standards of animal health, welfare and biosecurity are so important.

Based on early information, the UKHSA said the strain detected in the UK differs from recent human cases of H1N2 elsewhere in the world but is similar to viruses in UK pigs.

In 2009, there was a pandemic in humans caused by flu strain H1N1, commonly referred to as swine flu.


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