The members of the Rotary Club of London meet for lunch every Monday (except Bank Holidays) at 12.30 for 12.45 to discuss club affairs and, normally, to hear a guest speaker. The meetings usually end at 2.

The lunch meetings take place at Dartmouth House, the headquarters of the English Speaking Union, at 37 Charles Street, Mayfair, London W1J 5ED (nearest tube Green Park). Map

Rotarians from other clubs in London and around the world are welcome at our lunches.

Speaker reports

Engaging youth in community safety

Monday, April 2, 2012

Address by Ron Dobson, CBE, QFSM, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade.

For many people, their perception of the Fire Brigade is that we put out fires and rescue people from accidents. That will always be true of course but for many years now we have been putting the emphasis on preventing fires and other emergencies in the first place. To help us do this we enforce fire safety legislation in non-domestic buildings and we also promote community safety.

“Community safety” is a broad term however and the Fire and Rescue Services Act (2004) tells us we have to do it without saying how. And that’s fine by me because it gives us the flexibility to use our limited resources to best effect and so we target those at greater risk such as the elderly, young people and those with disabilities which could inhibit their escape should they ever suffer a fire,

We run many schemes to promote community safety such as carrying our home fire safety visits to give advice and fit smoke alarms where appropriate. We realise however that we cannot improve community safety in its broadest sense on our own so we often work in partnership with other agencies such as the London Boroughs and the Police.

As mentioned previously , some of our community safety work is targeted at younger people, As an example, we have visited primary schools for many years to give young people fire safety education and we typically see about 100,000 years 5 and 6 pupils each year. These young people go home and pester their parents or guardians about fitting smoke alarms and we have many real life examples where the information these young people have received has been practical use in real fire examples.

I want to spend a few moments talking to you about another of our successful youth schemes – the Local Intervention and Fire Education (LIFE) scheme

LIFE is an intensive week long course delivered by operational staff in fire stations. It is intended to foster close links with young people in the local community and to assist those at risk of social exclusion or involvement in anti-social behaviour, particularly fire-related activity. Last summer’s riots, although not confined to young people, highlighted the need once again to engage with young people, LIFE started in June 2002 in Tower Hamlets and well over 500 courses have be run since then across London, with about 6,000 young people attending. I am pleased that members of the Rotary Club were able to attend a LIFE course pass out at Tottenham in February this year and that they were suitably impressed.

The course gives youngsters the opportunity to really focus on new skills, while building up a rapport with the staff who run them. The staff explain the impact and consequences of antisocial behaviour, encourage cooperative working, and most importantly build confidence and self-esteem in young people so they are less inclined to commit crime, and instead continue with their education or employment. The course mimics the real job of a firefighter as participants take part in a range of activities from using ladders, casualty rescue techniques and first aid, as well as learning about fire safety and prevention. Participants have their performance monitored and are given feedback, and at the end of the week they take part in a passing out ceremony, so they can feel like they’ve really achieved something.

How does it benefit London?

Besides helping the young people who attend the course, it makes a big difference
to Londoners as well. We’ve seen a real decline in the number of deliberate fires
and hoax calls in recent years, particularly in the boroughs where the scheme runs. But what do young people say about the LIFE scheme?

One said:

“Before I started the LIFE course I couldn’t be bothered with learning and listening to the teacher. I was hanging with the wrong people and going down the wrong path. One day I got into a fight and arrested for GBH and after this I was eventually put on the LIFE project.

At first I was worried, but then the first day was great. The trainers were really friendly and didn’t judge. I have achieved so much from doing the LIFE course and am now studying for a Public Services National Certificate. I look at life in a completely different way.”

A number of other fire and rescue services have introduced new programmes like LIFE in their areas having seen the success in London. And we now have two serving firefighters who joined us after completing a LIFE course.

It costs money of course to run the LIFE scheme – about £1.4m in total to run about 60 courses a year. We seek external funding to support the scheme and, as a demonstration of the Brigade’s commitment to the LIFE scheme, our elected Members decided to invest £1m to support it in 2011/12. But that still leaves a funding gap and we are grateful for bodies such as yourselves who have expressed an interest in providing some financial support. There are options as to the amount that financial support represents. For example, it could be just paying for the some or all of the running costs of a course, including transport and refreshments, or it could be paying for half the total cost of a course, with the other half paid for by the Brigade.

