Wildfire is any uncontrolled vegetation fire that requires a decision, or action, to suppress it. This POSTnote summarises management of wildfires in the UK, how projected climate changes may affect UK wildfire behaviour, and the environmental, economic, and health impacts of this. It also outlines policy options for increasing the UK’s resilience to wildfires.
Despite its relatively temperate climate and stable geography, natural hazards present multiple risks to human activity in the UK. These range from small-scale local occurrences, such as landslides, through regional incidents, such as flooding, to major high impact, low probability events, such as space weather. The impacts of such hazards can be wide-ranging but may include disruption to critical infrastructure and transport networks, detrimental effects on human welfare, and, in some cases, loss of life. This POSTbrief summarises the emergency planning for such hazards undertaken by Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) of the Cabinet Office and published in the classified National Risk Assessment (NRA) and unclassified National Risk Register (NRR).
Violent crime includes a range of offences, from assault to murder. It can be any action that intentionally inflicts (or threatens) physical or psychological damage. Over the past decade overall crime has decreased, and violent crime is down by 69% since 1995. However, homicides and crimes involving knives or sharp instruments have risen since 2014. This has been reflected in an increase in hospital admissions for assaults with knives or sharp instruments. Violent offences are disproportionately concentrated in metropolitan areas, such as London and cities in West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands. This POSTnote outlines types and prevalence of violent crime. It describes risk factors associated with involvement as a victim or perpetrator of violent crime. It then presents evidence on the effectiveness of early interventions to counter these risk factors and prevent violent crime.
Chemical weapons are prohibited, however recent chemical weapons attacks in Malaysia, Syria, Iraq and the UK have raised concerns about their use. In the UK in 2018, four people were taken seriously ill and one person died following exposure to a Novichok, a type of nerve agent. The UK Government recently announced £11m to strengthen the UK’s chemical defences and highlighted chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats as an area of focus in the recent Modernising Defence Programme. This briefing provides an overview of chemical weapons including types of chemical weapons and modes of delivery, chemical weapons control and disarmament, investigations of alleged attacks and chemical weapons defence in the UK.
Under the Paris Agreement, almost all governments worldwide have agreed to collectively limit global warming to 'well below' 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and to 'pursue efforts' to limit this warming to 1.5°C. However, there has been 1°C of warming to date, and current international pledges could result in 3°C or more. A 2018 UN Special Report examined how peak global warming could be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and the implications of doing so. This POSTnote outlines key messages from the UN Special Report, and UK responses to preventing and adapting to climate change.
Weaknesses in the cyber security of internet-connected consumer devices can undermine the privacy and safety of individual users and can be used for large-scale cyber-attacks. This briefing looks at the cyber threats associated with consumer devices and their causes, as well as initiatives to improve device security, and the related challenges.
Telecommunications networks are essential for the day-to-day running of UK businesses and public services, however, concerns have been raised recently over their security. This POSTnote outlines the threats to these networks, the ability of networks to cope with disruption, and possible protective measures.
A POSTnote that describes the potential for immunisation as a strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance, both globally and in the UK. It discusses public health priority areas, the role for existing vaccines and the development of new ones.
Biometric technologies identify individuals based on their distinguishing physical and behavioural attributes, such as fingerprints, face, and voice. Unlike passwords or traditional identity documents, biometric attributes are inherently linked to a person and cannot usually be lost or forgotten, potentially providing greater security and convenience. This briefing focuses on how these technologies work, their applications, and the policy challenges raised by their use.
A POSTnote that discusses the age of criminal responsibility and explores issues arising from international legal standards, the scientific research on children's mental and moral development, and alternative approaches to dealing with children in conflict with the law.
A POSTnote which explains what science diplomacy involves, outlining the mechanisms and settings that encourage organisations and individuals to build international relations through science-related activities.
This list sets out the topic areas identified of possible parliamentary interest under the 9 different category headings (Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Forestry, Crime, Defence, Education and Skills, Energy, Environment, Health, ICT and Robotics and Transport and Infrastructure).
People's responses to risk are shaped by the way that such risks are communicated. Communicating risks effectively can defuse concerns, mitigate disaster situations and build trust with public institutions and organisations. This POSTnote defines the often misunderstood concepts of risk, uncertainty and hazard and describes the key stakeholders communicating it. It examines the factors that shape how people perceive and respond to such risks and summarises evidence on effective risk communication strategies.
The Government has identified ‘cyber’ as one of six Tier 1 threats to UK national security. This POSTnote focuses on the cyber security of the UK’s critical national infrastructure, describing measures to improve cyber security and challenges in implementing them. It also reviews the new National Cyber Security Strategy, along with international policy and legislation.
Quantum Technologies use the behaviour of matter and light that is normally only observed at very small scales. This POSTnote introduces recent advances, applications, and UK initiatives to support their development and commercialisation. It also reviews policy concerns such as privacy, access to new technologies and secure communications.