About the Show
Dispatches is Channel 4's award-winning investigative current affairs programme
Secrets of the Discount Stores
Can you really buy big brand names on the cheap? Dispatches lifts the lid on the shops promising luxury labels for less.
From factory malls and outlet villages to high street chains, bagging a bargain has become big business during the recession. But are the discounts sometimes too good to be true?
Reporter Harry Wallop takes a closer look and asks if consumers are really getting the real deal.
Britain's Big Fat Bill
As Britain gets fatter, Channel 4 Dispatches investigates what the real cost is to the nation. The programme follows the treatment of some of Britain's morbidly obese patients to reveal the spiralling cost to the NHS.
Having to spend money on everything from bigger chairs and beds to expensive medication and dialysis means obesity is now costing the NHS over £5 billion a year.
One solution could be weight loss surgery, a procedure that could transform up to 250,000 people's lives and save the taxpayer huge amounts of money.
But Dispatches reveals that NHS England's reforms, intended to create uniform access to life-changing, money-saving operations, are in fact expected to lead to fewer rather than more procedures, a situation that could cause misery to some of the country's sickest patients.
What's Your Pension Really Worth?
Michael Buerk investigates the pensions crises facing us all. As the cost of living rises faster than many pay packets and life expectancy increases, he asks what your pension is really worth.
He examines how prepared we all are for retirement and hears from industry insiders who say, when it comes to cashing in pensions, some companies are offering their customers poor value for money. Exclusive data passed on to Dispatches suggests this can leave many of us thousands of pounds worse off during our golden years.
Even before you retire there may be others eager to get their hands on your pension. Using secret filming, the programme investigates: how some companies try to 'liberate' your pension early; the standard of their investment advice; and whether they are open about often-crippling tax bills that could seriously damage your nest egg.
With all the pension pitfalls, Buerk looks at the alternatives. Hype around rising house prices means many are looking at property as the savings saviour. Dispatches puts pensions and property head-to-head. Will buy to let and downsizing offer a silver bullet?
North Korea: Life Inside the Secret State
Kim Jong Un rules the world's most secret and repressive state. But thanks to the digital revolution, Kim can no longer keep the world from seeing the reality of life in North Korea - or stop his own people from discovering that everything they have been told about the outside world is a lie.
Dispatches films with Jiro Ishimaru, a fearless Japanese journalist who has risked his freedom for fifteen years, training undercover cameramen in North Korea. The programme follows Jiro's latest trip to the border with China, where he secretly meets one of his agents with the latest undercover footage revealing the reality of life in the secret state.
The programme also follows Mr Chung, a former inmate of a political prison camp who escaped to the West, as he smuggles USB sticks and DVDs of South Korean soap operas and entertainment shows into the North, posing as a mushroom farmer.
There are the first stirrings of open dissent: a woman running a bus service on the back of a lorry refuses to bribe a soldier, and more ominously for Kim Jong Un, there are mutterings of discontent and disrespect from an official commandeered to build a special railway to the supreme leader's birthplace.
Can You Trust Your Surgeon?
Surgeon Ian Paterson stands accused of performing inadequate operations on hundreds of NHS breast cancer victims, putting them at risk of a recurrence of their cancer.
Paterson also faces allegations that he performed unnecessary procedures at private hospitals on many more women who did not have cancer.
Reporter Tazeen Ahmad reveals the missed opportunities to prevent women being put in danger by his unapproved procedure, and asks why it took 17 years to stop him.
Energy Bills Exposed
Energy bills are on the rise and in the news. Consumers are furious. The Labour Party wants a price freeze. John Major wants a windfall tax.
But the big six energy firms say it's not their fault prices are so high. Their bosses apologise for the increase but say they have little choice.
But what's the truth? Are the companies really playing fair or are they making excessive profits?
Harry Wallop investigates the big six: their market, their methods and your money. Dispatches looks at the impact of the rising fuel costs and what you need to know about cutting your bill.
The Property Market Undercover
As house prices soar once again and the government's 'Help to Buy' scheme kicks in early, Channel 4 Dispatches goes undercover to investigate this property market boom.
Reporter Antony Barnett secretly films the latest tactics used by estate agents to secure sales and commissions and asks whether some agents are even willing to lie to seal the deal.
Secrets of Your Pay Packet
Dispatches investigates the post-recession new world of work where employed have become self-employed, full-time are now part-time and those on zero-hours contracts and agency workers are feeling the squeeze.
Morland Sanders meets employees at some of Britain's biggest businesses who say they're paying for the bosses' cost-cutting measures and, while profits have gone up, their working conditions may never recover.
From the shop floor to the boardroom, how has the recession changed businesses and the workforce?
The Paedophile MP: How Cyril Smith Got Away with It
Liberal MP Cyril Smith was knighted in life and celebrated in death. Behind this public face, Dispatches reporter Liz MacKean investigates Smith's paedophilia and uncovers the inaction by police officers, Security Services, politicians and the Crown Prosecution Service, which allowed Smith to abuse for decades.
MacKean speaks to victims, police officers and colleagues, and unearths previously hidden investigation files to reveal why Smith's crimes were ignored and how one of Britain's most famous politicians was protected by the establishment.
Ryanair: Secrets from the Cockpit
Reporter Seyi Rhodes hears from pilots of Europe's biggest airline about their concerns around passenger safety. Serving Ryanair pilots reveal their worries over Ryanair's fuel policy and pilot working conditions.
Rhodes also examines the events of one evening in 2012 when three diverted Ryanair planes radioed 'mayday' over an airport in Valencia in Spain.
Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans
In this one-hour special Channel 4 Dispatches goes undercover to investigate what's real and what's fake in the brave new online world.
Celebrities have considerable influence on social media, but are some less than transparent when tweeting brand names to their legions of fans?
Dispatches exposes the new tricks used by marketeers to plug brands, from buying fake Facebook 'likes' and YouTube 'views' to influencing social media conversations.
Film-maker Chris Atkins travels to Bangladesh in search of backstreet 'click farms' where poorly paid workers manipulate social media for the benefit of big western brands.
Two undercover reporters reveal worrying failings in the new NHS 111 call system. Working as trainee call handlers, the reporters filmed evidence of patients left waiting, concerns about training, and staff shortages.
The reporters worked in call centres in Dorking and Bristol, where whistleblowers in the ambulance service had told Dispatches they had serious concerns. Both centres are under performance notice due to failings in the service being provided.
The NHS 111 service - a 24-hour call line designed to get patients the urgent care they need at the right time and the right place - was supposed to be rolled out nationally over the Easter Bank Holiday.
But from the start, it has been beset by problems and controversy across many providers of the service. Sources in the ambulance services complained about unnecessary call-outs, claiming they were triggered by call handlers with no medical training.
Dispatches' reporters were told of ambulances dispatched when one patient rang in with a cold and another with a hangover. While working in the Bristol call centre, one of the undercover reporters was told that an ambulance had been sent for someone with 'a cat scratch'.
The undercover footage shot by the two reporters was reviewed by Dr Peter Holden, senior spokesman for the BMA on NHS 111, who expresses serious concerns about the service.
Taliban Child Fighters
More than 200 children convicted of fighting for the Taliban are currently being held in special prisons across Afghanistan. Their crimes include the laying of improvised explosive devices, ambush and the preparation of suicide missions. Dispatches has had unique access to meet the captured child fighters, to document their experiences and tell their stories.
Fifteen-year-old Hanan comes from a line of guerrilla soldiers; his father fought for the Taliban, his grandfather for the Mujahadeen. He took up arms after his father was killed in a NATO air strike and, as a young teenager, Hanan went on to command his own cell of child combatants.
He is serving a two-year sentence after surrendering during a shoot-out with government forces. Like many of these children Hanan has had little formal education, and has only been schooled in a madrasa. Despite attempts made within the prison to provide learning and change his mindset, Hanan is unrepentant.
As well as visiting two of these prisons, award winning film-maker Najibullah Quraishi travels to an orphanage in Helmand province. Here he meets 10-year-old Neaz who was seized by the Taliban to perform a special mission, after his entire family was killed in a NATO bombing raid.
Neaz describes how the Taliban members who abducted him tried to persuade him to become a suicide bomber, but he escaped during the night, walked toward the nearest town and handed himself in to police.
Children of the Taliban offers a unique perspective on the ongoing conflict and raises important questions about the legacy of western intervention in Afghanistan.
After 12 years of bitter fighting and with the insurgents proving a resilient enemy, when NATO pulls out are we leaving behind another traumatised generation destined to continue the conflict?
South Africa's Dirty Cops
Channel 4 Dispatches examines allegations that South Africa's police have become a brutal and corrupt force.
Reporter Inigo Gilmore investigates CCTV and mobile phone footage, which, critics say, show officers beating and torturing suspects. He also interviews a 14-year-old boy who alleges he was tortured at the hands of the police.
With a wave of anti-government civil protests routinely and brutally suppressed by the police, Gilmore explores the problematic relationship between those employed to serve and protect and their political masters.
He speaks to the wife of Andries Tatane, an activist whose killing by police was caught on camera, and reveals compelling new evidence of the police's role during and after the Marikana massacre when 34 miners were shot and killed by police in 2012.
Dispatches explores fears that under the African National Congress party - synonymous with Nelson Mandela and the struggle for freedom - the rainbow nation's police force have come to increasingly mirror the actions of its apartheid predecessor.
The Prince and His Secret Properties
In 2012 Prince Charles earned more than £18 million from the Duchy of Cornwall, but how much do we know about this secretive estate?
A Channel 4 Dispatches investigation reveals the scale of its hugely profitable property empire and looks at the amount of tax Prince Charles is paying.
As the heir to the throne, Prince Charles inherited the Duchy of Cornwall: a vast array of farming, residential and commercial land and properties, as well as a multi-million-pound financial investment portfolio.
Each year the duchy helps fund Prince Charles' princely lifestyle.
While the duchy's public image is one of rolling countryside estates, organic farms and classical architecture and environment, some of its investments tell a rather different story.
Reporter Antony Barnett takes a royal tour of some surprising properties that the duchy might prefer you not to know about.
With the tax arrangements of wealthy individuals and major corporations making headline news, these Dispatches findings come as Parliament's Public Accounts Committee prepares to launch its own inquiry into why, unlike other commercial businesses, the duchy does not pay corporation tax or capital gains tax.
The Police's Dirty Secret
Through the personal testimony of a former Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) officer, a joint investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches and The Guardian examines the ethically dubious tactics of a clandestine unit within the Metropolitan police and reveals the names of high-profile targets.
Peter Francis, who spent four years living undercover, is the first officer from the Metropolitan Police's SDS to publicly speak out.
His testimony includes allegations that SDS undercover police officers were asked to look for intelligence that could be used to discredit the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence and their campaign.
Stephen Lawrence's mother, Doreen, and former Home Secretary Jack Straw both speak of their shock at hearing about the allegations.
How Councils Waste Your Money
Councils across the UK have annual budgets in the tens of billions of pounds. But do you know what they really spend it on?
About 60 per cent of council budgets come from central government, with the remainder raised by business rates and council tax payers.
Much of this is spent on vital and valuable services such as social care and education. But an investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches reveals some spending that local authorities across the UK wished you didn't know about, from expensive cars to foreign trips and from five-star hotels to golf lessons.
The programme's findings are based on hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, which offer a glimpse into how councils spend our money.
Reporter Antony Barnett interviews Lord Hanningfield about his extravagant spending during his time as the Essex council leader.
The programme reveals the councillor who lives 70 miles from his constituents but whose party still claims an allowance, and also discloses the millions spent on gagging council workers so they don't spill the beans.
Diets, Drugs and Diabetes
Dr Deborah Cohen, investigations editor at the British Medical Journal, examines a new generation of diabetes drugs that some drug companies hope could also be a magic treatment for obesity.
Millions of prescriptions of it are given out every year, but are they also associated with an increased risk of cancer? The drug companies hope to expand, but lawyers in America are bringing legal action on behalf of some people who claim that their health has suffered.
Some scientists say they've found new evidence that suggests there are cases where the risks might outweigh the benefits. Dispatches explores the argument that drug companies should be made to share all their research with the public.
**PLEASE NOTE: Both the American and European regulators say they have continuously reviewed all available data and that there is no change to the recommendations on the use of these drugs and no need for patients to stop taking them. They say that their reviews have not led them to make a causal connection between the GLP1-based drugs and pancreatic cancer.
If you have any concerns about the diabetes drugs you are taking you must consult your doctor before stopping or changing your medication.**
Woolwich, Boston and The New Terror
On 15 April 2013, two bombs exploded at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon.
Just over a month later a British soldier was run over and hacked to death on a London street.
The images from either side of the Atlantic shocked the world.
With access to exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes filming of the parents of the Boston bombers, Matt Frei investigates whether the two attacks mark a new chapter in the battle against terrorism.
The Hunt for Britain's Sex Gangs
In 2010 Telford police allowed cameras to start filming what was to become one of the biggest child sex abuse cases in the UK.
The investigation, Operation Chalice, eventually encompassed over 100 victims, and around 200 suspected perpetrators.
The Hunt for Britain's Sex Gangs follows - with unprecedented access - a live police investigation, showing just how difficult it is to secure justice for victims of sexual abuse, especially when some girls were just 11 when they were first abused.
Gaining the trust of victims - who as a result of the grooming process, don't see themselves as victims - is key to the success of the case, but it takes months for the police to win their trust and keep them on board as they prepare for the harrowing process of going to court.
As the police work with the victims, they begin to understand a vicious cycle of grooming, which starts with flattery and friendship, then moves on to a more overtly sexual relationship, and finally becomes exploitative as the groomers pass the girls around their networks of friends and family for sex.
Murdered in Tenerife
In 2011, Jennifer Mills-Westley, a 60-year-old British grandmother, was attacked and publicly beheaded in broad daylight in Tenerife.
Her case was reported across the world.
What is much less well known is that her killer had twice been admitted to an NHS psychiatric unit in Wales and twice released, the last time just months before the killing.
Dispatches follows Jennifer's two daughters in their quest for answers, both in the UK and Tenerife, where the judge in the trial allowed Dispatches cameras into court.
Secrets of Your Missing Mail
With shoppers increasingly relying on private parcel companies to deliver online purchases, Dispatches goes undercover to find out why couriers sometimes fail to deliver.
Britain's Millionaire Criminals
Why are some convicted criminals still enjoying luxury lifestyles funded by their ill-gotten gains?
Successive governments have pledged to ensure crime doesn't pay and that the public purse will get these rich criminals' money.
However, a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation has discovered that dozens of fraudsters, drug dealers and money launderers are still enjoying the high life despite being convicted of serious crimes.
Luxury properties, fast cars and overseas bank accounts are supposed to be in reach of the long arm of the law.
Despite this, Dispatches reveals the institutional failings and legal loopholes that result in some of the country's most serious offenders being able to retain their criminal wealth, and discovers that the state has failed to recover even a fifth of the cash that Britain's wealthiest criminals have been ordered to pay back.
Reporter Antony Barnett speaks to police, lawyers and a convicted money launderer who explains how easy it is to avoid having criminal assets confiscated by the authorities.
He discovers a combination of legal obstacles and incompetence mean smart criminals are evading the justice system.
Dispatches goes on the hunt for the criminals who have found that crime does pay.
Syria: Across the Lines
Award-winning documentary maker Olly Lambert has spent weeks living deep inside Syrian territory - with both government and opposition supporters - to explore how the two-year-old conflict is tearing communities apart.
