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Chief of the Defence Staff pays tribute to troops

Sir Nick Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff (left), with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. Credit: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

General Sir Nick Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff, has paid tribute to the efforts of British forces in Afghanistan.

Over 13 years of operations in Afghanistan thousands of men and women from all of our Armed Forces have played a hugely significant role in delivering a security legacy for the people of Afghanistan. It has required remarkable moral courage, tenacity and innovation to achieve our objectives in the most testing environments.

– General Sir Nick Houghton

Fallon: Afghanistan has chance for stable future

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that Britain had given Afghanistan the best possible chance for a stable future.

Our Armed Forces’ tremendous sacrifice laid the foundations for a strong Afghan Security Force, set the security context that enabled the first democratic transition of power in the country’s history, and stopped it being a launch pad for terrorist attacks in the UK.

Although we are ending a significant chapter in our shared history, the UK’s commitment to support Afghanistan will continue through institutional development, the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, and development aid.

– Michael Fallon, Defence Secretary.


Britain hands over Camp Bastion to Afghan forces

David Cameron addresses British troops at Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan on his final visit earlier this month. Credit: Reuters

British forces have transferred their headquarters in Afghanistan to local forces.

Camp Bastion has been the main British base since 2006 and British troops have been in Afghanistan since 2001.

The US has also handed control of Camp Leatherneck, its largest base, to Afghan control ahead of the coalition ending its combat mission before the new year.

The battle against the Taliban will now be left to Afghan army and police.

The timing of the troops' withdrawal from the bases in Helmand province was not disclosed for security reasons.


Record number of Brits living on breadline

Credit: PA

Britain has more low paid workers than ever with more than five million currently living on the breadline, a report has revealed.

Low Pay Britain found 5.2 million workers earned less than £7.70 an hour. The current minimum wage is £6.50.

Almost a quarter of minimum wage workers said they had been on that wage for the past five years, and women are still more likely to be paid less than men.

In comparison with other countries, Britons were twice as likely to be paid less than their counterparts in Switzerland and four times less than in Belgium. The UK also fell behind Germany and Australia in the rankings.

Matthew Whittaker, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, told The Independent: "It's troubling that the number of low-paid workers across Britain reached a record high last year.

"Being low paid, and getting stuck there for years on end, creates not only immediate financial pressures but can permanently affect people's career prospects."

GPs 'should be on lookout for radicalisation' in children

Credit: PA

GPs should be on the lookout for signs of radicalisation in child patients as well as other "social ills", according to their professional body.

They should also be trained to spot trafficking and cyber-bullying and help identify issues such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and the NSPCC have issued a "toolkit" with the help of police, social workers and government agencies, so doctors are better informed about what to do if they have concerns for a child.

RCGP chairman Maureen Baker said children were faced with "unprecedented pressures" as a result of the internet, which leaves them vulnerable to trolling, "sexting" and revenge porn.

She added: "As GPs we are trained to treat the 'whole person' and that means now taking into account a number of societal, as well as health, factors.

"A consultation with a GP may be the only time that young people can be alone with a trusted adult and we have a number of roles to play in providing understanding, compassion and support."

According to latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), 43,140 children were subject to a child protection plan and 68,110 children were 'looked after' in England in 2013.

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