An update on some recent reports and other relevant items.

The UK Gambling Commission finds no increase in prevalence of addiction – but uncovers some interesting contradictions in attitudes; perceptions of UK child poverty, and cyber-bullying moves in from the edge; the UN takes on corruption in Africa; booming demand for global shipping capacity; and a folksong take on honour killing.

Almost the first act of the new UK Gambling Commission has been to release its study on the prevalence of problem gambling in the UK. It found that the prevalence was about 0.5% of the adult population, which is the same as in 1999. Problem gamblers tended towards spread betting, fixed odds betting terminals, and betting exchanges. The attitudinal findings may be most interesting: “The average view [among respondents] was that gambling was more harmful than beneficial for individuals, and for society, and should not be encouraged. However, generally people surveyed agreed that there was a right to gamble and rejected total prohibition.”

A curiosity of the way in which the Dare to Care campaign’s findings on children’s perceptions of child poverty was reported was that newspapers seemed more interested in the 20% of 7-16 year olds who thought not having a mobile phone was a sign of a poverty than the larger proportions who thought that not going to be able to go on a trip (44%), not having the right school uniform (40%), not being able to afford a present for a birthday party (28%) or not having a safe place to play (24%) were signs of poverty. The size of the national sample (700) didn’t really sustain the rather wild regional variations which were included in the news release.

UK government research (by the Department of Children, Schools and Families) found that up to a third of 12-to-15 year olds had experienced some form of ‘cyber-bullying’ – through mobile messages or social networking sites. It’s launched a campaign against it. That single data point is all that seems to be available.

The United Nations and the World Bank have launched ‘StAR’ – the Stolen Asset Recovery initiative – o help poor countries recover money looted from their economies through corruption. The scale of the problem? The World Bank estimates that between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion from corruption, crime, and tax evasion crosses borders – up to 25% of GNP of some African states. has a video of a presentation by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, sometime finance minister of Nigeria, on why recovery schemes are about more than the money involved

I blogged recently about the long-term growth in shipping volumes. The Guardian has a report on the current short term growth, which seems explosive. Here’s an extract:

Shipowners were celebrating more records last night as booming trade volumes with China – and increasingly India – brought unprecedented demand and a shortage of vessels. The London-based shipping market – the Baltic Exchange – confirmed that its dry bulk index that tracks the cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore and coal, had hit an all-time high at 99,215 points, up 133 points on the day… “The records are beginning to be broken on an almost daily basis,” said Jeremy Penn, chief executive of the Baltic. “It is absolutely booming and almost beyond explanation.”

Reports on the sentencing of an Indian woman resident in the UK for the honour killing of her daughter in law bring to mind a sleeve note on Martin Simpson’s fine new CD Prodigal Son. He writes about “Andrew Lammie”, an old Scots ballad based on real people and real events which (as he points out) unmistakably tells the story of an honour killing in the 17th century.