Sunday, 30 July 2017

Secret evidence for secret courts

"Over the years the UK Column News has highlighted the problem of secret courts. One example is that of Melanie Shaw, who was subjected to a secret court in the sense that the hearing was not listed publicly. On top of that Melanie has had hearings...where her attendance was by video link and that video link disconnected at critical moments leaving her excluded from her own hearings which proceeded without her..."

"That`s correct, " says Brian Gerrish.

"Well, there`s another even more insidious version of secret justice in Britain, if that`s possible, because while Mel`s problems are a breach of the regulations... there is a possibility that they can be dealt with - there`s a largely unknown issue of special advocates and this one - well it`s carrying on openly and largely unchallenged. So the role of the special advocate according to the government has developed in proceedings before a wide variety of forums, both statutory and non-statutory in origin - these are the government`s words - where a party with the permission of the forum seeks to rely upon closed evidence. Closed evidence may raise issues concerning national security. Individuals and their legal representatives are excluded from hearings where closed evidence is used..."

"Special advocates perform an important role - the government`s words again - by representing the interests of the excluded party in those hearings and subjecting the sensitive material to scrutiny thereby promoting fairness in the proceedings. So let`s just understand this. People who are subject to a court proceeding where there`s a decision to include closed evidence; those defendants are not entitled to see the nature of the evidence; they`re not entitled to rebut the evidence. A third party who may or may not know anything about their case goes in and represents them - I guess somebody who`s been security vetted."

"Isn`t this the old Soviet system Mike?"

"Now `Justice`, the pressure group - I say mostly unchallenged - but `Justice` produced this 2009 report on secret evidence and they said:

"Special advocates, however, are not the cause of unfairness in proceedings. Rather, they are merely the most common and most visible symptom of the unfairness caused by the decision to allow evidence to be withheld from the defendant."

"So people have been commenting on this. It hasn`t had a huge amount of media coverage and in 2012 50 special advocates, either serving or former special advocates, submitted this memorandum on the Justice and Security Bill to the Joint Committee on Human Rights and they said :

"`We remain of the view we expressed in our response to the consultation (and endorsed by the Joint Committee on Human Rights): that [closed proceedings] are inherently unfair and contrary to the common law tradition` ... So this is the position of various people discussing this subject."

"And significant that the expression common law has appeared in that. Very significant."

"Absolutely. So why am I mentioning this today? Well because the Attorney General is seeking to appoint new members of his panel of special advocates ... So just to explain what he`s saying:  The special advocate competition is open to both self-employed barristers and solicitor advocates with at least five years advocacy experience. But he wishes to recruit advocates at the junior level; in particular those with expertise in family and employment tribunal work; and completed applications must be submitted by noon on 18 September."

"Now I can see Brian in the case of a terrorist trial some people may take the view that there`s national security issues at stake; and therefore perhaps some evidence needs to be heard in a closed court. I for the life of me cannot work out how this is appropriate to the family law division. It can`t possibly be about divorce. So this must be about the taking of children."

Brian Gerrish: "Well this is absolutely it and I come back to ... a case that is taking place in Sheffield. We`re not able to give details of the case but what we can say is that where there has been video and audio evidence of a child being abused that evidence is simply being shut out of court; so therefore there`s no case. And the other thing I`m going to say is that evidence from around the country - it doesn`t matter whether it`s Scotland, Wales, Oxford, Cornwall - of the use of the psychiatric system to silence people who`ve got evidence of child abuse; that is being used as a template. So use of the psychiatric system, preventing people seeing evidence against them in court ... this is the Soviet style system and this cannot be an accident. This must be deliberate policy that is being brought in... "

"Where evidence of the abuse of children is coming to the surface, particularly where that evidence relates to establishment figures or politicians, then the tactic first of all is the attempt to brand the witness, the person coming forward with that evidence, as having some form of mental health issue. And we know of several cases where people, with the connivance of local authorities, local mental health teams, and of course the police, have simply been put into psychiatric units on the basis of accusations that they`re somehow mentally ill. This is very very dark and sinister activity but it is happening in Britain today, I believe, to protect the government.

Pensioner jailed for care home abuse

"A man who went from job to job in care homes abusing children in Edinburgh and Lanark has been jailed for 10 years."

"Brian Dailey, 70, assaulted and sexually molested children he was supposed to be looking after during abuse spanning a decade from 1973."

"At the High Court in Edinburgh he was earlier found guilty of three indecency offences against boys and a girl and a further two charges of assault."

"Dailey was placed on the sex offenders' register indefinitely."

"A judge told the pensioner: `You have been convicted of five charges which involve the persistent, calculated, manipulative and predatory sexual abuse of two young boys and one teenage girl in relation to all of whom you were in a clear position of trust`."

Children`s bodies are being altered with injections

"More than 800 children in England some as young as ten are being given controversial drugs to help them change gender."

"The NHS treatment, which halts the onset of adulthood, is aimed at young people who believe they are trapped in the wrong body."

"Powerful monthly hormone injections stop the development of sex organs, breasts and body hair, making it easier for doctors to carry out sex-swap surgery later."

"Until now it was thought that just a handful of children and teenagers were receiving the injections, known as ‘puberty-blockers.’"

"Llyr Jones aged five. Llyr, who was born male, started living as a girl when she was 15 years old..."

"Llyr finally found relief in January last year when she was sent to London’s Tavistock gender identity clinic, which has seen a dramatic increase in referrals from 94 in 2009/10 to almost 2,000 last year."

Read more:

Risk averse psychiatry

Mark Neary ponders the workings of the Mental Health Act in relation to `best interest` decisions:

"It’s only Tuesday but in the past four days I have heard the stories of three people with autism and/or learning disabilities who are each detained under a Mental Health section. Each one of them have asked for extended leave and can make a decent best interests argument for being allowed leave but each one has been refused by the responsible psychiatrists who have cited "risk" as the reason for their refusal."