This unprecedented film witnesses first-hand how the country is collapsing into a sectarian conflict and faces a bleak future.
Lambert is the first western journalist to spend such an extended period filming on both sides of Syria's sectarian and political divide.
For five weeks he lived in the Orontes River Valley in rural Hama, an almost entirely unreported front line that is fast becoming a microcosm of what Syria will become if the regime of Bashar al Assad finally falls.
His film is a graphic and unflinching portrait of a society cleaving apart in the face of dwindling international support, escalating violence and a growing mutual desire for revenge.
Immigration remains at the top of the political agenda, with reports that tens of thousands of files sit uncleared in the system and there remains a large backlog of immigration cases not dealt with. Morland Sanders investigates whether Britain's immigration system is fit for purpose.
The Truth About Junior Doctors
When he was a junior doctor, Dr Christian Jessen worked dangerously long hours, which he feared might be putting patients at risk. He wasn't alone. The excessive hours junior doctors worked were front-page news.
But in 2010, European regulations were brought in to limit hours and to protect both doctors and patients. Like most people, Dr Christian thought the problem had been dealt with.
But in this Dispatches, Dr Christian discovers that junior doctors across Britain say they are still regularly working up to 100 hours a week.
He follows two junior doctors through their gruelling working weeks, and as they are tested before and after their shifts to assess the toll their fatigue takes on their performance.
As one junior doctor puts it, 'Having to put a very, very small drip into a baby's vein is quite hard when you're kind of going bog-eyed and a bit fuzzy-brained.' He had just worked over 90 hours on seven consecutive night shifts.
Dr Christian also investigates why junior doctors can feel pressured to work these hours and not speak out about their concerns.
He unearths documents that prove that some NHS Trusts and Health Boards are aware of problems and concerns around their junior doctors' hours, and asks why Trusts seem to be struggling to safely schedule their junior doctors.
He also finds out that the consequences of not resolving these issues can be tragic.
Rich and on Benefits
Michael Buerk investigates claims that Britain's pensioners are part of an untouchable group when it comes to government welfare cuts and that some should not be receiving any help at all.
To see the country through the economic crisis, George Osborne has said he needs to save £10 billion in government spending.
Benefits to the elderly are unlikely to be touched, with David Cameron promising to protect them during the lifetime of this parliament. These make up almost half of the £200 billion welfare budget.
Meanwhile, an estimated seven million working families are set to feel the pain with housing benefit, child tax credits, maternity pay and other benefits all set to be capped.
While a vast number of elderly people do need to be protected and helped, Dispatches examines how well-off some of Britain's pensioners are, and surveys OAPs nationwide to find out what they spend their welfare on.
One sample government survey found the over-65s had two thirds more cash available to them in banks, building societies and shares than people under the age of 54.
Undercover Designer Dogs
Designer dogs are all the rage with celebrities and many animal lovers. But Dispatches has discovered a darker side to this canine phenomenon: thousands of puppies are being imported illegally into Britain every year from Eastern Europe.
Reporter Antony Barnett goes undercover with a puppy-selling business to track down some of the importers and discovers that rabies may be coming a lot closer to home than we think.
In 2012, the government relaxed Britain's quarantine rules to come into line with the rest of Europe.
The move sparked a dramatic rise in the number of dogs coming into the UK. Many of these are young puppies coming in from countries such as Lithuania, Hungary and Slovakia, where rabies is high risk.
Illegal traders are abusing the Pet Passport system to buy puppies cheaply in Eastern Europe and bring them into the UK to sell at a huge price to unsuspecting British families.
Some of those dogs are young puppies, which animal welfare experts believe are transported thousands of miles across the continent in poor conditions.
More worryingly, many come with suspect paperwork, which means they may not be properly vaccinated against diseases like rabies.
Following the relaxation in quarantine rules, the City of London Corporation, which runs the quarantine centre at Heathrow, recorded a large increase in the number of illegal dogs they detained, compared to the previous year. Dispatches' investigation indicates that this could be the tip of the iceberg.
Death on the Wards
Dispatches investigates the truth behind allegations that tens of thousands of seriously ill people have been put on a pathway to death - likened to legalised euthanasia - and claims from families that doctors have callously killed off patients who could have had months or even years to live.
The programme interviews leading specialists, terminally ill patients and families. And it reveals the results of the first survey of thousands of doctors into how the process of dying is managed in our hospitals.
The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), which originated in the hospice movement for cancer patients, is intended to ease the often lengthy and painful process of dying.
A key principle is to stop treating a patient's underlying condition if treatment is judged to be futile or harmful. Official guidelines now mean that every hospice and hospital has to have an approved end of life pathway, and the LCP is by far the most prevalent.
An estimated 130,000 people last year died after being placed on the LCP and many of us can expect to have our deaths, or those of our loved ones, managed using the pathway.
However, the process has become hugely controversial. It is not only those with terminal cancer who are now being put on the LCP.
Many more patients are now put on the pathway following other illnesses such as strokes and some families are claiming that their relatives could, and should, have lived longer.
Britain on Benefits
The Disability Living Allowance helps more than three million people lead useful lives. It pays for transport and carers, meaning that disabled people can work and lead independent lives.
But the benefit bill has to be cut, and the government plans to take more than half a million claimants off DLA. What will that mean for those who depend on it?
Talking to fellow Paralympians, disabled army veterans and disabled people in work, wheelchair basketball ace Ade Adepitan goes in search of answers, and asks if this hugely ambitious and expensive plan to reassess disabled people has been properly thought through.
The Horse Meat Scandal
From burgers to ready meals, Britain's horse meat scandal has grown and grown. For Dispatches, Morland Sanders asks how Britain's meat supplies became so contaminated with unauthorised horse meat, who is to blame, and what impact will this have on your health and all of our eating habits?
How Safe Is Your Child's Nursery?
As the government unveils plans to increase the number of children each nursery staff member is allowed to look after, Dispatches investigates whether parents can really trust their child's nursery.
The programme goes undercover to expose the shortcoming that means some prospective parents are not able to see a comprehensive history of previous complaints, and hears from parents badly let down by those who are supposed to care for their children.
Plebs, Lies & Videotape
In December 2012 Channel 4 Dispatches revealed the CCTV footage of the 'plebgate' incident that cast serious doubt on the police's version of events.
We exposed that an email sent by a member of the public claiming to be an eye-witness was a fake and was in fact sent by a serving police officer of the Diplomatic Protection Group who wasn't in Downing Street at the time.
Since then the highest ranking police officer and the most powerful civil servant in the country have been called before Parliament to account for their failure to discover what really happened and who was responsible.
Now Dispatches tells the full story of plebgate. We have the first interview with Andrew Mitchell since the revelations and reveal fresh evidence of information known by key individuals at the time.
Britain's Hidden Child Abuse
A victim of child sex abuse in one of Britain's religious communities goes undercover to expose the way his community has for decades been dealing with paedophilia.
In a year-long investigation, other victims of child abuse from this closed community express their anger about the lack of justice caused by their leaders' misguided approach to dealing with the issue.
In some cases those brave enough to complain to the police about their abusers have even been harassed, spat at and ostracised by other community members.
This Channel 4 Dispatches special report also reveals that an alleged child abuser was allowed to continue working with children, despite complaints from his victim.
And other victims, frustrated by their inability to bring child abusers to justice, tell Dispatches they've threatened and attacked those they believe to be paedophiles.
Weight Watchers: How They Make Their Millions
Dispatches investigates the UK's largest diet brand: Weight Watchers. Journalist Jane Moore talks to food experts, dieters and scientists to assess just how effective the company's diet plans and food products are, and asks whether they're worth the money.
Secrets of Your Supermarket Shop
As food prices rise, what's the best way to reduce your weekly bill at the supermarket? Channel 4 Dispatches conducts a nationwide fruit and veg experiment to find out if you could save money by heading to the market stall, the shop next door, or even just a different branch of the same supermarket down the road.
Reporter Tazeen Ahmad investigates the startling rise of supermarket convenience stores, and asks: are we paying a fair price for on-your-doorstep convenience, or are we being taken for a ride?
Fruit and veg is being especially hard hit by food price rises, and we're now eating less and less of the good stuff.
So what's the government's solution? To get the supermarkets involved.
Dispatches looks at the government's plans to encourage the supermarkets to persuade us to eat more healthily. Will its flagship policy really change our eating habits for the better?
Sharing Mum and Dad
Today, one in three children in the UK grow up in a home with only one parent. But are we doing what's best for the children of separated parents?
Dispatches follows presenter Tim Lovejoy, a divorced father of two, as he investigates the current situation surrounding shared parenting following divorce or separation.
Tim speaks hears a wide range of voices and explores the psychological effects of parental separation on children, talking to teenagers about their personal experiences.
The programme investigates the roles of mums and dads in 2013, asking whether current legislation in this area is up-to-date with the way in which modern families operate, and exploring different ways of sharing parenting post-separation.
Tim uses social media to generate debate, much of it incorporated into the film. And, in a first for Dispatches, Channel 4 is showing behind-the-scenes clips of the production process online, to help inform the debate.
Secrets of Your Car Insurance
Dispatches reveals the secrets of car insurance that all drivers should know. Harry Wallop investigates claims that major insurers cash in when you have a crash, through maximising profits, lucrative referral fees and rebate deals, sometimes at the expense of doing what's best for you and your car.
The American School Massacre
On Friday 14 December, a lone gunman walked into his local primary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and shot dead 20 children aged between five and ten. Seven adults were also killed.
Within hours an emotional President Obama called for 'meaningful action... regardless of politics'.
In this Dispatches, Channel 4 News' Washington Correspondent, Matt Frei, reports from the scene of one of America's worst mass shootings, unravelling the chain of events and asking whether this latest tragedy will lead to a real change in America's attitude to guns.
How Safe Is Your Cash?
In the first four months of 2012, the number of fraudulent attacks on credit and debit cards almost doubled. Reporter Morland Sanders discovers a growing concern that some of the major banks are refusing to accept liability if the account holder's personal identification number has been compromised.
The Chinese Are Coming
As China continues to flex its financial muscle by buying into British airports, water and breakfast cereals, Dispatches investigates growing Chinese power in the UK.
The programme tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Dalai Lama's visit to Britain, and reveals details of how British politicians from the Highlands of Scotland to the heart of Westminster are influenced by the Chinese government.
Where Has Your Aid Money Gone?
Public spending is being slashed across the board. But the Department for International Development, which doles out Britain's overseas aid, is set to enjoy substantial year-on-year increases to £11bn by 2015.
Jonathan Miller travels to Rwanda - the jewel in the crown of British overseas aid - to investigate what British taxes have paid for, and to ask what our government has achieved with the influence our aid supposedly buys us.
David Cameron personally backs increasing British aid to Rwanda to nearly £100m a year by 2015. He's called it 'a role model for development and lifting people out of poverty in Africa'.
The Conservatives have a particularly close relationship with the architect of Rwanda's success, President Paul Kagame.
But Dispatches has found that, far from creating a beacon of democracy, Kagame has established a repressive regime with a worrying disregard for human rights.
Dispatches asks if British aid to Rwanda is truly helping the poor, or helping to create Africa's next tyrant?
MPs: Are They Still at It?
Two years after the MPs expenses scandal, Dispatches examines whether our parliamentarians are still abusing the system. The investigation discovers a system still with problems and a lack of transparency, while unearthing evidence that some MPs are still cashing in.
Chinese Murder Mystery
In November 2011, public school educated Neil Percival Heywood reportedly died of alcohol poisoning in the Lucky Holiday Hotel, in a remote Chinese city. His death, virtually unnoticed at the time, has gone on to shake China's Communist Party to the core.
Dispatches exposes a tale of sexual intrigue, betrayal and corruption.
The film sheds new light on the real story of Heywood's life, his relationship with the one of the most powerful families in China and the mystery behind his death.
Nuclear War Games
In the midst of a turbulent post Arab-spring Middle East, Israel's threats of military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities have raised fears of a confrontation between the two countries. This film, which has obtained exclusive access to Israeli theoretical war exercises, provides unprecedented insight into Israel's internal tensions concerning an attack between Israel and Iran which, if escalates, could have major implications for global stability.
The film features exclusive access to a theoretical exercise, a 'war game', conducted by the INSS - an Israeli think tank made up of senior Israeli experts and former political and military leaders - the results of which are fed back to the Israeli government.
Dispatches explores the views of those who are both for and against military action and demonstrates how some elements in Israel believe Iran would retaliate - providing a valuable insight into the likelihood of any military attack.
Getting Rich on the NHS
Under the new health reforms, private firms are being awarded millions of pounds-worth of NHS contracts.
One of the major new players is Virgin Care, a global brand more readily associated with planes, trains and record stores. The company is already providing medical services and running entire medical centres and is developing links to GPs across England.
Health reforms were meant to improve choice and competition, and put GPs in the driving seat. Morland Sanders examines whether the rapid handover of services to private contractors is really good for the public purse, and good for patient care.
Do You Know Your Partner's Past?
Earlier this year Tina Nash's boyfriend was jailed for life after gouging her eyes out.
In this film, with exclusive access to the police, Tina investigates 'Clare's Law', a new controversial pilot scheme in which men and women are warned by the authorities about their partners' history of violence.
Tina wants to know if it will make a difference for other victims of domestic abuse.
She meets supporters and opponents to find out whether it is an effective way of pre-empting domestic violence or simply an invasion of privacy.
You can take part in a live chat with Tina Nash after the programme on October 22nd. You can send your question in then or join the conversation on Twitter using the hash tag #DomesticViolence.
You can follow Tina on Twitter at @Tina_Nash_
Secrets of Your Boss's Pay
As the pay packets of Britain's top bosses continue to grow, Channel 4 Dispatches follows the former Greggs chief executive Sir Michael Darrington as he launches a campaign to call a halt to corporate greed.
With the country deep in recession he asks: are we really all in it together? The chiefs of British business are now taking home average pay of £4.8 million a year: 180 times the average working wage in the UK.
Along the way, he reveals the secrets behind executive pay: how pay is set, who decides it and why some chief executives continue to be rewarded for failure.
After 25 years at the helm of one of the UK's biggest companies, 70-year-old Sir Michael leaves retirement behind to tackle the problem of high pay, which he feels has spiralled out of control.
From Britain's streets to city boardrooms and all the way to Westminster, Darrington questions leading business figures including James Caan (Dragon's Den), Business Secretary Vince Cable and economist Will Hutton.
Cruises Undercover: The Truth Below Deck
Almost two million Brits took a cruise last year. For many, it's the holiday of a lifetime with hard-earned savings going in to a dream adventure.
Glossy marketing films and brochures depict a cheerful workforce dedicated to making a cruise a five star experience.
Channel 4 Dispatches goes undercover to investigate the reality of life below deck for the multi-national workforce who toil behind the scenes of glamorous ocean going holidays.
The cruise industry generates billions of pounds in revenue each year and working on a ship provides many people from around the world a much needed source of income.
However Dispatches reporter Tazeen Ahmad - travelling as a passenger on a European cruise - and an undercover reporter working as an assistant waiter discover working conditions below the legal minimum in the UK.
Undercover Retirement Home
Dispatches goes undercover to investigate the multi-million pound retirement property industry.
As millions of retirees face downsizing their homes, reporter Morland Sanders and Dispatches' undercover pensioner look at some of the pitfalls of buying a retirement flat.
