Archives: Exposing Britain entriesTTTT

Exposing Britain’s Social Evils

Richard Watson: ‘Hate Crime’

Richard Watson is a correspondent for BBC Newsnight, specialising in investigative work. At the start of his career, Richard covered the first Gulf war. After this he joined the BBC, working for The Money Programme, File on 4, Newsnight and Panorama. He has investigated organised crime, terrorism and miscarriages of justice.

Watson writes: “In December 2019 three black women were brutally attacked in London by a gang of white men. One of the women, a 37-year old from London, was kicked unconscious. The Metropolitan Police categorised the incident as a serious hate crime but failed to search for witnesses or recover CCTV and closed the case without even taking victim statements. She then approached me saying the police had racially profiled them, assuming it was a drugs deal gone wrong. I was reminded of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and a police investigation hampered by institutional racism. I wondered if similar themes would emerge: she was determined to hold the police to account, and a Newsnight film would give her a powerful voice. I began a detailed investigation. Nearly 30 years on from Stephen Lawrence’s murder, the final film shone a harsh light on police attitudes and exposed multiple failures. The Met referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, apologised to the women and reopened the case. After seeing the Newsnight report, a witness came forward who had filmed the attack on his mobile phone. One of the alleged attackers was arrested and has been charged with racially aggravated assault.”

Jane Bradley & Amanda Taub: ‘Failings in Britain Leave Victims of Domestic Violence in Peril’

In March 2020, The New York Times began the first comprehensive investigation into the UK government’s flawed response to the surge in domestic abuse under lockdown, interviewing more than 50 government and police officials, experts, support workers and abuse survivors. The investigation revealed how ministers never prioritised domestic abuse in lockdown planning and failed to deliver promised support to vulnerable people. Through a powerful interactive visualisation, the feature memorialised all 26 women and girls killed by male partners or relatives during the first few months of lockdown and ensured they were remembered as more than a statistic. The team compiled the list of suspected domestic homicides using data from the Counting Dead Women Project and painstakingly verified each case through police and court records, press reports and interviews because the authorities do not centrally collate detailed information on domestic homicides.

Jane Bradley is the UK investigative correspondent for The New York Times. She is based in London where she focuses on uncovering abuses of power, social injustices and financial crime and corruption. Amanda Taub is a London-based news columnist and reporter for The New York Times, focusing on how gender, race and identity shape global events.

Simon Akam: ‘Britain and the Pandemic’

Simon Akam (@simonakam) is a contributing writer for 1843 magazine, sister magazine to The Economist. Alongside his work for The Economist, he writes for publications including GQ, Outside and Bloomberg Businessweek. He is the author of The Changing of the Guard: the British Army since 9/11 and co-hosts a writing podcast Always Take Notes.

In his features for 1843 Magazine, Simon Akam has tackled complex stories about Britain’s handling of the pandemic, ranging from the NHS’s battle against the virus, to contact-tracers in Yorkshire. The inside story of Britain’s fight against covid-19 is the result of three months following doctors, nurses and paramedics in London as they fought the most devastating pandemic for a century. This is the untold story of what it felt like to be on the front-line: the chaos, the fear, even the exhilaration of health-care workers as they struggled to manage this most unpredictable disease. In ‘On the hunt with Yorkshire’s virus-detectives’, Simon travelled to northern England to embed with a team of local coronavirus contact-tracers. As the UK’s national system buckled under the resurgence of coronavirus, Simon investigated the system’s shortcomings, and explored whether local track-and-trace schemes offered a fix.

Mail Investigation Team (Tom Kelly, Susie Coen and Sophie Borland): ‘Exposing the Care Homes Catastrophe’

Tom Kelly is the Daily Mail’s Investigations Editor, Susie Coen is the Assistant Investigations Editor and Sophie Borland is the Health Editor.

“In a string of investigations, we revealed the devastating scale of COVID-19 in care homes – and the government failings that had enabled it to thrive. We exposed how the dire shortages of PPE meant carers were too terrified to work, how major chains ravaged by the disease had been denied tests – despite government claims these had started – and how care homes were being forced to play ‘Russian roulette’ with helpless residents’ lives after the Government ordered them to accept hospital patients with suspected coronavirus. Early in the outbreak we discovered that industry experts calculated the ‘hidden epidemic’ of the virus in care homes had already claimed 4,000 lives, even as government figures said the figure was just 217. Piers Morgan used our splash to confront Care Minister Helen Whately live on TV about the scandal. Our exposes had an immediate impact. Matt Hancock pledged all care home residents and patients released into them from hospitals would be tested if they showed symptoms and launched a new supply network to help get PPE to care home staff. We later revealed how care homes were were still waiting 15 days for the test, putting residents at new risk.”