"The three requests were made to:

1. Spend a long weekend away with family in a cottage in Wales.

2. Attend a family wedding.

3. Spend his 30th birthday on a boat with his family and friends."

"It’s pretty easy to put a case together as to why any of the above would be in the person’s best interests. All of them involve quality time with people who love them and have known them for years. All three activities are significant life events and will form part of the memory photo album for the future. All three events show the person they are loved, and respected, and important to the family dynamic and that the person is a valued component of something greater and bigger than him/herself. In a nutshell, all three should be good things to do."

"But risk comes first and appears to trump best interests."

Read more

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Parental alienation - or maybe political alienation ?

I am very worried about governments regulating what goes on inside families. I am very worried about solicitors and barristers tussling each other inside courts as if the courts were boxing rings, while making money out of a child`s distress. I do believe that attempts at mediation are often a better way to proceed.

Having said that, I must admit, that this performance recently in the House of Commons shows how much children do not figure in the concerns of our political representatives.

Fathers, who are looking for more tussling in the courts - and let`s face it some mothers too - have a long way to go in influencing this empty chamber.

The child protection racket

From BBC Scotland:

"The UK government has agreed to take up to 480 unaccompanied children under the Dubs scheme - but it will then close, with ministers arguing that an open-ended commitment would encourage people trafficking."

"But a joint letter from the Scottish Secretary for Equalities, Angela Constance, and her Welsh counterpart Carl Sargeant criticises the way the scheme has been run."

"It states: `From the start of the implementation of this scheme, we have struggled with the lack of information that has been forthcoming from those running this operation`."

"`This continues to be the case and we are aware that only a couple of hundred unaccompanied children have been transferred of the 480 placements identified`."

"The letter acknowledges the emergency clearance of the Calais refugee camps led to `difficult circumstances` and that the UK government is also facing a legal challenge over the scheme`."

"It continues: `However, we both feel that overall, the lack of planning and sharing of useful information from coordinators has inhibited our ability to plan ahead`."

Maybe planning ahead is not the only thing to be worrying about.

UK Column News [20 July 2017]
"[Tim Farron] is up to his old tricks regarding unaccompanied refugee children. Yesterday he asked what was described as an urgent Commons question on the issue. So let`s have a look at what he had to say."

"Before the election the government promised they would transfer 480 refugee children from Europe to UK... Recently the government admitted that so far only 200 unaccompanied children have been given sanctuary here. When does this government expect to fulfil this measley commitment and will the Minister today give us a date. I say a measely commitment because the UK government could do so much more. Freedom of Information access requests show that local councils have voluntarily offered to accept 1,572 more children in addition to those they already support. Does the minister know this and in light of this information will the government re-open Dubs and take its fair share?"

"The hypocrisy is unbelievable," says Mike Robinson. "So he says he`s been to Greece but he hasn`t been to see any of the care homes that these children end up in Britain and [he] hasn`t done anything ... with children going missing from care homes in Britain."

"So Brandon Lewis then responded by saying: `The government is fully committed to helping and supporting the most vulnerable children;  we have contributed significantly to hosting, supporting and protecting vulnerable children affected by the migration crisis. This is part of our wider response of taking 23,000 people from the region. We`ve already granted asylum or other form of leave to over 8,000 children. Local authorities across the country are currently supporting 4,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children."

"So as I say at no point did Tim Farron or Brandon Lewis mention the children brought to the country who have gone missing since they entered the British care system. So as we move on to the next one Brian let`s just remember that last year in November the NGO ECPAT UK and the charity Missing People released this report Heading back to harm."

"167 of 590 children suspected or identified as child trafficking victims in the UK in the year from September 2014 to 2015 vanished from foster and care homes across the UK. 593 of the 4,744 unaccompanied children placed under the protection of local authorities also went missing at least once in the same time period and of the 760 trafficked or unaccompanied children who disappeared from care 207 have never been found. 207 children that were brought to this country for safety as Tim Farron wishes have never been found having disappeared out the other end of the care system."

"The report also said that the majority of child trafficking victims who vanished from care are from various countries including Vietnam, Albania and others. But it`s not just unaccompanied children being brought into this country that are at risk because let`s remember again that the 2012 all party parliamentary group for runaway and missing children highlighted the fact that as they said - and this is a quote from them - `there`s a scandal going on in England involving children missing from care and until recent cases of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale and other places put the spotlight on this issue it was going on pretty much unnoticed`. "

"Tim Farron, it`s not unnoticed as far as he`s concerned because he`s been told about this but he will not engage on the issue. So let`s move on Brian."

Brian Gerrish explains what a sanctuary city is. "Certain cities around the country have labelled themselves `sanctuary cities` for immigrants. They say we look after people. We care for people. We protect people coming in from overseas particularly if they are asylum seekers. And yet within the sanctuary cities it is the authorities themselves, children`s services, the local authority and indeed members of the police who are actually covering up the abuse of children of those immigrant communities; and mothers who come forward to say their children are being abused - one of the tactics being used is that the local authority or children`s services will leak the names of those mothers back into their communities where they are then coming under horrific pressure... as a result of going to the authorities."

"And one particular city of interest at the moment is Sheffield where there is overwhelming evidence that there is this type of activity including judges in court refusing to see video evidence directly relating to the abuse of children... We can then follow it through. We can see a pattern within local authorities. Some members of the police are on board."

"What`s the driving force ? Well perhaps we can come on to this slide here which is from the Telegraph : Why the explosion in child snatching is big business ... And I think this is a very very powerful article because Christopher Booker has gone right to the heart of the matter, that everything to do with children is money. The moment a local authority can pinpoint a child to be taken, that child is worth something around £75,000 to £78,000 and the amount of money grows accordingly."