Sanders also meets the pensioners who've discovered living in a retirement home isn't what they hoped for as they battle through tribunals and try to reduce their living costs.
Secrets of Poundland
As other High Street retailers struggle for survival, discount leader Poundland is booming.
With a new store opening on average every five days, its pre-tax profits are up an astonishing 50% in a year.
In this Dispatches investigation, Harry Wallop asks how Poundland sells so cheaply, yet makes so much money.
He reveals the clever business tactics, marketing techniques and price comparisons used to appeal to Poundland's shoppers, and asks if consumers are getting all they had bargained for.
The School Dinner Scandal
After Jamie Oliver's high-profile campaign to improve school meals, millions of pounds were pumped into improving school canteens and tough minimum standards on food and nutrition were set and enforced. Reporter Tazeen Ahmad examines evidence that strategies to improve the food served in all our schools are fast coming undone.
A hundred and ninety local authorities and 108 Academy schools responded to a survey by the programme, which found massive variations in the amount spent on dinners, with some schools opting out of providing a daily hot meal altogether.
Dispatches visits one English primary school where the only hot food available to children is supplied by volunteers working from the local village hall.
Around half of our children now attend Academy Schools, free from local control. Education Secretary Michael Gove exempted them from nutritional standards introduced by the last government, promising that standards would not deteriorate.
However, the Dispatches survey provides worrying new evidence about previously banned products being made available to pupils. The programme speaks to one catering supplier who says that once again many schools are now looking to source cheap, low-quality products.
One parent did his own detective work to discover out of the £2.10 per meal charged by one council, only 59 pence was being spent on ingredients.
As a consequence many children are voting with their feet, either bringing their own packed lunches or going outside school and eating from take-aways.
Dispatches examines the councils trying to fight back and restrict the growth of fast food outlets near schools, and reveals the national chain reluctant to take no for an answer.
The programme Dispatches: The School Dinner Scandal, broadcast on Monday, 10 September contained a factual error. The figure given for the amount of money spent on ingredients for each primary school meal by East Lothian Council should have been 94 pence. This figure has now been corrected.
Property Nightmare: The Truth About Leaseholds
The economic downturn has made buying property outright more difficult than ever but our obsession with home-ownership has led three million of us to choose the apparently cheaper option: leasehold properties. But purchasing a home in this way can come at a cost, leaving those owners vulnerable to excessive and unfair charging, to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds.
Dispatches reporter Morland Sanders investigates allegations of private landlords, councils, and housing associations overcharging leasehold homeowners for housing works and maintenance, which in some cases are also claimed to be unsatisfactory and unnecessary.
With complaints and cases disputing costs on the increase, Dispatches investigates the government's reluctance to impose greater regulation on the leasehold sector, which is making two and a half billion pounds a year in service charges for maintenance and repairs.
Tricks of the Dole Cheats
Reporter Morland Sanders investigates Jobcentre Plus, the organisation tasked with getting Britain back to work and cracking down on dole cheats. With the help of jobseekers, undercover filming and a former insider, the programme reveals the shirkers' tricks that make it easy to cheat the system.
Britain's High Street Gamble
Britain's high streets are struggling to survive, but one business is booming; betting shops. On average one new bookie opens every week. In one London high street there are now 10 within yards and the locals are fed up.
What's driving this gambling boom and what's the impact on our communities? Michael Crick investigates the rise of High Street gambling. He hears from an apologetic politician who now admits they got the gambling laws wrong, and from those most affected by the spread of the betting shops.
Britain on the Sick
Using undercover filming, reporter Jackie Long investigates the controversial processes used to assess whether sickness and disability benefit claimants should be declared fit for work.
Can You Trust Your Bank?
The Barclays interest rate scandal, unimaginable bonuses and insurance misselling have put the banking sector firmly in the public spotlight. In this special report, Jon Snow travels around the UK, meeting consumers, businesses and bankers, to ask whether we can trust our banks.
Update on the Hendersons' story: Since filming, the Hendersons, who run a sign making business in Putney and feature in this film, have secured a loan from their bank RBS. This will help pay their creditors whilst their case is being reviewed.
Myths about Your 5 a Day
Dispatches investigates what's happened to the five-a-day campaign, which was designed to get us all eating more fruit and veg. Reporter Jane Moore reveals how this vital health message has been hijacked as a marketing tactic, and how the food industry uses the campaign to promote sugary, fatty, salty products like ready meals, soups and drinks.
She also looks at confusion over what actually counts as a five-a-day portion and investigates whether the government is effectively regulating what the food industry tells us about the scheme.
Secrets of the Taxman
An undercover report partly filmed in the Channel Islands presents new revelations about tax avoidance.
Cashing in on the Games
The Olympics could be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to show off the best of Britain and boost our ailing economy. But in the rush for gold, will retailers and businesses out to make a quick profit tarnish our reputation?
Channel 4 Dispatches turns back the covers on budget hotels planning massive mark-ups, goes undercover to expose illegal ticket touting, and meets the people losing their homes ahead of the games.
Reporter Morland Sanders goes in search of the people cashing in on London 2012, and examines whether the overall economic benefits of hosting the event have been oversold.
Dispatches lifts the lid on the funeral industry. Using undercover filming, Jackie Long investigates what really happens to our loved ones when they die.
Let Our Dad Die
In 2005 Tony Nicklinson had a catastrophic stroke, which left him utterly paralysed. He had what is known as 'locked in syndrome' and couldn't move, talk, feed himself or perform even the most basic function without help. He could only communicate via a computer controlled by his eyes.
He wanted to die, but couldn't kill himself without help, and anyone who helped him would be committing murder.
On the eve of a historic and controversial legal bid to demand the right to be killed, he told his story, came face to face with his critics, and heard from the Greek doctor who saved his life seven years earlier, who says he wouldn't wish this condition on his worst enemy.
Mr Nicklinson died on 22 August 2012, after the programme originally transmitted.
The Real Mr & Mrs Assad
Channel 4 Dispatches reveals a portrait of a golden couple who have become global hate figures. The programme shows intimate footage of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his wife Asma that helps explain why the West bought the idea they were true modernisers.
When Bashar took the reins of power after his father's death in 2000, the West was drawn into a hope and belief that Syria would be a new force for change in the Middle East. The Assads were seen as a glamorous couple with modern Western morals and values; he was hailed a reformer, she was the 'Rose of the Desert'.
Key leaders and figures in the West welcomed the young couple, convinced that the softly spoken London-trained ophthalmologist and his beautiful British-born former investment banker wife would bring reform and modernisation to a country that had been run by an iron-fisted dictator for nearly 30 years.
But it seems the West was duped. Instead of a transparent and progressive leadership, what has emerged during a year-long bloody uprising is evidence of the regime's gross systematic human rights abuses, including widespread killings and torture, while the Assads look on.
Channel 4 Dispatches investigates the extent of the Assad family's culpability and the chains of command that link the President and select inner circle to the brutal crackdown.
Beating the Recession - Cash vs Cards
Personal finance expert Harry Wallop investigates whether cutting up our credit cards and paying for everything in cash could leave us with more money in our pockets.
Exclusive research for Channel 4 reveals how families are now realising the value of a 'return to cash', drawing out more from cash machines than at any time in the last five years.
But that's not what the banks and credit card companies want us to do - so is the move towards a cashless society more about the banks' profits than the convenience of financially-stretched consumers?
Join the conversation about the programme on Twitter by using #CashVCards.
Watching the Detectives
How safe are your secrets? Channel 4 Dispatches reveals how easy it is to buy our most personal and confidential information.
In a year-long undercover investigation, private detectives sell us access to health and criminal records, mobile phone bills and bank accounts.
The programme discovers the extent of the black market in personal data and reveals how supposedly secure databases are open to exploitation.
The Great Ticket Scandal
Fans queuing for hours to buy tickets get turned away empty handed while tickets for the same 'sold out' events appear online shortly afterwards, sometimes at astronomical prices.
Channel 4 News correspondent Morland Sanders investigates the multi-million-pound world of online ticket reselling where fans desperate not to miss out on in-demand concerts, festivals and sporting events often buy their tickets.
Leading 'fan-to-fan' ticket exchange websites say they allow 'real fans' to sell on tickets they can no longer use.
Dispatches sent reporters undercover inside two major 'fan-to-fan' ticket exchange websites to investigate who is selling via their websites and why so many tickets appear at over the face value so soon after the box office sells out.
Join in the discussion on Twitter using #TicketScandal.
Olympic Tickets for Sale
We've spent £9 billion paying for the London 2012 Olympics. The organisers say London 2012 will be an accessible and affordable Games, leaving a lasting sporting legacy. But 1.8 million British people applied for tickets in the public ballot - over a million applied for the 100 metres final alone - and the vast majority were disappointed.
So who got the tickets and for what events? Antony Barnett investigates in this Dispatches Special.
Landlords from Hell
As the numbers of homeless rise, Dispatches goes undercover in the property rental market again to find out what really happens when you're without a roof over your ahead and desperate.
Local councils are supposed to look after you, but now the housing minister wants them to sort the problem by working with private landlords. But how suitable are the landlords they send you to? And what checks do councils make on the rooms they rent?
Jon Snow, with a team of undercover reporters, returns to investigate the reality of life for people at the mercy of private landlords, and finds families with young children sent by local authorities to live in filthy, bed bug-infested properties, while their rogue landlords make a fortune out of public money.
Have you been affected by the standard of your rental property? If you have a story about your housing situation and want to share it with Dispatches, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Britain's Sex Gangs
Research suggests that thousands of children are potentially being sexually exploited by street grooming gangs. This may only be the tip of the iceberg, as experts believe many crimes of this nature go unreported.
Journalist Tazeen Ahmad investigates street grooming and hears from community leaders who say enough is enough and demand action on the issue. She meets victims of grooming and their parents, whose lives have been torn apart.
She hears how girls as young as 12 have been targeted by these gangs and so terrorised and brainwashed that they keep their ordeal secret for years.
In a particularly shocking encounter she talks to two young men who explain in detail how grooming by gangs is perpetrated, why virgins are more highly prized and how the commerce of this type of brutal sexual exploitation unfolds.
Dispatches lifts the lid on Britain's bins and asks what the plan is to tackle the country's growing rubbish problem.
Reporter Morland Sanders travels the UK in the wake of the government's Waste Policy Review to find out about bin collections, litter, excessive packaging and Britons' secret bin habits.
He finds householders angry about their bins not being collected every week and fly-tipping setting resident against resident.
He asks whether we can do more to help reduce the rubbish problem ourselves and sets a family the challenge of living without a bin for a fortnight. Can they really recycle everything?
On the high street, he questions whether we are simply sold too much packaging with the things we buy, making us throw far too much away, and sifts through litter to see who should be doing more to keep Britain tidy.
He also talks to the people who collect, sort and recycle our waste and discovers what happens to our paper and plastics once they are collected. Does profit win out over green considerations?
And he investigates whether the waste companies are really solving our rubbish problem.
Can You Trust Your Doctor?
GPs are among the most trusted and respected of all professions. They are our first port of call for most NHS treatment with 800,000 people visiting surgeries every day. But Dispatches reveals that failing doctors routinely slip through the system.
We've been filming secretly in GP practices and have uncovered concerning evidence of misdiagnosis by doctors who have failed in the past, but are still practising.
Reporter Jon Snow reveals that, six years after The Shipman Inquiry called for increased scrutiny of doctors, GPs who've been sanctioned by the authorities in the past are not regularly checked to make sure they are safe to practice. Even GPs who've been punished by the authorities in the past are not regularly checked to make sure they are safe to practice.
Jon Snow also speaks to a whistleblowing doctor and nurse who reveal that even when the authorities have serious concerns about a doctor's fitness to practice they don't always act promptly to alert all patients. They allege they have been barred from telling patients the truth about serious malpractice at a surgery they worked at.
As the government prepares to hand over more control and responsibility to Britain's GPs Dispatches asks how much we are really told about the medical competence of our own doctors.
The Wonderful World of Tony Blair
Since resigning in June 2007, Tony Blair has financially enriched himself more than any previous ex-prime minister. Reporter Peter Oborne reveals some of the sources of his new-found wealth, much of which comes from the Middle East.
On the day Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister, he was appointed the official representative Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East. By January 2009 he had set up Tony Blair Associates - his international consultancy - which handles multi-million-pound contracts in the Middle East. It is so secretive we don't know all the locations in which they do business.
Dispatches shows that at the same time as Blair is visiting Middle East leaders in his Quartet role he is receiving vast sums from some of them. If Blair represented the UK government, the EU, the IMF, the UN or the World Bank, this would not be permitted.
He would also have to declare his financial interests and be absolutely transparent about his financial dealings. But no such stringent rules govern the Quartet envoy.
However, he could opt to abide by the rules and principles of public life. They were introduced by John Major, and Tony Blair endorsed and strengthened them for all holders of public office - but chooses not to himself.
Gypsy Eviction: The Fight for Dale Farm
In a film broadcast on the day that the mass eviction was due to start on Dale Farm, Britain's largest traveller site, Dispatches reporter Deborah Davies investigates the controversial relations between gypsies and travellers, their neighbours and the law.
Across Britain furious residents complain about the way gypsies and travellers pitch camp illegally in local parks, the damage they cause and the mess they leave behind.
They also accuse gypsies of underhand tactics to win planning permission on green belt land where housing development wouldn't normally be allowed.
Travelling families complain they're constantly moved on by police and bailiffs. They say many council sites are badly maintained and in locations where no one else would want to live. The gypsies and travellers also claim they're refused permission to develop their own sites because of prejudice.
The programme asks whether the government's proposed crackdown on unauthorised development will make things better or worse.
Councils will be given more freedom to decide how many places to allocate in their areas but there's already a shortfall of about 6000 caravan pitches and political reluctance to spend money on the travelling community may mean even fewer places are provided.
Set against that, councils already spend close to £20m a year evicting and clearing up illegal encampments because gypsies claim they have nowhere else to go.
The Truth About Drugs in Football
Dispatches investigates the use of both recreational and performance-enhancing substances in our national game.
Reporter Antony Barnett examines football's drug-testing regime, raises questions about how the sport deals with its drug cheats and also looks at the use of some bizarre but legal treatments players undergo.
How to Buy a Football Club
With a Select Committee looking into the state of football and growing calls for reform, an undercover investigation by Dispatches finds out who wants to own the beautiful game and reveals how ex players and foreign businessmen are prepared to circumvent the rules, to cash in on a sport that's in financial freefall.
You can follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #ForSaleFC
Murder on Honeymoon
What happened to Anni Dewani while on honeymoon in South Africa in November 2010? Why did the life of this young woman, married only a few weeks earlier to Bristol businessman Shrien Dewani, come to such a brutal end in one of South Africa's roughest townships?
As a court in London decides whether Anni's husband, Shrien Dewani should be extradited to South Africa to stand trial for her murder.
With exclusive access to Anni's family and to the prosecution case, Dispatches investigates the events surrounding her death.
Landlords from Hell
In this undercover investigation, Jon Snow reports on the return of the slum landlord in 21st-century Britain. At a time when more people than ever are having to rent privately, unable to get on the property ladder, Dispatches reveals the shocking conditions in which tenants are forced to live.
Dispatches sends an undercover reporter to work for a rogue property empire in the north of England. He reveals a world of forced evictions, slum properties in dangerous condition, and routine bullying of tenants. Jon confronts the man raking in millions while his tenants suffer.
