Sunday, 30 November 2008

'Guardian' Of What, Exactly...?

Every major newspaper has a report on the Damian Green affair on its webpage - some more prominent than others, but every one features it, including the 'Independent'.

One doesn't. Not a mention. Guess which one?

If You've Ever Wondered...

...if we are employing too many local council officials, wonder no more. We obviously are:
Killjoy council chiefs have sparked fury among hairdressers after clamping down on them giving mulled wine to customers in the run-up to Christmas.

Local authority bosses are sending spies to check whether salons are handing out the festive treat and warning owners they face six months in jail and a £20,000 fine if caught.
6 months in jail and a £20,000 fine? For giving away (not selling) mulled wine to customers?

I bet that's a lot more than this waste of oxygen will get, if he is ever actually caught...

Fortunate Coincidences...

The police chief who ordered the raid on Damian Green's home played a key role in trying to help the Home Secretary force through the plan to detain terror suspects for 42 days without charge.
But he didn't tell her they were planning to arrest a Tory MP and search his Parliamentary office.

Yeah. Sure....
There were claims yesterday that Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson tried to distance himself from the controversial decision to arrest Mr Green when he was challenged by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

In a series of phone calls on Thursday, Mr Johnson made it clear he thought the move was unnecessary.

He told Sir Paul that if the police wanted to question Mr Green, they should ask him to visit the nearest police station - since there was little prospect of him declining or leaving the country.

Sir Paul is said to have told him that the decision had been taken by Mr Quick. In his previous post as Chief Constable of Surrey, Mr Quick was called 'crackers' by a local councillor for hiring security guards to protect Surrey Police Headquarters in Guildford.

Friday, 28 November 2008

An Apology...

Recently, I compared Brown to Mugabe, over the prospect of land grabs, rampant inflation, and the awful quality of his ministers.

I feel, in light of the latest development, that I need to apologise for such a grossly inaccurate and defamatory slur.

I'm sorry, Bob. What was I thinking..?

“Mind how you go, Tracie, Kylie, Sherisse and Chlamydia…”

Police in one of Britain's busiest seaside resorts have come up with a novel approach to get drunken women home safely - by giving them flip flops.

Police are handing out the footwear to help drunken ladettes get home uninjured after spotting a number of women staggering home in unsuitable shoes.
I’m sorry…? It’s now the job of the police to prevent drunken sluts from falling over in the street when they’ve drunk too much?
Inspector Adrian Leisk said the 'flip-slops' with the 'Know Your Code' alcohol message printed will be handed out to clubbers.

The flip slops will be available from a safe bus which has operated in the resort town for several years, offering help and sanctuary to youngsters in trouble.
These aren’t ‘youngsters in trouble’ – they know what they are doing. They aren’t likely to read the alcohol message in the dim light of hungover dawn and say ‘Wow! I didn’t realise that the 18 Bacardi Breezers I necked last night was the reason I fell over and puked in Darren’s Ford Escort…”.
Insp Leisk said the scheme was just one of a number of measures designed to keep people safe.

'Sometimes people get drunk and you see them carrying footwear which is inappropriate,' he said.

'The emphasis is on providing replacement footwear for people to get home in, should they find their high heels uncomfortable, inappropriate or soiled.'
Your tax money at work – providing more ‘appropriate’ footwear for people who have drunk themselves into insensibility.

And I hate to correct one of the fashion police, but the heels aren't inappropriate when they go into the club, are they, Insp Leisk? But when they come out, there's some magical transformation process that's taken place that renders them 'inappropriate'. Wonder what? It's almost as if it isn't the heels per se, but something that happens in the nightclub. It's a puzzle, for sure...
The footwear will be paid for by £30,000 worth of funding secured from the Home Office by Safer Communities Torbay.
Correction: the footwear will be paid for by the taxpayer. The Home Office isn’t a private company, it doesn’t have any money of its own…
And the flip-slop move has already been given the thumbs up by Torbay's clubbers.

Danielle Bolton, 19, from Torquay, said 'I think it's a great idea and I would wear them 100 per cent. My heels hurt me at the end of the night, so I tend to take them off.

Fellow clubber Leanne Thomas, 21, said: 'I go out clubbing at the harbourside most weekends and I usually walk home bare footed because my heels hurt. I think it's a great idea'.
Of course you do! That way, you can spend as much of your own money on getting plastered as you wish, and someone else pays to protect you from the consequences of your own actions! What’s not to like…?

Our new generation, ladies and gentlemen. And our public services. Don’t they make you proud?

Update: On the other hand, perhaps if police had handed this drunken, violent slut some flip-flops, perhaps Mr Garvan wouldn't have had his face sliced open, and the magistrates wouldn't have had to sentence her to...well, nothing at all, really.

Oh, well...

‘Deck The Halls With Conspicuous Consumption, Tra La La La La…’

Carol singing brownies and guides have been banned from a shopping centre because they are considered a health and safety risk.

The girls, whose ages range from five up to teenagers, have sung for pensioners and disabled people at a late night Christmas shopping event at the Marlowes centre in Hemel Hempstead, Herts for more than 20 years.
Ahh, but we can’t have that! There’s no room for tradition, when we need to spend, spend, spend to bring about Gordon’s financial revival. Why, every Brownie or Guide occupying valuable shopping space is one less shopper helping the country recover by putting Christmas on his or her Barclaycard!
But the centre's managers have not invited the 100+ members of the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides this year because they will obstruct fire escape routes.
Inanimate objects can ‘obstruct fire escape routes’. Animate Guides and Brownies, not so much. I’m presuming these Brownies and Guides aren’t securely chained to the floor? Boy George isn’t the musical director, is he?

In other words, this isn’t a ‘health and safety’ problem at all, it’s simply the centre’s managers using it as a cop out.
Today, West Herts Guides Division Commissioner Gill Oxtoby said: 'It is a big event for us. Last year we had more than 100 girls and they and the shoppers really enjoyed the singing.

