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Dark heart of Britain’s only ‘legal’ red light district

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dark heart of britains only legal red light district

The cheery municipal sign is designed to bring a splash of colour, a frisson of optimism, to the inner-city gloom. Its upbeat slogan: ‘HOLBECK — where families and communities bloom.’

But this grim area near Leeds city centre is, perhaps, not blooming as well as it might.

That’s because it’s the first ‘legal’ red-light district in the country. And if some of its advocates get their way, it will be the first of many.

Less than a mile from the heart of Britain’s third-largest city, Holbeck is an area in which prostitutes — and the men who buy and sell them — are encouraged by the local authority and police to operate with impunity.

There is one run-down cafe, no pubs and no shops. But one thing certainly is for sale: sex, on every street corner — and at very low prices. As night drew in, girls began to emerge into the half-light, alone and in pairs

There is one run-down cafe, no pubs and no shops. But one thing certainly is for sale: sex, on every street corner — and at very low prices. As night drew in, girls began to emerge into the half-light, alone and in pairs

There is one run-down cafe, no pubs and no shops. But one thing certainly is for sale: sex, on every street corner — and at very low prices. As night drew in, girls began to emerge into the half-light, alone and in pairs

There are no sanctions and no risk of conviction. Widespread drug-taking — sadly an integral part of the lives of many of these women, who have often been abused as teenagers and are subsequently used by pimps who see them as no more than a commodity — is also tolerated, under a scheme that costs local taxpayers £200,000 per year to run.

Most controversial of all, the ‘clients’, who travel into the area in search of paid sex — are welcomed all night, every night, between the hours of 8pm and 6am.

The police do not trouble them, unless officers suspect the women are in danger.

It is a bold — some might say reckless — experiment that has caused deep divisions both here and among those with clear views on how prostitution might be better policed.

Yet now, following a new report, it is set to become a permanent fixture on this benighted stretch of land.

This week, I travelled to Holbeck with a Daily Mail photographer. During the day, much of this area functions as an industrial estate.

In darkness, it seems very different. The business premises have shut down, the only noise coming from the cars cruising around.

The square mile or so of the zone designated as a red-light district has become a dark sexual dystopia. Inside its boundaries, it is very difficult to buy a cup of tea or a pint. There is one run-down cafe, no pubs and no shops.

But one thing certainly is for sale: sex, on every street corner — and at very low prices.

As night drew in, girls began to emerge into the half-light, alone and in pairs. Some would position themselves in dark places waiting for the approach of a potential buyer’s car.

The square mile or so of the zone designated as a red-light district has become a dark sexual dystopia

The square mile or so of the zone designated as a red-light district has become a dark sexual dystopia

The square mile or so of the zone designated as a red-light district has become a dark sexual dystopia

Others were more brazen, waiting determinedly on street corners. Many looked very young, perhaps even under 18. (I later reported this to the police, who said they would investigate.)

Over a three-hour period, the women would get into smart saloons — Audis, Range Rovers, some with blacked-out windows — and then be dropped off back at the same spot.

Some girls didn’t even get into the cars — going about their work in full view on squalid bits of wasteground.

The atmosphere was thoroughly depressing, many of the girls vacant-looking and walking unsteadily (suggesting they were on drugs), with haunted eyes and emaciated faces.

It was striking that no one else was on the streets — apart from ourselves, the girls and, from time to time, a few skinny young men, all wearing hoodies, looking shifty and seedy in the artificial light.

Pimps? Dealers? Whatever they were here for, it wasn’t a romantic stroll in the moonlight.

Underneath a bridge, two women — in their early 20s but looking older — were waiting. I approached one and explained I was from the Daily Mail.

I asked her why she was here and where she was from. ‘I’m from Burnley and I’m trying to get money for my daughter,’ she said.

She told me she charged just £30 for full sex and oral sex together: less than the price of the pub dinner I’d had with the photographer a couple of hours before.

As we spoke, several cars drove past, much to the annoyance of her friend. ‘We could have got some business if she wasn’t talking to you,’ she snapped at me.