Dispatches also exposes an extraordinary new phenomenon: thousands of people living in illegal sheds, transforming parts of London into slums. A second undercover reporter lives in a squalid, illegal shed in London, paying £40 a week rent to another rogue landlord.
Dispatches lifts the lid on a world where unscrupulous landlords are exploiting the most vulnerable people in society and getting away with it.
Since the programme has gone out, the Charity Commission has opened an inquiry into housing charity, the Meridian Foundation, exposed in a recent Channel 4 Dispatches undercover investigation.
Meridian's property empire extends across greater Manchester and the north west of England. It has a turnover of hundreds of thousands of pounds with much of that money from the taxpayer in the form of Housing Benefit.
A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission confirmed it had received 25 complaints about the charity after the programme was broadcast.
The Real Price of Gold
Dispatches challenges the British gold jewellery industry to come clean about where the gold in their jewellery comes from. Businesswoman Deirdre Bounds, who ran a successful ethical travel company, reveals what's wrong with the industry and goes on the road to present her unique take on how things could be done very differently.
Secretly filming at Britain's biggest high street jewellery chains, Bounds exposes shop assistants giving vastly misleading information about where the gold in their jewellery is mined. Then, unable to get a straight answer from the stores, Bounds travels to the mines where some gold is sourced.
In Senegal, she meets a child miner and reveals his hazardous daily existence at an illegal mine. She also looks at allegations that a large-scale industrial mine in Honduras has caused hair loss and rashes in the local population.
Shocked by what she's seen and the lack of traceability in the supply-chain, Bounds sets out to find how things could be done better.
In her search to find an alternative, she explores newly-launched Fairtrade and Fairmined gold and also how recycling old gold could offer an answer.
Going undercover, she finds one of Britain's largest gold manufacturers not living up to their pledge to support ethical alternatives. And she asks the British public to back her campaign to clean up the British jewellery industry.
You can sign up to the pledge by clicking the link on the left of this page.
You can follow @C4Dispatches on Twitter using #DirtyGold
Conservation's Dirty Secrets
Dispatches reporter Oliver Steeds travels the globe to investigate the conservation movement and its major organisations. Steeds finds that the movement, far from stemming the tide of extinction that's engulfing the planet, has got some of its conservation priorities wrong.
The film examines the way the big conservation charities are run. It questions why some work with polluting big businesses to raise money and are alienating the very people they would need to stem the loss of species from earth.
Conservation is massively important but few dare to question the movement. Some critics argue that it is in part getting it wrong, and that, as a consequence, some of the flora and fauna it seeks to save are facing oblivion.
The Thief Catchers
For generations criminal justice policy has been predicated on the belief that chasing criminals and locking them up is key to reducing crime. The truth is that for years the police have been repeatedly arresting the same relatively small group of criminals who continue to commit robbery, burglary, theft and other crimes that affect us.
The majority of this group are drug addicts and for them prison is no deterrent. In fact many use their repeated spells in custody as a way of briefly stabilising their chaotic lives before re-emerging to continue offending.
With exclusive access over six months to an innovative Offender Management scheme in Bristol, Dispatches follows the progress of three persistent criminals who all say they want to change.
The scheme offers them all the support they could need to go straight - drug services, accommodation and access to employment - hoping to reduce the harm they cause to themselves and society and save money by no longer warehousing persistent offenders in prison at a cost of £40,000 per year, per convict.
America's Secret Killers
The strike that killed Osama bin Laden provided a glimpse of the vast and often secret campaign by US special forces and troops to kill thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. They call it 'precision targeting'; their critics say it's assassination.
A six-month investigation by Dispatches has gone inside the US 'kill/capture' programme to discover new evidence of the strategy's impact, and its costs. The team have talked to key figures in the US military, to US spies and to Taliban commanders and fighters.
General David Petraeus, since he took command of troops in 2010, has ordered a major expansion of these 'manhunt' missions that rely on highly classified intelligence, cutting-edge technology and Special Operations forces.
Correspondent Stephen Grey and producer Dan Edge explore the logic behind the kill/capture policy, and ask if this unremitting pursuit of the enemy will help end the war in Afghanistan.
The military say these operations have led to the death or detention of more than 12,000 Taliban insurgents in 12 months. Petraeus and his advisers argue that a ruthless, accurate and relentless campaign against enemy leaders will paralyse the insurgency and force them to the negotiating table.
On the ground in Baghlan Province in Afghanistan, US raids have put the Taliban on the run. But Dispatches makes contact with a young - and important - Taliban commander who says that, after the targeted killings of two of his seniors, he was simply promoted up the ranks to take their place: 'This war has become like delicious food for us. When a day passes without fighting we get restless.'
The Truth About Your Dentist
As the government's cuts to the NHS start to bite, Sam Lister, The Times' Health Editor, investigates dentistry, going undercover to reveal how some dentists are misleading patients about their rights to NHS treatment.
The programme exposes dentists who are waiting until patients are lying back in the chair before telling them they must pay hundreds of pounds for private treatment, which should be available on the NHS.
Dispatches also reveals that children's teeth are being neglected under the NHS and that cost-cutting dentists are outsourcing lab work to countries like China where there are little or no checks on safety or quality.
To follow @C4Dispatches use the hashtag #Dentistry
The Truth About Going Under the Knife
Dispatches - in a joint investigation with the BMJ - explores what's implanted into our bodies. Almost 40 million of us come into contact with a medical device every day. That includes everything from a basic sticking plaster to hi-tech coils implanted into the arteries leading to the heart. The medical device industry is worth over £200 billion a year. Dispatches investigates whether in the drive for innovation, patient safety can come second. The programme reveals that although these medical devices save thousands of lives every day, there are questions from patients and doctors about the amount of testing that these products go through before they go on general sale.
You can follow the discussion around the programme on Twitter by using the hashtag #HipOp
Dispatches goes undercover inside one of the country's busiest NHS hospitals as it faces multi-million-pound cuts and hundreds of job losses in the next year.
With the coalition government pledging to protect the NHS, Dispatches reporter Tazeen Ahmad investigates what's really happening to the Health Service.
Cashing In on Degrees
With students facing massive increases in their fees, Dispatches investigates the pay, perks and privileges enjoyed by universities' top earners.
Journalist Laurie Penny reveals the increasing commercialisation of higher education and asks what happens when universities scour the globe for students and funds.
BP: In Deep Water
BP is one of the largest companies in the world and plays an important role in the British economy through UK pension funds, the billions of pounds of tax it pays and as a major employer in the UK.
A year on from the start of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, journalist Greg Palast examines the role of BP in this spill as well as similar incidents in the past and examines its contracts with oil-producing nations and relationship with the British government.
Executive producer: Peter Grimsdale
Produced and directed by James Brabazon
Train Journeys from Hell
The taxpayer has been spending billions to upgrade the British rail network yet many passengers have complained of high ticket prices, overcrowded carriages and cancellations.
Dispatches asked actor Richard Wilson to investigate the state of the railways a few weeks ahead of a major Government spending review on the trains. He experiences the hustle and bustle of the daily train commute, and interviews train experts and industry insiders as well as everyday commuters.
As members of the public tell their stories on Dispatches' Train Journeys from Hell website, Richard finds that buying tickets and travelling on the trains is no easy task.
You can tweet your views using the hashtag #TrainPain
Britain's Secret Fat Cats
Dispatches investigates whether the beneficiaries of the government's cuts are in fact private outsourcing companies.
Financial journalist Ben Laurance looks at whether the coalition's keystone policy, the Big Society, may actually benefit big business, while the public and voluntary sectors feel the pinch of austerity Britain.
Selling Off Britain
Should Britain flog off the family silver to cut our national debt?
Dispatches reveals the billions of pounds worth of assets we own as a nation, from ancient silver candlesticks to missiles, from football clubs to huge houses for judges to sleep in.
Should we sell the government wine cellar, Gibraltar, Buckingham Palace? The entire armed forces? Or even Birmingham? Should we be selling these off rather than sacking council workers and cutting the NHS? And how far should we go?
Join Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy and a host of experts in this live studio debate and play our 'sell or not game' to vote on which assets you want us to flog or keep.
You can follow the discusion on Twitter by using the hashtag #sellornot
Secret NHS Diaries
The NHS is there to make our final days as dignified and pain-free as possible. But as a devastating health service ombudsman report has shown, the reality can be very different.
For the first time, Dispatches has given three people cameras to film the last weeks of their lives, at home, in a care home, and in hospital. Their experiences provide a unique insight into the gap between what we hope for compared with the painful reality of dying.
The Truth about Hospital Food
With NHS figures showing that more people than ever before are leaving hospital malnourished, Dispatches reveals the shocking truth about catering in the NHS. Not only is much of the food disgusting, but some patients are suffering as a result of cost-cutting and sloppy production.
You can sign the petition to improve hospital food by clicking the link in the top left column on this page. You can join the discussion on this issue by posting a comment to this site below, or tweeting using the hash tag #HospitalFood
Reporter Mark Sparrow spent ten weeks in traction in hospital, forced to rely on NHS food. The quality of his meals was so bad that he set up a blog and began to record his experiences. He photographed and filmed dozens of meals.
Since being released from hospital he has set out to discover whether his experience was a one-off or symptomatic of a deeper problem.
Sparrow meets young people with cystic fibrosis, whose survival depends on getting the right diet. They tell him that the NHS is failing them and that their parents have to take them out of hospital to local pubs and restaurants to make sure that they eat properly and obtain the necessary calorie content.
Mark also meets the relatives of elderly people who have been served revolting food and then given no help eating it. They tell him that NHS staff have falsified records to show that patients have consumed meals where, in reality, the food was untouched. Mark finds that a national network of patients groups is springing up to campaign against the mistreatment of the elderly.
Mark goes in search of solutions, visiting hospitals that succeed in feeding patients on a limited budget. He explores whether introducing more competition would drive up standards.
Lessons in Hate and Violence
Dispatches goes undercover to investigate allegations that teachers regularly assault young children in some of the 2,000 Muslim schools in Britain run by Islamic organisations.
The programme also follows up allegations that, behind closed doors, some Muslim secondary schools teach a message of hatred and intolerance.
The programme is presented by reporter Tazeen Ahmad.
Dispatches: Lessons in Hate and Violence will not be available on 4oD at this time, due to an ongoing police investigation concerning subjects featured in the programme.
Dispatches investigates the fish sold on Britain's high street to find out where it is sourced, how it is processed and what is actually in it, as Channel 4 News presenter Alex Thomson unwraps one of the nation's favourite dishes.
Through DNA testing Thomson discovers the fish in fish and chips may not be quite as advertised and exposes how one major supermarket is misleading consumers about the sustainability of the cod it sells.
The apparent health benefits of fish have driven demand from consumers and made it a lucrative multi-billion-pound industry in the UK. But Thomson reveals the chemical additives used in some fish products.
He also uncovers that packaged fish on sale in the chilled section of the supermarket may have been frozen for nine months before it's defrosted and sold to consumers, some of whom assume this is fresh.
Dispatches also goes undercover to investigate the prawn industry in Bangladesh, which supplies Britain with several thousand tonnes of prawns each year, and finds a dangerously unregulated industry. Secret filming reveals serious hygiene issues and the use of a widely banned pesticide to combat disease in prawn ponds. The report also exposes how prawns are injected with a dirty bulking liquid to increase weight and profit.
The Battle for Haiti
On the night of the Haiti earthquake something happened in downtown Port au Prince - the Haitian capital - which would leave the fate of all the aid efforts and the country's future hanging in the balance: 4,500 prisoners escaped from Haiti's terrifying and overcrowded prison, the National Penitentiary.
They included many of the hardcore criminals, kidnappers and gang bosses who'd reduced Haiti to anarchy from 2004 to 2007, but had then been subdued after an all-out military onslaught by the police and heavily-armed UN peacekeepers. Now they were free to regain control of the slums and the tent cities where most Haitians live, using murder and rape to enforce their rule, with Haiti more vulnerable and less well-policed than ever before.
Helping battle the escaped gangsters is Mario Andresol, Haiti's police chief, who put many of them in prison in the first place. At great personal risk, he played a key role in the United Nations offensive that smashed the power of the gangs. Now, four years later, he has to do it all again. His force is riddled with corruption and many of his officers are without homes and living in tent camps.
BAFTA-winning director Dan Reed captures the daily battle for Haiti's future, filming with Andresol, escaped gangsters, the beleaguered special police unit that's trying to capture them, UN peacekeepers, and the despairing and philosophical inhabitants of the slums and tent cities.
The Kids Britain Doesn't Want
Every year, thousands of children come from all over the world to Britain seeking refuge from persecution, terrorism and war. But many arrive to find this country is not the place of safety that they hoped. Instead they are met by a culture of disbelief and an asylum system that in some cases causes them profound psychological and physical harm.
Through the stories of a 10-year-old Iranian boy, a 16-year-old Afghan and a 22-year-old Ugandan woman, Dispatches explores the experiences of young people who have been brutalized by the British asylum system. This is the story of the kids Britain doesn't want.
Fashion's Dirty Secret
Dispatches investigates the working conditions of clothing manufacturing units in the UK. With British consumers keen to buy the latest designer looks at cheap prices, this film exposes the real human cost behind high street fashion.
Over three months, secret filming is carried out inside a number of textiles factories and suppliers and the footage shows the poor treatment and illegally low pay of workers as they make clothes destined for major fashion retailers.
The working conditions are dangerous, poorly ventilated, dirty and cramped, and workers are paid as low as under half the minimum wage.
The film also reveals the high street brands whose clothes are being made by these workers.
Dispatches exposes shocking practices, more commonly associated with sweatshops in the developing world, but existing right here in modern Britain.
Britain's Street Kids
Every day hundreds of kids are forced to leave home. According to charities like Railway Children, the number of homeless children is bound to rise as a result of the recent government budget cuts.
This crisis in Britain's families has created an itinerant population of young people without support or a roof over their heads. The state has to provide, at an immense cost, while voluntary organisations try to plug the gaps in the face of drastic cutbacks and closures.
Dispatches follows four teenagers over six months who are struggling to fend for themselves on the streets. They're simultaneously at risk and a risk to society, and for all four of them drugs become a way of life, a means of dealing with the stresses and challenges of life away from family and home comforts.
All talk candidly and eloquently about why they take flight: family breakdowns, addiction, violence, neglect and abuse. The unspoken truth behind their stories points to both inadequate parenting and severe lack of consistent and effective care once they have left home.
Dispatches explores the hidden world of runaway and evicted teenagers, giving them a voice for the first time, and celebrating their extraordinary ability to fend for themselves.
Iraq's Secret War Files
Dispatches exposes the full and unreported horror of the Iraqi conflict and its aftermath. The programme reveals the true scale of civilian casualties, and allegations that after the scandal of Abu Ghraib, American soldiers continued to abuse prisoners; and that US forces did not systematically intervene in the torture and murder of detainees by the Iraqi security services.
The programme also features previously unreported material of insurgents being killed while trying to surrender.
Channel 4 is the only UK broadcaster to have been given access to nearly 400,000 secret military significant activities reports (SIGACTS) logged by the US military in Iraq between 2004 and 2009. These reports tell the story of the war and occupation which the US military did not want the world to know.
Initially, the Americans claimed that they were not recording casualty figures and President Bush stated that America would do its utmost to avoid civilian casualties. In the files, Dispatches found details of over 109,000 deaths; 66,000 of these were civilians; 176,000 civilians and others were reported as wounded.