Reading from the article by Christopher Booker: "`A Norfolk reader sends me photographs of an advertisement placed on the back of local buses by Norfolk and Suffolk county councils. `New challenge,` it reads. `Have you thought of fostering? If so, you can earn £590 a week` and quickly makes the point... multiply that by a number of children and you`re into big money..."

"So Christopher Booker went on to say: `Most people have no idea what a big business fostering has become. When one such firm, National Fostering Agency, representing 175 local authorities after being launched by two ex-social workers in 1995, was placed on the market by Rothschilds in 2012, it was sold by its `venture capital` owners Sovereign to a `private equity` firm, Graphite Capital, for a staggering £130 million.`"

"And I`ll add to that. There`s a another company I have great interest in," says Brian Gerrish. "Core Assets - with a turnover of £198 million - all around children. There`s something deeply uncomfortable about this and of course the British government is fully involved in this. There`s no question, the British government knows the abuse is going on and it knows that many of the children are being procured through the child protection system."

UK Column News [25 July 2017]

`239 unaccompanied refugee children disappeared from UK care in 2015`

"Nobody is interested, least of all Tim Farron."

"So we know that wherever the abuse of children is happening members of the British and the American governments are going to be fairly close. Some people find it difficult to imagine that there`s collaboration between authorities, We say: `Well you`ve only got to look at who`s involved in child sexual abuse. Here we`ve got a former policeman reported in our local paper and of course he was also involved with child protection but `Look at what the judge says: `I have asked myself how you could sink so low; you who were a child protection police officer`."

"So the evidence is there in the open that people who should be protecting children are clearly unsuitable."

"The judge went on to say he couldn`t really punish this man. This was in a previous case. The man`s come up with a new set of charges. But the judge had said that the publicity given to the case would continue to be `acutely embarrassing` for him and his family. He said: `No greater punishment can be passed by me than for you to see a mug shot of yourself on the front page of the local paper...with `child `porn` and `ex-child protection police officer` linked together`."

"So according to the judge the correct sentence for this type of offence is that you should simply appear in the paper."

"So where are we going? "


"We come on to this. We`ve been reporting that refugee children in Sheffield have been particularly vulnerable and we`ve pointed out that Sheffield, as with many other major cities in UK, are now signed up to be cities of sanctuary where they`re boasting they`re protecting refugee and immigrant children. We say the opposite is happening and today we want to say that we now have irrefutable evidence that John Mothersole, Chief Executive, Sheffield City Council, is fully aware of this ongoing abuse of refugee children in Sheffield; but he is doing absolutely nothing to stop it or bring the perpetrators to justice."

"Remember that this man is a Common Purpose leader heavily involved at the highest level and if you take a little look at Common Purpose we were fascinated to see today that a gentleman called David Robinson has been appointed Chair of Common Purpose UK; and he is also on the charity trustees. So what is his claim to fame?  He`s ex Global President of swimming trunk manufacturer Speedo,  now training world leaders to lead outside authority..."

"You couldn`t make this stuff up. Why do we always mention Common Purpose when we mention child abuse? Well remember of course that two deeply sinister paedophiles, Matthew Byrne  and James Rennie, were Common Purpose graduates -  Common Purpose leaders - and of course they were found guilty of heinous crimes. Nobody knows what they were doing within the Common Purpose networks and its ability to get into schools and amongst schoolchildren."

"We do know that Matthew Byrne  was on the Merseyside advisory group. So he was helping to recruit other Common Purpose leaders."

"So, as we look at the fraud and corruption which is alongside all of the western governments, alongside power and big money is always the subject of child abuse; and we`re going to end our news once again by saying that child abuse is the fuel of the British government in Westminster."

12 year old rape victim does not know her own mind

"Former state court official Win Johnson and Lorie Mullins, executive director of COPE Pregnancy Centre hold an anti-abortion press conference Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at the Judicial Building in Montgomery."


[Salon 21 July 2017]

"Two conservative lawyers in Alabama held a press conference this week to denounce a court’s ruling allowing an abortion for a 12-year-old who was raped, reported."

"The attorneys Win Johnson and Lorie Mullins argued that the girl was not mature enough to make such a `life or death` decision..."

"The girl involved in the case sought a waiver from the parental consent law required for an underaged abortion in Alabama. The girl said she did not have a good relationship with her mother and that her father was out of the picture. A district attorney objected to the waiver, but a family court judge approved her request last month and an appeals court concurred."

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Dangers of snap map

"MINISTERS have teamed up with Police Scotland to warn children of popular social media app Snapchat which reveals users’ locations."

"Holyrood officials have also contacted the service provider who have given their backing for updated guidance to youngsters and their parents."

"Privacy concerns were raised last month after it emerged the app’s new feature revealed users’ exact location and what they were doing."

"Child safety groups warned Snap Map could put youngsters at risk of stalking and bullying but Snapchat insisted location-sharing was `completely optional` and off by default..."

"The SNP administration is working closely with digital media providers and industry to support young users and provide information to them and their parents and carers to keep them out of harm’s way."

"Earlier this year the Government also produced an action plan on the issue and works closely with Education Scotland to promote the message in schools..."

"A current support page explains: `Your friends will be shown on the Map with their Bitmoji. Sometimes, their Bitmojis might even show them driving, walking, or more! If they don’t have their Bitmoji account linked, then you’ll see them as a blank Bitmoji outline`."

"The NSPCC immediately raised concerns about the app and said: `It's worrying that Snapchat is encouraging under 18s to broadcast their location on the app where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contacts list`."

"`With public accounts, this will include those who are not known to the user`..."