I was aware of a low-key police presence and we watched a different girl, whom we believed to be a prostitute, being spoken to by the occupants of a marked police vehicle.

But I thought of those unsavoury-looking men buzzing around the zone — and I had the sense it was all too little, too late.

This controversial experiment, which is run jointly by West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council, has a bland and euphemistic title: ‘Managed Approach’ (MA).

No doubt deliberately, that phrase means precisely nothing: it carries no reference to kerb-crawling, drug-taking, pimping, intimidation or any other aspects of the anti-social and criminal behaviour that blights the lives of those who live, work or go to school near the zone. Primary schools are less than a mile away.

This month, a glowing and supposedly independent review of the scheme has been published, claiming the ‘Managed Approach’ has been an emphatic success.

It was carried out by the University of Huddersfield and published by the Safer Leeds Partnership, a conjunction of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police.

A success? Well, perhaps. I found plenty of locals who believe otherwise.

During the pandemic, the city council said it was suspending the MA for the duration of lockdown. That is meant to remain in force.

But this week, the rules were being flouted — and neither the council nor the police appeared to be doing anything about it.

Even as lockdown eases, when we have only just been granted the right to visit our relatives in care homes and where extensive rules on social distancing remain in force, Holbeck is a sexual free-for-all.

A council spokesman explained this by claiming the council no longer had emergency enforcement powers. He added: ‘While the number of women seeking to [do] street sex work is still relatively low, we have seen a recent increase coinciding with the relaxation of social distancing.’

Since the MA was introduced in 2014, it has divided local opinion, bringing into focus wildly differing views about how prostitution should be looked upon by the state.

Holbeck is now a ‘magnet for creepy men from all over the north of England and even further afield who crawl the streets in their cars, leering at women and girls,’ says Anna Fisher of sex-trade law campaign group Nordic Model Now.

Here in Britain, it is not illegal to be a prostitute, although kerb-crawling by clients, soliciting, pimping and running a brothel are crimes.

And that’s what makes this area such a political hot potato — it’s now one of the easiest places in the country to buy sex.

The police and the council have effectively granted an amnesty not just to the prostitutes who are, most people believe, the ultimate victims of the sex trade. But, far more controversially, also to the kerb crawlers, pimps and human traffickers who maintain the supply of women.

Its upbeat slogan: ‘HOLBECK — where families and communities bloom.’ But this grim area near Leeds city centre is, perhaps, not blooming as well as it might. That’s because it’s the first ‘legal’ red-light district in the country

Its upbeat slogan: ‘HOLBECK — where families and communities bloom.’ But this grim area near Leeds city centre is, perhaps, not blooming as well as it might. That’s because it’s the first ‘legal’ red-light district in the country

Its upbeat slogan: ‘HOLBECK — where families and communities bloom.’ But this grim area near Leeds city centre is, perhaps, not blooming as well as it might. That’s because it’s the first ‘legal’ red-light district in the country

The feminist writer Julie Bindel, who has visited Holbeck, has said punters ‘are able to buy a woman with the same ease with which they might pick up a burger’.

Bindel spoke to one Holbeck prostitute who told her: ‘Because [the men] can’t get arrested, they think they can do anything they like. I’ve been raped, and one man urinated on me once and then took a photo.’

Supporters of the MA claim it is best to keep the women in one area where they will not trouble residents — and give them access to various welfare services.

But many families are concerned the sex trade is spilling over into the streets on which they live. Less than a year after the MA started, one prostitute, Daria Pionko, from Poland, was battered to death in the zone.

Her attacker, Lewis Pierre, was jailed for 22 years. Other serious assaults have taken place more recently.

One mother, Nikki Hayes, has had enough. ‘They stand on this corner, that corner. They stand on that road up there,’ she told me.

‘My five-year-old daughter says to me, “What’s that lady doing, Mummy?” How am I expected to explain to her that she’s a prostitute? It’s just impossible . . . Even my 13-year-old son was propositioned by one of the girls.’

Like many residents, Ms Hayes is concerned that prostitution is spilling out beyond the zone’s borders.

