Fire safety experts have told 5 Live Investigates that many of the 1,700 buildings in England are 'likely to fail' a new round of tests into cladding and building materials.
Hospitals, schools, nursing homes and tower blocks are among buildings which could be "at risk", BBC 5 Live Investigates has learned. The government said it will monitor the test results this summer to decide if any immediate action needs to be taken. Two years after the Grenfell Tower fire, 5 Live Investigates has also learned that some people living in flats which were declared safe in the aftermath of the tragedy, have now discovered the buildings they live in DO pose a fire risk. The fire at Grenfell spread over the building in a matter of minutes; largely because of the combustible cladding the tower block was covered with. This type of cladding has now been banned. Government fire safety tests on other types of cladding have just started.
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Four years after the introduction of new laws to target revenge porn offenders, 5 Live Investigates can reveal how cases are on the rise but the number of prosecutions is falling. The revelations come as a charity set up to help victims called the Revenge Porn Helpline reports a 150 per cent increase in the number of calls to its service Photo credit: Antonio Guillem\Getty
The Democratic Football Lads Alliance describes itself as an anti-extremist group of football supporters with a commitment to raising funds for the homeless and social justice campaigns. But critics say it’s a far right organisation which has an anti-Islamist agenda. Its marches and demonstrations have attracted rival groups of anti-fascists and have resulted in skirmishes. The Premier League says it has raised its concerns with the UK Football Policing Unit and the Home Office. There are also worries that closed DFLA Facebook groups are being used as a platform to promote anti-Muslim hatred and anti-migrant rhetoric and violence.
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Calls for a cross party inquiry into claims that a growing number of families are being accused of inventing or causing their children’s illness. It’s called Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) and used to be known as Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy. It’s a rare form of abuse where parents exaggerate their child’s medical condition – or even cause it. Campaigners and charities say many families have been wrongly accused and want the inquiry to look at what they describe as a “wave of false allegations” and the current guidelines around FII. 5 Live Investigates first looked at this in March when we spoke to mums and dads threatened with having their children taken off them after being accused of FII. Following the programme, we have been contacted by other families who say this has happened to them. We’ve also been told about many other cases. One involves a mother accused of poisoning her two year old daughter and ordered to live apart from her for almost a year until the case was dismissed.
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Abbie Bull is 22 and has had serious acne for three years. It got so bad she felt unable to leave the house for fear of being stared at. She developed depression and anxiety but when she went to her doctor for help, she didn’t get it. 5 Live Investigates has learned that thousands who suffer from serious skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis, can’t access the psychological support they need because it either doesn’t exist where they live or they have to join long waiting lists. The programme surveyed 180 members of the British Association of Dermatologists dermatologists and asked them whether they had access to a dedicated psychodermatology service within the region they work. Three quarters of them said they didn't. NHS England say health authorities need to take into account the psychological needs of all patients. The Welsh Government say they expect health boards to put in place services tailored to the individual needs of patients and the Health and Social Care Board for Northern Ireland says it has just commissioned a psychodermatology service which will be available to all trusts in the country.
5 Live Investigates has seen figures which show a big rise in the number of rapes, sexual assaults and stalking cases involving victims who were targeted on online dating platforms and mobile apps. The programme has received figures from more than half of the police forces in England and Wales which show the number of crimes has more than doubled between 2015 and 2018.
The programme hears from the mother of a woman who was murdered after meeting a man on a website called Plenty of Fish and a man who had his drinks spiked by a convicted sex offender he met on an app called Grindr. Forensic psychologist Dr Ruth Tully works with offenders who have targeted people via dating apps. She tells 5 Live Investigates the platforms provide ‘opportunity’ and if they didn’t exist, the crimes would never have happened.
The Online Dating Association which represents some online dating sites and mobile apps says its members do all they can to protect people from harm.
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5 Live Investigates has seen new evidence that hundreds of vulnerable children with Special Educational Needs are being injured whilst being restrained by teachers and classroom assistants. Physical and mechanical restraint techniques can be used against children as young as four without schools having to report it to anyone - even parents. But after 5 Live Investigates reported on this in 2017, the Government promised to introduce strict new guidelines detailing how restraint techniques should be used safely. Two years on and nothing has happened. Today the Children's Commissioners of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have asked the United Nations to investigate the use of restraint.