"Statistics show the charity's Glasgow Childline base handled almost 50 calls from around the UK linked to Snapchat based bullying between June and July 2017 while over 2015/16 the service carried out close to 900 counselling sessions with children contacting them from Scotland on the issue."

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Slow official response to the Grenfell disaster

[UK Column News 19 July 2017]

"So Patrick," says Mike Robinson, "As we were walking around on the way to the [Grenfell] tower we see lots of graffiti on the streets. And you took this image which I thought was the ultimate irony."

Considerate constructors secure everyone`s safety is on a billboard in the shadow of the burnt out Grenfell tower with pictures of the dead from the tower arranged underneath. Patrick Henningsen agrees that "You could not get a more ironic photograph than that."

Mike Robinson continues: "A number of people told us while we were there that the pictures of the missing are already starting to be removed."

"They`re everywhere. From Notting Hill, Portobello area, if you walk towards Latimer Road about a mile and a half, you`ll see these images everywhere. On lamp posts and clustered around under west way near Latimer station especially. And these are memorials more than anything. I think it`s symbolic. I think there`s a kind of cathartic experience for residents... I do think it helps people to remember [those] they`ve lost, friends, family members, in some cases. So I think it is very important and I think it should be up to the residents whether these types of memorials should be removed, and not the council. I think that`s very important but I have a sneaky suspicion it will be the authorities who will want to determine that, rather than the people who actually live in that community."
Mike Robinson: "Well yesterday the BBC published this. Now this is one of their reality check articles. And so they`ve waded into the discussion of what has happened to the donations given by the public following the Grenfell disaster. As I say this is one of the reality check articles which if you remember is the BBC`s so called anti-fake news fact checking service. And so I`m just going to run through a couple of things they say in this because they`ve done the reality check and we`ve got to assume - it`s the BBC - the facts are correct."

"The numbers don`t add up Brian and Pat."

"`Survivors and relatives of those who died in the fire in Grenfell tower last month have so far received only a small fraction of the cash and items donated by members of the public. It was two days after the Grenfell tower fire that mountains of donations sat in car parks and basketball courts and by the side of the road. The now infamous and black high-rise block loomed nearby. From clothes to baby milk, bedding to bottled water, the huge quantity of donations was the enduring positive image in a week of tragedy which shook the country in so many ways`. And they say that a total of more than 170 tonnes of items were donated. Some of those donations through the Red Cross have now been moved to a warehouse in Cheshire, Patrick. ...So this apparently is the Red Cross`s northern sorting office which they say is for the Grenfell appeal. The article says that so far one hundred giant cardboard containers full of donations have been moved there. An estimated 174 tonnes of items were donated. Ten tonnes have, or soon will be, made available to the former residents of Grenfell tower."

Another photograph taken by Patrick Henningsen is shown displaying inside the council support centre.

"Would you say ten tonnes of items are being made available to former residents?"

"No no, it`s kind of a skeleton operation inside the centre... This is run by all the various authorities. When you walk in, it has the atmosphere of a trade show. When you walk in, the first thing you see on the left, the Red Cross have a stand there complete with the pop up banners and a table; and gentlemen and ladies with the lanyards around their necks and branded uniforms and so forth. So you move on to the NHS mental health table for the... mental health literature..."

"What struck me when you walk in the centre, ...there`s a few people in there, maybe a few victims or a few residents, but on the whole it`s empty. Key workers ... or volunteers, or whatever they are, outnumber the actual residents there by, I don`t know, a huge ratio. I don`t know what aid that centre is actually delivering to people on the ground. I would suspect it`s minimal compared to the actual scale of what`s out there. You have to remember we`re talking about not just the people in Grenfell tower who have survived but hundreds, possibly thousands of residents, who have also been affected directly by this event."

"Absolutely," agrees Mike Robinson. "So let`s get back to the BBC article. They say ten tonnes have or soon will be made available. They say 62 tonnes of donations are being sold in British Red Cross shops. So we`ve now got official confirmation from BBC reality check that that`s what`s going on. The proceeds are going apparently to the Grenfell fund. Fifteen tonnes are being sold to textile recycling companies; 87 tonnes are still to be sorted. Now that`s according to the Red Cross. On top of that there have been cash donations of £20million, £5.5million has come through the London Community Foundation/Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund; £5.1million through the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation, £4.7million through the Red Cross; £4million which were individual appeals through various crowdfunding sites, £500,000 from four Muslim charities. So the total collected is £20million."

"And the total given out so far, Patrick, £800,000 and that is £215,000 to Grenfell Muslim Response, £220,000 to the Local Community Foundation, £180,000 to the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation, £158,000 by the London Emergency Trust. The money has got to be the biggest problem we have here because we have already heard residents describing how some people were getting money; other people weren`t. Perhaps this is going to be used as a mechanism for breaking up the solidarity there is within that community."

"That is already happening... There are two reasons why the money wouldn`t get distributed evenly. One is the bureaucracy is inefficient and unable to do that... So you have £20million raised and instead of going directly to the residents and those affected it`s being channelled through other charities. So another layer of bureaucracy with yet more administrative costs...  £800,000 - if you divide that up amongst the number of survivors we`re told from Grenfell tower that might be approximately £36,000 per head and if we go and speak to all these 200 and odd people... from the tower how many of them have received the £36,000 per head?... I would say very few if any have received that. So what are we looking at here?  The charity boondoggle which exists in the 21st century which is a massive industry on its own."

"And while the official response is pretty lacklustre the community response is as good as it could possibly be..."

Police Operation

"And in the meantime the police operation to recover human remains continues; the police saying that officers are moving one flat at a time through the building, on their hands and knees using small trowels and shovels, removing debris and seiving the debris through a mesh 6mm in size. This they say is so that they can pick up any identifiable parts of a human body. All debris is being packaged and labelled and then they move on to the next flat."

