The Life at Westminster column with Sir Greg Knight MP

Fraud and cyber offences cost the country �11 billion a year.
Fraud and cyber offences cost the country �11 billion a year.

If you mention the word ‘crime’ to anyone, most people immediately think of a burglary, a mugging or perhaps a robbery undertaken by a yob-like threatening figure.

It is therefore surprising that the latest crime figures show that it is fraud and cyber offences in the UK that make up an astonishing half of all recorded crime.

According to the Office of National Statistics and Action Fraud this is costing this country £11 billion a year.

Our ability to use digital technology brings huge benefits, both to us as individuals and to those who are running a business, but the figures reveal that in addition to new and unique opportunities, the technology brings risks too.

In my view, politicians of all parties need to do more to raise awareness of the increasing risk of online fraud.

Some scams should be obvious – like the unsolicited email which asks you for your bank details because you have ‘won’ a competition that you didn’t enter – but new scams are ever-more sophisticated.

We all need to be alert and should always remember the old adage that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

Talking of adages, the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has been around for centuries.

Now startling evidence seen by MPs suggests that ‘an orange a day’ can help to keep dementia at bay.

Scientists in Japan have found that eating an orange or any high citrus fruit such as grapefruit or lime, every day, can cut the chances of developing dementia by almost a quarter. More than 13,000 middle aged elderly people were monitored over several years before the conclusion was reached.

The latest studies suggest that in citric acid there is a chemical called nobiletin which when tested on animals slowed or reversed the impairment of memory.

For those who are not keen on fruit, there is no doubt some consolation in the results of another study which suggests that drinking red wine helps to stave off diabetes!

Meanwhile, I am welcoming new Government proposals to enable councils to charge utility companies by the hour for road works which cause traffic disruption.

Successful trials of ‘lane rental’ in London have seen congestion fall by more than 50%.

The plans follow figures just released which show unnecessary delays on our roads cost the economy £4 billion a year.

These charges would encourage utility companies to avoid both busy routes and times and will also encourage companies to work together to avoid the same stretch of road being repeatedly ripped up.

Most significantly it will also get the job done more quickly.

This will cut congestion, reduce journey times and reduce emissions caused by long tailbacks.

It is my hope that at the end of the day councils will not raise too much extra money through this, but that road works will be completed faster and at less busy times.

The Local Government Association has already welcomed the new proposals and said it was delighted.