Under rules of engagement, known as escalation of force, anyone approaching the US military was warned to slow down and stop. The analysis reveals more than 800 people were killed in escalation of force incidents: 681 (80%) of these were civilians; a further 2,200 were wounded. Thirteen coalition troops were killed during these incidents. Dispatches found 30 children had been killed when shots were fired near civilians by US troops at checkpoints.
Over a six-year period, the data records the imprisonment of 180,000 Iraqis: one in 50 of the adult male population. Dispatches found more than 300 reports alleging abuse by US forces on Iraqi prisoners after April 2004.
The Americans effectively ignored the torture and murder of many detainees by Iraqi security forces. Dispatches has found evidence of more than 1,300 individual cases of the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqis in police stations and army bases: witnessed or reported on by American troops. Dispatches reveals that US troops were ordered not to investigate Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence.
The data shows that the Americans were aware of the horrific level of violence inflicted by Iraqi sectarian militias: over 32,500 murders; more than 10,000 shot in the head; nearly 450 decapitated; over 160 were children.
One of the reasons given for the invasion of Iraq was the suggestion of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The US told the UN Security Council in 2003 that Iraq 'harboured' the terrorist network. However, in the leaked data there are only seven reports mentioning Al Qaeda in 2004, and none of these refer to Al Qaeda killing anyone. By 2008, there are 8,208 reports mentioning Al Qaeda attributing to it the deaths of 45 coalition soldiers, 486 members of the Iraqi Security Services and 1,291 civilians.
How the Rich Beat the Taxman
How do the rich avoid paying tax and protect their fortunes? Dispatches reveals the clever devices they use.
With more than 20 millionaires in the cabinet, reporter Antony Barnett examines the financial affairs of some ministers and others who have helped the coalition.
George Osborne says 'we're all in this together' but are ministers and top Tories paying the same rates of tax as the rest of us?
Barnett visits a number of offshore tax havens around the world still under control of Britain, including the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, to find out more about tax avoidance ploys.
City of Fear
For one year, Dispatches follows the police and people of Islamabad as Pakistan's capital battles to overcome an unprecedented wave of terrorist attacks, providing a powerful insight into a normally closed world in which everyone battles to survive the daily threat of death with courage and resilience.
Pakistan is in chaos; more than 3,500 people have been killed in suicide blasts in the past three years. Only a few years ago, attacks in the capital were rare, but disparate terrorist groups are increasingly working together and Islamabad has become their ultimate target.
Featuring intimate, direct-to-camera interviews of startling candour - from a teenage girl whose best friend was blown up, to the Inspector General of Police - Dispatches follows those affected as they attempt to continue their lives on the frontline of a war on terror - and refuse to be beaten by it.
With unprecedented access, including interviews filmed in the immediate aftermath of explosions and behind-the-scenes footage of police investigations, the film documents the real war on terrorism fought on the streets of the metropolis... with bloody and tragic consequences.
Bravo's Deadly Mission
In February 2010, US Marines launched the biggest operation since the start of the war in Afghanistan: Operation Mushtaraq. Bravo's Deadly Mission covers hour-by-hour the entire operation to liberate the strategically vital town of Marjah in February and contains some of the most intense fighting footage ever caught on camera.
Filmed under extremely dangerous circumstances and in the toughest conditions imaginable, this Dispatches special is an extraordinary human story and an unflinching portrayal of war at first hand.
Operation Mushtaraq was massive news all over the world when it happened. But only one journalist was with the Marines inside Marjah. Ben Anderson spent two months with Bravo Company 1/6 Marines, eating, sleeping, running and sweating alongside them every step of the way.
The access he achieved and the 50 hours of battle footage he obtained is intimate and unprecedented and forms the basis of this extraordinary film. The result is unlike any other war documentary: personal, intense, incredibly close-up and dangerous.
Bravo Company was the first and only platoon dropped into the centre of Marjah. These young Marines found themselves in a maze of IEDs, bunkers, trenches and ambushes, set by very well-trained fighters.
The film features strong characters such as Captain Sparks, a Special Forces veteran of Falluja, Haditha and Afghanistan who's charged with seeing the young Marines in his charge through to the bitter end of the operation. Thoughtful and insightful, Sparks knows this is the most dangerous mission of his life. He knows they will lose men. He knows he takes responsibility when that happens.
Made by a BAFTA and Grierson award-winning team, the film returns to Marjah four months after the original invasion to find IEDs again being laid just 2km from the Marines' base, Taliban fighters, including snipers, still active and mobile, and a local population that is far from won over.
Bravo's Deadly Mission is a breathtaking film that shows just how dangerous and difficult the situation in southern Afghanistan has become, and how hard it will be to turn around.
What's the Point of the Unions?
As Britain braces itself for the severest cuts in public spending in more than 60 years, Dispatches examines the response of the trade unions and what their threats of potential mass industrial action mean for the country.
Representing the interests of millions of British workers, trade unions are perceived to wield a great deal of political might - in this programme Dispatches reporter Deborah Davies investigates just how much power the unions really have to protect pay and jobs, and what the impact of industrial action might be for the public at large.
By looking at the inner workings of three of Britain's most important unions, Dispatches asks do they, and their leaders, really represent their members and what tactics do they have at their disposal to fight the impending cuts?
Trade Union Congress leader Brendan Barber has warned Britain will become a 'darker, brutish and more frightening place' as the government's austerity measures take effect.
With the potential to cripple transport systems, close schools and government buildings and hit vital public services, Dispatches asks if the unions could combine to bring about the kind of mass protests staged in Greece and Portugal this summer or if their rhetoric is all bluster?
Britain's Secret Slaves
Over 15,000 domestic workers leave their families to come to Britain every year. Charities claim that many are not only badly treated but that they are living as slaves.
This report investigates the plight of overseas domestic workers brought to the UK, and enslaved behind closed doors by rich and powerful employers in the upper levels of British society.
Dispatches goes undercover as some of the employers accused of modern-day slavery are confronted on camera about how they have treated their workers.
Many workers make the sacrifice to leave their country for the UK in order to better provide for their families back home. But lobby groups and charities communicate that a worrying proportion of domestic workers have their passports taken away from them, are kept locked up and subjected to sexual, physical and psychological abuse.
Many are paid less than £50 a week for 20 hour days and some wages are withheld completely.
Even children face similar horrendous conditions; the filmmakers meet young people who were trafficked over to the UK as children and endured years of violence and forced labour.
The programme also investigates claims that foreign diplomats are among the worst offenders in this flourishing form of modern slavery.
When Cousins Marry
Dispatches reveals the tragic consequences of first cousin marriage in Britain. Every year such marriages cause hundreds of children to be born with terrible disabilities; one third of whom are so ill that they die before they are five years old.
The practice is most common in Britain's Pakistani community, in which more than 50% of people marry their first cousin, and in Bradford 75% of ethnic Pakistanis follow the tradition.
It is also common in some Middle Eastern and East African communities here, and in the UK's Bangladeshi community, nearly a quarter of people marry their first cousins.
It also happens in the white British community: Dispatches features a couple, first-cousins-once-removed, whose daughter died of a genetic disease.
The medical risks include infant mortality, birth defects, learning difficulties, blindness, hearing impairment and metabolic disorders. As adults, the offspring of these relationships also risk sporadic abortions or infertility.
Reporter Tazeen Ahmad meets affected families, including one with three children with serious degenerative genetic diseases. Tazeen's own grandparents were first cousins: five of their children died before the age of ten, and three of her uncles were deaf.
Dispatches questions why no major national publicity campaign warns of these health risks. At-risk couples in some areas are offered genetic counselling, with some being offered selection of embryos or terminations, but as only 40% of recessive disorders can be medically tested for, this is of limited use.
Even talking about the practice is controversial. And, although many British studies have established the risks, people still deny the dangers and extol the benefits of marrying within the family. But others within the community say the risks should be publicised.
Africa's Last Taboo
Gay people in Africa are facing increased persecution in a continent where two thirds of countries retain laws against homosexuals.
Award-winning filmmaker Sorious Samura investigates for Dispatches what it is like to be a gay person in Africa, discovering shocking levels of prejudice and hate, driven by governments, religious organisations and communities.
Samura looks at the impact extreme homophobia is having on gay people's lives, tracking down the victims of a recent mob attack in Kenya, speaking to gay men who have spent time in prison for their sexuality and meeting African homosexuals who are often forced into secret lives.
He discovers that AIDS is spreading at an alarming rate among gay men in Africa who are not being given vital sex education and health care by governments that are opposed to homosexuality. As a result, many gay men are dying needlessly.
Samura goes in search of what is driving homophobia in Africa, finding Muslims and Christians working closely together to target homosexuals and visiting American pastors helping to spread anti-gay sentiment.
Dispatches shows that homosexuality is not an African freedom, revealing a major, but little reported, human rights issue, in a continent where millions of gay people live in constant fear of rejection by their communities, of physical and verbal abuse, and even imprisonment.
How to Save £100 Billion - Live
Filmed live on the eve of the emergency budget announcement, Dispatches sets out controversial cuts that could save Britain £100 billion. Krishnan Guru-Murthy presents a team of experts who believe their radical proposals could get Britain's budget back in shape; but can the nation stomach such swingeing cuts or tax increases?
Ideas such as: placing VAT on food and children's clothing, slashing benefits for the middle classes; cutting defence spending and merging our three armed forces; reducing the pay of public service workers and closing down final salary pension schemes.
Could Britain make changes to that most scared of institutions, the NHS, and charge those on higher incomes for GP visits, or roll out a system of health insurance?
A studio of 800 people vote for or against these cuts: cuts which would potentially mean that cherished frontline services would be protected.
<b>Online, you can track your suggestions for savings and see which are the most popular. If you are following the debate on twitter, use #chopornot. (Click the Chop or Not link to the left of this paragraph to find out more).</b>
How the Banks Won
As the government prepares an emergency budget to help pay for the bank bailout, Will Hutton investigates the banks and what they've done with our money.
He discovers that while ordinary taxpayers take the pain, for the banks it's largely business as usual.
Hutton analyses the banks' accounts and shows how they are using government-guaranteed funds to gamble with derivatives as they did before the crash. He also reveals how the banks are still paying vast salaries and bonuses, and City head hunters tell Dispatches how the banks hide the sums they're really paying out.
With the help of former and current members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, Hutton shows how the banks' booming margins come from the free and near-free money the government and taxpayers gave them to save the banking system.
He also investigates the banks' intense lobbying to resist government plans for reform and highlights recent research from the OECD on how Britain is internationally unusual in the extent to which bankers have key roles in the civil service and government.
Featuring high-powered contributors such as President Obama's banking advisor Paul Volcker, former Chancellor Alastair Darling, former City minister Lord Myners and current Business Secretary Vince Cable, Hutton shows why without urgent reform we risk the prospect of another crash - this time there won't be any money left for a bail-out - plus the certainty of British business being starved of vital funding.
With the Eurozone crisis fuelling fears of another banking crash, this programme is an urgent and shocking call to action.
Undercover Social Worker
In the wake of the tragic death of Baby P and other high-profile cases of child abuse and murder, Dispatches investigates allegations that child protection procedures and practices continue to be inadequate.
A Dispatches reporter worked undercover in a UK social services department for three months, discovering what child protection services are actually like on the ground.
His disturbing investigation uncovers a lack of resources, inadequate staff support and training, high workloads, poor morale and overwhelming amounts of red tape and 'box-ticking', reducing the time that social workers can spend helping children.
The programme also raises questions about what is actually being done to protect some of Britain's most vulnerable children.
The Lost Girls of South Africa
In South Africa a child is raped every three minutes and AIDS continues to spread with epidemic ferocity.
Dispatches follows four girls aged 11 to 13 as they struggle to come to terms with the crimes committed against them and fight the social stigma that comes with the abuse.
From the multi-BAFTA-winning True Vision team, this is an intimate and deeply moving portrayal of the tragic impact of child abuse in a post-apartheid South Africa still coming to terms with its difficult and violent past.
Tracing the Marathon's Millions
In a Dispatches episode originally broadcast on 9 April 2010, journalist Ben Laurance looks at what it costs to stage the London Marathon, how much money it generates and the extent of its charitable giving.
In 2009, 36,000 participants in the London Marathon raised a phenomenal £47 million, cementing the Marathon's place as the biggest one-day fundraising event in the world.
In the course of his investigation, Ben discovers who the lucky recipients are of some of the money distributed by the London Marathon race organisers. He also talks to leading charities about the amount they pay to take part, the competition for places, and asks why hundreds of desperate charities are left without a place in Britain's biggest fundraising event.
Politicians for Hire
Following the scandal surrounding MPs' expenses, Dispatches delves into the mostly unregulated world of political lobbying. The programme reveals how politicians are offering to help companies and lobby the government for salaries of up to £5,000 a day.
Journalist Antony Barnett leads an undercover investigation which examines:
- How senior politicians are seeking to trade on their Westminster connections to earn money from lucrative positions in the private sector.
- Whether the regulations safeguarding the public interest in this regard are both adequate and effective.
Dispatches set up a fictional US public affairs company and contacted several senior politicians and asked them if they were interested in a position on the advisory board of our bogus London office. The programme-makers contacted 20 politicians, 15 agreed to meet and ten were invited in for interviews. Nine of the interviews were filmed secretly and genuine issues of public interest arise from these: the public is entitled to know how retiring politicians see themselves and the services they are offering the corporate and business world in their life after Westminster.
Most suggested that our US company's clients could get privileged access into the corridors of powers; some agreed to help us win government contracts and lobby the right people. Some even boasted about what they have already achieved for private corporate interests while still serving as MPs.
Those politicians featured in undercover filming are Geoff Hoon, Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt, Baroness Sally Morgan, Margaret Moran and Sir John Butterfill.
Award-winning columnist and writer Andrew Rawnsley has caused a furore while lifting the lid on Gordon Brown's premiership. Now Rawnsley presents an inside portrait of David Cameron and the government that might be...
According to opinion polls, after 13 years in the political wilderness, the Conservatives under David Cameron's leadership seem likely to form the next government. He has been working hard to change his party's image from 'the nasty party' and to demonstrate economic competence.
Yet many voters still don't feel they know his new Tories. How does Cameron operate? Do his closest colleagues work as a party within a party, creating disgruntled outsiders? How much harsher will their cuts in public services be than Labour's? Will they really lead the country out of recession faster than Gordon Brown? Can the so-called 'toffs' identify with the concerns of the vast majority of the population?
Rawnsley interviews the man who could be Prime Minister, and his colleagues George Osborne, William Hague and Michael Gove, the men who hope to run our economy, foreign affairs and education system. He gets an opponent's perspective from Lord Mandelson.
The programme reveals how these ministerial hopefuls plan to put their policies into action the day after the election. They've promised a budget within 50 days. What can we expect to happen to taxes, wages, public services and unemployment? Have they really done the homework that would get them off to a running start?
The country seems to want change. But has David Cameron, whose only experience outside politics has been in public relations, done no more than just tinker with the presentation of old Tory attitudes and added some more diverse candidates to the old mix?
Britain's Islamic Republic
Dispatches investigates a fundamentalist Islamic group headquartered in Britain, and its claims to have placed its 'brothers' in positions of political power here.
Using undercover recordings, investigative journalist Andrew Gilligan reveals the group's ambitions to create a worldwide 'Islamic social and political order,' and the concerns of a mainstream party that they are being 'infiltrated'; and talks to the Muslims who want to stop it.