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‘I try not to call him. I’ll wait for him to call because he tends not to call me when he’s drunk. He drinks most of the time - a bottle of vodka a day.’ Maria is 25, the daughter of an alcoholic and one of a growing number of young adults who has a parent who’s a problem drinker. The National Association for the Children of Alcoholics has told 5 Live Investigates that the number of grown-up children contacting them for help about a parent’s excessive drinking now makes up 80 per cent of their work - compared to half that five years ago. The charity says more and more parents are becoming problem drinkers in later life. But Liam Byrne MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children of Alcoholics, tells the programme that alcohol and drug treatment services have been cut all over the country.
The organ transplant service is at ‘breaking point’ according to one of the UK’s top consultant transplant surgeons. Professor Nizam Mamode who is president of the Chapter of Surgeons at the British Transplantation Society, has told 5 Live Investigates that overworked staff, a shortage of operating theatres and difficulties in recruiting are problems that need to be urgently addressed. His warning follows the announcement earlier this month that opt-out organ donation will become law from 2020. ‘Max and Keira’s Law’ – named after the donated heart of Keira Bell, nine, saved the life of Max Johnson, 10, in 2017 – will mean all adults’ organs can be taken after they die unless they specifically tell the NHS otherwise. The government says it could save as many as 700 lives a year
The mums and dads threatened with having their disabled sons and daughters taken into care – accused of inventing or exaggerating their child’s illness. These are parents of children with conditions which are sometimes difficult to diagnose - such as autism spectrum disorder or rare inherited conditions. Some parents claim their council has used child protection concerns to delay paying for expensive care. They’ve been accused of a rare form of child abuse known as Fabricating or Induced Illness (FII) also known as Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy where a parent or carer exaggerates or deliberately causes symptoms of illness in the child.
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Teenager Thomas Jones went missing on a night out with friends during his first week at university in Worcester. His body was recovered from the River Severn more than a week later. 5 Live Investigates has been told that Thomas's death and dozens more like it could have been prevented - if only certain safety measures were put in place. 150 young men have died after going missing on a night out over the last nine years. 5 Live Investigates has seen new research which reveals between 10 and 20 men die every year after going missing in towns and cities across the UK – the majority of them under the age of 35. Practical safety measures like late night transport to get people home, improved lighting and barriers between footpaths and waterways could all help prevent similar tragedies in the future, according to campaigners and charities.
5 Live Investigates has discovered three of the UK’s leading supermarkets are misleading customers by selling food which is high in salt or fat in the healthier choices sections of their stores. The British Dietetic Association says the supermarkets are being ‘unhelpful’ and the practise is ‘confusing’ for customers.
Researchers visited the top five supermarkets in the UK and found Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco were all selling products high in salt and saturated fat in areas marked as containing healthy or healthier choices food. The Royal Society for Public Health says the findings raise the possibility of the introduction of a supermarket regulator.
Tesco has told 5 Live it’s sorry some of its products were mistakenly included under a ‘Healthy and Diet Meals’ sign. Morrisons says their 'Healthier Choices' section gives customers the option to buy an item that is healthier than a product that meets a similar need – even though it might still carry a red traffic light label. And Sainsbury’s say it’s going to update its signage to reflect that vegetarian and plant based meals are now stocked alongside their range of healthier meals.
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Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year. Many can spend weeks or even months in hospital fighting for their lives. But limited maternity and paternity rights mean many parents are having to return to work much sooner than they would like. The charity Bliss which supports families of premature and sick infants has surveyed more than 700 parents and shared its data with 5 Live Investigates. It reveals two thirds of fathers had to return to work whilst their baby was on a neonatal unit and more than a quarter of them had to choose between taking time off when their baby was is in neonatal or when their child went home. The programme hears from parents like Gemma and Andy Reid who were forced to make some tough decisions when their baby Gabriel was born a year ago.
There are now more than half a million vegans in Britain – with more than a quarter of a million people trying out a vegan diet last month – double the number of people who signed up for ‘veganuary’ in 2018. There’s no doubt that veganism is a more humane and potentially more sustainable alternative to a traditional diet containing meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. But could going vegan actually be bad for your health? 5 Live Investigates hears concerns that for some, it could have serious health consequences. Rebecca Hills, 20, tells the programme she used a vegan diet to conceal her eating disorder. But for Rebecca Hills, 20, going vegan wasn’t about 'ethics' and 'healthy eating', like she told people. It was to cover up her eating disorder. “In the back of my mind I was thinking that veganism would be a really good way to lose weight,” she said. The charity Beat Eating Disorders believes Rebecca may not be alone: “Some people may use veganism or vegetarianism to conceal their eating disorder, as it becomes socially acceptable to follow a restrictive diet.”
