The Telegraph 2024-05-15 01:00:36

Tories tell police: Bring back stop and search

Police must increase their use of stop and search to tackle knife crime rather than “appease” campaign groups who claim it is discriminatory, the policing minister has said.

Writing in The Telegraph, Chris Philp says stop and search is a “vital tool” in taking knives off the streets but warns it is “not used nearly often enough” by police.

It comes after use of the tactic became a major political issue a decade ago, when Theresa May, as home secretary, curbed the powers amid claims by campaigners that black people were being disproportionately targeted by police. The move resulted in the number of stop and searches falling dramatically, from a high of 1.2 million in 2010-11 down to 279,728 in 2017-18.

However, Mr Philp says: “The police must use the powers available to them without fear or favour. I want to see them take a robust approach and this starts with increasing the use of stop and search.

“In today’s climate police stop and search is the best foot forward, we know this. What we can’t do is tiptoe around using these powers in an aim to appease. The first priority must always be prevention and public safety.”

A senior government source added: “We cannot avoid using the powers to appease politically correct campaigners who oppose police action, when police action is needed to protect all communities.”

Mr Philp’s comments will be seen as the latest attempt by the Government to draw dividing lines between the Tories and Labour, before the general election.

The public think that crime is one of the most important issues facing the country, according to YouGov. The pollster’s long-running survey, which asks the public every week which issue facing the country is the most important, places crime fourth, behind health, immigration and asylum, and the economy. Nearly a quarter of those asked (23 per cent) chose crime as one of the most important issues, highlighting why the Tories believe it is an area where they can make gains over Labour.

Mr Philp’s comments come days after Rishi Sunak warned that Britain would be less safe under a Labour government.

On Tuesday, James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, announced that knife detection wands that could detect weapons from a distance and body-worn systems to check for knives were being developed as part of a £4 million drive to tackle the knife crime crisis.

Knife crime nationally has risen by 7.2 per cent to nearly 50,000 offences, close to the past record high of 51,200, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In London, which accounts for more than a third of all knife crime in England and Wales, it hit a record high of more than 14,500 offences last year..

Although stops and searches have increased from a low of 280,000 in 2017 after successive home secretaries reversed the restrictions, they have continued to drop in the Metropolitan Police to 137,059 in 2023-24, the second lowest on record.

Mrs May curbed the use of the tactic amid concern that black people were being stopped a “disproportionate” seven times more than white people.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has been sceptical about the tactic, pledging to “do all in my power to further cut its use”. He said overusing the power undermined public confidence in the police.

However, Sir Mark Rowley, the Met Commissioner, this month pledged to increase its use after admitting it had fallen partly because of officers’ lack of “confidence” amid fears of “complaints, the investigation they get and whether they feel supported behind it”.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has backed stop and search as “an extremely important tool” against knife crime but said it must also be done in an “effective and fair way” because of community concerns.

Mr Philp writes: “I welcome the Met Commissioner’s commitment to increasing use of stop and search in London where knife crime is sadly particularly prevalent. But I want to see this commitment on a national level. We should leave people in no doubt that carrying a knife is a criminal offence and could lead to up to four years in prison.”

The latest government figures show black people were five times as likely to be stopped as white people, with 27.2 stops per 1,000 black people against 5.6 per 1,000 white people. But official data also show that black men were nine times more likely to be murdered and five times more likely to require hospital treatment.

Particular ethnic groups ‘not unfairly targeted’

Government sources pointed to data showing stop and search “success” rates – where drugs, knives or stolen goods are found – were about the same at 25 per cent to 30 per cent for all ethnicities, showing that particular ethnic groups were not being unfairly targeted.

“If you measure disproportionality by reference to the offending population rather than the general population, the disproportionality largely disappears. ⁠Young black men are hugely disproportionately likely to be victims of knife crime,” said a source.

As home secretary, Mrs May introduced the “best use of stop and search scheme” which required police chiefs to open up the tactic to public security and placed stringent safeguards on the use of “no-suspicion” searches. Within two years, stops and searches fell by two-thirds.