'It's such a shame because it's been a long tradition going on for more than 20 years and has allowed the girls to give some service to the community.

'We weren't even told that we couldn't attend. I went to ask what date it was and that's when I found out.'
Of course you weren’t told – you are the wrong sort of people for the centre; you clutter up the valuable shopping areas with your singing, and might make some shoppers think twice about whether they need those Chinese-made Christmas tinsel-tree decorations for the front room after all.

And someone might complain about the lack of diversity, and ask for space for their own singers, or request reggae, or rap instead. Can’t have that…
Marketing manager Eileen Gannon said: 'With changes made to the centre's Christmas decorations and trade units there simply isn't space for a huge number of performers.

'We're disappointed, but our priority has to be the safety of people inside the centre.'
Heh. More likely, the safety of their wallets….
Another centre worker said: 'There were a lot of Brownies last year and they caused absolute chaos.'
How? By running riot? Or by getting in the way of people buying overpriced tat?

And yes, they do indeed have the right to bar them from the centre, and to pursue Gordon’s dream of relentless borrowing instead to prop up an increasingly shaky economy. Just as shoppers are within their rights to go elsewhere, should they prefer the sound of carols to the sound of credit-card PIN keypads….

Thursday, 27 November 2008

‘Excellence In Community Policing’…?

…is the motto on the website of the Northern Constabulary, who also boast that they ‘promote a style of community policing which is in harmony with the hospitable reputation of the people of the Highlands and Islands’. Hmm, really?
Police raided a 79-year-old widow's Highland cottage after mistaking her tomato plants for a cannabis factory, it was reported.

The officers burst in with sniffer dogs and took samples of the plants for analysis.
Yes, you read that right – they took samples of tomato plants for scientific analysis

Presumably in case Mrs Matheson (in addition to being a high-powered dope dealer in the throbbing metropolis of Shieldaig) is also a top genetic engineer and had secretly been altering cannabis plants to look, taste and smell like harmless tomato plants. Well, you can’t be too careful…
Mrs Matheson told the Daily Mail: "I got a terrible fright and I couldn't understand what they were doing here because I knew we had nothing more than tomatoes in the window. I don't know what the neighbours must be thinking."
I expect they were thinking ‘There go the Keystone Shieldaig cops again'…
Mr Matheson said he was held in the bedroom while officers searched the furniture and under the mattress. He also said that the police impounded the family's pet dogs.

"They even 'arrested' Zac, our black labrador, and Moby, our Jack Russell, putting them in the back of one of the cop cars," Mr Matheson added.
In case they nipped out the back door to go for help, ‘Lassie’-style, no doubt…

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that after such a stunning FAIL! they’d be extremely apologetic, send flowers, etc. But no:
A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that, acting on information, we attended at an address in the Shieldaig area.

"No drugs were found as a result of the search."
There, see? ‘No harm done – the information was wrong, so we stormed into the house of a 79 year old widow, subjected her house to an intensive search and left without an apology, forcing her to put in a formal complaint. Job done.’

So, what are the ‘Strategic Priorities’ for the Northern Constabulary then?
The Force's Strategic Priorities for 2008/09 are: Reducing crime, tackling serious crime, safer roads, stronger, safer communities and maintaining public order
Nothing about improving their knowledge of horticulture then…?

And yes, it’s funny. But we pay these ‘public servants’ wages, and pensions, and entrust them with the job of addressing crime – the least they could do, when they cock up in spectacular fashion, is act contrite…

Our New Generation…

A wedding party experiences the cream of British chavdom, to their detriment:
Prosecutor Marcus Fletcher said: "It was around midnight that they discovered some males had gatecrashed the wedding reception party. They were challenged, most of them went without argument, however this defendant became loud, argumentative, abusive and aggressive.

"He kicked over a flamed torch alight in the garden.

"He said: 'If you don't turn the music down, I'm going to cut you."'

Mr Fletcher said Mr Pattenden Hunt had described Gould as looking like "a crazed being".
No, just an everyday member of NuLabour’s grand social experiment. Unemployable, uncontrollable, and coming to a….well, wherever they want, actually. Who will stop them?
Anthony Loader, mitigating, told the court Gould had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, but insisted he had in fact said: "Turn the music down or I will shut it up."

Mr Loader said Gould had been unable to sleep on the night of the party and had gone into the kitchen to make something to eat.

Gould he said had been drinking previously, heard the music then snapped.

He entered the party with the knife in his pocket but had no intention to use it.

He said: "He is a young man who needs to change his life. He recognises he has problems with control, anger management and alcohol."
Now, there’s optimism, Mr Loader!

Why, exactly, should he ‘change his life’? After all, his life seems to be working out quite nicely for him, doesn’t it? He has a roof over his head, money to buy drink (although I can’t find a job referred to in any of the newspaper articles, even though the victim is described as a ‘landscape gardener’…) and he can go on a rampage without fear of much punishment whatsoever for wrecking a hard working couple’s wedding day.

After all, as the ‘Sun’s report describes, he had the cheek to give the ‘thumb’s up’ sign as he left the dock…
Sentencing Gould today at Lewes Crown Court, judge Richard Hayward said: "You became annoyed by the music and had been drinking. You telephoned the police, but instead of leaving it to them you decided to take action yourself."

He said the case demonstrated the dangers of carrying a knife and the injuries which could be caused by such blades.
No, it’s a demonstration of how far the UK has sunk that we have creatures like Gould roaming the streets, uncurbed by the law from acting like animals.

And to illustrate that:
Gould, he added, possessed a "bad record" with sixteen past convictions for 42 offences.

Mr Hayward sentenced Gould to 15 months in prison for possession of a knife and 21 months for each of the two wounding charges, to run concurrently.
Well, that sure showed him! No wonder he gave the ‘thumb’s up’ sign. It’s a wonder he didn’t use the two fingers instead. Although it seems the judge beat him to it there….