Kids Don't Count (Part 2 of 2)
In the second half of this two-part special, maths specialist Richard Dunne returns to Barton Hill Primary School, with Countdown's Rachel Riley, to help the pupils with their mental arithmetic.
Kids Don't Count asks why and how we are failing Britain's children when it comes to maths. The programmes follow a class of final-year primary school pupils in Bristol as their staff adopt a radical approach to teaching, in a bid to improve the maths ability of these children before they head off to secondary school.
In the first programme, the Head drafted in maths specialist Richard Dunne. Children who had previously struggled with maths thrived under his programme, which taught them how to understand abstract concepts and relate sums to the real world, and gave them lots of opportunities to repeat the basics so they could be memorised.
But as their SATs approached, under pressure to improve results, the Head temporarily set aside Dunne's methods.
In this second programme, the SATs are over but many of the children have lost enthusiasm for the subject and still do not have a grasp of the basic building blocks for maths.
Dunne returns to Barton Hill to help the children with their mental arithmetic, joined by Countdown presenter Rachel Riley, who visits the school to help encourage the children to tackle their maths demons.
Sitting in on a maths lesson, Riley is shocked that many of the children struggle to do sums in their heads and do not know their times tables. In a bid to inspire the children in a subject she feels passionate about, she organises a 'children versus adults' Countdown competition at the school.
<b>You can play the maths quiz online by clicking on the link in the left hand side of this page.</b>
Kids Don't Count (Part 1 of 2)
In 2009 more than one in five children left primary school having failed to grasp the basic maths skills required by the national curriculum. In a two-part special, Dispatches asks why and how are we failing Britain's children when it comes to maths.
Dispatches follows a class of final-year pupils at Barton Hill Primary School in Bristol as their staff adopt a radical approach to teaching, in a bid to improve the maths ability of these children before they head off to secondary school.
The problem couldn't be more urgent. Research shows that failing to grasp the fundamentals of maths at primary school leaves only a one in ten chance of catching up by the age of 16.
Dispatches hears from leading lights in the worlds of business and academia - including the CEO of Sainsbury's, Justin King, and George Davies, formerly of Next and Asda - about the impact on the economy and on adult life of leaving school without basic maths skills.
In a provocative nationwide exercise, Dispatches examines the standard of primary maths teaching in this country by testing the teachers. No tricks; just 27 questions that a bright 11-year-old would be able to answer. The shocking results are revealed in the programme.
<b>You can play a shortened version of the maths test by clicking the 'maths quiz' link in the left-hand column of this page.</b>
Afghanistan: Behind Enemy Lines
While most new troops stationed in Afghanistan head to the volatile south of the country, a new frontline, operating almost under the radar of NATO, is encircling the north of the country.
The insurgents are aiming to take over the countryside surrounding the towns and cities and to block the main supply route, the Kunduz-Baghlan road, which services coalition troops across much of Afghanistan since the traditional route through Pakistan became too treacherous.
Dispatches goes inside the enemy camp in northern Afghanistan as award-winning Afghan reporter Najibullah Quraishi is granted access to an army of extreme Islamic combatants.
Quraishi spent almost two weeks with the Central Group of fighters, known to be among the most dangerous and fanatical factions involved in the war, with Chechens, Arabs and other foreign fighters in their ranks and with close links to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. He captures their leisure time, training and planning and accompanies them on an operation targeting the Afghan army.
The Slumdog Children of Mumbai
Dispatches reveals the brutal reality of life on the streets and in the slums of Mumbai, following the daily struggles of four young children to survive.
A few weeks after running away from his abusive stepmother, 11-year-old Salam is living rough outside the main train station. Befriended by a gang of begging boys, run by 20-year-old Asif, Salam speaks fondly of his new 'brother'. But it soon appears that there is a much darker side to being in Asif's gang.
Deepa (pictured) is lucky to be alive after rats attacked her when she was just three months old. Now aged seven, she runs barefoot through the hectic Mumbai traffic to sell flowers to help support her family, doing shifts of up to 20 hours at a time. She lives with her grandmother and brothers in a slum with no electricity or sanitation, next to an open rubbish dump. They survive on less than £1 day since her alcoholic father died two years earlier and her mother abandoned them.
Twins Hussain and Hussan, aged 11, live in a shanty town, balanced precariously on a 10-foot-wide water pipe. Five days a week they collect scrap metal and plastic bottles to sell so they can earn money to eat. They also fish utensils out of the canal that runs alongside their back door to sell, despite the risk of cholera and infection. They say they like where they live; 'We are emperors of the night!' jokes Hussan. But they don't want to think about their futures.
Dispatches provides a deeply moving portrait of the lives of India's real slumdogs, blighted by substance abuse, hardship and heartache, yet proof of the infinite resilience of children, and forced to reach adulthood long before they should.
Christmas on Credit
As banks and building societies close their doors to all but the least 'risky' borrowers, Dispatches reporter Jane Moore investigates a highly lucrative financial industry that has stepped in to provide loans to the millions of people denied credit elsewhere.
She discovers that many of the loans offered by some of these doorstep operators, payday lenders, and rent-to-buy companies come with sky-high interest rates that can financially overwhelm families already steeped in debt. And the sting in the tail is that these loans are entirely legal.
While the Bank of England's rate remains at an all-time low, these companies are able to charge whatever interest they like.
The programme asks why the Government has resisted calls to impose interest rate 'caps' on the various loans on offer, allowing the market to be so under-regulated that foreign loan companies are switching their operations to Britain.
In the run-up to Christmas, the impact of these high interest rate charges can be financially devastating for some families. Dispatches visits areas of the country where whole streets, and sometimes virtually entire estates, are in hoc to such lenders.
Lords, Billionaires and the Russian Connection
Dispatches investigates the elusive Russian oligarchs who have been trying to buy up our football teams, newspapers and car companies.
Reporter Antony Barnett examines the relationship between Russia's richest men and Britain's political elite. He discovers that members of the House of Lords are a prized attraction in Moscow.
<b>Who Knows Who</b> (Channel4.com) maps the relationships between the Russian oligarchs and the British peers and business contacts. Click on the left-hand links of the individuals to see how the rich and powerful are linked.
Return to Africa's Witch Children
In 2008 a Bafta and Emmy Award-winning Dispatches told the story of how children in Africa's Niger Delta were being denounced by Christian pastors as witches and wizards and then killed, tortured or abandoned by their own families.
The film, which prompted international outrage against a practice conducted in the name of Jesus, forced the Nigerian authorities and the UN to act.
Child rights legislation came into force making it illegal to brand children as witches and some pastors were arrested. Financial support also poured in to assist a small British charity (Stepping Stones Nigeria) providing the only safe refuge for hundreds of youngsters attacked after claims that they were possessed by the Devil.
In Return to Africa's Witch Children, Dispatches reveals what happened to some of the children and church leaders who originally featured, and discovers that even now children as young as two are still being stigmatised as witches and treated as outcasts.
Gary Foxcroft of Lancaster-based charity Stepping Stones Nigeria also returns to Nigeria and discovers that since his last visit the rescue centre that houses many of these children was the target of an attack. He also learns that the number of children living there has in fact risen.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Ellin is one such child. She was found at the side of the road, her body having been severely burnt with boiling water. Nwanakwo Udo Edet, around eight years old, wasn't so fortunate. He had acid poured over him after being labelled a wizard and later died.
Inside Britain's Israel Lobby
Dispatches investigates one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel.
Despite wielding great influence among the highest realms of British politics and media, little is known about the individuals and groups which collectively are known as the pro-Israel lobby.
Political commentator Peter Oborne sets out to establish who they are, how they are funded, how they work and what influence they have, from the key groups to the wealthy individuals who help bankroll the lobbying.
He investigates how accountable, transparent and open to scrutiny the lobby is, particularly in regard to its funding and financial support of MPs.
The pro-Israel lobby aims to shape the debate about Britain's relationship with Israel and future foreign policies relating to it.
Oborne examines how the lobby operates from within parliament and the tactics it employs behind the scenes when engaging with print and broadcast media.
Ready for a Riot
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Who Took Your Pension?
Dispatches lifts the lid on the pensions crisis. The programme names some of the blue-chip companies that have abandoned final salary pension schemes. It shows how widespread the problem of underperforming pensions is, and how difficult it is to get full compensation if things go wrong.
Dispatches also reveals the extent to which public sector pensions are under threat, and how far private pensions have failed to deliver in the recession. The programme asks whether the government has failed to protect pensions, and examines their ideas for tackling the crisis in the future.
Cops on the Cheap?
They're known as 'Blunkett's Bobbies' or 'Plastic Police'. There are 16,500 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) walking the 'beat', costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds per year.
Critics have always attacked them for providing policing on the cheap and a political gimmick, but their supporters say they have been useful in curbing antisocial behaviour and visible reassurance to the public.
Filming with PCSOs at work on the streets of Lancashire, Dispatches investigates whether PCSOs have proven to be a policing success story or an expensive mistake.
Middle Class and Jobless
Dispatches examines one of the biggest surprises of the credit crunch: middle-class unemployment.
From company directors to university graduates, this film follows the experience of several people who have found themselves out of work and desperately in search of a job, with some going to extraordinary lengths to try to secure one.
Dispatches highlights the practical realities of trying to find work, even when armed with a degree or a glowing CV.
The War Against Street Weapons
Last year, as chair of Channel 4's Street Weapons Commission, Cherie Booth QC said that the use of guns and knives among young people had become so widespread that she feared for the safety of her own children. Since then, the police and government have taken steps to deal with the problem. But are they doing enough?
To answer that question, Cherie joins police patrols on Britain's toughest streets, talks to young offenders behind bars, and visits a pioneering scheme combating Glasgow's violent gang culture.
The Street Weapons Commission Report - published in 2008 - set out a series of practical recommendations about what could be done to tackle the problem of street weapons in the UK. But one year on, the problem hasn't gone away and Cherie feels passionately that more must be done.
Dispatches investigates how Robert Mugabe and politicians in his ZANU-PF party are still clinging on to power in Zimbabwe, focusing on the businessmen who are benefiting from or supporting his campaign of political violence.
According to opposition politicians in Zimbabwe, those businessmen include well-known figures and companies based in the City of London. Following last year's disputed elections and political violence, a power-sharing 'National Unity Government' was established in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe remains as President, with the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai , Prime Minister. Tsvangirai has been touring the world trying to get aid to Zimbabwe to help its hungry people and restart its decaying economy.
However, working undercover in Zimbabwe, Dispatches reporter Aidan Hartley discovers that Mugabe has maintained his grip on the police, army and central bank, enabling him and his allies to continue carrying out violence and corruption on a vast scale.
Undercover Debt Collector
Dispatches goes undercover to investigate one of Britain's least loved but booming industries - the debt collection business.
Presented by Jane Moore, the programme reveals some of the tactics deployed to get debtors to pay up, and talks to those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of this treatment.
Reporter Tom Randall gets a job as a debt collector inside one of the UK's fastest-growing agencies. He discovers that in recession-hit Britian some of the biggest high-street businesses are cutting their losses and selling on their bad debts to agencies for as little as 16 pence in the pound. Agencies who buy up these debts are entitled to pursue debtors for the full amount.
In this multi-billion pound industry the stakes are high; Dispatches reveals the lengths that collectors will go to to recover their debts.
The Children Britain Betrayed
Almost 10 years after the death of Victoria Climbié, Dispatches investigates the failures still present in Britain's child protection system. With a child being killed by their parent or carer every seven days in the UK, and over 160 child killings since 2004, journalist Peter Oborne examines how such horrific murders might be prevented in the future.
The death of Baby Peter in 2007 focussed attention on the failures of social services but as Dispatches demonstrates, the failures in child protection reach beyond the realms of just social work departments to include police forces, health services and - as one mother claims - even the family court system.
Terror in Mumbai
The untold story of 2008's terrorist attack, in the words of its victims and the gunmen. The programme contains graphic images and descriptions of the atrocity which may upset some viewers. Produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Dan Reed, Terror in Mumbai tells the story of what happened when 10 gunmen held one of the world's busiest cities hostage; killing and wounding hundreds of people while holding India's crack security forces at bay.
Featuring footage of the attacks and interviews with senior police officers and hostages, including the testimony from Kasab - the sole surviving gunman, Dispatches reveals what happened, hour by hour, from the perspective of the security forces, the terrorists, their masterminds and the victims.
Award: Bafta; current affairs. 2010
Afghanistan's Dirty War
As the US apologises for the recent killing of civilians in air strikes on the Farah province of Afghanistan, Dispatches examines the effect these military operations are having on US-Afghan relations.
Directed by Emmy and Bafta award-winning film-maker Tom Roberts, this programme investigates a similar American assault on the village of Azizabad last year, in which scores of civilians, including dozens of women and children were killed.
The film examines the reaction of the US forces - which initially declared the operation a success and denied any civilian deaths - and looks at how, despite evidence to the contrary, the US army remains robust in denying any wrongdoing.
In the first account of its kind on television, award-winning journalist Andrew Rawnsley presents the inside political story of the credit crunch. The programme features exclusive interviews with senior figures close to the economic crisis, including cabinet ministers, senior politicians and former treasury insiders.
As Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has presided over the biggest recession in 75 years. Rawnsley examines the key moments, showing how Brown as Prime Minister inherited the economic problems of his own 10 years as chancellor. The programme charts the roller coaster journey of Brown's fortunes from the moment the credit crunch began.
Orphans of Burma's Cyclone
As Burma's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, faces trial by the country's military government, this timely and remarkable Dispatches film follows the lives of eight Burmese orphans as they struggle to survive the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.
Filmed covertly over the course of a year by two Burmese cameramen, who risked an instant 30 year jail sentence if caught, Orphans of Burma's Cyclone exposes the official intransigence of one of the world's most brutal and secretive regimes and, for the first time, reveals what day-to-day life is like for the ordinary people of Burma.
Britain's Bankers: Still Cashing In
Britain's top bankers helped bring the economy to the brink of ruin; their gambling triggered thousands of job losses and exposed taxpayers to over a trillion pounds of possible risk. In this edition of Dispatches, journalist Jane Moore investigates exactly how much these former bosses have been rewarded for these failings - and how much they are still raking in.
To establish the exact figures, Moore works with an expert to break down the complex pay packets of former leading bankers. She shows the extraordinary number of ways bankers were remunerated, from a variety of incentives and huge pension pots, to funds for 'extras' such as dentist bills. Moore reveals how much these former bosses have been paid; and how some have been awarded millions more than has been previously made public.
Lost in Care
Part of the Britain's Forgotten Children season, this programme reveals the scandals of the British care system and asks, is it working or failing our children?
Reporter Rageh Omaar examines each stage of state provision for the 25,000 children who enter the care system every year, from adoption and fostering to residential care homes. Why do so many babies have to wait for adoption? Why are so many kids shunted from foster parent to foster parent? And why has residential care become a refuge of last resort, and a potential school for failure and crime?
Crash - How Long Will It Last?
In the second half of this special two-part Dispatches, economist and author Will Hutton continues the definitive insider's account of how Britain's economy went from boom to bust.
Hutton reveals how those who tried to warn of the impending financial disaster were shouted down, ignored or fired. As a result, the repercussions of the collapse of Lehman Brothers hit an unprepared and vulnerable UK, and left the government frantically trying to prevent a banking collapse from turning the UK into an economic wasteland.