Haroon Siddique: ‘How and Why Black Britons Suffer Unequal Outcomes at the Hands of the Police’

Haroon Siddique is a senior reporter at the Guardian, where he has worked since 2007. Before joining the Guardian, he worked at the Ham&High series of local papers in north London, where he began his journalistic in 2004.

Siddique writes: “Across a series of stories, my intention was to highlight the negative outcomes of black people at the hands of the Met police, but also the reasons for it, at a time when it was one of the key issues driving Black Lives Matter protests. My first submission made use of innovative interactive modelling to call into doubt the findings of the police watchdog (IOPC) inquiry – and inquest – into the death of Mark Duggan. The police shooting of Duggan is one of the most contentious cases of recent years – it triggered riots and was highlighted by BLM protesters last year. The innovative spatial reconstruction tools invited the reader to examine the shooting from different perspectives to enable them to fully understand the doubts which have been cast on the official version of events. In showing how the Met has been using software, which its own creator has said can aid racial profiling, the second article in my submission sought to examine how discrimination may have become embedded in the force. Finally, my third article showed how this criminalisation of black people can mentally scar them and affect their perception of police, which then gets passed down from generation to generation.”


Sirin Kale: ‘Lost to the Virus’

Kale Writes: “Lost to the Virus was a series of seven long-form articles that were published between August and September 2020. Each piece was a profile of an individual who died in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. My intention was to humanise the UK’s terrible death toll, to which the public was becoming increasingly desensitised, by spotlighting the people behind the statistics. I wanted to profile ordinary people with the depth, care, and compassion they deserved – to show that the people who “life faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs”, to quote George Eliot, are as deserving of our attention as the most-eulogised of world leaders. I also wanted to show the governmental and institutional failures that may have contributed to their deaths, such as the failure to cancel mass events, the PPE crisis in our hospitals, how decades of privatisation contributed to the carnage in care homes, the failings of NHS 111, why the mortality rate amongst transport workers was so high, and how institutional racism contributed to the death of Belly Mujinga.”

Sirin Kale is a features writer based in London, writing principally for the Guardian newspaper. She was previously an editor at the youth media publication VICE, where she won awards for her investigations into rape, stalking, and domestic violence. During the pandemic she has been profiling the lives lost to Covid-19 for the Guardian’s long-form series Lost to the Virus. She has also written for a range of other publications and is a frequent contributor to national broadcast and radio.


Ian Birrell

This entry, informed by Ian’s family situation, exposed barbaric social evils taking place in the heart of our health system. It raises questions over the human rights of people with autism, learning disabilities and mental health problems – and poses questions about power abuses and state failures that lead to their needless, and sometimes fatal, incarceration. His campaign across several outlets has sparked five official inquiries and widespread debate.

Ian Birrell’s work is consistently of a high standard. He is fearless and rigorous, which are two of the qualities needed to win this prize. I have long been in awe of him and I hope this award will help highlight his work and bring it an even wider audience.” Iain Dale, Chair of Judges


Worse than BROADMOOR: Nurse whistleblower claims he has seen psychopathic serial killers cared for better than the autistic children he has witnessed being violently held down and force-fed drugs at health unit funded by the NHS (Daily Mail) 

Dire mental health provisions are costing the lives of vulnerable teenagers (I News)

The country that closed its psychiatric hospitals, Italy believes anyone can live freely, with the right support (Tortoise)

Darren McGarvey, Stephen Bennett, Harry Bell

In Darren McGarvey’s Scotland, the activist confronts the rampant rise of poverty and inequality that now affects one in five of us in the UK. Far from ‘poverty porn’, Darren pushes his audience into a far deeper understanding of the true impact of poverty. From drug deaths to domestic abuse, aspiration to crime, poor mental health to life expectancy and far more, this six-part series meets those caught in the grip of poverty and those trying to inspire change. At the same time, Darren explores his own personal struggles, creating an authored series that was well-received by both audiences and critics alike.