‘Safeguarding Children’ – Yr Doin It Wrong

A catalogue of care failings allowed a 13-year-old boy to carry out the brutal murder of a man who was beaten and thrown on a bonfire, a shocking report has revealed.

Teenage killer Jamie Smith was on the run from a care home when he savagely beat Stephen Croft and threw his body on a bonfire.
‘Care’ home…? Surely some mistake!
The well-built youngster was locked up indefinitely for the crime in April and told he must serve at least 13 years behind bars.
Well, he’ll be far too old to repeat his crimes then, at the ripe old age of 26! I feel safer already…
An independent report into Smith's care was undertaken following the brutal killing on November 6, in Merseyside last year.
The report, commissioned by Wirral's Safeguarding Children board, also revealed that:
  • Assessments of Smith and his family were poor and not even kept in a file.
  • Opportunities to assess risk were missed because Wirral Youth Offending Service knew nothing about a string of offences he committed while housed in Huddersfield.
  • Despite a history of neglect, contact with Smith's family was increased in Wirral during summer and autumn 2007 - leading to an increase in aggression.
The report said the case had national implications as to how agencies involved in youth offending communicated.
So, the usual hallmarks of a disaster waiting to happen – violent underclass family, incompetent public sector workers, undue emphasis on the ‘rights’ of their clients and none on the rights of the people who pay their wages and pensions. Have I missed anything?
Speaking from his home in Birkenhead, the victim's dad Stephen Croft snr, 56, said his 34-year-old son had been let down through a string of errors.

'If he had been put in a more secure unit my son would still be alive and Smith would have a future - everyone has been let down,' he said.

Referring to the death of Baby P, Mr Croft, added: "We've seen in Haringey what can happen when agencies don't communicate.

'Why, given the nature of his dysfunctional family and his father's violent background, was he allowed back for increased visits?

'There was a breakdown in communication. But because he was committing criminal acts in other places they were under no obligation to inform Wirral.

'They had no idea about the escalation in his criminality and it resulted in murder.'
Mr Croft is a very, very trusting soul if he believes that if they had known about his ‘escalating criminality’, they’d have acted any differently…
A Wirral council spokeswoman today said parental contact was always a difficult issue which was continually reviewed.

She added that all young people placed away from Wirral would now have a manager allocated to maintain links with Wirral's Youth Offending Service.
Well, that worked out well didn’t it (for the unions)! Add another layer of bureaucracy – that’ll do the trick. It always does…
Director of Wirral Children's Services and chairman of the Local Safeguarding Children Board Howard Cooper said: 'The Serious Case Review has identified a number of areas where assessments, multi-agency work and information sharing were not of a sufficient standard.

'All the organisations involved have welcomed the Serious Case Review and have co-operated fully with it.

'I would like to take this opportunity publicly to again express our deepest condolences to the family of Stephen Croft.'
Big deal. You should be grovelling at the man’s feet and shovelling money at him to prevent him suing your pathetic organisation into penury…

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Poor Workman Whines About Tools…

The police PR division are complaining about the implications of introducing the Human Rights Act:
In a stark message, deputy chief constable of Northumbria Police, Sue Sim, told MPs the controversial impact of the laws is in danger of making officers too "risk averse".
Well, as deputy chief constable, you’re in charge of interpreting how they act within those guidelines. If things are going wrong, either you’re not up to your job, or they aren’t. Which is it?
Last year it was claimed two community support officers stood by, citing health and safety, as a 10-year-old boy drowned in a pond.

In 2004, armed police cited health and safety for refusing to enter a house where a woman had been shot and wounded even though it was empty and neighbours had already entered.
And in both of those cases, the actions they refused to perform were those that they were paid for, or (in the case of the drowning boy) that normal human beings did without hesitation or a thumb through the ‘is this allowed?’ book of rules.

This isn’t a ‘tricky’ or ‘borderline’ issue at all.
The same act was used last year to prosecute the Metropolitan Police over the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.
And it was the wrong Act to use. The police involved in that bungled operation should have stood trial for, at the least, gross negligence and manslaughter.
Ms Sim, who speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers on public order events, also told the Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights of concerns over the Human Rights Act and its impact on policing.

"It (the Act) is an issue that's currently an ongoing question around risk aversion," she said.

"I don't think the human rights aspect is any different from the health and safety aspect if I'm being perfectly blunt.

"I think they're all things that I think, if we're not careful, can lead to officers being risk averse.

"But that's why we have the commanders in place to make sure they are carrying out their duties required of them."
Ha ha ha ha…oh! She was, apparently, serious.

Do you mean the commanders who are currently fighting like weasels over huge payoffs to keep their mouths shut, Susie? Or the one who’s escaped any punishment at all for employing his pals in flagrant disregard for commercial contracting rules?

With ‘leaders’ like these, is it any wonder the police ‘service’ is in such a mess?
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: "Under Labour, police officers are weighed down by form-filling, box-ticking and bureaucracy.

"This Government's regulatory zeal has driven a health and safety culture, which risks paralysing officers tasked with protecting the public.

"We will reverse the health and safety culture that is making our police risk-averse and exposing the public to unnecessary risk."
Sounds good. But will you..?

I wonder…
Earlier this month, bosses at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) warned Britain's most prolific criminal masterminds cannot be named publicly by police because it could infringe their human rights.

They were "deeply frustrated'' after lawyers advised them not to name 39 convicted criminals because it would breach the convicts' right to a family and private life and could amount to an "unfair'' punishment.
That’s the thing about advice. You don’t have to take it…

But, while there are no significant punishments for dereliction of duty, of course they will be ‘risk averse’! Start sacking a few for encouraging or tolerating this attitude among their officers, and it’ll concentrate the minds of the remainder quite satisfactorily.

So, British Ingenuity Does Still Exist!