Soon after I spoke to her, I found debris, including condom wrappers, left outside on Holbeck Moor, a park used by school children.

Other residents are concerned that houses on the edge of the zone have become brothels.

Karen Cuthbertson owns and runs Christine’s cafe, serving fry-ups to construction workers. Occasionally, she says, some of the prostitutes come into her premises. She sees them as victims.

She says: ‘If they want to do it, they need a place to go. The problem is that it’s all coming out of the zone. One of the blokes from a local hostel was caught just near here on CCTV with a woman down on her knees. You just can’t have that.’

The Rev Rolf Mason is curate of St Luke’s in Holbeck. He chairs a community group and is preparing an alternative report to the one just published

Rev Mason firmly believes the prostitution zone has had a detrimental effect on many of the residents living nearby.

‘We’ve had problems with sex litter, kerb crawling,’ he says. This litter might include used condoms and syringes, women’s clothing and vomit — much of which can carry the risk of disease.

Rev Mason adds: ‘There are other problems — among them women approaching men, asking for business. And women causing fights. It will be in the middle of the night, screaming at punters because they haven’t been paid.

‘Or a pimp getting into a fight with a punter because they’ve not agreed to certain terms. What we underestimate is how many of the women actually live in Holbeck — and operate out of their homes.’

He is particularly concerned about how these women at the edge of society can be exploited by cruel and merciless pimps. ‘Unfortunately, with many of the women, there is going to be a history of trauma and child abuse,’ he says. ‘You’ve definitely got sex trafficking going on.’

Some defenders of the MA argue that many of the prostitutes might be doing the work anyway, so it is better to keep them in one place.

However, the many residents opposed to the zone believe the MA acts as a perfect haven for traffickers.

The new ‘independent’ report into the zone is a mealy-mouthed affair, couched in corporate gobbledygook. Its verdict, which some believe to be a whitewash, is that the council and the police are doing a good job and that progress has been made in reducing the number of prostitutes in the area.

It is very short on specifics — and, oddly, neither the council nor West Yorkshire Police were prepared to discuss its findings in detail.

This curious reluctance to answer questions even extended to the report’s principal author, Prof Jason Roach of Huddersfield University. He told me simply: ‘The report speaks for itself.’

Similarly tongue-tied was Paul Money, Head of the Safer Leeds Partnership, who also refused an interview.

The review cost £50,000 to produce — on top of the estimated £200,000 per year that the Managed Approach costs.

One politician who would talk to me was independent Cllr Sarah Field. She said: ‘I am appalled at this so-called “independent” review . . . Just 30 people were interviewed and fewer than half of those had no vested interest. A whole neighbourhood of Leeds has been given over to prostitution.

‘We see academics enthralled by “sex positivity” while they would never live in Holbeck, nor entertain the notion of themselves, their daughters or their wives “working” there.’

Another critic, independent Cllr Mark Dobson, says the scheme was poorly thought-out.

‘Whatever the report says, it has done nothing to help residents or vulnerable women. If the scheme is a success, why won’t anyone from the council talk about it?’ he asks.

A pertinent question. And though a similar scheme in the Netherlands was dropped after its backers admitted it failed, this report has just rubber-stamped the council’s scheme — and the Managed Approach is set to continue.

This is bad news for so many of the nearby families whose lives have been blighted by the project. But it’s good news for those seedy men in hoodies shuffling around these streets after dark.

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Student raises over £20,000 for homeless ‘Stormzy lookalike’

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student raises over 20000 for homeless stormzy lookalike

An A-level student has raised more than £25,000 for a homeless man after a video of his polite reaction to being heckled on the street went viral. 

The man, identified as Akwasi, 29, was filmed reacting calmly to passers-by, who have not been identified, after they tried to make fun of him and said he was ‘Stormzy’ as he ‘begged’ outside London‘s Liverpool Station before tossing him 5p. 

The video, which was filmed by an unknown person, was shared on Twitter by London-based student Najma Abdilahi, who said she was impressed by how he had remained ‘very calm’ and ‘very polite’ in the face of ‘disrespect’. 

The clip has since been viewed more than 2.3million times and the GoFundMe campaign launched by Najma has received more than £25,000 in donations in just 24 hours. 

Stormzy’s manager has also been in touch with Najma, although she did not discuss the details of their exchange. 

The man, identified as Akwasi, 29, was filmed calmly telling passers-by, who have not been identified, that he 'is not Stormzy' after they tried to taunt him outside Liverpool Station before tossing him 5p

In the video, which was not filmed by Najma, a man called Akwasi 'Stormzy' due to his resemblance to the rapper and gives him 5p.

The man, identified as Akwasi, 29, was filmed calmly telling passers-by, who have not been identified, that he ‘is not Stormzy’ after they tried to taunt him outside Liverpool Station before tossing him 5p (left). Right, Akwasi in a video thanking well-wishers for their generous support

The video, which was filmed by an unknown person, was shared on Twitter by London-based student Najma Abdilahi, who said she was impressed by how he had remained 'very calm' and 'very polite' in the face of 'disrespect'. Najma, pictured, launched a fundraising campaign

The video, which was filmed by an unknown person, was shared on Twitter by London-based student Najma Abdilahi, who said she was impressed by how he had remained ‘very calm’ and ‘very polite’ in the face of ‘disrespect’. Najma, pictured, launched a fundraising campaign 

The homeless man who was compared to Stomrzy has since had more than £24,000 raised for him. Stormzy is pictured at KISS FM in December 2019. His manager has contacted Najma

The homeless man who was compared to Stomrzy has since had more than £24,000 raised for him. Stormzy is pictured at KISS FM in December 2019. His manager has contacted Najma

In the original clip, which was first posted to TikTok, a man behind the camera tell Akwasi: ‘Brother, I listen to all your songs’.

Akwasi quickly clarifies he’s not Stormzy, ‘ ‘I just look like him, I’m from the same country, everyone calls me Stromzy, but I’m not, I swear on my mum’s life. I’m out here begging.’ The man filming then gives Akwasi 5p.

Writing on her GoFundMe, Najma explained she was moved by Akwasi’s polite and composed reaction to his treatment. 

She wrote: ‘As some you may have seen the video of “Stormzy lookalike” as it has sparked some outrage.

‘I will be raising money to go and donate to him. This money will go towards finding him a stable place and will help him with any financial problems he may have. The man very humble and very polite to the disrespect that was shown to him. 

‘May he be blessed with the money that he receives. He’s homeless so this money is going towards helping him get back on his feet and hopefully be the kickstart he needs for the future. He’s located at Liverpool Street Station. If you see him please be kind and generous.’ 

The clip has since been viewed more than 2.3million times and the GoFundMe campaign launched by Najma has received more than £25,000 in donations in just 24 hours, pictured

The clip has since been viewed more than 2.3million times and the GoFundMe campaign launched by Najma has received more than £25,000 in donations in just 24 hours, pictured

The fundraiser was shared on Twitter and received celebrity backing, with reality TV star Lateysha Grace and Love Island winner Amber Rose Gill throwing their support behind the cause.

FEMAIL has contacted Najma and GoFundMe for comment.

Najma later shared an update, saying: ‘I just wanna say thank you for all the help and support and all the positive messages.’

In a video posted by Najma after raising the money, Akwasi introduces himself and thanks people for their generous donations.

Najma, who set up the fundraiser, has since taken to Twitter to thank everyone for raising the money

Najma, who set up the fundraiser, has since taken to Twitter to thank everyone for raising the money

‘I really appreciate all the help and support that I’m getting. Thanks a lot, I hope to see you guys soon, respect and god bless.’ 

As well as money, people offered Akwasi shelter, jobs and clothes. 

Hundreds of people have thrown their support behind the campaign, and praised Najma for her efforts. 

‘I’m a mental health support worker and I would gladly talk to him about what we can do to tackle his obstacles and try to find housing, apply for benefits, get him back on his feet etc. Please feel free to reach out to me!’ offered one. 

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The fundraiser has got celebrity backing, with reality TV star Lateysha Grace and Love Island winner Amber Rose Gill throwing their support behind the cause

The fundraiser has got celebrity backing, with reality TV star Lateysha Grace and Love Island winner Amber Rose Gill throwing their support behind the cause

‘I was gutted to see he was put on social media, was homeless, so lovely and polite but only got given 5p.  I rarely carry cash, I get it but that broke me. Well done for doing this,’ said another.

‘You’re an absolute angel for this! May God bless you with so much purely for this act of kindness,’ commented a third.

‘The power of twitter from having 5p to almost 20k. Just shows we could do a lot together instead of bringing each other down,’ tweeted another.  

‘Honestly amazing!! Well done my friend, you changed this man’s life in the matter of hours, we need more like you,’ one said. 

Rapper Stormzy, 27 –  real name, Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr – was born in London to a Ghanaian mother.  

He has won multiple awards for his critically acclaimed albums Gang Signs and Prayer and Heavy is the Head.  

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Hundreds of people have thrown their support behind the campaign, and praised Najma for her efforts

Hundreds of people have thrown their support behind the campaign, and praised Najma for her efforts

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NHS contact tracing app re-launches TODAY in trials on the Isle of Wight and in east London

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nhs contact tracing app re launches today in trials on the isle of wight and in east london

The NHS Test and Trace smartphone app is being re-launched today with a second round of trials on the Isle of Wight and in the London borough of Newham.

England’s beleaguered app, of which the first version had to be scrapped in June, has now been recreated using technology made by Google and Apple.

Officials are rolling out tests to some staff in the NHS and residents of the two areas to test whether it is good enough to use nationwide.

If the app is found to work it will be used alongside the human contact-tracing system which is based on call centres and local councils visiting people’s homes.  

Bluetooth technology will keep a record of which phones spend 15 minutes within 2metres (6’7″) of one another and then alert people if they have been near someone who later tests positive for Covid-19.

Users will also have an ‘isolation companion’ which has countdown timer if someone has to self-isolate, and will be able to ‘check in’ to places they visit using QR codes.

They will also be shown what the risk level is in their local area based on the first half of their postcode, with places being categorised as low, medium or high risk. 

The app will rely totally on members of the public co-operating, volunteering to let it track their connections and following the instructions it gives them on getting tested and self-isolating.

Despite efforts to iron out flaws in the technology, the Department of Health has admitted that around half of people who are warned they have been near an infected person will actually not have been within the 2m for 15 minutes danger window.

And three out of 10 people who were put at risk – 31 per cent – won’t receive a notification at all. In trials it had a 69 per cent accuracy rate at detecting people who had been at risk, and it was 55 per cent accurate at detecting people who had not.

The announcement of developments in the app comes as data on the manual contact tracing today revealed that test results are getting slower again. 

Statistics showed this morning that around two-thirds of people who got swab tests (67.4 per cent) received their result within 24 hours, down from 76.9 per cent last week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised to have this figure at 100 per cent last month.

The newest version of the app is being launched after the first attempt was abandoned in June because it did not work on Android smartphones.

The NHS’s app — which was originally promised for mid-May and the NHS spent months developing — was unable to spot 25 per cent of nearby Android users and a staggering 96 per cent of iPhones in the Isle of Wight trial.

This was because the Bluetooth system developed by the NHS effectively went into ‘sleep mode’ when the phone screens were locked and developers couldn’t fix the glitch.

HOW IS APPLE AND GOOGLE’S TECHNOLOGY DIFFERENT TO THE FAILED NHS PROJECT? 

It is not clear why the NHS app was so much worse at using Bluetooth to detect other phones than the Apple/Google technology is.

Officials have not explained exactly why or how the new system is better at measuring the distance between two phones, but Apple and Google’s own software appears to work significantly better when the phone’s screen is locked.

The companies make the phone operating systems themselves so are better able to fit the Bluetooth software around that, whereas the NHS was unable to make a program that could prevent the app going into sleep mode. 

The main difference between the two apps is the way they store data.

Both keep a log of who someone has come into close contact with – but the NHS’s app would have kept information in a centralised database, while the Google/Apple app is de-centralised. 

NHS app: Lists on NHS servers 

The NHSX app would create an alert every time two app users came within Bluetooth range of one another and log this in the user’s phone.

Each person would essentially build up a list of everyone they have been in ‘contact’ with. This would be anonymised so the lists were actually just be numbers or codes, not lists of names or addresses. 

If someone was diagnosed with the coronavirus all the app users they got close to during the time that they were considered infectious would receive an alert telling them they have been put at risk of COVID-19 – but it wouldn’t name the person who was diagnosed. 

NHSX insisted it would have deleted people’s data when they get rid of the app, but not data uploaded to the NHS server if they or a contact tested positive.

Apple/Google: Contained on phones

In Apple and Google’s de-centralised approach, meanwhile, the server and list element of this process is removed and the entire log is contained in someone’s phone.

That app works by exchanging a digital ‘token’ with every phone someone comes within Bluetooth range of over a fixed period.

If one person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or tests positive, they will be able to enter this information into the app.

The phone will then send out a notification to all the devices they have exchanged tokens with during the infection window, to make people aware they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The server database will not be necessary because each phone will keep an individual log of the bluetooth profiles someone has come close to. These will then be linked anonymously to people’s NHS apps and alerts can be pushed through that even after the person is out of bluetooth range.

People can delete their data from this app at any time. 

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Different Bluetooth technology made by the phone manufacturers Apple and Google themselves has turned out to be significantly better at detecting other phones.

Officials said the app software now reliably detects 99.3 per cent of nearby app users, regardless of what type of phone they have. 

Another major difference between the two is that Apple and Google’s technology stores the anonymously log of someone’s contacts entirely in the phone – it is never shared with anyone else and can be deleted at any time – whereas the NHS’s worked on a system which meant it had to be sent to a centralised database.

Officials have changed this to squash concerns about privacy, now insisting the app ‘tracks the virus, not people’.

In another improvement to the privacy afforded by the app, it will have a toggle switch for people to turn the contact tracing on or off without uninstalling the app.

People can choose at any time to make the app stop recording connections to other phones.   

And the app will now not send any information to the NHS or the Government – people will only be given advice to self-isolate if they are at risk, or advised to get a test if they have symptoms.

People will have to report a positive test themselves in order to alert people they may have put at risk. 

Once hailed as a vital part of the contact tracing system, the app is now an addition to the human system, officials say.

Dido Harding, the chair of NHS Test and Trace, said: ‘There is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling coronavirus. 

‘The app is a great step forward and will complement all of the work we are doing with local areas across the country to reach more people in their communities and work towards our vision of helping more people get back to the most normal life possible at the lowest risk.

‘I am hugely grateful to the Isle of Wight, Newham and the NHS responders for playing their part.’

Newham was chosen for the mainland trial because it is such a diverse and busy area, Baroness Harding said. 

The London borough has high levels of deprivation and is extremely diverse – white British people make up only 17 per cent of the population and there is no ethnic majority.

It is also very densely populated, home to around 352,000 people, and therefore a ideal for testing the app in a city environment where the risk of infection is higher.

People who use the app will be asked to put in the first half of their postcode so they can be given the risk level for their local area, which will be low, medium or high.

This section will then have links to more information about specific rules if that area has a stricter lockdown than other parts of the country. 

Other features include an isolation timer which will count down day-by-day how long people must stay at home for if they have – or might have – coronavirus.

And people will be able to check in to places they visit using a QR code scanner which will keep of log of where they have been in case they are approached by contact tracers.

It is hoped this will help eliminate problems of people not remembering where they have been or where they may have put strangers at risk and have no way of contacting them. 

The system will be based on venue owners and event organisers ordering and printing their own QR codes online for people to scan when they arrive. 

The announcement that the app will re-enter trials comes as data shows the NHS Test & Trace system is still struggling. 

People who use the app will be asked to put in the first half of their postcode so they can be given the risk level for their local area, which will be low, medium or high

A QR code scanner will be built in so people can scan codes at places they visit to keep a log of where they've been (right)

People who use the app will be asked to put in the first half of their postcode so they can be given the risk level for their local area, which will be low, medium or high (left) and a QR code scanner will be built in so people can scan codes at places they visit to keep a log of where they’ve been (right)

People can report symptoms through the app and it will help them to book a test

If someone has coronavirus symptoms or a positive test they will be able to use a self-isolation countdown timer which tells them how much longer they have to stay at home for

People can report symptoms through the app and it will help them to book a test (left) and if  someone has coronavirus symptoms or a positive test they will be able to use a self-isolation countdown timer which tells them how much longer they have to stay at home for (right) 

A total of 52,735 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England have had their cases transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system since its launch, according to figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Of this total, 41,254 people (78.2 per cent) were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts, while 9,938 (18.8 per cent) were not reached.

A further 1,543 people (2.9 per cent) could not be reached because their communication details had not been provided.

The figures cover the period from May 28 to August 5. 

The NHS Test and Trace figures also show that, for cases handled by local health protection teams, 97.9 per cent of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 have been reached and asked to self-isolate.

By contrast, for those cases handled either online or by call centres, 56.7 per cent of close contacts have been reached and asked to self-isolate.

Those figures cover the whole 10-week period of Test and Trace. 

HOW WILL THE NHS TEST & TRACE APP WORK? 

How does the contact logging work?

While the app is running Bluetooth technology will keep a record of which phones spend 15 minutes within 2metres (6’7″) of one another and then alert people if they have been near someone who later tests positive for Covid-19. 

People’s phones are only recognised by the system if they are running the app themselves – it cannot detect others.

The contacts it keeps track of are all anonymous and phones exchange digital ‘tokens’ with every app-using phone within Bluetooth range.

If one person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or tests positive, they will be able to enter this information into the app.

The phone will then send out a notification to all the devices they have exchanged tokens with during the infection window, to make people aware they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Each phone keeps an individual log of the Bluetooth profiles someone has come close to. These will then be linked anonymously to people’s NHS apps and alerts can be pushed through that even after the person is out of bluetooth range.

People can delete their data from this app at any time.

Will the app tell me what to do?

The app can only react to data that people put into it, and it will only ever offer guidance. If a user reports that they have symptoms of coronavirus – a new continuous cough, a fever, or a changed sense of smell or taste, they will be urged to self-isolate for 10 days from the start of the symptoms and to get tested.

If they test positive for Covid-19 at any time, they should report this to the app. The app then sends out an anonymous alert to everyone with whom that person has been within 2m (6’7″) of for 15 minutes or more since they started feeling ill. 

That person may then be asked to self-isolate or to get tested if they feel unwell.

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Why does it want my postcode? 

People who use the app will be asked to put in the first half of their postcode so they can be given the risk level for their local area, which will be low, medium or high.

This section will then have links to more information about specific rules if that area has a stricter lockdown than other parts of the country.

The first half of someone’s postcode is too vague to pinpoint their personal location. They usually are the same for thousands of houses in the same area or for entire towns and villages. No location data is shared with the NHS or Government.

What is the QR code scanner for? 

People will be able to check in to places they visit using a QR code scanner which will keep of log of where they have been in case they are approached by contact tracers.

It is hoped this will help eliminate problems of people not remembering where they have been or where they may have put strangers at risk and have no way of contacting them. 

The system will be based on venue owners and event organisers ordering and printing their own QR codes online for people to scan when they arrive.

It is understood that this will create a log only for people’s personal reference and that information will not be shared with venues or officials.

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East London street gets brightly-coloured mural makeover

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east london street gets brightly coloured mural makeover

A street in east London has been transformed after being hand-painted over the past six weeks to give it a colourful boost. 

The London Mural Company used more than 600 litres of paint and 200 spray cans to transform Aberfeldy Street, Poplar, in a bid to kickstart the retail businesses forced to close due to coronavirus.  

There are still a few more things to do before the street is finished, with new lighting, pavement maintenance and shop signage due to be completed by the end of this month. 

A view of the Aberfeldy Street in Poplar, east London, before the transformation
A view of Aberfeldy Street in Poplar, east London, after the transformation using 600 litres of paint and 200 spray cans to give it a colourful boost
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The London Mural Company transformed Aberfeldy Street in Poplar, east London, by using more than 600 litres of paint and 200 spray cans to give it a colourful boost

Creative director of the London Mural Company Stewart Chromik said it was inspired by the Bangladeshi kantha tradition of recycling old textiles to create something new

Creative director of the London Mural Company Stewart Chromik said it was inspired by the Bangladeshi kantha tradition of recycling old textiles to create something new

Creative director of the London Mural Company Stewart Chromik said it was inspired by the Bangladeshi kantha tradition of recycling old textiles to create something new

A view of the street before the transformation
A view of the entire street after the transformation
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Each building in the street is painted a different colour and with a different pattern, which were donated by the community

The walls and shutters have all been painted with colourful designs and patterns

There are a few more things, such as new lighting and shop signage, to do before its finished

The walls and shutters have all been painted with colourful designs and patterns with a few more things, such as new lighting and shop signage, to do before it is finished

There are still a few more things to do before the street is finished, with new lighting, pavement maintenance and shop signage due to be completed by the end of this month. 

Creative director of The London Mural Company Stewart Chromik said: ‘We had spent a previous six weeks hand painting and stencilling a huge range of designs across the buildings, flats, shops, shutters and stall risers.

‘We were contacted by Jan Kattein Architects just under a year ago.

‘They had been approached to transform the building frontages of Aberfeldy Street with a patchwork of colours and patterns. 

The team have spent the previous six weeks hand painting and stencilling on the shop fronts, shutters and flats in the street

The team have spent the previous six weeks hand painting and stencilling on the shop fronts, shutters and flats in the street

Two members of The London Mural Company hold the stencil up on one of the shop shutters and hand paint the design onto it

Two members of The London Mural Company hold the stencil up on one of the shop shutters and hand paint the design onto it

‘Inspired by Bangladeshi Kantha tradition of recycling old textiles to create something new and with patterns donated by the local community the aim was to celebrate the cultural identity of the local people – making this one of the most colourful streets in East London.

‘Working with meanwhilespace.com the unused stores on the street have been re-fitted providing new business owners and start-up companies the opportunity to apply to rent the spaces with a host of incentives.

‘We worked closely alongside Cuttle Construction, so on site around 15 people involved with painting. 

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Mr Chromik said the unused stores on the street have been taken over by new owners and start-up companies

All of the buildings are painted with a different colour and pattern

15 people were involved with the painting of the project

All of the buildings are painted with a different colour and pattern in the project where 15 people were painting

The project was completed in a bid to kickstart buisnesses

Businesses had been closed during the coronavirus pandemic

The project was completed in a bid to kickstart businesses which had been closed during the coronavirus pandemic

Each building on is decorated with a different colour and a different pattern, with some in yellow, purple and pink

Each building on is decorated with a different colour and a different pattern, with some in yellow, purple and pink

Mr Chromik said there are still some things to be done before the project is completed but it should be finished by the end of August

Mr Chromik said there are still some things to be done before the project is completed but it should be finished by the end of August

‘I couldn’t give an approximate amount but it’s definitely been well over 600 litres and over 200 spray cans.

‘The site is still undergoing work, with new lighting, pavement maintenance, and shop signage aiming to be completed by the end of August.

‘I think it looks fantastic, Jan Kattein have really transformed the street with their designs and direction.

‘The feedback from the local residents and community was extremely encouraging and positive throughout. It was definitely an inspiring project to be involved with.’

One of the flats has been painted with yellow, pink and navy blue paint with the railings outside yellow with blue, pink and red shapes

One of the flats has been painted with yellow, pink and navy blue paint with the railings outside yellow with blue, pink and red shapes

The London Mural Company said the paintings were completed by hand by a team of 15 who worked closely with Cuttle Construction

The London Mural Company said the paintings were completed by hand by a team of 15 who worked closely with Cuttle Construction

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