issue brief

NHS Prescription Charges

NHS prescription charges are paid by patients for drugs or other treatments prescribed for them by a National Health Service medical practitioner.Read More

North Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly referred to as North Korea, occupies the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, bordering China and Russia to the north, and South Korea to the south. Its capital is Pyongyang.Read More

Northern Ireland Assembly

The Northern Ireland Assembly was established by the Northern Ireland (Elections) Act 1998, and elections were held to elect 108 members under the Proportional Representation Single Transferable Vote system.Read More

Northern Ireland Peace Process

The sectarian division of Northern Ireland into unionists and nationalists has been a source of strife ever since the Partition of Ireland in 1920, and the moves towards complete Irish independence from the UK in the 1930s and 1940s.Read More

Nuclear Deterrence

The strategic concept of deterrence aims to prevent war. It is the justification virtually every nuclear state uses for maintaining nuclear arsenals, including the UK.Read More


A minority medical condition 50 years ago, the prevalence of obesity is now such that it is regarded as a major public health issue and listed as a priority by senior government ministers.Read More


The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is the independent regulatory body overseeing the 'communications industry', including the distinct areas of telecommunications and broadcasting. Read More


Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. Read More

Open University

The Open University is the UK's largest university, and differs from other higher education institutions in that its courses are designed to be studied primarily by distance learning - that is, by people studying from their homes or workplaces, in their own time.Read More

Organic Farming

"Organic farming" is the name given to a variety of agricultural production systems that aim to work "with nature" rather than by conquering it. Read More


Organophosphates (OPs) are a group of synthetic chemical compounds, composed of variable mixtures of phosphorus, carbon, and hydrogen.Read More

Police Arms and Weaponry

The British police are famed across the world for being 'unarmed' - but this is a misnomer. Although police officers are not equipped with firearms as a matter of course, they are routinely issued with other weapons and have access to a wide range of guns and other lethal and non-lethal equipment.Read More

Police Funding

Although police forces are subject to considerable control from the Home Secretary and Chief Constables remain responsible for operational matters, Police Authorities have had principal responsibility for police funding. However, the Coalition government decided that from November 2012, Police Authorities should be abolished and replaced with directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners. Read More

Police Numbers and Recruitment

Police numbers continued to rise steadily over the previous decade. However, due to budget cuts imposed by the Coalition government to tackle the deficit, police numbers have seen a reduction in recent times. Read More

Population Growth

The human population of the Earth has been growing since prehistoric times, but the past 200 years have seen human numbers grow exponentially. Read More

Post Office closures

Post offices have been a staple of British life for decades, providing a place for people to pay their bills, collect benefits, get their car taxed and buy stamps locally. But the number of branches has dwindled from about 25,000 in the mid 1960s to around 11,500 today.Read More

Pre-Budget Report

The Pre-Budget Report (PBR) was one of the economic policy innovations of Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor. From November 1997 he delivered an autumn PBR speech to the House of Commons, whilst simultaneously publishing the report.Read More

Press regulation

Print media in the UK are not subject to any specific statutory controls on their content and activities, other than the general criminal and civil law.Read More

Prison Officers

Prison Officers are the main front-line Prison Service staff working in prisons. They are responsible for ensuring and maintaining prison security, as well as ministering to the needs of prisoners.Read More