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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 05 February 2007

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Bogus data protection agencies:- ringleaders sentenced to prison

THE Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on 29 January 2007 reminding businesses across the UK not to be misled by bogus agencies that send notices demanding money to register under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

The warning comes after Liverpool Crown Court sentenced four men to prison for their involvement in
fake data protection agencies.

Francis Boyd pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining £401,545 from businesses demanding a payment to register under the Data Protection Act between 1 December 2002 and 2 April 2004.

Between 1 March 2004 and 17 March 2005, Francis Boyd aged 51 from Guilstead Road, Norris Green, Liverpool, Michael Boyd aged 24 from Ollerton Close, Grappenhall, Warrington, Paul Barton aged 42 from Gambier Terrace, Liverpool and 27 year old Mark Deary of Allerford Road, Liverpool where found to have worked together obtaining £206,596 in a similar fashion.

Francis Boyd was sentenced to two and half years in prison, Michael Boyd was sentenced to 8 months, Paul Barton 12 months and Mark Deary 18 months.

Passing sentence, the judge said this was "a well planned and sophisticated enterprise." It was a "scam cloaked with the appearance of officialdom."

Philip Taylor, Solicitor at the Information Commissioner’s Office, said:- “We are very pleased with this result. It sends out a very clear signal that if you run a bogus data protection agency you will
be investigated and prosecuted.

This conviction follows a successful multi-agency operation involving Merseyside Police, Tameside Trading Standards and staff at the ICO.

If a business receives a letter out of the blue demanding more than £35 to register under the DPA this will be a scam. Our simple message to businesses is to throw the letter in the bin and not to pay the fee demanded."


For more information about the Information Commissioner’s Office visit:- www.ico.gov.uk.

GET PLASTERED!

A FANTASTIC film made by Colin McKeown and directed by Ian Hart is now available for schools to buy.  Plastered has been made as part of the It’s Not OK! violence prevention and awareness programme in Liverpool and is now on national release to schools. It tells the story of a teenage drunken night out with tragic consequences.

A teachers’ pack has been specially designed to accompany the film and it adheres to the National Curriculum’s Personal, Social and Health Education scheme of work for secondary pupils. Please find your complimentary teachers’ pack enclosed. If you would like any more copies of the pack to give away as competition prizes, media should please request them using the contact details below. The price of each teachers’ pack is £50.  Teachers who would like to purchase the Plastered Teachers’ Pack should call 0151 233 4399 or email.

Liverpool City Council Leader, Cllr Warren Bradley, said:- “This film has had such a profound effect on many pupils in Liverpool, we want to spread that message of anti-violence throughout the country. As the city builds up to European Capital of Culture in 2008, this is our gesture to schools throughout the UK.”

Young people wrote the script for the film Plastered in workshops with established writers. It was put into production with Colin McKeown and Ian Hart (who played Professor Quirrel in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone). The highly professional product was premiered in Liverpool and the Teachers’ Pack, containing a DVD copy of the movie, has been sent to every secondary school in Liverpool.

Good neighbours become good friends

RESEARCH on homeowner attitudes towards their neighbours has been published by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) revealing that nearly 90% of people believe they have a good relationship with those living next door, despite reports of a breakdown in community and increasing levels of antisocial behaviour.  With the help of an independent research company, the NAEA surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,243 adults across the UK. The research covered subjects such as relationships between neighbours, how people rate their home against their neighbours’ and the home features they are most proud of.

Good neighbours dominate UK communities

The issue of nuisance neighbours was high on the agenda in 2006 as the government launched its Respect campaign, designed to tackle the causes of antisocial behaviour, amid continued publicity surrounding antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs). Following the release of a crime survey revealing that 1 in 6 people perceive a high level of antisocial behaviour in their area, John Reid unveiled new measures to tackle neighbours from hell. Meanwhile, noisy neighbours were highlighted as a major issue when a survey conducted for Noise Action Week reported half a million people had been forced to move home in the previous 12 months due to noise.

With many of these stories seeming to spell doom and gloom for UK communities, the latest NAEA research reveals the general picture to be far more positive. 89% of the survey respondents stated that they have a good relationship with their neighbours, with 39% of those describing the relationship as very good. Only 5% said the relationship with their neighbours was not good, while 6% said they did not know their neighbours at all.

Northern neighbours are friendliest

The friendliest neighbours are found in the North East, according to the survey, with 95% of respondents stating that they had a quite goodor very good relationship with their neighbour.  Historically, London has been deemed one of the least friendly areas due to a high population turnover and large number of buy-to-let properties, yet 83% of Londoners reported a good relationship with their neighbours.  Wales saw the largest fluctuation between good and bad relations. 48% said they had a very goodrelationship – the highest percentage recorded across all the regions. However, it also had the highest number of un-friendly neighbours with 11% stating that their relationship was not good.

A nation of proud homeowners

The survey also revealed the UK to be a nation of proud homeowners, with 84% of respondents believing their home is of the same standard or superior to their neighbours’. When asked which of their neighbours home features they were most envious of, 55% of respondents replied they were not envious of any at all.  Northern Irish homeowners proved to be the most house proud, with 29% believing their property to be superior to neighbouring homes. Those living in the South East were 2nd in line with 25% believing their home to be superior, while Londoners came 3rd with 23% claiming to be particularly proud of their property.

Good neighbours make for strong security

Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive at the NAEA, comments:- “It’s great to see that relationships between neighbours are so strong across the UK. Society has changed drastically in recent years: increased commuting, the growing trend towards second home ownership and the rise of the single person household have all led to more spending less time at home. This not only makes building relationships with neighbours more difficult, but also increases security risks. In these cases it is more important than ever to know and to trust the people living in the local area. Getting a neighbour to watch your house if you’re going away, for example, is always a good idea.  Having a good relationship with your neighbours can be as simple as stopping to say ‘hello’ in the morning to inviting them over for dinner. New Year is a particularly good time to build relationships, so make a resolution to get to know your neighbours better this year.”

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