The Tory home secretaries that succeeded her, Sajid Javid and Priti Patel eased the restrictions. They lowered the rank of officer who could approve “no suspicion” searches, and allowed them in cases where the officer believed there may be violence rather than would be violence. New powers also give police the automatic right to stop and search adults convicted of knife offences.

However, Mr Philp says there are also safeguards to ensure the public are protected from “unnecessary searches and from disproportionate use amongst certain groups”.

Police need a more robust approach to taking knives off our streets 

By Chris Philp

The need for a zero-tolerance approach to knife crime has never been more acute. I know I share in the public’s shock at the horrific incident in Hainault on April 30. My thoughts go out to the family of Daniel Anjorin who are now living with the awful consequences of this crime.

I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the officers who intervened on that day, putting their own safety at risk to bravely keep further victims from harm. For some, this came at extreme personal cost and I wish the two officers who were injured a speedy recovery. Police put themselves on the line every day to protect the public and they deserve our gratitude.

The police are carrying out intensive action this week to tackle knife crime and on Tuesday, I was out on a raid with the Met to see these operations first hand. Police are ramping up their efforts and I am committed to giving them the tools they need.

We are making progress. Our streets are safer than they were in 2010 and hospital admissions for young people with serious knife injuries are down by a quarter since 2019, but I’m in no doubt there’s still some way to go.

The police must use the powers available to them without fear or favour. I want to see them take a robust approach and this starts with increasing the use of stop and search. It is a vital tool in taking knives off our streets, yet it’s not used nearly often enough.

So often these crimes stem from non-violent incidents which escalate when knives are carried in public. It’s illegal to be in possession of a knife in public without reasonable excuse and stop and search is the best way to enforce this.

More than 138,000 weapons have been removed from Britain’s streets since 2019 through a range of tactics, with almost half seized in stop and searches. Stop and search has also led to almost 300,000 arrests since 2019.

I welcome the Met Commissioner’s commitment to increasing use of stop and search in London where knife crime is sadly particularly prevalent. But I want to see this commitment on a national level. We should leave people in no doubt that carrying a knife is a criminal offence and could lead to up to four years in prison.

The police already have the power to stop and search individuals where they have reasonable grounds to suspect they are carrying illegal items, such as knives or drugs. Last year we went even further by launching Serious Violence Reduction Orders, which are being piloted in four force areas.

These orders give the police the automatic right to stop and search adults convicted of knife and offensive weapon offences. We have also removed non-statutory restrictions to make it easier for the police to use ‘Section 60’ searches, which allow officers to stop and search people even if they don’t have direct suspicions about them. Section 60 authorisation can only be enforced in specific circumstances, such as if the police have intelligence that an incident involving weapons may take place in a particular area.

Of course, we need safeguards in place to ensure these powers are used appropriately. There are measures in place to protect the public from unnecessary searches and from disproportionate use amongst certain groups.

I want to assure the public that we’ve updated the safeguards on stop and search to strengthen trust between the police and local communities. We have enshrined in law requirements on the police to communicate with their local communities when section 60 stop and search powers are authorised. We have also consulted on a new Community Scrutiny Framework intended to support the process of engagement between police forces and the communities they serve, which we will publish in the coming months.

This is just one tactic in the fight against knife crime and we know that prevention is as important as enforcement. Since 2019, we’ve funded 20 initiatives known as Violence Reduction Units in the areas across England and Wales most affected by serious violence. These have reached over 271,000 people in their fourth year alone and in combination with additional visible policing patrols, prevented an estimated 3,220 hospital admissions for violent injury since 2019. These units bring police forces together with local organisations to tackle the root causes of serious violence in that area, providing early intervention and prevention schemes for young people at risk of involvement in knife crime.

This Government has taken consistent action to address serious violence and the UK has some of the toughest laws in the world restricting dangerous weapons. We keep restrictions around all weapons under constant review and earlier this year we responded to new evidence by banning zombie-style knives and machetes which will take effect this summer. This follows the ban on zombie knives in 2016 and on cyclone knives in 2019. We are also taking action in the Criminal Justice Bill to tighten the law with new restrictions on knives.

And we’re not stopping there. Our approach to tackling serious violence is constantly evolving. This week we announced a further £3.5 million investment into knife detection technologies with the aim that one or more of these will eventually be deployed to officers to detect knives from a distance. We have also funded the refit and redeployment of four vans into new mobile live facial recognition units for the Met to bolster efforts to address knife crime, which is rising in the capital. This is part of wider funding which aims to tackle serious violence through hot-spot policing. The effectiveness of these units is well proven. In December 2023, deployments of live facial recognition in Croydon led to 15 arrests for offences including rape, robbery, fraud, grievous bodily harm and possession of class A drugs.

But in today’s climate police stop and search is the best foot forward, we know this. What we can’t do is tiptoe around using these powers in an aim to appease. The first priority must always be prevention and public safety.

Chris Philp is the Policing Minister

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King unveils first portrait since Coronation

The King has unveiled the first official portrait of himself since the Coronation, which was started three years ago when he was Prince of Wales.

The painting, by Jonathan Yeo, began work in 2021 with sittings at Highgrove and Clarence House.

The final of four sitting took place in November 2023, when he was King, with Yeo aiming to capture his Majesty’s “life experiences” and how his “role in our public life has transformed”.

The portrait was unveiled by the King, in front of the Queen, the artist and his family, at Buckingham Palace.

It was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the then-Prince of Wales’s 50 years as a member of The Drapers’ Company, intended to be ready for the anniversary in 2022.

Instead, it was updated to capture the Sovereign, becoming his first portrait since the Coronation.

The King is shown wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975.

Yeo also worked in his London studio, from drawings and photographs he had taken of the King during the process.

The canvas is around 8.5ft by 6.5ft when framed and will eventually hang in Drapers’ Hall.

‘I aim to communicate the subject’s deep humanity’

Yeo said: “When I started this project, His Majesty The King was still His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and much like the butterfly I’ve painted hovering over his shoulder, this portrait has evolved as the subject’s role in our public life has transformed.

“I do my best to capture the life experiences etched into any individual sitter’s face.

“In this case, my aim was also to make reference to the traditions of royal portraiture but in a way that reflects a 21st century monarchy and, above all else, to communicate the subject’s deep humanity.

“I’m unimaginably grateful for the opportunity to capture such an extraordinary and unique person, especially at the historic moment of becoming King.”

Yeo said the King had personally suggested he include a butterfly in the portrait, during a conversation about “how it would be nice to have a narrative element that referenced his passion for nature and the environment”.

Addressing the King after the painting was unveiled, he told him: “You said ‘what about a butterfly landing on my shoulder?’

“I thought ‘that’s a good idea, I wish I’d thought of that’.”

Butterfly’s resonance with King’s ‘metamorphosis’

The butterfly, he said “also works as a counterpoint of the military steeliness of the sword” in the picture, with added resonance of the King’s own “metamorphosis” in public role.

“He changed jobs half way through the process,” Yeo clarified, adding he had tried to capture the “warmth and kindness and curiosity and humour and deep humanity of the King”.

“Perhaps it is testament to the subject’s own artistic instinct that it’s such a lovely, beautiful element into the composition.”

Yeo chose a monarch butterfly to include in the portrait. The endangered insect is characterised by its orange and black wings, with white spots.

After Yeo’s speech, the King joked “it’s nice to know I was a chrysalis when you first met me”.

The Queen said she “hopes it is going to be seen by lots of people” after the unveiling.

The King pulled a red ribbon at the centre of a large piece of black fabric to unveil the portrait to applause, appearing delighted by the sight of the picture and immediately asked about the frame.

“It is remarkable actually, how it’s turned out,” he said, after studying it, and noted the artist had been “fiddling away” since he last saw it when it was around. 

Yeo joked that people often ask if he got nervous about unveiling his portraits, gesturing at his surroundings in Buckingham Palace and saying: “Well no, not normally, but the subject doesn’t usually become King half way through the process.”

The first portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II after her accession was completed in October 1952, after a series of one-hour sittings at Buckingham Palace.

The artist, Douglas Granville Chandor, had been commissioned by Eleanor Roosevelt, and the painting of the then Queen in an evening gown and Order of the Garter was given to the British Embassy in Washington, DC.

