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Reality Check: Thefts of catalytic converters

Image copyright Getty Images There have been many posts on social media in the past few weeks from people shocked at having had the catalytic converters stolen from their cars. There were videos posted online of masked thieves climbing under cars in broad daylight to saw off the components. Catalytic converters are part of a car’s exhaust system that convert some of the pollutants into less harmful substances. They are relatively easy to remove from a car, especially those, such as 4x4s, that are further off the ground, and contain…

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Reality Check: Is crime up or down?

Image copyright Getty Images Whether crime is rising or falling is hugely important. It can affect how much is spent on policing and other related services, even how people vote. But working out what is happening is not an exact science. When we talk about crime rates in England and Wales we usually look at two things: crimes recorded by the police crimes reported in an annual survey of 38,000 members of the public And those two sources often throw up quite different results. For example, in recent years police…

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Reality Check: What should owners of old diesels do?

Image copyright Getty Images The government’s clean air strategy, which was published on Monday, describes reducing pollution from nitrogen oxides (NOx) as its most immediate challenge. NOx emissions come mainly from diesel vehicles. Much of the strategy on road transport had been announced previously, including the pledge from July to stop all sales of new conventional petrol or diesel powered cars and vans by 2040. But it devolves responsibility for reducing NOx emissions mainly to a local level, mentioning measures planned by the mayor of London. On 8 April this…

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Reality Check: Why has Zimbabwe hiked petrol prices?

Claim: Black market currency dealing and the illegal trade in fuel have contributed to Zimbabwe’s severe fuel shortages. Verdict: This is correct, but not the full story. The conditions which have led to this are rooted in the government’s introduction of a controversial local currency pegged to the United States dollar. There have been widespread protests in Zimbabwe’s largest cities following an increase in the price of fuel. Prices have more than doubled, making petrol and diesel the most expensive in the world. So why has the government done this?…

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Reality Check: Has immigration held down wages?

The claim: Immigration has held down wages in the UK. Reality Check verdict: Current research suggests there was a small, negative impact on the wages of low-skilled workers, which was outweighed by other factors such as the impact of the financial crisis and rises in the minimum wage. In a Brexit speech, Leave campaigner and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said some big corporations had held wages down because they had access to so many workers from other countries. He said the UK needed to think “about how we control…

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Reality Check: Who rescues migrants in the Channel?

Image copyright PA The number of migrants crossing the English Channel by boat is small – it pales in comparison to those making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean – but there has been a small spike in crossings in recent months. In 2018, the Home Office says 539 people attempted to travel to the UK on small boats. Of these, 434 (around 80%) made their attempts in the last three months of the year. Of the 539, 227 (42%) were intercepted by the French before they made it to…

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Reality Check: Why did child screen advice not go further?

Image copyright Getty Images New guidance on screen use for under-18s has stopped short of telling parents how long their children should spend on the devices. Some studies have linked higher screen use to obesity and mental health problems, so why do the recommendations not go further? Many of us will have seen the stories warning about the health problems linked to excessive screen use, or worried about how we or our children use our phones, computers and televisions. So the fact that new guidance drawn up by the Royal…

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Reality Check: Are there alternatives to using Dover?

Image copyright AFP With less than three months to go until the UK is due to leave the EU, attention is focused on how to keep vital trade routes across the English Channel flowing as smoothly as possible. “I am expecting the channel ports to operate normally in all Brexit circumstances,” the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC this week. But in the event of a no-deal Brexit (the UK leaving the EU without any formal Withdrawal Agreement and no transition period), the government’s own advice contradicts him. A…

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Reality Check: How many people seek asylum in the UK?

More than 220 people have attempted to cross the English Channel in small boats since November, according to a tally being kept by BBC News. Home Secretary Sajid Javid has declared the crossings “a major incident”. Mr Javid said that while the UK had “obligations to genuine asylum seekers which we will uphold, we will not stand by and allow reckless criminals to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our global society”. So how many of those who’ve crossed the Channel in recent weeks are claiming…

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Minority take up ‘life-saving’ free health check

Image copyright Science Photo Library Image caption Monitoring blood pressure is part of the free health check Fewer than half of people eligible for a NHS health check in England have taken up the offer, despite it being free to everyone over 40. The routine check can pick up heart problems early and help to prevent dementia, plus highlight the need to stop smoking, NHS England said. The check-up takes 20 minutes and is carried out by a GP or nurse. It involves tests on blood pressure, weight and height,…

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