Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 August 2023

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Shoplifters to face jail terms

“Prolific” shoplifters will be targeted with mandatory jail sentences for repeat offences, said The Times. In the 12 months to March, the police recorded 339,206 cases of shoplifting despite the British Retail Consortium estimating that there were eight million, costing shops nearly £1 billion a year. Only 14% of incidents of shoplifting recorded by the police resulted in charges, with 54% investigations closed with no suspect being identified. A source told the paper the “trigger” for a custodial sentence for repeat shoplifting would probably be between 10 and 20 instances.

Cost of living: is shoplifting on the rise?

2. Brexit safety mark row

The government has “bowed to pressure from industry and manufacturers” and will retain the EU’s product safety mark indefinitely, said The Guardian. In the “latest climbdown” from proposed post-Brexit changes, the safety marking will now not be replaced by a new UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark for goods sold in Great Britain. Instead, the CE (Conformité Européenne) mark, used by the EU to certify that items meet safety standards, will be kept. Businesses had said that forcing them to meet new UK rules would add significant costs.

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Brexit bonfire U-turn: how long will EU laws remain in UK?

3. Moscow hit by new drone

A skyscraper in Moscow has been hit again by a drone, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin claimed. He said that although several drones were shot down overnight, “one flew into the same tower at the Moskva City complex” that was targeted on Sunday. The building’s facade was damaged but no injuries have been reported. However, a Russian missile attack on a residential building in the city of Kryvyi Rih killed six people and wounded 73, said Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine counter-offensive: do attacks inside Russia jeopardise West’s support?

4. Coutts in Farage U-turn

Nigel Farage is in discussions with Coutts about keeping open his account after the bank “appeared to soften its stance” over its closure, said The Telegraph. The politician said the new chief executive Mohammad Syed has told him he will be allowed to retain the account. The development would mean a “reversal” of Coutts’ original decision to close Farage’s account, one of a string of “debanking” cases to have emerged in recent weeks. Grant Shapps, the Energy Security Secretary, is one of the public figures to reveal that they were told their bank accounts would be closed.

Debanking row: is Nigel Farage case just tip of the iceberg?

5. Sunak drill plans under microscope

Rishi Sunak said he would “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves as he announced a new round of intensive North Sea drilling. The prime minister also said he would approve drilling at the UK’s largest untapped reserves in the Rosebank field, which hold 500m barrels of oil. Experts said his plans could be catastrophic for climate change. The “desperate” prime minister has “caved in to demands from hard-right Tories and big business”, claimed The Mirror. Sunak insisted the plan was compatible with net zero commitments and would “boost British energy independence” and “reduce reliance on hostile states”.

Rishi Sunak’s drive to survive: are pro-car pledges a ‘vote magnet’?

6. No sign of heat in August

The UK is set to undergo 10 more days of rain during its “washout summer”, said The Independent. The “unsettled regime” is “looking most likely to continue to dominate at least for the first half of the month”, said the Met Office. Although drier, warmer conditions would be likely later in August, there are “currently no strong signals” for any warmer or more settled weather this month, it added.

7. Study says lockdown damaged children

Researchers have claimed that lockdown damaged the emotional development of almost half of children. The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education spoke to more than 6,000 parents in England and were told their children appeared more worried, had lost confidence more easily and were more prone to tantrums and low moods after the UK’s Covid lockdowns. Just under half said they thought their child’s social and emotional skills had declined during the first year of the pandemic.

Three years since lockdown began: how Britain changed

8. ‘Fragile’ Venice could join danger list

UNESCO has recommended that Venice be added to its heritage danger list. The group is calling on the Italian government to “ensure the utmost dedication” to address “long-standing problems” in Venice, which has been “grappling for years with too many tourists and the effects of climate change”, said CNN. The “popular and fragile” destination has been coping with a “veritable seesaw” of weather-related problems in recent years, added the broadcaster.

9. Sundays best for emails

A study has found that the best time to send an email to your colleagues is on a Sunday. After analysing 8.7 million emails, researchers for Axios HQ found that those sent between 6pm and 9pm on a Sunday have an average open rate of 86%, compared with between 50% and 76% for the rest of the week. However, noted The Times, if you follow the advice to message colleagues on a Sunday it “could leave you with few friends in the office”.

10. Newts ‘get revenge on Boris’

Newts are “threatening to derail” Boris Johnson’s scheme to build an outdoor swimming pool at his country manor, reported The Telegraph. The former PM lodged a planning application with South Oxfordshire District Council to build a pool but the countryside officer has lodged a holding objection, claiming that the plan poses a threat to the local population of newts. “For great crested newts everywhere, this will feel like revenge”, said the paper, because when Johnson was prime minister, he “railed against the amphibian”, blaming it for the slow rate of new home building in the UK.

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