First he encircled them with a metal fence. And when that failed to move the gipsy camp off his land, he dug a moat.

Builder Francis Shiner resorted to the measures when two gipsy families set up home on the disused car park of a building site.

He asked them to move, they didn't, and so he went on the offensive and managed to evict them within 48 hours.
OK, it’s not going to be something that everyone can do. It helps when you have immediate access to earth moving equipment and manpower.

But what a heartening story!
His workers surrounded them with an 8ft-high metal fence and excavated a trench around the camp.

They left a 5ft gap in the moat and told the gypsies to leave or face being marooned on an island - and they fled by the following morning.
Hurrah! Hopefully, Basildon Council is reading this. I don’t think a moat is likely to cost upward of £2mill (although if they are council workers, it still might!).
A police spokesman for Bedfordshire police said they were not involved in the matter 'as common sense prevailed to resolve it peaceably'.

He said: 'This was not a matter for us as it didn't escalate into a breach of the peace.

'It is up to landowners to seek legal advice to remove people who move onto their land. It is a civil matter.

'Landowners are also within their rights to build a barricade on their land. If they had trapped the travelers on site, they would not have broken the law.'
So, what are you waiting for, Basildon Council? Fire up the earthmovers!


The man charged with providing the President-Elect with information about the US media regulator spends his spare time fighting monsters and completing quests on the fictional planet of Azeroth.
Well, his boss seems to base most of his policy decisions on fantasy rather than reality, so he’ll be well prepared.

And at least it’ll be a far cry from the West Wing portrayal of White House staffers as technological incompetents.
He has invested so many hours in the game that his "Tauren Shaman" character has reached Level 70, one of the higher ranks.
Pfft! You can tell the ‘Telegraph’ chap is a bit of a dud at reporting – it’s a level 80 cap now, noob!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

'Learning Lessons'? I Think They Are Incapable Of That...

Back when this incident was in the headlines, I recall saying:
If any good comes from this case, hopefully it will be that police are never, ever again given license to test equipment on a public road in this fashion.
Well, let's see, then, shall we?
Two police officers have been disciplined for their part in a high-speed crash which killed a retired lecturer in Lancashire.
They were acquitted then?
Driver Pc Sean Schofield and instructor Pc Andrew Massingham were cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.

But both men have now been removed from traffic duties and given a warning.
Yup. Still, given a warning, eh? Harsh...

Naseem Malik, IPCC Commissioner for the North West, said:
"..."It was clear from our independent investigation that the driving of these two officers fell well below the required standard," she said.

"It is essential that lessons are learned and action is taken to ensure the standards expected of police drivers are maintained.
Hmm, lessons learned, eh...? I've heard that one before somewhere.

Oh, and I left a bit out of the statement - he also revealed
"....that Pc Massingham was later convicted of a speeding offence while under investigation for the crash."
He sure didn't learn any lessons, did he?

Lack Of Compassion

Over at ‘Underdogs Bite Upwards’, Leg-Iron has a splendid post on the sheer lack of compassion shown to the dying who might like a quick cigarette, and are denied it on ‘health grounds’.

That lack of compassion seems to be a feature of public sector workers:
Council staff are said to have spied on the young parents at night as part of a plan to see if they were fit to look after their baby, who was sleeping in another room.

The mother and father were forced to cite the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to a private life, before the social services team backed down and agreed to switch off the surveillance camera while they were in bed together.
If the council workers were that desperate to see a mentally disabled couple in bed together, I’m sure there are, ummm, ‘specialist websites’ that cater for that kind of thing. There’s no need to spend taxpayers money on it…
In the latest case, documented in a report published by the British Institute of Human Rights to mark the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Act, an unnamed council used CCTV to keep an eye on a mother and father with learning difficulties as their parenting skills were under question.

Social services departments are allowed to place adults in units known as "residential family centres" if they fear their children could be at risk of abuse or neglect. Staff assess the families in a controlled environment to determine whether their children should be taken into care.
And as the kid slept in another room, the point of the camera in their bedroom was…?
"With the help of a visiting neighbour, the couple successfully invoked their right to respect for private life.

"They explained that they did not want their intimacy to be monitored and that, besides, the baby slept in a separate nursery.

"As a result, the social services team agreed to switch off the cameras during the night so that the couple could enjoy their evenings together in privacy."
They ‘explained they did not want their intimacy to be monitored’. Savour that phrase.

And it took a neighbour to help them with this! Not an official advocate for the couple (if one was appointed, they presumably had no objection), an outsider, who displayed the common sense and compassion so sadly lacking in the staff.

So, what kind of people are we employing that this needed to be pointed out to them? Do they lack all humanity?

Sorry, I’m beginning to think that’s a redundant question…

The ‘Fourth Emergency Service’…?

When a gang of youths rolled his girlfriend's parked car on its side, Simon White thought there was a good chance that the police would catch the culprits.

But instead of the swift response he had hoped for, they told him to call the AA.
Can’t think why he’d think that, personally. I mean, most people must by now have given up on expecting a response on vandalism. As the police blogs so ably show, most of their time is taken up with the trivial disputes of the growing underclass.

Still, Mr White obviously thought it was worth a try:
'I couldn't believe they were telling me to call a breakdown service,' said estate agent Mr White.
'I explained to them that a neighbour had seen a gang of about 30 youths hanging about when he was walking his dog and had come back half an hour later to see my girlfriend's car on its side.

'At no point did the police ask me anything to do with solving the crime. There was no mention of witnesses, possible fingerprints, or any desire to catch who'd done it.

'All they said was call the AA or Green Flag. When I told them there was petrol leaking from the car they said they'd call the fire brigade and then ended the conversation.'
Of course there was no desire to catch the perpetrators – at 7:30pm on a weekday evening, they must have had so many other things, better things to do with their time. Like ensuring their staff are diverse. Or providing personal security to Securicor, because Birmingham is infested with gun-toting gangs. Or helping offenders...
Mr White, 37, added: 'I sat there fuming for a few minutes and then rang them back and demanded someone come to investigate but even then they said all they could do was put out a call to see if there was a police car in the area.'