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Thousands of police officers and civilian staff haven't been vetted since the introduction of strict guidelines in 2006. 36 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales responded to a Freedom of Information request from 5 Live Investigates. But 16 of the forces that provided information said they hadn't performed retrospective background checks on a total of 5,966 police officers and staff since the policy was introduced. The programme has also discovered that the number of police officers investigated for abusing their 'power for sexual gains' has more than doubled over a 4 year period - from 84 in 2014/15 to 170 in 2017/18. The revelations follow the conviction in December 2018 of Cheshire PC Ian Naude who was sentenced to 25 years for raping a 13-year-old girl who he groomed after attending an incident at her home. PC Naude passed Cheshire Police's vetting process despite allegations of sex offences being investigated by two neighbouring forces prior to joining the force.
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Alice Franklin is one of 300,000 people in the UK with Tourette’s Syndrome. For 25-year-old Alice, the condition manifests itself in uncontrollable body movements or ‘tics’ – jerking, twitching, punching walls and windows and involuntarily collapsing to the floor. The physical side of the condition is the hardest to deal with and exhausting she says. But she also swears and hurls impromptu insults at individuals she’s just met – including her new boss and customers in a bar where she worked. It’s a life-changing condition Alice has lived with for more than three years – but for her and thousands like her, therapy isn’t readily available. In fact, a survey shared exclusively with 5 Live Investigates by the charity Tourette’s Action shows even when a diagnosis has eventually been made, most aren’t given medication or directed to any form of behavioural therapy. And even when they are, it can take years to access. There are no NICE guidelines relating to the condition and Tourette’s Action says the condition is widely misunderstood by the medical profession. More than 460 people responded to the charity's survey and 79 per cent of respondents said their mental health had been affected by the condition. More than a third said they’d considered suicide of engaged in self-harming behaviour.
An investigation by BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates reveals problem gamblers are able to continue betting online even when they sign up to a national self-exclusion scheme. More than 50,000 people have signed up to the GamStop scheme which allows addicts to ban themselves from online betting platforms. But 5 Live Investigates recruits the son of a problem gambler to sign up to the scheme to test if it works. After banning himself, Adam Bradford, whose dad David lost more than £100,00 by gambling online, is able to sign up to a new gambling website by changing just a few small personal details. GamStop say they're 'deeply concerned' by the findings.
The programme also returns to Grimsby where a year ago a producer self-excluded from all the high street bookies in the town. But he was able to place bets on high stakes fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT's) in all but two of the betting shops he was banned from. A year on, the programme returns to Grimsby to find out if anything has changed.
There has been a big increase in the number of vulnerable children being housed alone without live in support. In some cases youngsters have been placed in bed and breakfast accommodation, bedsits and even caravans by the local authorities that are meant to be looking after them. Figures obtained by 5 Live Investigates show the number of young people aged 16 and 17 and placed in what’s called ‘independent living accommodation’ has gone up by 28 per cent in England since 2010. Young care leavers tell the programme they’ve been placed in dwellings over-run by drug users, alcoholics and abusers. The Children’s Commissioner says she is now launching an investigation into the crisis. The Government says the law is clear and that local authorities must provide accommodation that meets children’s needs and that includes appropriate supervision whilst in that accommodation.
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MP’s have told 5 live Investigates they want the roll-out of ‘all-lane running’ smart motorways to be suspended amid concerns over the safety of stranded motorists and the recovery workers who go to rescue them. All-lane running – or ALR – motorways are stretches of carriageway where the hard shoulder has been removed and converted into a running lane. That lane is only closed to traffic in the event of an incident. Highways England says ALR motorways are as safe as traditional motorways and they improve traffic flow. But there are many people who disagree. Ellie Montgomery and her family became stranded on a traditional motorway which didn’t have a hard shoulder because of road works. Their vehicle was hit by an HGV on the M6 in Cheshire and the family narrowly escaped serious injury. She sets out her concerns about taking away hard shoulders.
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Anna Boniface was selected to run for England after she became the first non-elite woman to finish the London Marathon in 2017. But over-training and under-eating meant her dreams were short-lived because she failed to finish the event after suffering a stress fracture to her ankle. She was later diagnosed with a condition known as Energy Deficiency in Sport - brought on by pushing her body to the limit and failing to refuel properly. The condition affects hundreds of young athletes and can lead to serious eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. It can also weaken bones, stop women athletes from having periods and dramatically reduce testosterone levels in men. As the TrainBrave campaign is launched to raise awareness of the condition, 5 Live Investigates hears from those suffering the consequences. They include a young cyclist left with the bones of an 80-year old, and an Olympic hopeful forced to give up athletics in her mid-20’s after four spinal fractures brought on by her diet.
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