Despite the collapse of Northern Rock a year before, the government, the regulators and the banks had largely ignored the warning signals that more collapses would follow. Hutton looks at the weeks that followed Lehman's collapse: weeks that will go down as some of the most crucial in Britain's economic history.
Nationalising key banks, and then underwriting the banks' bad loans, prevented meltdown, but at a terrible cost that will haunt us for years to come. Dispatches reveals the mistakes that lead to the current crisis and asks: what will it take to lift the UK out of the biggest recession in living memory?
Crash - How the Banks Went Bust
Just before he became Prime Minister in 2007, chancellor Gordon Brown congratulated the city on their ingenuity and creativity during his tenure: 'An era that history will record as the beginning of a new golden age for the city of London'. He couldn't have been more wrong.
Now, thanks to the financial crash, Britain is facing economic catastrophe. The debts the UK is incurring will take generations to pay off. But how did the economy get from boom to bust? In this two-part special, economist and author Will Hutton gives the definitive insider's account of what went wrong.
Talking to the key players in government, Wall Street and the City, Hutton unveils the true extent of the greed, ambition and reckless risk-taking that is now carrying the economy into the worst recession for a century.
Is it really true that no one saw it coming? Or could the recession have been prevented?
The Westminster Gravy Train
In May 2008, freedom-of-information campaigner Heather Brooke won a court battle that should have prompted the release of all politicians' expense claims. A year later, with those expenses still to be published and the flow of leaked information ever increasing, Heather studies the information that is available to piece together a forensic insight into how public money is being spent.
As well as a series of apparent inconsistencies and hard-to-explain expense claims, Dispatches investigates the controversial role of patronage and lobbying in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords - to what extent can this serve personal rather than public interests?
The programme also shows the damage that has been caused by protracted delays in releasing MPs full expenses, and asks how harmful these claims may be to the reputation of Parliament and its members.
Afghanistan - Mission Impossible?
As war in Afghanistan persists and British soldiers continue to lose their lives fighting an insurgency that many commentators say they can't defeat, reporter Stephen Grey investigates whether our military is engaged in an impossible mission.
In an unprecedented series of interviews, senior military commanders - including Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff, and General Sir Richard Dannatt, chief of the general staff - reveal what they think of the successes, failures and lessons learned during Britain's three-year intervention into Helmand province.
The Trouble with Boris
As the first anniversary of Boris Johnson's election as Mayor of London approaches, Dispatches takes a look at his first 11 months in office to find out where he is taking the nation's capital in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics.
After a shaky start and a spate of high-profile resignations - including that of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair - Mayor Johnson has seemingly confounded his critics and made good progress at City Hall. But does he have a strategy to take London forward as the capital faces economic crisis?
Reporter Antony Barnett examines some of Boris' big ideas - including building a new international airport, introducing a cycle-hire scheme to the capital, getting rid of bendy buses, protecting the capital's skyline, cutting down on public waste and making his mayoralty more open and accountable. All very well, but are they coherent and achievable?
Confessions of a Nurse
As patient numbers and pressures increase, Dispatches investigates the reality of work for nurses around the country and examines whether patient care is being compromised in NHS hospitals.
In candid interviews, nurses - mostly speaking anonymously for fear of jeopardising their careers - describe what life is really like on many wards. They speak of their frustrations with the health service system and make shocking admissions.
One nurse reveals: 'The most worrying thing for me is to find a patient dead behind a closed curtain.'
Dispatches also reveals the results of a specially commissioned YouGov survey of NHS nurses. Among other things, the survey uncovers the high percentage of nurses who have witnessed poor practice and the number who say they have too many patients to look after properly.
Senior nurses speak frankly about how lack of regular staff and a heavy dependence on inexperienced agency nurses could put patients' lives in danger.
Pakistan's Taliban Generation
Award-winning Pakistani journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy investigates how the war on terror is creating a generation of child terrorists in her homeland - children prepared to kill both inside and outside Pakistan.
Sharmeen investigates how the Taliban are recruiting increasingly younger fighters to their campaign. She meets a 14-year-old boy in her home city of Karachi who is desperate to become a suicide bomber. She then follows the elite unit of the anti-terror police squad - who warn that the Taliban are hiding out in the city's sprawling slums and recruiting children from small madrassas in deprived neighbourhoods.
Sharmeen also interviews a Taliban commander responsible for child recruitment, who reveals that children as young as five are now being used by the Taliban.
(This film won the International Emmy; Sept 2010).
How They Squander Our Billions
As the country enters a nasty recession and we feel the need to tighten our belts, journalist and broadcaster Jane Moore examines how the government is wasting billions of pounds of taxpayers' money each year.
Jane investigates a variety of controversial public projects that have had millions, if not billions, spent on them and attempts to discover where the money went, who sanctioned the spending and why so little appears to have been done to prevent massive waste and excess.
Dispatches also highlights the findings of a report that details the escalation in government public sector spending and sets out what needs to be done to stop the waste. Public spending wastage is reported to have cost every household nearly £50,000 over the past 11 years.
The Problem Princes
Channel 4 News presenter Alex Thomson investigates the roles currently adopted by the royal princes and asks how their activities are shaping the modern monarchy that Prince William will inherit.
Thomson delves into just how transparent the Royals' finances are, both in relation to what they cost the tax payer and concerning some of the older princes' personal business and property dealings.
Thomson also examines claims that the Palace are not averse to media manipulation, investigating the handling of stories such as William's commandeering of an RAF helicopter to visit a stag party on the Isle of Wight and for a visit to his girlfriend's parents.
As Prince William is unlikely to be crowned King anytime soon, Dispatches looks at how he might occupy himself until his coronation - if he might follow the examples of either Edward or Andrew, or if there are princely lessons to be learnt from his uncles.
The Big Job Hunt
Four months after leaving his post as minister of trade, Lord Digby Jones examines how the government is tackling the unemployment crisis.
Lord Jones analyses each of Gordon Brown's pledges to help people back into work and training - to see whether the system for handling the newly unemployed is working. Drawing on his political and business experience as former director of the CBI, he unpicks government announcements and statistics to uncover the scale of the problem and see just how dire the situation is for those who have lost their jobs.
Travelling across the UK, Lord Jones meets people who have recently lost their jobs in construction, car-manufacturing, retail, IT and property development to find out whether the government measures are helping them back into work. And Dispatches reveals exclusive research on the nature of job vacancies available, and examines just how successful Job Centres are at placing people in work.
Too Old to Work
With the number of unemployed in the UK nudging two million, Dispatches reveals the ageism rife amongst employers and recruitment agencies. The investigation reveals that being 'older' - even just over 45-years-old - is a risk in the workplace. Older workers are more likely to lose their jobs and fail to secure another position.
The programme looks at the challenges facing older job seekers and how the mandatory retirement age, introduced in 2006, has forced tens of thousands out of their positions, against their will. Dispatches also features the results of two exclusive YouGov surveys on attitudes towards older workers and the effects forced retirement can have on those still wanting to work.
Congo's Forgotten Children
Deborah Davies examines how the children of Congo are being affected by the latest fighting that is tearing their country apart. An entire generation has been scarred by a seemingly endless conflict - in the last 12 years at least three million children have died as a result of fighting and the hunger and disease that war creates.
The long-running conflict is largely ignored by the rest of the world, but last November Congo briefly hit the headlines as rebel troops seized control of a large area of Eastern Congo. The Dispatches team were the only journalists to reach the town of Kanyabayonga. Children describe how they ran and hid in dense forest to avoid the fighting. In the panic many were separated from their parents. They spent up to three weeks with little food, no clean water and no shelter - and as a result many became ill and died.
Is what has been presented on our screens and in our papers a true reflection of events on the ground in Gaza? And how do these reports differ to those aired in other countries?
With reporters unable to enter Gaza, attempted media manipulation from both sides and strict regulations governing what images that can be shown on British TV, Jon Snow asks a range of journalists from at home and abroad about the challenges of getting the full story.
Featuring images that haven't before been aired on mainstream television, Jon also examines the difference between the coverage at home and that in the US, Europe and the Middle East. He compares the coverage available on terrestrial channels with satellite TV and the internet and investigates the extent to which some British Muslims are by-passing the mainstream British media and looking elsewhere for their information.
To what extent does the choice of news outlet affect opinion of the conflict?
The True Cost of Cheap Food
As the credit crunch bites, thousands of families are cutting back by swapping expensive premium-range food for cheaper budget lines - but at what cost? Food critic and author Jay Rayner examines what goes into these budget products and asks why, too often, low cost means low quality.
Dispatches also follows two families in Leeds as they try to reduce their weekly shopping bill - one by choosing supermarket value brands and the other by shopping at local independent stores. Are supermarkets really cheaper? And what will each family choose to eat?
Mum, Dad, Alzheimer's and Me
Fiona Phillips investigates the struggle of Alzheimer's sufferers and their families to get adequate care and support.
<b>Monday 11 January 2010</b> In this update, Fiona returns to the issue, examining whether there has been any improvement in the provision of financial support and respite care available for them and their carers. Fiona's father has Alzheimer's and her mother died after developing an aggressive, early-onset form of the disease. Fiona continues to face her own dilemma about how best to care for her father as his condition deteriorates.
<b>Mum, Dad, Alzheimer's and Me</b> The number of people suffering from dementia, the majority with Alzheimer's, is projected to rise from 700,000 to over 1 million by 2025 and 1.7 million by 2051. Fiona investigates whether the level of financial support for sufferers, and respite care for those looking after them, is adequate. And with numbers set to increase, is the Government prepared to cope?
Fiona's father has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and her mother died after developing an aggressive, early-onset form of the disease. As Fiona faces her own dilemma about the care of her father, she talks to families around the country about the difficulties they have faced in obtaining help, from both the NHS and local authorities.
Britain's Challenging Children
With primary schools across the country being stretched by the violent and disruptive behaviour of a small minority, Dispatches reveals the results of an extensive, in-depth survey of teachers to identify the impact on their ability to teach, and documents the efforts of five schools which are tackling the problem head on.
The survey, the largest if its kind ever undertaken and supported by the teaching union NASUWT, reveals the extent of deteriorating standards of behaviour in classrooms across the UK. With millions of teaching hours being lost; it's the majority of well-behaved kids that are paying the price.
But while the crises in classrooms appear to be escalating for many schools, Britain's Challenging Children follows the efforts of five primaries trying innovative methods to regain a calm teaching environment. Filmed as observational documentary, in Glasgow, Wigan and Luton, Dispatches explore what works by focussing on their most challenging pupils.
Through early intervention methods such as parental outreach, target-setting for badly behaved children and 'nurture groups', these schools go beyond punitive measures, to address why children are acting out - helping the individual child to get back on track, and the rest of the class to get on with their work.
Iraq: The Legacy
Peter Oborne returns to Iraq in a follow-up to his Dispatches film, Iraq: The Betrayal. His aim is to find out whether - as Barack Obama hoped in the build-up to his presidency - that it is 'safe' for Western forces to leave.
Oborne begins his investigation when he accompanies Foreign Secretary David Miliband on his first visit to Iraq to witness the handover ceremony at Basra Airport, as British forces pass provincial control to the local Iraqis. Obornes examines whether the army been driven out by the Shi'ite militia in thrall to Iran.
He also asks whether there is a future for the Iraqis in the area who worked for the British army, and finds out whether government promises to help them have been broken.
The Human Cost of the Credit Crunch
Dispatches travels across Britain to meet the families who feel let down after more than a decade of struggling to better themselves. Having thought there lives were getting better, these families now see themselves sliding back down the social ladder.
And as we get poorer, Dispatches discovers we are becoming more vulnerable to those who prey on our need for quick money to pay our bills, keep our homes and even feed our children. The programme also finds the key groups who Tony Blair won over - the aspiring middle classes and solid working class voters - are now deeply disillusioned.
Cameron's Money Men
Originally broadcast in 2008, Antony Barnett investigates the funding of the Tories under Cameron and examines how the party is using its newfound resources to ensure its leader becomes the next Prime Minister.
What's In Your Wine?
With wine consumption in the UK hitting record levels, Jane Moore investigates the many different substances - including fish and dairy products - that can be used to produce wine but which rarely appear on the label of the average bottle.
The health benefits of the occasional glass of red wine are widely-acknowledged but Dispatches reveals how a great deal of the wine we consume is enhanced, sweetened or flavoured, creating a drink that one critic describes as no better than, 'an alcoholic cola'.
Undercover Mosque: The Return
A year-and-a-half after the critically acclaimed film Undercover Mosque was first screened, Dispatches goes undercover again to see whether extremist beliefs continue to be promoted in certain key British Muslim institutions. The film also investigates the role of the Saudi Arabian religious establishment in spreading a hard-line, fundamentalist Islamic ideology in the UK - the very ideology the Government claims to be tackling.
Gordon Brown: Where Did It All Go Wrong?
Andrew Rawnsley assesses Gordon Brown's first year as prime minister. Includes interviews with cabinet ministers, politicians, his intimates and his opponents.
Undercover in Tibet
Tibetan exile Tash Despa returns to the homeland he risked his life escaping from to carry out secret filming with the award-winning, Bafta-nominated director Jezza Neumann.
At the risk to its makers of imprisonment and deportation, this Dispatches film reveals the hidden reality of life under Chinese occupation in Tibet, uncovering evidence of the 'cultural genocide' described by the Dalai Lama.
Along the way, Tash finds the nomadic way of life being forcefully wiped out as native Tibetans are stripped of their land and livestock and resettled in concrete camps. He meets victims of arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and 'disappearances' and uncovers evidence of enforced sterilisations on ethnic Tibetan women. His film reveals the regime of terror that dominates daily life in Tibet and makes freedom of expression impossible.
Jon Snow's Hidden Iraq
Five years after the invasion, Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow examines the brutal reality of life inside post-invasion Iraq, meeting a variety of its citizens - from victims of bomb blasts and war widows, to human rights activists and politicians.
While the coalition forces herald its burgeoning democracy, Snow ties together reports and unseen footage of recent violence and human rights abuses from beyond the Green Zone, which paint a picture of a fragmented state on the brink of anarchy and collapse.
Filmed in 2008, deploying regional video journalists and specialist cameramen into areas few Western journalists could ever contemplate, Jon Snow's Hidden Iraq ventures behind the rhetoric to uncover what life on the ground is really like for Iraqis.
Dispatches: Iraq's Lost Generation
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy travels to Syria and Jordan to investigate the plight of Iraqi refugees who have been driven from their homes by war and sectarian violence
Britain Under Water
Dispatches investigates what the authorities are doing to protect the public from an increased risk of flooding and questions whether adequate resources are being spent on flood defences.
Reporter Antony Barnett reports on the increasing numbers of new homes being built on flood plains and examines mounting concerns about the vulnerability of Britain's dams and energy installations. Which British towns are most at risk from flooding, and how much will homeowners have to pay to keep flood waters at bay?
Abortion: What We Need to Know
Featuring the findings of a survey into doctors' opinions on abortion, Dispatches reveals why many doctors would like to see the law changed, and lifts the lid on the private debates that are happening within the medical profession.
Reporter Deborah Davies investigates the medical advancements that are impacting on pre-term infant survival. At what point does foetal movement stop being a reflex and start being what could be a reaction to pain? Leading experts in both the fields of foetal development and nervous systems debate the current timescales.