The vandals struck at about 7.30pm one evening last week.
Your taxes at work…
Mr White said: 'The police are always telling people to report antisocial behaviour and vandalism but when we did it seemed they didn't care. It was only because I insisted someone came out that the crime is being investigated.

'To be fair, the two officers that did come were very helpful, but by then the youths had gone.'
By what standards were they ‘very helpful’ then? Or are we now supposed to be grateful that they turn up at all?
No one from West Midlands Police was available to comment.
No, I expect not…

Monday, 24 November 2008

You’d Need A Heart Of Stone…

…not to laugh:
A driver had his car stolen by a crash victim when he stopped to help at the scene of an accident in Somerset.
The profession of this trusting chap…?

Mr Chard, from Midsomer Norton, said he was "absolutely shocked".
You’d think someone who lived in Midsomer Anything wouldn’t be quite so gullible, let alone a magistrate. The place is filled with murderers, after all….
An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said motorists were advised to remove their keys when leaving their vehicles at all times.

Mr Chard admitted: "I must say, I'm so careful, I'm always telling my wife not to leave her keys in the ignition and then I turn round and do it myself."

Priorities FAIL!

Volunteers at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, Cumbria, have spent decades baking cakes to raise money for equipment the NHS cannot afford.

But now officials at the hospital have claimed the hospital's League of Friends' sponge cakes and tea loaves contravene guidelines.
Because we can’t have people helping out with fundraising unless they have the necessary paperwork and someone is taking a cut of the action. Like these people
The hospital blames the ban on strict rules over packaging and labelling from the Food Standards Agency – although the FSA maintained last night it made no such demands on the ladies' cakes.
Hmm, I wonder what the real story is here? Just officialdom being obstructionist for the sake of it, or to prevent possible legal action, or something else…?
Alan Davidson, the hospital's director of estates and facilities, said: "We appreciate the support volunteers give to our hospitals but there are strict guidelines in place, enforced by the FSA, over food sold to the public.

"This means all food should be packaged appropriately, date-stamped and ingredients listed.

"This is in the interests of maintaining and protecting the health of the public."
So, what does the FSA say?
However, an FSA spokeswoman said: "There is nothing in our guidelines that prevents the sale of home-made cakes at fundraising events. A common-sense approach and care that the cakes are stored properly should be taken."

She added that the FSA insisted only that the volunteers followed "basic food hygiene principles" – such as ensuring hands, utensils and surfaces were clean, food was properly cooked and chilled and cross-contamination of foods was avoided.
So, either Mr Davidson, or someone in his office, lacks common sense.

According to the FSA. And according to millions of people paying his salary via tax, who’d rather the hospital concerned itself with resolving this kind of thing than worrying about a few little old ladies baking cakes…

What The Papers Bloggers Say…

Two posts, seemingly dissimilar from the titles, but actually saying the same thing:

Laban Tall:
What she's asking is "how do we raise good people when the sanctions for behaving badly are non-existent?". It's a question that can be asked in the context of the white underclass as well as unruly black youth.
Blue Eyes:
As a society we have lost all sense of self control. We've lost respect for ourselves and others. I think it's because we've had the freedom but not been forced to take responsibility for how we've used it. I think it's because people have learned that they can get away with a lot of crap, so see no harm in pushing the boundaries.
Both well worth reading...

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Political Parties - You Can Have Any One You Like... long as the State approves of it.

Via 'The Landed Underclass', I see the police have been instructed to once again test the waters with regards to the illegality (or otherwise) of the BNP's message.

This action not in any way connected to the publication of the membership list, and the collected 'So what?' from the public. Oh, dear me no. Perish the thought...

Good luck with the jury, lads. Didn't turn out so well last time, did it?

Questions Being Asked....

..though for the life of me, I can't think why:
A British terror suspect was killed by US forces in Pakistan yesterday. MPs want to know: did they tell Britain first?
Presumably, not so we could buy them a drink for doing it...
Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP for Newark and former shadow security minister, said Rauf’s killing raised serious issues. “This raises the question of how much co-operation the British intelligence agencies provided in what is ultimately the execution of a British subject. The government must explain its involvement and its future policy in this area.”
Good old Tories, polishing up their 'right on' liberal credentials, ready to form our next government. Lord help us...

Friday, 21 November 2008

Scales Dropping From Eyes, Finally

And over at another ‘CiF’ post this morning, there’s even more evidence that people are slowly waking up to the shifting ground beneath their feet:
While everyone deplores the brutal death of Baby P, there is an unavoidable question lying behind the horrible circumstances of his short life. How have we ended up with a welfare system that is intended to help poor and dysfunctional families but in doing so helps create more of the problems it was set up to solve? And what can we do to solve this paradox?
The light dawns at last…
This refusal to think about the interaction between good intentions and perverse consequences has long been a blindness of the left. It is beginning to change, notably with James Purnell's willingness to challenge lifetime dependency in the welfare-to-work reforms at the Department for Work and Pensions. But he is seen by some in the Labour government as dangerously radical in approach. Here the government is lagging behind the public who, in the face of recession, are likely to be asking tough questions about who exactly benefits from the welfare state, what the results of its spending are, and on what basis its resources are allocated.
In other words: ‘Oh-oh! We’re losing the battle of ideas! The peasants are starting to revolt…’

She gives a good example of the kind of welfare state ‘client’ that ought to be easily recognisable to most people (and is immediately jumped on for ‘producing an anecdote!’ by the same people who are happy to do that when it suits them, naturally…):
For more than 20 years Cheryl and her family have lived at other people's expense. Yet it hasn't been a good life. The house is full of stuff - flatscreen TVs, PlayStations, iPods - but its inhabitants are depressed. The children are sullen or aggressive and lack hope, and the two out of school are apparently unemployable. Nothing has flourished as a result of this unconditional public expenditure: not Cheryl, not society, and certainly not her damaged kids.
Sounds a lot like the kind of houses ’Nightjack’ and ’Inspector Gadget’ have been writing about for yonks, doesn’t it…?