Of course, as any public body, we have a duty to use money wisely, wherever it comes from. So we are looking at ways as to how we can improve the LIFE scheme and make it more sustainable in the longer term. As an example, we recently ran a bespoke course in Haringey which was the scene of some of last year’s riots. The key improvement was that this LIFE course was not run in isolation as a stand alone one-week activity, but it formed part of a wider programme linked to ongoing personal development or employment opportunities for those taking part. We see this a good model for taking the LIFE scheme forward.

We have recently had the scheme externally evaluated and will be considering the results of that over the next few months. But our commitment to improving community safety and, yes, to attending fires and other emergencies, remains steadfast despite the challenges we all face in the current economic climate.

Cyberspace: The Fifth Dimension

Monday, March 5, 2012

Excerpt of the address by our member Brig Tim Waugh, CBE, former staff director of SHAPE and chief of staff of C3, NATO’s Consultation, Command and Control Agency

The fifth dimension, after Land, Sea, Air and Space, is Cyberspace. It’s the great unknown even for us today. As one expert puts it, “It’s so big it does my head in, because it is all around us and we are part of it”. Our children say, ”It’s stuff”. You can argue that it breaks down borders and distinctions around which societies are organised.

This is a complex subject, so I am not going to cover the intellectual debate or the technical solution but concentrate on the immediate challenges.

The Challenge
The Internet was developed for convenience, not for security. As technology and applications develop we are always catching up. We desire security, but without destroying the advantages of the internet. Our future is now the digital age. It is the basis for modern society and the latest statistics show that our children treat it as normal. 53% of 18-29 year olds go online for no particular reason. Most of us have computer, a smart phone and credit card. We have to live with this reality.

The Threat
It is alleged that there are 1.5 billion cyber attacks in the world every day. GCHQ, the UK communications agency, state that they have 200,000 malicious emails each month of which a thousand are specifically targeted. But we have to be cautious about these statistics. Some commentators believe the threat is overblown as it is in the interests of the military-industrial lobby to do so. Some experts liken it to the misinformation campaigns that were used to promote the Soviet missile gap and, more recently, global warming.

So we must beware of the doomsday predictions and look carefully at the evidence, but having made this point, there is real threat to every one of us when we go online. I believe that given time, motivation and funding, a determined adversary will be able to penetrate a targeted system. That is why nations are so concerned about the threat. In the US, president Obama has warned about the about the vulnerability of energy supplies. Remember this is worldwide and in these games even for small players with very little investment it pays big dividends.

Definitions are important as they determine what the issue is and what we do about it.

Cyber Warfare
This is an attack by one or more nations against others to destroy their critical infrastructure and communications. Are we in danger of cyberwar? Not in my view. Nothing we have seen so far fits the Clausewitz view of war that it is political, violent and a means to an end. We have seen attacks against Estonia and Georgia, but it would really have to be sustained attacks against oil refineries, air traffic, nuclear facilities and communications to make it a war. Even then the adversary would have to follow up with conventional means to make it a real war.

Cyber Terrorism
This is a different matter and we are seeing it on a regular basis. Some examples:

Political: Hacking groups such as Anonymous and Lulzsec attacked HBGary Federal, Stratfor Security (50,000 credit cards), the FBI, the CIA and the Revenue in the US. Their aim was to create trouble, send wrong signals and cause blank screens.

Commercial: banks, business - Sony and The Sun… even today, it is reported that Sony have lost the Michael Jackson song portfolio due to a cyber terrorist attack. Stock exchanges: in May 2010, $862 billion was knocked off the value of stocks in the US. In August 2010, £968m was knocked off BT shares in the UK.

The Stuxnet work virus attacked the Iranian nuclear facilities, reportedly this was an action by the US and Israel. It started small, but was targeted against the programmes that run the control elements for the centrifuges in the uranium enrichment facility. Estonia and Georgia saw a relatively short term attack to deface websites, introduce viruses, and malicious codes known as malware to produce denial of service. In Estonia’s case it was reported to be a denial of service attack affecting 85,000 computers. In the case of denial of service and botnets, the computer is infected so that it performs automated tasks without the owner’s knowledge.

This is the biggest area for cyberspace activity by nations. The Chinese, Russians and Israelis are big players—but the US and UK are probably the biggest, so that is why we never hear about it except on rare occasions. In the US we rarely hear about hackers because they are often ‘turned’ to work for the government. In December 2007, MI5 informed 300 UK companies that they were under Chinese surveillance. In January 2011, the Foreign Office was attacked by a foreign state intelligence service. In January this year, the Indian government intelligence unit was accused of infiltrating the activities of the US–Chinese Commission. India and Pakistan are always reporting attacks against each other.