The most famous early portrait of Elizabeth II, by Pietro Annigoni, was painted over 16 sittings across four months.

Yeo has previously painted the Queen, when she was Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Philip. He was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II to draw Sir David Attenborough for the Royal Collection.

His work has been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery.

The portrait will go on free public display for a month at the Philip Mould Gallery in London, from May 16 to June 14. The artwork will be displayed at Drapers’ Hall from the end of August.

Philip Mould
Jonathan Yeo explains how to paint a modern monarch

Read more

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Watch: Moment armed gunmen ambush prison van and free ‘France’s most wanted man’

Security footage has captured the moment gunmen ambushed a prison van and freed a convicted drug trafficker dubbed “France’s most wanted man”.

Two police officers were killed as the police van and another police vehicle came under attack from “heavy weapons” on Tuesday. Two others remain in a “life-threatening” critical condition.

CCTV images from the A145 motorway near Rouen in northern France showed a black car swerving around oncoming traffic before ramming into the front of a prison van.

The car traps the van against the vehicle behind it at a toll gate before a group of hooded individuals emerge and surround the vehicle.

They appear to fire shots at the officers inside the van before forcing open the side door to free Mohamed Amra, 30, who reports say was the head of a narcotics network.

A massive manhunt is now underway to catch the escapee, who is nicknamed “La Mouche” (The Fly), and was being transferred from Rouen to a prison in Evreux.

President Emmanuel Macron condemned the attack which “comes to a shock to us all” while his prime minister Gabriel Attal said the “French Republic has come under attack”, pledging to find and punish the perpetrators.

Elite GIGN units were sent to the scene along with around 200 gendarmes as part of a plan Epervier (Sparrow hawk plan) granting police sweeping stop-and-search powers to find fugitives or abduction victims.

Police unions said their colleagues stood “no chance” given that they were travelling in an un-armoured van armed with simple hand guns against men carrying “weapons of war”.

The incident comes as a cross-party senatorial committee of inquiry into drug trafficking concluded earlier today that France is “submerged with drug trafficking” which is “infiltrating everywhere like an inexorably rising tide”.

The committee also warned that Macron’s anti-drugs plan to be presented shortly by the government is “meagre” and “not up to the task”.

French justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said the country “is in mourning” as he confirmed the death of the two officers.

“Two men died, one of them leaving behind a wife and two children who were due to celebrate their 21st birthday in two days’ time”, he said.

“The other leaves behind a five-month pregnant wife, relatives, and, of course, friends,” he added. “My first thoughts are for them.”

Mr Dupond-Moretti, who appeared in shock, said: “The last deaths in the prison service date back to 1992,” and that the gunmen “are people for whom life means nothing”.

“They will be arrested, they will be tried and they will be punished in a way that is commensurate with the crime they committed.”

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Teacher Rebecca Joynes told boy, 16: ‘Every inch of you is perfect’

A teacher accused of having sex with two schoolboys wrote to one of them saying “every inch of you is perfect”, a court was told.

Rebecca Joynes, 30, insists she only began a sexual relationship with the boy, who was 16 at the time, five days after she was dismissed from her job as a maths teacher. She had been sacked over claims of inappropriate behaviour with another boy.

Giving evidence for a second day at Manchester Crown Court on Tuesday, Ms Joynes, who became pregnant by the teenager, identified only as Boy B, rejected the suggestion that she was “obsessive” or “controlling”.

Joe Allman, for the prosecution, read out a letter Ms Joynes, from the Wirral, had sent the teenager in which she wrote: “Every inch of you is perfect. You are all I ever dreamed of.”

Responding to Mr Allman, Ms Joynes said: “It was [written] a year after he had left school. We were in a relationship. You write letters and cards to people you are in a relationship with.”

Relationship ‘flew in face of safeguarding’

She admitted the relationship had been a “secret”, agreeing with Mr Allman’s insistence that it “flies in the face of safeguarding” rules. Rejecting the suggestion she was “obsessive”, she said: “Things got very difficult when I got pregnant.”

Ms Joynes admitted contacting Boy B the day she was suspended from her job and when she was on bail for alleged sexual activity with another schoolboy, Boy A, who was 15.