Though I have to take issue with her conclusion here:
No one who was designing a public safety net would look at outcomes like these and want to reproduce them….. Those brought up in cultures of dependence often lack the confidence, resilience or education to be attractive to employers.
Jenni, sweetie – for the Left, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. A vast, growing herd of dependant sheep, willing to vote themselves for largesse from the public purse – I think you have a very rosy view of our venal political class if you think they haven’t factored this in as a benefit. To them.

But before you think everything in the garden is now rosy, remember, this is still ‘The Guardian’, and her suggestions are – yup, you guessed it – ‘more money, more State intervention’:
But if benefits have been no panacea for the poor, work alone is no magic solution. Breaking patterns of disadvantage won't end just by getting insecure adults into largely low-paid jobs. These adults may need support for years. The DWP can't do it alone.
Sorry, Lefties – you broke it, you bought it! If more money is needed, then don’t turn to the taxpayer for it!

Let’s have a bonfire of the type of useless ‘jobs’ seen in the pages of the ‘Guardian’ and the ‘Independent’ – no more diversity outreach co-ordinators, or Green Initiative management directors. From now on, we can’t afford the fat in the budget to support them and their huge pensions. Those currently employed as such can be retrained as underclass workshop overseers.

Like that idea, Jenni? Not much, I bet…
If a culture is to change, we will need, as politicians like Iain Duncan Smith and Graham Allen have argued, expensive investment in all ages from nought to 18. It has to start with focused help with parenting and continue with genuinely good childcare, flexible jobs and a more responsive, emotionally intelligent education system. That wouldn't be simple or cheap.
No, it wouldn’t.

And whatever an ‘emotionally intelligent’ education system actually means, I think we can do without that, as well. At least, until it can fulfil its basic function – that of teaching the little sods to read, write, and add up….

Freedom Of Speech – It’s For Everyone, Or It’s For No-one

Thanks to ‘Longrider’, I find out that we have a satisfactory conclusion to this case at last.

And at ‘CiF’, at least some columnists are waking up to the dangers of the creeping criminalisation of people’s views:
His sacking from TalkSport this week was a wrong and deeply worrying act, and it makes me think Gaunt may have been right in one of the favourite riffs of his Sun column and radio show: that Britain has gone barmy and is becoming a dictatorship of liberal opinion.
My, the penny drops at last…
The systolic readings of Gaunty, as he likes to be called, may be even more at risk from the revelation that a commentator connected with this paper and the BBC - despised HQs of the PC revolution - is also troubled by this week's public exposure of the membership list of the British National party.

Don't misunderstand this: I wouldn't want to be stuck in a lift with any of them, and have never agreed with anything said by presenter or party. But one of the most delicate judgments in any society is where the line of acceptable behaviour should be drawn, and both of these cases suggest that the boundary is now being marked in the ink of self-righteous idealism.
Some of us have been saying that for quite a while, mind you. Still, ‘more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth..’, they say.
The point is that sacking shock jocks and demonising political parties are cosmetic measures. Banning attitudes removes them from view, but not from existence. Any politician who has campaigned in inner cities will tell you that both Labour and Tories have long had voters who are, frankly, racist. The one advantage of the rise of the BNP was that it became easier to measure, in elections, the numerical level of extremist opinion. But, now that the security of the membership list has been breached, such rumblings will be harder to calculate.
Remember, you don’t help to prepare for earthquakes by dismantling your seismographs…

Control Freakery

A row erupted today over claims that teachers were checking pupils' underwear to make sure they comply with a new school uniform policy.
Hardly surprising!
Stuart Gander's two daughters 15-year-old Chelsea Hay and 13-year-old Kirby Moore were told at a girls' assembly that coloured bras were 'offensive'.

The 35-year-old foreman from Winchester said: 'They were told they had to wear white ones or very light pale bras and they would be spot checked.

'It's just a case of the girls putting out their bra strap and them having a look.

'It's obviously caused a bit of upset. Friends of mine have sons at the school and two days later they had an assembly about boxer shorts.'
Now, I’m actually in favour of school uniform – but that stops at outerwear. What pupils choose to wear underneath it (if anything!) is down to them. And on the list of things that might be ‘offensive’, the colour of a pupil’s underwear doesn’t even make the top 500!

And the idea that school staff could ask to check underwear, in this day and age, rather beggars belief…
Leanne Hosking, who has three children aged 14, 13 and 11 at the school, said her elder daughter did not like male teachers turning her around and checking her bra.
Well, how very dare she! Doesn’t she realise they have the interests of the school at heart? You do as you’re told, young lady! It’s perfectly acceptable to let an authority figure check the colour of your bra, and those silly geese who complain about it being ‘creepy’ are just being overly sensitive!
A spokeswoman for the school said: 'The assembly was to bring to the attention of Year 10 girls what is appropriate dress for the working environment, preparing them for work experience.

'There is no rule, we are not checking underwear. We are not checking girls' bra straps and we have certainly not had an assembly with any of the boys telling them what colour underwear to wear.'
Ah, the usual response from panicked PR people when the organisation they work for has been caught indulging their inner control-freak. Flat denial. ‘No, we’re not doing what these parents have told you we’re doing.’

Will the school now be suing these parents and the newspaper for libel, I wonder? If not, we can draw our own conclusions from that.

And ‘appropriate dress for the working environment’? Funny, I must have missed my boss conducting an ‘underwear check’ this morning…

Even MORE Snouts In The Trough…

Tens of thousands of civil servants are being recruited despite the economic crisis and the poor state of public finances, research showed.
So much for ‘prudence’…
Doug McWilliams, the CEBR chief executive, said: "There is an issue of how the pain should be shared out. What is clear is that the public sector is insulated from the pain and is getting special privileges.