“Forget any preconceptions you might have about gritty social documentaries that follow the same lazy (and often voyeuristic) format, Darren McGarvey’s Scotland takes a truly ground-breaking approach.   Darren McGarvey’s journalism is brave, often informed by his own experiences, which not only makes for much richer content, but it also puts him on a level playing field with his interviewees.  He has their trust, allowing people to be in control of their own storytelling.   His poetic, eloquent and reflective broadcasting style arrests and engages the audience with its beauty and candour.  Darren doesn’t shy away from the difficult questions, and often uses it as an opportunity to question his own assumptions and prejudices.  Life is not black and white, and Darren McGarvey’s Scotland demonstrates the difference original and authentic tv storytelling can make to boosting public understanding of the causes of social harm in our society.” Abigail Scott Paul, Judge



Darren McGarvey’s Scotland (BBC Scotland Link)

Innes Bowen, Katie Razzall, Sally Chesworth and Luke Winsbury

Record numbers of children are living in a twilight world of unregulated care homes, where they are often subject to violence, exploitation and neglect. A Newsnight investigation branded “Britain’s Hidden Children’s Homes” was the first major piece of journalism to expose the growth of this sector and the dangers faced by teenagers placed in it by local authorities. The series was launched in May 2019. A Newsnight team produced seven films plus associated online articles and social media. By the end of the series, the government had promised to ban the use of such homes for under 16s, launched a consultation into the use of the sector generally and promised a review of the entire children’s social care sector.


Britain’s Hidden Children’s homes is a vital and shocking investigation into the sector of unregulated care homes. With unremitting thoroughness and quality, the BBC Newsnight team alerted the public to a system harming some of the most vulnerable in our society. Maximising exposure across film, written journalism and social media, the story has now spurred government action – further testament to the essential nature of this type of reporting.” Iain Dale,  Judge 



Teens in care ‘abandoned to crime gangs’ 

Action needed against ‘rogue’ homes for teenagers, says minister 

Under-16s unregulated placements must be ‘eliminated’ 

Thousands of children in unregulated homes

Teen in care treated like ‘stray dog’

Teens in care ‘without food or bedding’  

Helen Pidd, Josh Halliday, Maya Wolfe-Robinson, Nazia Parveen, Amy Walker, Nicole Wootton-Cane, Philip Marzouk

Children In The Dock is an investigation into the youth justice system in England and Wales which involved the Guardian’s Manchester team spending a month monitoring every case at Greater Manchester Youth Court. The series – which began with 18 articles and a podcast – exposed a chaotic, opaque system which fundamentally doesn’t work and fails to help some of society’s most vulnerable children. It revealed that youth cases now take 40% longer than in 2010, when the coalition government began closing half of all magistrates courts; that hundreds of children wait so long for justice that they have their 18th birthdays and end up in adult court; that care homes continue to criminalise children for petty crimes; that the proportion of BAME children in court has doubled in eight years.

“The Guardian’s investigation into youth justice in Britain was a thorough exposé of a creaking system that fails our most vulnerable children. The judges were impressed by how reporters used a variety of methods, including covering every case in one youth court for a month, to detail these failings and spark calls for a systemic review” Max Daly, Judge 



Youth court system in ‘chaos’, says children’s commissioner

Children in handcuffs: a month reporting from youth in court

Revealed: hundreds of children pushed into adult courts by delays

A day inside the hidden world of youth courts

Kate Pasola

When someone gets drunk, is ejected from a nightclub and then sexually attacked, who’s to blame? This urgent investigation, for the first time, exposed a new type of predator. Survivor case studies, news stories and reader surveys revealed a pattern – but, as well as exposing the problem, Kate Pasola sought the reasons why, and what could be done to stop it. Travelling to Newcastle, she spoke to door staff and clubs with care policies, and spent time with Saint John’s Ambulance rescuing would-be victims. She broke the news of a new police initiative. The piece asked where the real evil lies – with the few who lurk outside clubs or the many that let it happen? It reached 63,000 people online alone, and struck a chord with many readers who wrote, emailed and shared their experiences online.

 Watch out for “scavengers”, the new kind of nightlife threat

Adam Cantwell-Corn and Alon Aviram

It started as a tip-off. It was said over the din of a busy kitchen to a co-founder of the Bristol Cable, working as a kitchen porter as the media co-operative got off the ground. Then, following an investigation spanning 5 years, one of Bristol’s most notorious bosses was facing accountability, and two men had been released from slave-like conditions.

Undercover reporting, a good amount of shoe leather, open-source intelligence, the cultivation of dozens of brave but apprehensive sources helped tell this story of modern Britain, putting a halt to decades of impunity. An engagement-led approach maximised official impact, including community events, a custom microsite and collaboration with the local BBC.

“The Bristol Cable’s brave and relentless investigation into horrific abuse of employees is an exemplar of how investigative journalism might thrive in the digital era. This collaborative crowd funded team have exposed local social evils with national implications. The mixed journalistic form lends itself to the extended investigation, following every twist and turn, learning about the hidden world around us on the way.” Professor Rosie Campbell, Judge


Finally exposed: How Lopresti ice cream boss kept men in slave-like conditions, tenants and families in squalor. But people spoke out.

