How many criminal convictions are overturned? 

Power play The former energy minister Chris Skidmore resigned in protest at a bill to issue more licences for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea. What are other countries doing? – US oil production hit a record 13.3m barrels a day last month, up from 10.8m five years ago. – Qatar is investing $150 billion toincrease oil production by 50% to 5m barrels per day by 2027. – Brazil plans to increase oil production from 3.1m barrels per day in 2022 to5.4m barrels per day by 2029. – Canada increased oil production by 375,000 barrels per day between 2021 and last year. Judgment call The Criminal Cases Review

What was banned this week?

For the love of dog XL Bully dogs were banned in England from this week, although there is an exemption for animals which are neutered, registered, insured and kept on leads and muzzled in public. Some other things that have been banned this week: – Parking on the pavement in Edinburgh. – Importing disposable vapes in Australia. – Selling new homes with gas boilers in the Australian state of Victoria. – Displaying toys in Californian shops under male and female sections. A gender neutral section must now be included. – English councils trying to charge for disposing of waste from DIY projects. – Withdrawals in dollars from banks in Iraq.

Do 20mph speed limits really save lives?

Within limits Do 20mph speed limits save lives? – A 2018 report by Atkins/AECOM/UCL found that 51% of motorists conformed to the new limit (47% in residential areas and 65% in city centres). – When a 20mph zone replaced a 30mph one the median speed fell by 0.7mph in residential areas and 0.9mph in city centres. It was found that there was insufficient evidence to judge whether the 20mph limit reduced casualties: while accident rates had tended to fall within the zones, the same was true of comparator zones which had remained at 30mph. – Only one area of 20mph zones (in Brighton) had seen a significant fall in casualties

How many Britons smoke?

Puffed up Just 12.9% of Britons smoke cigarettes, figures out this week showed – the lowest on record. How does the UK compare? – The highest smoking rate is in Nauru (48.5%), the lowest is in Ghana (3.5%). – 24.5% of people in France are daily smokers compared with 11.5% in the US. – In Germany, the overall smoking rate is 34%, an increase from 26.5% in March 2020. For young Germans aged between 14 and 17, this has almost doubled between 2021 and last year, from 8.7% to 15.9%. – Maybe it’s the price of a pack. The average cost of 20 cigarettes in the UK hit £14.47 after

Pouria Hadjibagheri and the UK’s abandoned open data revolution

With a new year comes the New Year’s Honours and I’m struck to see an MBE given to Pouria Hadjibagheri. He’s the technical lead of a civil service team whose drive and creativity led to the Coronavirus data hub. It was a breakthrough in the democratisation of public data. He and his team saw to it that information and metrics were not the secret preserve of a Whitehall cabal, cherry-picked to make a certain point, but available to everyone. This transformed the debate about the virus and the need for lockdown, allowing for new perspectives and new projects. The Spectator’s data hub was one of them. If you were pleased we avoided

Is Truss in trouble?

The history of political popularity shows things go in one direction: down. John Major entered office with a net satisfaction of +15 and left it having lost 42 points. Blair moved into Downing Street a whopping 60 points in the positive. When he left he’d fallen to -27. And so the story goes – even the Maybot started quite popular with a +35. Where you start can make all the difference. If things are only going to go one way, you want as handsome a margin as possible. That’s why today’s political monitor poll from Ipsos Mori could spell trouble for Truss. She’s beginning her term in office on minus

The myth of the typical Brexit voter

In Jake’s Thing, Kingsley Amis gave it a name: he called it ‘the inverted pyramid of piss’: ‘One of [Geoffrey Mabbott’s] specialities was the inverted pyramid of piss, a great parcel of attitudes, rules and catchwords resting on one tiny (if you looked long and hard enough) point. Thus it was established beyond any real doubt that his settled antipathy to all things Indian, from books and films about the Raj, to Mrs Gandhi… was rooted in Alcestis’s second husband’s mild fondness for curries.’ It’s high time this phrase was revived, because piss pyramids are everywhere. We assumed more data would help humanity settle its differences: in reality it often

Covid statistics and the era of hyper-scrutiny

Amanda Pritchard, the new NHS England chief executive, has had quite a week. She wrote an article for the Health Service Journal about the pressures on the NHS and followed up with a Sky News interview where she had this to say: Where did she get that 14 times figure from? By using statistics in a strange way, highlighted by Kate Andrews fairly shortly afterwards. By ‘have had’ she was technically correct insofar as this was the peak ratio. But comparing a wave to a non-wave, and presenting a peak value as somehow representing the current situation is fundamentally misleading. The actual picture for Covid hospitalisations is here. I won’t

Delay, data and the need for transparency

Boris Johnson delayed 21 June, he said, because the data did not merit a full reopening. The specific data government is tracking to make these decisions remains unknown, so we are left to guess. But it’s hard to imagine the decision was disconnected from the rising Covid infection rate across the UK, due to the Indian variant’s increased transmissibility. The UK has gone from having some of the lowest Covid rates in Europe to now having the highest in just a matter of weeks. But is the story that simple? Data from areas hit hardest and fastest by the Indian variant suggest some reasons to be optimistic. In Bolton, the

My medical embarrassments are my business and no one else’s

While we were looking forward to Freedom Day, the National Health Service was busy planning something extra special to coincide with it almost exactly. From 23 June, our medical records can be given by our GPs to other agencies and third parties for the purpose of that most ambiguous of all state activities, ‘planning’. While you thought they were busy planning Freedom Day, they were, in fact, planning Freedom of Your Information Day, in which everything you have ever told your doctor would become only marginally more secure than the information about your shopping habits that your loyalty card is collecting for the supermarket giants. Where your medical records are