"The Government should focus more on tax cuts to stimulate demand rather than on an expansion in the public sector. They have got to stimulate the economy."
No, they haven’t. They are politicians – they are looking to shore up the votes for the coming election. And if you can buy voters, well, that’s the only ‘stimulation of the economy’ they currently care about.

And at least one person has spotted the real lurking iceberg in these choppy waters, as has ‘Ranting Stan’:
Mark Wallace, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It is unsustainable to have fewer and fewer private sector workers paying for more and more public sector workers.

"The state wage bill, not to mention the future pension cost, is putting a crippling burden on the economy."
Yes, the future pension costs far, far outweigh the current wagebill costs for these extra public sector workers.
Ministers indicated that they were preparing to abandon plans to close 25 Jobcentres – saving more than 2,000 public sector jobs.

Tony McNulty, the Employment Minister, said that with unemployment expected to surge, workers would need the help of a local Jobcentre.
Now, that’s chutzpah!

Product Development FAIL!

Via David Thompson’s wonderful regular ‘Friday Ephemera’ post, we find this rather…unfortunateChristmas decoration!

At Least Jesse James Had The Decency To Wear A Mask…

Our Chancellor plans to rob banks without the need for one:
The Chancellor of Exchequer may threaten to introduce new legislation to force banks to loan money to small businesses at competitive rates of interest.
Hmm, government telling business that they must take unnecessary risks and loan money to people who can’t repay that debt, on the grounds of ‘social fairness’...

That hasn’t worked out too well in other countries, has it?
In next Monday's pre-Budget report, the Government is expected to introduce a new scheme to underwrite small business loans made by banks. Ministers will also put intense pressure on the banks in which the Government is buying a stake to lend at competitive rates again.
Banks want people to lend money to. If they aren’t doing so, it’s because they are considered a risk. They don’t want to swallow that risk. Nor do I, via my taxes.

Because when the Government says ‘it’ will underwrite small business loans, that’s what it really means – taxpayers will…

A source said: "Alistair Darling is increasingly exasperated by the banks' assurances that they are helping small businesses when they obviously are not.

"There are too many instances where the banks have failed small businesses, even those with perfectly good track records.

"Banks have got to understand they have to treat their customers fairly. We are not at the point of introducing regulations but he is not averse to going down that route."
It’s not ‘unfair’ to refuse to lend money to someone who can’t pay it back. That’s not called a loan – that’s called charity. And banks aren’t (and shouldn’t be) in the charity business…

God, we have an economic illiterate as Chancellor (again)!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

They're 'Facilitating' WHAT, Exactly...?

Over at 'Protein Wisdom', a worrying new idea in a Canadian university:
Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., has hired six students whose jobs as "dialogue facilitators" will involve intervening in conversations among students in dining halls and common rooms to encourage discussion of such social justice issues as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability and social class.
Because at universities, letting students discuss things among themselves is no longer the good idea it was once thought to be. It's not about inculcating independant analysis anymore - the 'hive mind' is what's required...
She gave the example of a conversation about a gay character on television as a good example of such a moment.

"It is all about creating opportunities to dialogue and reflect on issues of social identity," Ms. Girgrah said. "This is not about preaching. It's not about advice giving. It's about hearing where students are at."
If you say so, sweetie...

And just where are they going to find people willing to do this?
Like dons, who serve as student authorities in residence, the six facilitators will receive full room and board and a stipend for the full-year commitment, and will receive regular training.

Ms. Girgrah said they represent a broad spectrum of social identities and are all upper-year or graduate students who live in university residences...
Ah. People who have already been through the thought-mill, and emerged from it with the right, umm, 'attitude'....

Paid thought police. In a university.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Empire Building – The Contractors Are Preparing Their Estimates…

As the pressure builds up on the child protection ‘experts’, the liberal pundits are quick to rush to their defence, lest their cozy nests of left wing orthodoxy are shaken from the branches of the State tree at last.

Over at ‘The Devil’s Kitchen’ the charmless ‘PDF’ has a ’Don't blame the social workers!’ post up, that’s drawing lots of comment (mostly unfavourable), while in the ‘Times’, David Aaronovitch argues for more state controls over parenting, which will cost massive amounts of taxpayer cash and probably deliver not much better results.

He seems quite happy to swallow obviously ginned-up ‘support’ as genuine too:
Somehow 60 head teachers from the borough, either lacking the detachment of The Sun from the situation, or else its keen sense of other people's responsibility, managed to call for Ms Shoesmith to stay in position. This is pretty remarkable, in my experience. It might genuinely be called a groundswell of support, and should give one pause.
Yup, 60 different people who all work to this woman independently decided to give her their support, unsolicited and not at all suggested by, oooh, say, their unions. And if he believes that, I’ve a bridge to sell him…
In this context, while mistakes will have been made and Lord Laming may find yet more ways in which communication could be improved, there is nothing to vindicate the politician's inevitable promise of “it cannot be allowed to happen again”. This is an impossible pledge, not least in a month where two other children were allegedly stabbed to death by their mother in Manchester (though this, for some reason, did not shock Britain).
Well, I think it did shock Britain, but in this case there appears to have been a sudden escalation of worrying signs and the police were actively searching for her as a result when she killed the kids.

We aren’t looking at months of visits leading to no action at all, or overriding of police concerns. And if this woman had any more children, it’s hard to see that social services would be fighting for her to keep them while on remand.

In other words, Davey boy, apples and oranges…
In mid-September the Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith and the Nottingham Labour MP Graham Allen published a document making the case for a system of early intervention to help families. I read it yesterday, and recommend it to you if you want to go on thinking beyond the “outrage” of the Baby P case.