She claimed she formed a close friendship with Boy B during the Covid pandemic, shortly after a break-up from a nine-year relationship.

“We formed a strong friendship because I was so very emotional about what had happened that day, and that’s when it continued,” she said.

She insisted that the sexual relationship only began after she was dismissed from school and he had left school and was over 16.

“He had sent me a message,” she continued. “He was no longer a student. It just grew into that.”

Ms Joynes denied the boy’s claims that when he visited her home when he was 15 she had “straddled him” and “kissed him on the mouth” but wanted to wait until he was 16 before having sex.

She told Mr Allman: “That’s not the case at all. Kissing and sex is part of the whole sexual thing, so I wouldn’t have done that.”

‘I have ruined my chances of my dream job’

Mr Allman put it to Ms Joynes that the jury of seven men and five women had heard she had been lonely during the pandemic and the boy had visited her home for help with his maths.

She replied: “I spoke to my family. I had made a mistake, they were aware of that. And, I have ruined my chances of my dream job.”

Boy B told police that the day before Ms Joynes was arrested for a second time, over alleged sexual contact with him, she had planned a “date night” involving an Ann Summers scratchcard of sexual activities.

He said rose petals were scattered on the floor and notes had been hidden around her flat.

He said: “At the end it was a babygrow. It said something like, ‘Best Dad’ and I was like, ‘What the f—?’

“She started crying and I started crying, because we were undecided whether to get rid of it or not. That was probably the lowest point, we were irresponsible. It’s my own fault. I also thought, ‘What the f— am I going to do?’ I can’t hide a kid.’ I had hid the relationship for 18 months from my parents.”

Ms Joynes denies two counts of sexual activity with Boy A, two counts of sexual activity with Boy B and two counts of sexual activity with Boy B while being a person in a position of trust.

The trial continues.

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Children under nine will not be taught sex education

Children will not be given sex education until the age of nine, under government plans set to be announced later this week.

Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, will also announce that once sex education starts, pupils must be taught about the reality of biological sex.

It means schools will no longer be allowed to teach contested ideas such as that there are 72 different genders.

Rishi Sunak ordered the review into relationships, sex and health education lessons last year in response to claims that content was age-inappropriate, extreme and sexualising.

Ms Keegan will propose that schools be banned from delivering sex education of any type before Year 5, when children are nine years old, under the guidance to be published as soon as Thursday.

It will also state that when sex education begins it must be based on “scientific” fact rather than gender ideology. It says that older children should also be taught about the dangers of stalking.

The plans have been circulated around Cabinet ministers and there could still be changes before they are published.

A Whitehall source said the details were still being finalised and that the Government wanted to ensure that children know enough to be safe.

The source said the guidance would be specific on what should be taught in sex education, and what should not, up to the age of 13.

However, it is believed the guidance will make clear that gender ideology is a “contested subject that should not be taught”.

Gender ideology states that people can be born the wrong sex and that they can change their identity to the opposite sex or other categories such as “non-binary”.

Teachers must point out that there are two sexes

The new guidance states that teachers must point out that there are two biological sexes.

The guidance – which will be out for consultation – will also order schools to show parents all classroom material to ensure they are comfortable with what is being taught.

The Prime Minister ordered the review following claims that children were being taught about oral sex and how to choke their partners safely.

Helen Joyce, director of advocacy at women’s rights charity Sex Matters, said: “Commentary suggests that this guidance will require schools to stop presenting gender ideology as fact and to stop hiding PSHE [Personal, social, health and economic education] lessons from parents. If true, these are both excellent developments.

“What Sex Matters wants to see is that schools are told in no uncertain terms to stop giving any credence to evidence-free claims that everyone has a gender identity, or that sex is a spectrum or can be changed.

“These claims are not just nonsense, they are regressive and sexist. They mislead and endanger children, and are a big reason why gender distress has become much more common in recent years.”

Last year, on a trip to Hiroshima, Mr Sunak said that for the sake of his own children, he wanted to protect Britain’s “precious” pupils by ensuring they only received age-appropriate content in schools.

“First and foremost as a parent… it’s really important that what our kids are exposed to, not just at school but online, is sensitive and age appropriate,” he said.