"The speed of their operation they say is determined by the fact that they have to pay attention to weather conditions, that they have to go up and down twenty three flights of stairs and what you`re seeing on screen at the moment is a still from a video that the Metropolitan police released where in this shot you see two Met police guys in hazmat suits and breathing apparatus and the guy on the right there - and I really thought this was despicable under the circumstances - he `s standing there breathing heavily and pretending to be out of breath. Now I`m not going to underestimate the effort it takes to move up and down that building. What they`re saying is they have to work in three hour shifts and if it gets too hot and they`re getting dehydrated they`ve got to work in shorter shifts and therefore they`re travelling up and down the stairs a lot. But to my mind, bearing in mind the human tragedy in this whole thing, for them to make a big deal of the fact that they have to walk up and down these stairs - these are supposed to be fit police officers - I thought that was pretty despicable. But they`re using this as an excuse to apologise for the length of time it`s taking to get through this job. As far as I`m concerned, Brian, if you want to do your job in less time, get more people on it."

Brian Gerrish: "Well it is interesting Mike. What I pick up from that is, of course, both these men are wearing professional respirators. So they are filtering the air. We know that there`s been an asbestos risk which I think you`re going to mention.... So at the end of the day those fibres are going to be on the suits they`re wearing themselves. You don`t want it on your skin. There`s something rather odd about this. And the other thing is - no windows. So the moment you get up ... a few storeys there`s going to be quite a breeze blowing through that building."

"That is a very good point and let`s just come on to the air quality then because the government is saying the air quality in the local area is absolutely fine. No problems with it. But as you just said there`s no windows in the building and therefore there is nothing to prevent debris being ejected out of the building by the breeze. "

"So the government has produced its air quality document and statistics and here`s the front page of it showing where they have the various air quality monitoing stations of various types. And Environmental monitoring following the Grenfell Tower fire data update. And Patrick no surprise that what they`re saying is that everything`s green; everything`s fine. No problems. And if we look at the asbestos monitoring no asbestos detected on the streets at all. I find this fairly unlikely."

Painful restraint is still allowed

"Since 2011 staff in secure children’s homes have been banned from using restraint techniques that deliberately inflict pain. Yet, incredibly, no such protection exists when children are being escorted to and from these very same services."

"Escort custody officers are authorised to inflict pain as a form of restraint. Last year, the Youth Justice Board announced its secure escort contractor was using a behavior management approach known as Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR)."

"MMPR was developed for child prisons in response to the restraint-related deaths of two children. Gareth Myatt, 15, and Adam Rickwood, 14, died in secure training centres run by G4S and Serco respectively."

"Gareth died in April 2004 after choking on his own vomit while he was held down. G4S officers had forced him into a seated position and bent his upper body towards his thighs and knees. They ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe. Gareth lost consciousness within six or seven minutes."

"Four months later Adam died after being unlawfully restrained for refusing to go to his room. He was inflicted with a ‘nose distraction’; a prison service restraint technique involving an upward strike to the nose with the intention of causing severe pain. Adam took his own life hours later, leaving a note for his solicitor to say he had asked staff what gave them the right to hit a child on the nose."

"The specific techniques used on Gareth and Adam were eventually permanently withdrawn from child prisons and are not permitted under MMPR."

"But the use of other painful restraint methods remains allowed and has persisted despite calls for a ban from UN bodies, the prisons inspectorate, the NSPCC and the UK’s four Children’s Commissioners."

Read more

Children living in temporary housing are on the increase

"The number of homeless children being housed in temporary accommodation rose by more than a third in the last three years, according to official figures."

"Councils in England were now providing temporary housing for 120,540 children with their families, the Local Government Association said."

"It said the growth rate - of about 900 extra children every month - was unsustainable."

"The government said the figures were a worry but still below the peak of 2006."

"Based on the latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government, covering January to March 2017, there was a net increase of 32,650 (37%) since the second quarter of 2014 - an average of 906 extra children every month."

First woman to be appointed as president of Supreme Court

"Baroness Hale of Richmond will reportedly become the first woman to be appointed as Britain’s most senior judge."

"The 72-year-old family law expert is expected to be confirmed as the next president of the Supreme Court, according to The Times."

"As deputy president, she is already Britain’s most senior female judge, but it is believed that Downing Street will announce her appointment in the most senior role. She will earn £225,000 a year."

Baroness Hale was one of the judges who ruled against the Scottish government's Named Person scheme.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Survivors in Scotland fear a cover up

"When the Scottish Government stated it would set up an inquiry into state child abuse in December 2014 - Nicola Sturgeon then dragged it out - first taking 6 months to appoint a chair of the independent panel - whom 2 religious orders objected to - delaying it further until October 2015."

"The independent panel of three people were finally appointed to lead the inquiry, Professor Michael Lamb, Susan O`Brien QC and Glenn Houston."

"Despite Scottish Government claims this would be one of the most wide reaching inquiries Scotland has ever seen, by 25th November 2015 survivors accused Holyrood of now being complicit in the cover up, after the inquiry remit was restricted to mainly abuse in residential care - blocking many survivors from giving their testimony in one fell swoop."

"The Charity supporting the survivors stating

"This decision resulted in many victims, who had suffered grievous abuse, being excluded from the inquiry. We are of the view that this decision has enabled institutions and organisations, who have covered up criminal activity, to escape public scrutiny, and possible prosecution. The failure to extend the remit of the inquiry has effectively resulted in the Government becoming complicit in a cover-up of abuse."


As if all of that and the loss of three panel members was not bad enough, we have this:

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Private interests around the NHS

[UK Column News 19 July 2017]

"Although the government says it is protecting the NHS the evidence, easily accessible, is that privatisation of the NHS is taking place. "

"Let`s come in on the subject of memory...."