Cyber Crime
It’s difficult to get reliable statistics, but this is already estimated as bigger than the drugs trade. Criminals tend to be computer nerds or individuals who consider it in effect a business. Banks do not audit losses. It is estimated that 16% of the 140 billion emails sent per day are spam for monetary gain. Verizon, a US company, lost 285m personal data records in 2008. Then there’s phishing – the word for automated attempts to persuade you to reveal your passwords and bank details. Never give out your bank or credit card security numbers on request, other than when you initiate the action.

Cyber Vandalism
This can cause problems, but today is not an issue unless you are unlucky, as there are established protections for dealing with it.

The future
The infrastructure of the internet is a key issue. 90% of internet traffic goes through undersea cables. There are choke points in New York, the Red Sea and the Philippines. Africa is unregulated and there are only 13 clusters of Internet Domain Servers on the internet. These all point to vulnerabilities in our global information architecture.

What I predict
Regulation will increase with minimum levels of security and international agreements to regulate cyberspace. Most nations will want some regulation, but I believe they will guard against over-regulation as they will still wish to benefit from the advantages. There will be more separate, closed networks, not publicly accessible through the internet. More concentration of course on computer hygiene for internet TV, tablet computers, payment by Near Field Communications (NFC) and increasing reliance on “the Cloud”. Thus you will see the the security architecture of the internet being reshaped. Software produced by the big companies has not always been properly tested, so your own security is paramount.

What you can do
• Passwords: the average 7,1 Characters password is weak. 12/13 Characters is a strong password.
• Social Networks: beware and watch out for badly designed web sites.
• Do not open suspicious attachments.
• Back up your data
• Keep updates current – patches.
• Make sure you have firewalls and anti-virus protection
All the rest is peripheral

Nothing is safe, but you can do a great deal to protect yourself from 80% of the threats and you don’t need expensive programmes to do so. Cyberspace is now a powerful weapon at the disposal of any element of society. It is unlikely that the Arab Spring would have been possible without web access and social media. Cyberspace turns the offensive / defence balance on its head, increasing the opportunity for attack and doing damage, while decreasing the risks to the perpetrator. At present we do not have openness from banks and nations, so we do not know what to protect against. This must improve.

At present nations are concentrating on defence, but don’t think the major Nations aren’t researching offensive means as part of their classified black programmes.

How now for press self-regulation?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Excerpt of the address given by our member Lord David Hunt, Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission

When I took over the role of chairing the Press Complaints Commission last October, I came rapidly to the conclusion that there is a need for a new body with substantially increased powers if we are to justify independent self-regulation of the press. Radical reform is critically urgent because there has been a massive and, in my view, irreparable loss of public confidence in the current system. The evidence given to Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry has served only to add further urgency to our task.

There must be a profound and positive change in culture running right through the industry but I sense that there is now an unprecedented consensus in favour of a fresh start uniting the political parties, my colleagues on the present Press Complaints Commission, the newspaper and magazine industry and, most important of all, the public. We have a unique historic opportunity.

The Society of Editors has produced a very good Code of Practice, which is framed and revised by the Editors' Code Committee made up of independent editors of national, regional and local newspapers and magazines and which will now, for the first time, have independent members. This Code of Practice starts from the premise that all members of the press haYe a duty to maintain the highest professional standards and editors and publishers have a responsibility to ensure that the Code is observed rigorously by all editorial staff and external contributors including non-journalists.

The Press Complaints Commission, which has a majority of lay members, has been responsible for enforcing the Code, using it to adjudicate complaints. There is, however, now general agreement that the new body should not only deal with complaints and mediation, but should be involved in enforcing standards and compliance with the Code. In particular, I would like to see greater emphasis placed on internal self-regulation but, at the end of the day, this new regulator must be able to audit to ensure compliance, to require access to documents and to be able to summon witnesses when necessary. The body must also have power to impose fines and I believe all this can be created by publishers and proprietors by means of contractual obligations being accepted by everyone.

The proposed new regime is not about window-dressing or box-ticking. We do of course look to the Leveson Inquiry to produce recommendations as to the right way forward, but I did promise Lord Justice Leveson that I would move quickly to bring forward proposals for this new body backed by commercial contracts to which all publishers must be bound. I believe such a proposed model would help to restore the good reputation of a free and responsible press. Freedom of expression is a great asset for this country, but we have a right to expect that all publishers of newspapers and magazines will now use their best endeavours to respond positively to the public demand for "nothing but the best". I should like that phrase to become the motto both of the proposed new regulator and also of journalism itself.