The Ice Cream Slavery Case

Revealed: An anti-slavery court order was made against local boss Lopresti. Here’s evidence it may be being breached

Speaking out: A litany of allegations 

Inna Lazareva

As a result of her investigation into the harmful practice of breast ironing, Inna became the first journalist to expose concrete evidence that the African ritualistic ‘tradition’ which involves the physical mutilation of pubescent girls also takes place unhindered on UK soil. Medical experts and victims regard it as a form of child abuse which could lead to physical and psychological scars, infections, inability to breastfeed, deformities and breast cancer. The UN describes it as one of five global underreported crimes relating to gender-based violence. The investigation led to more victims speaking out, triggered debates in parliament, and the Crown Prosecution Service changing its legal guidelines, with perpetrators now facing up to 10 years in prison.

Revealed: ‘dozens’ of girls subjected to breast-ironing in UK 

Breast-ironing: ‘the whole community needs an education’

Breast-ironing is abuse and could lead to prison term, says CPS

Harriet Grant & Chris Michael

Segregated Playgrounds exposed how a London housing development that had built a wall in its communal playground, in order to segregate the children of richer and poorer families, set a series of dominoes falling. Political leaders from across the spectrum joined in expressing their outrage and disgust at this social injustice, forcing the developer, Henley Homes, to back down and remove the wall. The follow-up reporting soon revealed dozens of other segregated playgrounds across the UK, and generated a huge response from readers, who contacted us in the hundreds with tips and firsthand experiences. The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, quickly declared a ban on segregated play areas; then the Conservative housing minister, James Brokenshire, vowed to end the practice nationwide.

Too poor to play: children in social housing blocked from communal playground

More segregated playgrounds revealed: ‘We just play in the car park’

Minister vows to end segregated play areas in all new housing in England

Sharon Hendry

Summer on the Farm is the story of a generation of children growing up on notorious housing estate Broadwater Farm without the most basic right to play outside during the holidays. It took readers inside a world of poverty and fear, helping to enhance public understanding of a forgotten sector of society left reeling from austerity and ensuing social problems such as gang violence. Sharon Hendry won the trust of residents who allowed her inside their homes, revealing overcrowding and life-threatening conditions overlooked by indifferent council officials and unscrupulous landlords. The article demonstrated the importance of school provision during holiday periods for children increasingly reliant on teachers for nourishment and nurture and prompted a £350k summer school crowdfund.

Summer on the Farm 

 “I will never forget this” Broadwater Farm’s summer of a lifetime 

Jennifer Williams

In the past year, the political focus has shifted dramatically onto northern communities. Jennifer Williams’ entries put people at the heart of political failure here, covering the notion of the so-called ‘left behind town’ and its implications of blame, unpicking the impact of layers of harmful policymaking in Oldham and exploring the reality of an under-reported crisis – council cutbacks -across all Greater Manchester, the impact of which cuts across every area of people’s lives.

Hope amid hard times in Oldham (Prospect)

Broken families in a broken system, Manchester’s forgotten families (Manchester Evening News) 

This isn’t a story about austerity statistics, it’s about people – and you need to read it (Manchester Evening News)


Vicky Etchells, Paul Samrai, Alex Samrai, Rachael Venables, Saskia Lumley

An LBC investigation uncovered a major people-smuggling ring that claims French police are helping them get people to the UK. They infiltrated the criminal gang, based in Dunkirk, London and Birmingham, who claimed that French police assist them getting people across the Channel. Posing as an Indian family wanting to bring a young relative to the UK, the LBC team met Farooq in his camp deep in woodland off the beaten track in Dunkirk. The undercover team were given three UK addresses to pay a deposit to secure the crossing; a restaurant and an off-licence in west London and a newsagent in Birmingham. The Home Office has launched an investigation into the ring, using the information the team supplied them. Several arrests have been made in the UK and extradition proceedings started in France.

LBC Uncovers Major People Smuggling Ring Bringing Migrants Across Channel To UK 

People Smuggling: Undercover Reporter Visits UK Money Agent Who Collects £7k Per Migrant  

The dramatic moment LBC confront a people smuggler… and he runs for it

Paul Caruana Galizia and Tom Goulding

Tortoise published its first article, “Britain’s Everyday Drug Problem,” on 14 January 2019. When the team began looking at opioid prescriptions six months earlier, they wanted to know whether the scandal of opioid addiction in the US had echoes in the UK. After analysing individual opioid prescriptions across 8,000 GP practices, they found that the use of these powerful and addictive painkillers has risen across England – but particularly in one region and for one reason. In the North East, medics, counsellors, patients, and addicts, told us that the region’s opioid problem is more about social trauma than pain. This wasn’t where they started – or expected to end up. Major media outlets followed up their story and Public Health England is running an inquiry into opioid prescription standards.

Britain’s everyday drug problem