A viewer sent in the NHS document Getting help for forgefulness

"Forgetfulness is common particularly as we get older", reads Brian Gerrish. "Well that`s certainly true. `Often this is nothing to worry about. However, forgetfulness that interferes with your daily life is not a normal part of getting older`."

"So this is all very gentile, measured stuff. I decided to follow it through a little bit more. Where has this come from and what`s it about?"

"So let`s bring in this one. And I noticed in the recommended organisations we had Admiral Nursing. I thought that looked particularly interesting. I didn`t recognise it. So I followed through that link that`s been provided by the NHS. That brought us into Dementia UK."

"Now I found that interesting that the initial brochure is simply saying, `Well, a little bit of forgetfulness as you get older is fine. If it interferes with your daily life, yes, maybe you`ve got a little bit of a problem. You can always speak to your GP about that`. But behind it we`ve got an organisation who is interested in dementia and in fact they are interested in providing dementia nurses - this is Admiral Nursing - and of course we`ve got a limited company backing up this charity providing this service. So if you were cynical you could say: `Well actually this is about money`."


"We had a look at some of the individuals involved and this lady caught my eye, Lady Barbara Judge, one of the trustees; experienced international corporate lawyer with significant experience as a senior executive;  Chairman and non-executive Director in the private and public sectors; First Woman Chairman of the Institute of Directors; worked in US, Hong Kong and the UK; also it says here, Chairman of the UK Pension Protection Fund and Deputy Chairman of the Tepco Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee."

"So this is quite a lady Mike. In fact she`s recently left that UK Pension Protection Fund, but interesting you`re working on one hand with a Pension Protection Fund and with people getting near the end of their life in another role. I`m not sure I have a comfortable feeling about that. But if we follow her through it gets more interesting because this is Tepco; this is taking us to part of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings and this is into nuclear safety. So this lady has got many talents and if we bring in this part which is a short summary of her CV we find that in 1978 she starts off with a large American law firm but by 1980, a mere two year later, she`s appointed by the President as Commissioner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. How do you do that?"

"I`m not sure," says Mike Robinson. "But I don`t see any health care in her career at all."

"No it`s fascinating. She then jumps on through a lot of money work; 1994 to 2009 she`s Director and subsequently Deputy Chairman of Friends Provident plc and in that same period she also becomes Director of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. So that is really an amazing career progression."

"But she`s now working to help people with their memory."

Mike Robinson: "So we`ve got people ...deep into private interests circling the National Health Service at the moment. So it might not come as a surprise then that transformation is what it`s all about. We`ve got local partnerships."

"This is sustainability and transformation partnerships of the NHS. And £325million, it`s been announced, is going to be invested in NHS transformation projects. We don`t quite know what the NHS is being transformed into. We believe it`s being transformed into something which is ready for privatisation. The government continues to deny that, but we as a matter of course, don`t believe them."

"So this is Jeremy Hunt and also NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens who has announced this £325million capital investment for local projects that are going to help the NHS modernise and transform care for patients. And it all sounds very good. In Greater Manchester hospitals will deliver significant improvements in urgent and emergency care by concentrating services in four hub sites across the city. It is expected to save around 300 lives each year in general surgery alone. In Bedfordshire local doctors and nurses are developing a primary care hub on the site of Bedford Hospital which is expected to improve access to same day appointments for around 50,000 patients and reduce the number of patients attending the hospital`s A & E department. In Derbyshire the urgent care village will be created at the Royal Derby with GP services, a frailty clinic and mental health services to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time."

"So, what do you think ?"

Brian Gerrish: "It`s privatisation. It`s being clustered around the NHS, a little bit done at a time. It`s all about collaboration, hubs, networking, linking, partnerships. But what it really is, is privatisation."

"Well, actually it`s even more interesting than that. Here`s what Jeremy Hunt said: `This funding will support strong local plans to help the NHS modernise and transform care for patients`. In fact, what they`re talking about in amongst all these projects is the merger of the NHS and local authorities, effectively, in some departments. So why would you have close collaboration and close merger between NHS functions and local authority functions? "

"Because that will link you in with everything to do with social services as well and therefore you`ll effectively be captured in a net. The state will operate a net around each individual."

"Absolutely. And it goes even further than that too. Let`s have a look at one of their examples. `Nottinghamshire: turning ambitious IT plans into reality`. So this is one of these projects. And what are they talking about? Data sharing...."

"`Qualms about sharing` is what they say on here. We have a portal that is capable of bringing data from different health and care systems for new ways of working as joint assessment. There has been a lot of emphasis on improving data quality and the implementation of summary care records. To this end, Connected Nottinghamshire is using the medical interoperability gateway to share patient data regardless of the clinical system used. This was first implemented in greater Nottingham and has since been rolled out across all GP practices within Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ... and it supports safer prescribing, apparently, improved diagnosis and patients` full history is accessible. Who is it accessible to ?"

"Private corporations ultimately Mike."

"And the local authority."


"And that is of concern."


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

`Privatising the World`: not something Oliver Letwin wants to discuss

Certainly not when it`s about privatising the NHS.

Maybe we should look at the UK`s independent fact finding charity because it is sure to tell us what we need to know about the Naylor report and whether or not it is about the privatisation of the NHS.

The fact finding charity, having examined all the facts, has concluded that the sale of NHS land and property is only about efficiency and improvements.

[Full Fact is the UK’s independent fact checking charity.]

It has to be pointed out that this fact finding truth charity has nothing to say about Oliver Letwin - the transformational NHS guru -  and his proposal to privatise the world. It has to be further pointed out that that is a tremendous omission.