China's Stolen Children
More than a decade after producing The Dying Rooms - a powerful film about the neglect of abandoned babies in Chinese orphanages - the same award-winning team returns to a very different China, where the infamous One Child Policy has created the horrific side-effect of a boom in stolen children.
It is estimated that 70,000 children are kidnapped in China every year and traded on the black market. This special Dispatches programme features extraordinary access to those directly involved, including devastated parents desperately searching for their stolen son, a man who brokers the deals and has sold his own offspring, and prospective parents grappling with giving up their soon-to-be-born daughter.
Beautiful, haunting and deeply tragic, this film takes us into the heart of modern China - a place where girl babies are being sold for as little as £200, detectives specialise in finding kidnapped children and child traffickers buy and sell human lives. The film provides an intimate portrait of the crisis that this stringent government policy has created among China's poorest people.
Iraq's Death Squads
Iraq's Death Squads follows on from a previous Dispatches investigation that revealed the close links between high-ranking Shia politicians and the death squads that rampage through Iraq's main cities.
Reporter Deborah Davies asks whether the Iraqi government, infiltrated by Shia militia to the shocking extent exposed by Saddam's execution, has any real determination, or ability, to bring about an end to the bloodletting.
Dispatches undertakes an extensive investigation into a number of British mosques to reveal how a message of hatred and segregation is being spread throughout the UK. Filming undercover at mosques run by key organisations, whose public faces are presented as moderate and mainstream, our reporter finds preachers condemning the idea of integration into British society, condemning British democracy as un-Islamic and praising the Taliban for killing British soldiers.
The investigation examines how such extreme messages are influenced by the religious establishment of Saudi Arabia and reveals how the influence of Wahabism extends to influential organisations that advise the British government on inter-community relations and prevention of terrorism.
Undercover Mosque also features interviews with moderate British Muslim figures who are speaking out against the influence of Saudi Arabia's extreme brand of Islam, which they claim is seeking to overturn Islamic traditions of diversity and peaceful co-existence.
Burma's Secret War
Dispatches exposes the surge in violence inflicted on the Burmese people by their own regime. Enslaved by a brutal military dictatorship which wields absolute power, Burma is a secretive state where suppression reigns and dissent is not tolerated.
Journalist Evan Williams, who is banned from entering the country after reporting on Burma for more than 10 years, goes undercover to investigate the mass ethnic cleansing, forced labour and vicious clamping down of political opposition that characterise the dictatorship.
Re-Opening The Post
Fourteen months after the original Royal Mail undercover investigation, Dispatches returns to secretly film and establish whether the service, as they claim, has dramatically improved. Has Chief Exec Adam Crozier taken control of untrained staff, outdated machinery, ineffective managers and poor industrial relations as he promised?
MMR: What They Didn't Tell You
In February 1998 Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed to have discovered a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. A global health scare ensued.
Fear spread among parents who were unsure what immunisation choices to make in light of the new research. Worried parents of autistic children, who had already been given the MMR jab, began to seriously question their choice of vaccination. The world's press was shocked by the story.
But what was going on behind the scenes? Dispatches investigates the facts that parents weren't told about the MMR scare.
Third Class Post
A six-month investigation exposing the laziness, ineptitude and theft within the Royal Mail that has huge implications for the safety of all our post.
Dispatches reporter Simon Barnes goes undercover inside the Royal Mail to reveal a damning catalogue of skiving workers, ineffective managers and gangs of criminals stealing millions of pounds from the post.
Young, Nazi and Proud
As the British National Party seeks to present itself as a more electable proposition, Dispatches reporter David Modell spends eight months with Mark Collett, leader of the Young BNP (pictured left), to reveal the future face of the far right in Britain.
From the BNP's electoral inroads in this year's local elections to their annual Red, White and Blue festival and confrontations with the Anti-Nazi League, Modell follows Collet into the murky world of right-wing politics and offers a shocking insight into the thoughts and beliefs of the far right's most outspoken youth leader.
Award: Bafta; current affairs (2003).
Sex on the Street
In an unprecedented investigation that took almost a year and involved interviewing 110 street prostitutes in 18 towns and cities, a terrifying pattern of violence emerged. One that, until now, has gone unreported.
Presented by award-winning journalist Maggie O'Kane, this eye opening documentary exposes the scandal that makes Britain's street workers the most physically brutalised, and least protected, group in society.
Beneath the Veil
Beneath the Veil follows freelance journalist Saira Shah as she travels covertly through her father's homeland of Afghanistan. Visiting major towns and small villages, Shah's journey reveals how the fundamentalist Taliban regime affects the lives of ordinary people.
This award-winning film, filmed in late 2000 and early 2001, is a devastating portrait of a country savaged by war and religious extremism, where journalists are no longer welcome, and where the rest of the world seems as distant as another planet.
The Torture Trail
Dispatches infiltrates the most secretive arms fair in the world and reveals how weapons that can be used for torture are sold by British companies throughout the world. This disturbing investigation reveals the businessmen who profit from this trade and the politicians who allow it to occur, and speaks to some of its victims.
A Year Inside Number 10
In May 2010 David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced they were forming the first coalition since the National Government during World War II. One year on, Andrew Rawnsley interviews the key politicians and their friends and foes to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the coalition.
For the first time on television, 10 cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, talk about how the coalition works, how compromises are reached and how they get on both personally and politically. It was made in the run-up to local elections and a referendum that will deliver the voters' first judgment on the Cameron/ Clegg partnership, and a pointer to each of their political fates.
Rawnsley reveals how Lib-Dem and Conservative minsters reached compromises on student tuition fees and the on the pace and depth of the spending cuts.
The programme explores the ongoing arguments about the NHS reforms and the direction of foreign policy in the wake of uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.
Who are the peace makers and who are the political winners and losers, and where are the cracks emerging after 12 months in office?
Rawnsley also examines how Cameron has reorganised his Downing Street office in the wake of the Coulson scandal to avoid any further PR headaches, navigating through a steady drip of stories about health service cuts, and announcements about privatising our forests and scrapping school sports programmes.
You can follow the programme on Twitter using the hashtag #UKCoalition
Britain on the Breadline
The year 2012 will mostly be remembered for two things: the austerity and hardship felt by millions, and the wave of euphoria and pride evoked by the Diamond Jubilee, Olympics and Paralympics. Britain won 29 Olympic gold medals, thousands of people took up volunteering, and the biggest cuts to the welfare state since the 1970s came into force.
Dispatches tells the previously untold story of how one of the most deprived communities in Britain is fighting to keep their community from going under, thanks to a hidden army of volunteers.
Britain's Witch Children
Dispatches goes undercover in some African churches in the UK, where evangelical pastors perpetuate a strong belief in witchcraft. They preach that some people are possessed by evil spirits, and that these spirits bring bad luck into the lives of others.
The only way to rid the possessed from the witchcraft spell and lift their curse is to 'deliver' them: a kind of exorcism that can be very traumatic. Some pastors charge significant sums of money to perform these deliverances.
Often it is children who are denounced as witches by these pastors, and this labelling can lead to the physical and emotional abuse of those children at the hands of their families. In extreme cases it has led to the deaths of some children.
In parts of Africa, branding a child a witch is now outlawed, but in Britain this practise is perfectly legal, despite the fact it can have horrific consequences.
Dispatches reveals just what goes on behind closed doors in these African churches, exposing the pastors who exploit the religious beliefs of the most vulnerable.
Journalist Ben Laurance analyses the political parties' campaigns in the run up to polling day.
He investigates each party's campaign and gets a real taste of what's happening behind the scenes in the run up to the election.
The programme looks at the debates, how the leaders have been styled and their performances fine-tuned as they compete to get their policies across to the British public and asks what impact the debates have really had on informing the voter.
Ben examines how the parties are financing their campaigns, considers the voting postcode lottery and reports on the work of two teams of foreign election observers as they travel the country to assess just how democratic our elections are.
Gordon Brown's Missing Billions
In an edition from 2005, economist Andrew Dilnot looks at where Gordon Brown's policies have gone wrong, and examines the consequences for all of us. Brown's misjudgements, Dilnot warns, are something we will all ultimately have to pay for.
For two years, Dispatches has followed an undercover police operation as it tracked a criminal gang trying to smuggle guns into Britain.
The painstaking work of Lancashire's Serious and Organised Crime Unit culminated in the seizure of a vehicle in Dover containing drugs, weapons and ammunition, and led to the successful conviction of over 20 people involved in this international crime ring.
Operation Greengage exposed the trade in illegal weapons in one northern town. In Gun Nation, Dispatches examines the shocking proliferation of guns on Britain's streets.
How the MoD Wastes Our Billions
Veteran war correspondent Sam Kiley turns his sights on the critical issue of whether the British tax payer, and British soldier, are getting value for money from the Ministry of Defence.
As the MoD puts the finishing touches to the first Strategic Defence and Security Review in 12 years, Kiley uncovers a ministry barely fit for purpose while men and women are fighting and dying in Afghanistan.
Britain's £42 billion defence budget puts it in the top four in the world so why do we appear to be struggling to support just 10,000 frontline troops?
The answers lie in the squandering of billions designed to prop up the British defence industry, resulting in the MoD going an estimated £36 billion over its equipment budget over the next ten years.
Kiley argues that poor decisions to buy the Eurofighter, a new Nimrod spy plane, and the Lynx Wildcat helicopter have cost billions and have left our troops dangerously exposed on the ground.
MPs, Planes and Gravy Trains
Alex Thomson investigates how MPs have spent their 82-day summer recess, and what is expected of them during this time.
With publicly funded trips jetting off all around the globe, who are the frequent fliers and how accountable are these visits?
Dispatches travels around the world in 82 days to look at what is on offer during the summer break and how open and transparent our elected representatives really are.
Thomson examines whether taxpayers are getting value for their money from their elected representatives, with politicians desperate to regain trust after the expenses scandal in May 2009.
Mum Loves Drugs, Not Me
In this Dispatches film, award-winning filmmakers Brian Woods and Kate Blewett reveal the devastating impact that illegal drugs have on neglected children, whose childhoods are blighted by chaos.
It's estimated that around 350,000 children in the UK have parents with a serious drug problem - with 10 babies being born to heroin-addicted mothers every day. Yet in contrast to the billions of pounds spent on helping the users themselves, there is a serious lack of specialist help for their children - many of whom are at serious risk.
My Family and Alzheimer's
In 2009, Fiona Phillips investigated the struggle of Alzheimer's sufferers and their families to get adequate care and support in Dispatches: Mum, Dad, Alzheimer's and Me.
In this update, she returns to the issue, examining whether there has been any improvement in the provision of financial support and respite care available for them and their carers.
Fiona's father has Alzheimer's and her mother died after developing an aggressive, early-onset form of the disease. Fiona continues to face her own dilemma about how best to care for her father as his condition deteriorates.
Post Office Undercover
Two reporters go undercover as agency postmen to find out if the Royal Mail has delivered on claims that it is modernising and improving its service.
In 2004 and again in 2005, Dispatches went undercover to investigate the Royal Mail. These reports exposed serious systemic and individual failures within the organisation, resulting in an enquiry by the postal regulator, followed by a fine of almost ten million pounds. Five years on, the Royal Mail claims it is modernising and improving its service.
The reporters find an antiquated system with lax security, poorly trained agency workers - many of whom are clearly not up to the job - damaged and defective equipment and allegations of stealing.
Out on their rounds, they are bombarded with complaints from angry members of the public who have experienced damaged mail, delays and poor service, and behind the scenes some managers and workers express contempt for the customer and their concerns.
Joining just before the busy Christmas period, when an industrial truce has been publicly announced by both management and the unions, both reporters find that normal service is far from being resumed. Managers tell the reporters that disputes with unions over working times and the size of postmen's rounds are causing continued disruptions to the service.
With over four million pounds a year being paid in compensation to customers for lost post and a recent dip in Royal Mail's delivery performance, Dispatches asks if the organisation is fit for purpose.
Rape in the City
In the wake of two recent, high-profile cases in which young women were brutally attacked and raped by groups of young men, journalist Sorious Samura investigates gang rape in the UK.
Using data collected from various sources, including the crown courts, barristers and rape referral centres, Dispatches attempts to discover the extent and cause of the problem. Four young victims describe their traumatic experiences, while Samura also talks to groups of teenagers about their attitudes to sex and relationships. He is appalled to hear what the boys consider to be acceptable sexual activity and the fears expressed by the girls.
While knife crimes and street weapons dominate the agenda on violent crime, Dispatches hears from youth workers, police officers and academics who believe this devastating type of attack requires more attention.
Riding Europe's Gravy Train
On the same day the British public heard details of the unprecedented cuts in government spending that will affect almost everyone in the country, taxpayers also learnt they'd have to pay extra hundreds of millions of pounds a year to Brussels, as MEPs voted in favour of an increase in their budget.
Calling the proposed 5.9% increase 'completely irresponsible and unacceptable', David Cameron has just managed to get the EU to limit the budget rise to 2.9%.
Dispatches reveals that, despite the worldwide credit crunch, it's still possible to get rich out of Europe. The programme details the exceptionally generous package of salary, pension and expenses that MEPs receive and how some have abused the rules to pocket as much cash as possible. While Westminster has tightened up on the expenses system, Brussels still hands out some cash allowances without the need for receipts.
The programme also looks at the system of agricultural payments, which are supposed to help those British farmers struggling to earn a livelihood and continue producing food. Dispatches shows how millions of pounds in grants have ended up going to some of the best known - and richest - landowners in the country.
Dispatches also examines how money meant to help deprived areas has actually been spent. In one case the programme discovers that hundreds of UK workers are being laid off and their jobs moved to Poland, funded in part by a multi-million-pound European grant.
In another case the programme investigates allegations of fraud when a man with a criminal conviction for dishonesty ended up running a project given hundreds of thousands of pounds of EU money.
Saving Africa's Witch Children
In some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervour is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine: and branded witches. Denounced as Satan made flesh by powerful pastors and prophetesses, these children are abandoned, tortured, starved and murdered: all in the name of Jesus Christ.
This Dispatches special follows the work of one Englishman, Gary Foxcroft, who has devoted his life to helping these desperate and vulnerable children. Gary's charity, Stepping Stones Nigeria, raises funds to help Sam Itauma who, five years ago, rescued four children accused of witchcraft. He now struggles to care for over 150 in a makeshift shelter and school called CRARN (Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network).
What's in Your Breakfast?
It is the most important meal of the day, but all too often, breakfast in the UK is far from healthy.
In this edition of Dispatches, reporter Jane Moore reveals how nutritious the nation's breakfasts really are and the marketing techniques employed by this lucrative industry. Manufacturers are using health claims to sell their breakfast cereals, drinks and bars.
Dispatches investigates the evidence provided to support these claims and asks if some of the healthy-sounding cereals and pro-biotic yoghurts are all they are cracked up to be.
Moore uncovers what is actually in your breakfast food. Do you really know just how much sugar and salt are in children's cereals, particularly those marketed as 'healthy'?
Moore finds that the unwillingness of retailers and manufacturers to adopt the traffic light systems recommended by food standards authorities is confusing things further. Even if you want to eat the right thing, it is not always easy to tell what that is.
She also tests the regulators' rules on 'healthy' branding by baking a cake that could still make many of the health claims made by cereals.
Moore examines the recent shifts in cereal marketing which enable manufacturers to stay ahead of the regulators. With advertising of sugary children's foods banned during kids TV programming, Moore discovers that their marketing has moved to prime-time TV and the internet.
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