“There have been plenty of concerns raised with me. There are too many instances of that not happening. I don’t think that’s right.

“Families up and down the country are concerned about what their children are seeing online and they expect me and the Government to put in place protections for that. That’s what we are going to do.”

He added: “It’s something that really matters to me… What I want is a curriculum that is sensitive and age appropriate. Our children are precious; they deserve to be protected, sensitively. That’s what I want as a parent first and foremost.”

Tory MP Miriam Cates said: “I welcome any effective measures to prevent gender ideology being taught to children in schools.

“No child should be led to believe that there are more than two genders or that people can change their gender – it is not only untrue but deeply confusing for children and a breach of the trust that parents place in children in school.

“Sex education should be based on facts about puberty, reproduction and the law, not on contested ideas or attempts [to] indoctrinate children with obscure academic theories.”

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Two charged with plotting Islamist terror attack on British Jews

Two men have appeared in court accused of plotting to carry out an Islamic State-inspired marauding gun attack against the Jewish community in the north-west of England…

NHS pays obese men £400 to lose weight in ‘Game of Stones’

Men are being paid up to £400 each by the NHS to lose weight, in a scheme that has proved more successful than traditional diet plans.

The trial found that sending men a daily text message reminding them of their desire to lose weight – and offering cash rewards for success – was an effective way to get patients in shape.

Slimmers were told they would lose money from a possible £400 prize pot if they did not slim down, while being offered advice and healthy recipes.

Experts say the scheme, nicknamed “Game of Stones”, is ready to scale up for an NHS rollout.

The study, presented at the European Congress on Obesity, recruited 585 men from Bristol, Glasgow and Belfast.

They lost an average of 4.8 per cent of their body weight in a year with the aid of text reminders sent to their mobile.

Men don’t like weight loss groups

Trial chief Dr Pat Hoddinott, from the University of Stirling in Scotland, said: “Losing weight can make people feel better, reduce their risk of many health problems such as diabetes, and helps the health service with their aim to keep men well. However, we know men often don’t like to go to traditional weight loss groups.

“The research showed that offering cash incentives was a popular and effective way of helping men to lose weight. This initiative would be a low-cost solution for the health service to offer to men, requiring only four short weight appointments, and with money paid out only at the end to those who lose over 5 per cent of their starting weight.”

Cash was paid out by the NHS at the end of the year, with the final amount dependent on how much lighter they were.

They won an average of £128 each and lost significantly more weight than if they received motivational texts or a cash offer.

Research shows the NHS spends an average of £979 to £1,375 per year looking after an obese patient, compared with £638 for someone of a healthy weight.

The scheme took advice from men about the kind of text messages they would find encouraging.

Participants were sent messages which were deemed inspirational about the efforts of fellow slimmers.

‘He didn’t want to treat his body as a skip any more’

Examples include “Alex said he didn’t want to treat his body like a skip any more” and “‘David found it helpful to walk a different route home from work so that he wasn’t tempted into his favourite takeaway’.

Researchers said: “We used men’s language so they were very definitely designed with men for men.”

Dr Hoddinott said:  “We definitely think this is worthwhile.

“The weight lost was greater than for a lot of the behavioural weight management services that are currently offered across the UK.

“They tend to be very intensive and men told us it was important to make it easy because they didn’t have a lot of time in their lives.”

The government-funded experiment let people diet or exercise any way they wanted but deducted money from their prize fund if they did not lose weight and keep it off.

Only four weigh-ins per year

Dr Hoddinott said the scheme only needed four weigh-ins per year, which would be easier for clinics than other NHS weight loss classes that offer 12 sessions a year.

This could also reduce high patient drop-out rates.

She added: “It is difficult to lose weight and it’s not easy to sustain. We know that because there are so many gym memberships taken out in January that don’t get used.

“We know we need a different approach. We hope in the long-term this would pay for itself.”

Jane DeVille-Almond, from the British Obesity Society, said: “This is exciting news and we definitely need an easy and cost-effective way of getting society to lose weight.

“Men are a particularly difficult group to engage in our healthcare system, so texts and financial incentives is a great way forward.”

The NHS has no plans to roll out the scheme nationally.

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