When you miss something out that big all I can suggest is: `Do not expect anybody to believe a word your charity has to say`.


Pope Francis speaks about young people and work

I am not a religious person and do not ordinarily take an interest in what the Pope or any other leader of a religious group has to say. However, I have decided to look a little closer at Pope Francis who addresses one billion of the world`s population. To my mind, this is a religious leader who is thinking, somewhat,  about the plight of youth in 2017 and his words have some significance for all youth.

"It is a proud and myopic society that constrains the elderly to work for too long and obliges an entire generation of young people not to work when they should do so for themselves and for all. When young people are outside of the world of work, companies lack energy, enthusiasm, innovation, joy of living, which are precious common goods that render economic life and public happiness better. Hence urgent is a new human social pact, a new social pact for work, which reduces the hours of work of those in the last working stage, to create work for young people who have the right-duty to work. The gift of work is the first gift of fathers and mothers to sons and daughters; it is the first patrimony of a society. It is the first dowry with which we help them to take off to in their free flight to adult life."

I say his words have some significance and he addresses the plight of youth somewhat -  for obvious reasons, like dripping in gold and hypocrisy which makes me wonder. When the Pope speaks, who is he speaking to ?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Learning styles: another neuromyth

"Unless you’ve been under a rock, avoiding the most infamous jargon of education, you’ve heard the term ‘learning styles’. It has become quite the buzzword in the last decade or so and is almost said with a cringe today. In what can be described as a neuromyth, learning styles have taken a beating by recent research and should be laid to rest with other famous falsehoods of psychology and education. Shockingly enough, though, its proliferation still exists. You can still see its fading footprint on our system of education by searching different universities’ programs of education. While reading through a particular program’s list of distinctions and goals…there it is…tucked away in the third paragraph, lauding the differentiation of this institution’s education department. With the wealth of knowledge invalidating the effectiveness of learning styles, it is quite remarkable institutions still use them as a pillar of their program..."

"So, since learning styles are bunk, is there a viable alternative that reaches learners of all abilities across most curriculums? It certainly looks that way, and the term to know is learning strategies. These strategies, and there are many, are researched and proven to work across most ability levels and curriculum. "

Read more:

CICA avoids compensating child abuse victims

"Children cannot legally consent to sex unless they are over 13 and the defendant reasonably believes they are over 16."

"But CICA, which decides payouts of sexual abuse, uses a different set of criteria."

"In evidence submitted to the Independent Inquiry into child sexual abuse last year, Barnardo’s said that the authority had responded to a claim from one child by saying that `it considers consent as a question of fact…a victim can consent in fact even though in law they may be deemed not to have consented`."

"Victim Support said a 12-year-old girl that had been plied with drink then assaulted by a 21-year-old man had been refused compensation because she had gone with him voluntarily."

"The charities claim that children are being made to feel like they are responsible for their abuse."

"Charities including Barnardo’s, Victim support and Rape Crisis say victims as young as 12 are being excluded from the scheme, the Daily Telegraph reported."

Monday, 17 July 2017

Hospital and student residences have similar material to Grenfell Tower

Glasgow superhospital

Health chiefs have moved to reassure the public after insulation used in Grenfell Tower was found at Glasgow's superhospital.

Kingspan Kooltherm K15 insulation boards were fitted at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital complex in Govan.

The same material was discovered in the Grenfell block by Channel 4 News this week...

The main contractor for the construction of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital has provided assurances the boards were properly installed and met strict safety standards.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is one of the safest buildings in the UK in terms of fire engineering.

"Multiplex, the main contractor for the hospital construction, have assured NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde that the Kingspan Kooltherm K15 insulation boards were properly installed to meet Scotland's stringent building and fire safety regulations.

 Edinburgh Napier University

"A physical inspection identified that around a quarter of the exterior walls on one of our buildings - Bainfield Halls of residence - featured the same cladding reportedly used at Grenfell.

"The insulation materials behind the Bainfield cladding panels are non-combustible, the panel hangings are all made of metal, the wall cavities are properly fire-stopped and the buildings are fitted with sprinklers."

"There are also a range of other fire-safety measures in place, including each block having its own exit route, a modern fire alarm and smoke detection system that is tested weekly, and 24-hour on-site security."

He continued: "Work has already begun to remove and replace the cladding as a precautionary measure, and we are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to ensure it is safe to continue to use the building as normal."

"Residents are not being evacuated..."

"Local councillor Gavin Corbett said residents would be shocked at the discovery."

He said: "Almost as soon as the Grenfell tragedy happened I had local queries about the cladding used on the buildings at Bainfield. But this news will come as a great shock to the students in Bainfield and the wider community."

"It's obviously vital that the cladding is replaced urgently and that all fire safety and prevention steps are taken in the meantime."

Cladding similar to Grenfell Tower found on school buildings

"A type of cladding said to have been used on Grenfell Tower has been found on a small number of low-rise schools in 14 Scottish council areas."

"Checks are currently being carried out to ensure that the type of aluminium composite material has been fitted in accordance with building regulations."

"No Scottish local authority-owned school buildings above 18 metres have ACM cladding."

"The findings emerged during a meeting of a Ministerial Working Group."

"It was convened to examine building and fire safety regulatory frameworks following the Grenfell Tower fire in London last month in which at least 80 people are believed to have died. The group met for the third time on Thursday."

"Under Scottish building regulations, the type of ACM reported to have been used on Grenfell should not be used in cladding on high-rise domestic properties, but can be used `appropriately` on other buildings."

"In each case, the cladding systems must meet the relevant technical requirements."

The trouble with regeneration

"Residents are demanding that the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire increases its scope to include the regeneration programme ," Mike Robinson informs viewers on UK Column News on Friday 14 July 2017... Mike asks Brian Gerrish for his thoughts on whether the inquiry should increase its scope.

