July 2020 | Page 4

NEWS ROUND-UP Gambling oversight ‘complacent’ and ‘weak’, says Commons committee The bodies overseeing gambling are failing to protect people who are vulnerable to gambling harms, says a report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and the Gambling Commission – which it oversees – have an ‘unacceptably weak understanding’ of the impact of gambling harms and lack measurable targets to reduce them, says the document, which was published less than two weeks after a report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Gambling Related Harm called for a complete overhaul of the UK’s system of gambling regulation alongside a ban on all gambling advertising. The public accounts committee found the pace of change to ensure effective regulation to be ‘slow’ and the penalties imposed on companies that do too little to address problem gambling ‘weak’. ‘Where gambling operators fail to act responsibly, consumers do not have the same rights to redress as in other sectors,’ it says. As gambling increasingly moves online, DCMS and the Gambling Commission have failed to adequately protect consumers, even when problems such as increased risk of gambling harm during the COVID-19 lockdown have been identified. The committee is calling for a published league table of gambling operators’ behaviour towards customers, with ‘naming and shaming’ of poor performers. It also wants to see DCMS embark on an immediate review of the Gambling Act. ‘What has emerged in evidence is a picture of a torpid, toothless regulator that doesn’t seem terribly interested in either the harms it exists to reduce or the means it might use to achieve that,’ said committee chair Meg Hillier. ‘The commission needs a radical overhaul – it must be quicker at responding to problems, update company licence conditions to protect vulnerable consumers and beef up those consumers’ rights to redress when it fails. The issue of gambling harm is not high enough up the government’s agenda.’ The review of the Gambling Act was ‘long overdue’, she added, and an opportunity to see a ‘step change’ in the treatment of problem gambling. ‘The department must not keep dragging its feet – we need to see urgent moves on the badly needed overhaul of the system.’ Gambling regulation: problem gambling and protecting vulnerable people at www.parliament.uk 'What has emerged in evidence is a picture of a torpid, toothless regulator that doesn’t seem terribly interested.' Meg Hillier MP More than 120 children slain in Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ MORE THAN 120 KILLINGS OF CHILDREN and young people were carried out in the Philippines between 2016 and 2019, according to Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Philippine Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center. Just under 40 per cent of the killings were carried out by the police, with the remainder by ‘unknown individuals, often masked or hooded assailants, some of them with direct links to the police’. The report – which is based on interviews with families, witnesses and local authorities, as well as official documents – states that the children’s ages ranged from just 20 months up to 17. The deaths documented were either the result of direct targeting, mistaken identity, ‘collateral damage’ or ‘as proxies when the real targets could not be found’. Almost all of those interviewed asked not to be named, and most did not even file a case for the murder of their children through fear of reprisals. ‘Over the past four years we have hardly seen any meaningful reaction to the wanton killing of thousands of people under the pretext of the “war on drugs”,’ said OMCT secretary general Gerald Staberock. ‘It is the total lack of accountability that feeds the cycle of violence, including the war on children we are witnessing.’ How could they do this to my child? at www.omct.org Philippines. 12th Apr 2019. Protestors against drug-related killings rallied on the streets of Manila carrying a cross and ‘stop the killings' placards. Credit: Sherbien Dacalanio/Alamy Postal NSP launches AN ONLINE POSTAL NEEDLE EXCHANGE SERVICE has been launched by harm reduction specialists Exchange Supplies to make sure people can access the equipment they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen reduced staffing levels at many pharmacies. NSPdirect allows drug services to provide a full online and postal needle exchange service during the pandemic and beyond. Services or partnerships joining the scheme are supplied with a set of secure activation codes, which can then be distributed to service users to set up their own online accounts to order equipment. As with any NSP, clients have the option to use the service anonymously – all data transfer to and from the site is encrypted, and personal information is securely stored. Clients can log in to review their order history, select favourites and repeat previous orders. More information at www. exchangesupplies.org 4 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • JULY/AUGUST 2020 WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM