The crime of stalking is elusive to define, tricky to prove, and tough to effectively punish. It is, however, a serious plague.
According to the British Crime Survey, one in five adult women and one in 10 adult men have been stalked to some extent – numbers that have increased as modern communications technology has made such obsessions easier to pursue. The problem has led to the establishment of Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, north London. The centre has opened as Europe’s first facility dedicated to dealing with perpetrators of stalking (the only similar enterprise anywhere in the world is Forensicare, in Melbourne). The National Stalking Clinic will offer courts and police the option of referring stalkers for assessment, treatment and hopefully eventual rehabilitation. “What we will do,” says clinical director Dr Robert Bates, “is identify the mental health issues pertinent to stalking behaviour, whether it’s drugs, alcohol or some psychosis, and direct therapy towards that.”
The eurozone crisis is good news for Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party. The radical nationalists have edged ahead of the former governing Hungarian Socialist Party in the polls, with the public looking for scapegoats amid economic turmoil. One poll said two-thirds of Hungarians would not allow their children to befriend a Roma (Gypsy) child.
Date: 19 February (subject to change).
Candidates: Recently appointed prime minister Lucas Papademos will be seeking democratic confirmation of his position. He must beat Antonis Samaras, leader of the conservative New Democracy party.
Issues: Greece needs to make some huge decisions – whether to default on its monstrous debts, whether to abandon the euro and whether to get serious about dismantling a corrupt culture.
Comment: Whoever leads Greece is going to spend much of their term telling people what they don’t want to hear.
Finnish legislators have come up with a cocktail of laws they hope will help the country’s smokers kick their habit. As of January, a new anti-smoking law has banned Finnish stores from displaying cigarettes. Now retailers are only allowed to show customers a catalogue of the products and prices if they specifically ask for it. Smoking will be allowed in only 10 per cent of rooms in Finnish hotels and cigarette machines will be banned in 2015. Finland will be home to some of the strictest anti-smoking legislation in the world, which aims to phase out smoking altogether. The move follows plans put in place in Australia for the legal enforcement of plain packaging on cigarettes.
While the rest of Europe chases austerity, oil-rich Norway has no such worries. The government can spend up to 4 per cent of the country’s sovereign wealth “oil fund”, valued above $500bn (€378bn).
Mayor of Porto
Currently halfway through his third term in office, Rui Fernando da Silva Rio has spent the best part of the past decade spearheading ambitious urban development schemes in Porto, which only a few years ago suffered from poor infrastructure, drug crime and chronic economic inactivity. The mayor’s tenure, with the help of EU financing, has seen gradually improving living conditions in the city; he has helped push for a new metro system that has inspired the local retail sector to emerge with renewed optimism. The city’s revitalised downtown area means the historic port has a choice of destinations to feel proud of.
How have you managed to improve Porto’s business appeal?
We have a lot of talent here – we are often known for port wine, but there is a lot more to Porto, as seen by the growing number of tourists coming to discover it. European clothing brands are sending their designs to our textile factories, we have top universities and research centres working internationally, and the rehabilitation of Baixa, downtown, is signalling new commercial life in spite of the crisis.
Why redevelop downtown Porto?
Baixa was an abandoned ghetto in 2001. In 2002 we negotiated innovative legislation to create urban rehabilitation societies, which oversaw private investment into publicly controlled works and the restructuring of 38 blocks – 913 buildings in total. Better social cohesion is a core ideal of the project, so Prohabita [the housing access funding programme] is a big part of it. As well as making the centre inhabitable and accessible again, we want more restaurants, bars, arts venues and discos to open downtown. The nightlife now is like nothing we have ever had before.
Will you be able to keep up the good work, considering Portugal’s economic climate?
It will take time to achieve. Our agenda has often met with problems but it has to be said that it has always been pushed forward within a tight framework of sound municipal finances and balanced management of resources. It is something I am still very committed to.
What makes Porto such a great city?
Porto has a very distinctive character, like its people. We have a Unesco-listed historical centre, beautiful gardens, striking bridges, an enchanting coastline and a very proud history. It is important to us to honour that history.