"Well I would say it should ... Mike, because the experience of a lot of people here in Plymouth and other cities across the UK has been that where these government created regeneration programmes have been put in place we have seen a ... transformation in the way that local authorities behave. They`ve become very aggressive... So we`ve had reports and dialogue with members of the community across the country: Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, London. Anywhere these major regeneration programmes have been put in place there`s been a step change in the behaviour of local authorities and inevitably they`ve become very domineering ... and the party politics, the vision for the future, is the primary goal; people`s real interest, second place."

"So we are keen to understand why residents` concerns have been systematically ignored, as they describe it....  just to reinforce that, something we`ve seen right across the country..."

"It`s right across the country and it doesn`t matter what the subject is - the subject could be safety on the streets - it could be the crime rate - whatever it is that local people are genuinely experiencing and concerned about, they are not going to have a proper dialogue with the local authorities because the local authorities have been changed into political fiefdoms." 

Mike takes up the discussion again: "Well the Mirror here...: Scandal of the flats standing empty as Grenfell Tower families live in hotels. And this is 159 social housing flats which have been identified in the Kensington and Chelsea area and the council says `We are continuing to make good progress on rehousing during a complicated process involving severely traumatised people`. So far 167 first offers have been made, 25 offers have been accepted, 8 households have been rehoused. That`s 8 households so far have been rehoused. But the point here is that there`s 159 empty flats from the Sutton estate but of course these flats are boarded up. They`re derelict at the moment. There`s no sign of those being refurbished at this stage. The housing association is called Clarion - it was originally called Affinity Sutton - and they have offered a number of flats on another part of the estate but they`re saying the tenants would have to carry out repairs at their own cost. So residents are saying they`re shocked and appalled that this is going on."

"Well Mike this is one of the key areas and of course this is a con carried out by the government. But when they started to get rid of council houses - council houses had a mixed reputation across the country. Some of them were built to quite good standard; some of them were very poor indeed; but the key thing about a council house is that once people have been on the list and they`ve secured the council house it was theirs for life. It stayed in the family. If there were children they might end up living with mum and dad; they might end up with grandma and grandad living with the family. Then what the government did: `No no. We`ve got to improve these things; we`ll give you an updated kitchen or an updated bathroom.` There was a bribe element to this and these updates were then used to bring in the housing associations and what the housing associations were was a `for profit system`. They say they`re not `for profit` but they are in fact a `for profit system` and with the housing associations came the removal of secure accommodation for life. So as the housing associations have come in: who are they accountable to? It`s not really clear because invariably they have the local council on their board but they`re private organisations with a public sector input. It`s very confusing but these housing associations have become increasingly dictatorial in telling residents what they can and cannot do if they are to remain living in one of their properties."

Mike refers to an article in GetWestLondon: "West London colleges merger plan will benefit students and staff. So regeneration at the heart of all this... Now this is interesting because it involves Wornington College which is part of Kensington & Chelsea College. So Ealing Hammersmith and West London College and Kensington & Chelsea College are going to merge. They say this is a move that is going to benefit everybody. Now Ealing Hammersmith and West London College has four sites and Kensington and Chelsea College has two sites and as I say one of those is Wornington College. Now this article in GetWestLondon makes a statement that under the move both colleges will retain their existing sites and names and this is very confusing, Brian, because Kensington and Chelsea council right at the time that people are obviously upset about what is going on with Grenfell have decided that it`s time to knock down Wornington College... and to regenerate it."

"So what they did without so much as a by-your-leave, without asking anybody for their opinions in April last year, they bought the building for regeneration. They`re going to turn it into flats apparently. But they say they`re still going to accommodate the college but this college is something that local people rely on absolutely. It`s something that helps people - anything from learning English as a foreign language to getting people up to a standard to enter degree level courses around the country. So the local community appreciates this and they are concerned at the moment that this college is going to disappear as a result of this deal. They don`t really understand why the deal`s happened and there is a campaign group if anybody`s interested. It`s called the Save Wornington College campaign. You`ll find it on Facebook. Do go and have a look. But the key point here is, you know, a community that is already suffering the effects of regeneration continues to suffer and, of course, some people might take the view `Well hold on, they`re wanting to knock down the old building and replace it with a new building. Why would you complain about that?` Well for the same reason that when they knock down many of these social housing buildings and replace them, they replace them with fewer homes than were there originally."

"And they`re too expensive for local people to afford."

"Exactly. So people are extremely sceptical about whether this is going to turn out as promised."

"Well I`ll just add to that Mike that I believe what is going on here is Big Society at work. Big Society, which is never mentioned in the mainstream press and media at the moment, it is definitely there. It is being built and of course in Big Society the state is to control everything. It`s to control industry; it`s to control housing, education and of course we can see that the NHS is being privatised at the moment. It`s very nearly there and so we`ve seen the destruction of local communities across the board, whether they are community centres, or homes for the elderly, they go. Local libraries are going; local education facilities are going; and what`s invariably replacing them is always something that is bigger and shinier but if you look at what the control is, it`s really based on... profit."

"Interesting that you mentioned the library because Kensington and Chelsea have decided to close the library in the area and install a private school into that building."

"Libraries are being decimated across the country. Many people say that ... of course , if we end up with a system of knowledge based on the internet and electronic forms that information can be changed overnight."

"Well let`s bring David Scott in at this point because, David, Grenfell Tower insulation was not certified for use with flammable cladding, according to the Guardian. The mainstream media continuing to flail around on this issue."

"Yes, and it`s very striking ... some of this we covered on 15 June 2017 and we`ve covered in articles since and now cropping up belatedly in papers like the Guardian and on the BBC. "

See David Scott`s article: Grenfell: why the fire regulations failed