Their first proposition is summed up in the words of a Professor David Farrington, that “antisocial children grow up to become antisocial adults who go on to raise antisocial children”. They noted 2003 Home Office estimates that 350,000 children had drug-addicted parents and a million had alcohol-addicted parents. They then detailed the “Dunedin study”, begun in New Zealand in 1972, where nurses observed three-year-olds at play and identified - from behaviour alone - those that might be at risk. Eighteen years later the outcomes were studied. The at-risk boys were 2 times more likely to have committed an offence and five times as likely to be abusing their partners. Thirty per cent of the at-risk girls had become teenage mothers, compared with none of those not at risk. Forty-three per cent of the at-risk girls were in violent or abusive relationships.
It’s impossible to argue that this isn’t true – feral kids grow up and breed more feral kids. So, what does he consider is the ideal solution?
When Tony Blair spoke of early intervention a few years ago he was derided for seeming to suggest “foetal ASBOs”. There are plenty of Britons who feel that state or agency intervention into the lives of citizens has gone far enough already.

But Duncan Smith and Allen not only commend some of the things the Government has done already (such as Sure Start and nurse family partnership pilot schemes) but argue for much more including, controversially, enhanced “data tracking” of at-risk individuals.

The two men want support and education to be offered prenatally, special primary school programmes focusing on parenting support and children's social competencies, and pre-parenting workshops in secondary schools.

The whole thing is aimed at breaking the cycle of chaotic parenting.
No, the whole thing is aimed at drastically increasing not only the State’s interference in family life, but the army of box-tickers and paper-shufflers that will be needed to manage and implement it.

And as 'Letters From A Tory' succinctly points out, that isn’t going to help anyone

Finger Pointing….

Police have ordered officers working with child abuse cases to take a much tougher line with social workers after the death of Baby P.
In other words, if someone’s going to be blamed, it won’t be them! Hence, we can expect to see far more nonsense like this case in future…
As relations between police and social services continued to deteriorate, ministers indicated yesterday that they were preparing to send a task force to take over Haringey social services because of the “systemic” failures that led to the death of Baby P.
No doubt Gordon Brown is hoping this will prove to be his ‘Falklands’ moment..
Senior officers from the Child Abuse Investigation Command have been told that if they are not happy with decisions made by social workers they have the “capability to request follow-up strategy discussions during complex or protracted investigations”.

A senior Metropolitan Police officer told The Times: “There have been lessons learnt and one is about the confidence of police officers and staff to challenge decisions made by other agencies.

“One of the recommendations in the review relates to the confidence of the police to seek updates and keep on at other agencies. We have already implemented and given training to officers on this.”
Well, so long as they plan to request ‘follow-up strategy discussions’, we can all sleep safe in our beds. Except the abused kids, of course…
The relationship between the council and police was undermined further yesterday when Haringey claimed that there was a delay in the police investigation of “several months” as the case was transferred between officers.

Officers have responded that the only delay was while they were waiting for advice from the Crown Prosecution Service — and it was only a matter of weeks, not months.
“You suck!” “No, you suck!” Remind me again – this case is about children, isn’t it? Not run by them?
Police and social workers clashed a second time over whether the mother of Baby P should be allowed to keep her newborn child, even though he had been born in jail.

As The Times reported last week, council officials did not want the new baby to be taken into care as they said it was “against the human rights” of the mother, but Scotland Yard officers eventually overruled Haringey on the issue.
Note the reasons given for that refusal – not that they didn’t have sufficient evidence to do this, not that they thought it might cause more problems, simply because of the mother’s ‘human rights’. What about the child’s human rights?
Mr Balls said that he had asked Lord Laming, who is conducting a nationwide review of child protection, to examine whether new safeguards are needed to protect social workers from legal action if they try to remove a child from its parents.

Legislation will be published today to force social workers to co-operate more closely with doctors, teachers and key local figures. Mr Balls said that this would promote the “safety and wellbeing” of children.
Yes, why not, Balls? They’ve hopelessly failed to use (wisely) the powers they already have – let’s give them some more!

Un-Natural England

A pensioner has launched a High Court battle against a Government-funded organisation which has told him he must allow his cliffside home to fall into the sea.

Peter Boggis, 77, built his own coastal defences to halt erosion that was threatening his house and neighbouring properties.
So, he’s taken it upon himself to protect his home and those in his community (a laudable aim, you’d think?) and the big hand of government is poised to come crashing down to prevent that. Simple bureaucratic dogmatism, or something else?
But Natural England wants fossil-bearing cliffs in the area to be allowed to wear away, exposing soil and rock for study.

Two years ago it declared Easton Bavents, near Southwold in Suffolk, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) - which prevents Mr Boggis from maintaining his barrier.
That must be some definition of ‘Special Scientific Interest’ – “It’s so wonderful, we just must see it all washed away!”
Gregory Jones, representing Mr Boggis, opened the two-day hearing by telling Mr Justice Blair (Ed: yes, he is the brother of THAT Mr Blair…) the purpose of SSSIs was to 'conserve or preserve' flora or fauna or geological features.

But Natural England, he said, had attempted to extend the scope of SSSIs 'in order to study the destruction of the cliffs'.

'Allowing the erosion of the cliffs in one or two years means they will no longer be the same cliffs as those there one or two years before,' he added.

'You have not conserved and you have not preserved them.'
Well, there’s a surprise – legislation originally intended for one purpose is distorted and twisted until it achieves precisely the opposite effect, at the behest of uncaring government apparatchiks and to the detriment of the citizens who pay for them. Doesn’t this case just sum up the attitude to the individual held by the State?
Natural England, which was formed in October 2006 from the Countryside Agency, English Nature and the Rural Development Service, claims the SSSI was properly made and not open to legal challenge.

It says there is a legitimate scientific interest in allowing the sea to erode the cliffs as the sediments contain information about the Lower Pleistocene period in Britain.
Now, normally, I’m quite a cheerleader for scientific discovery and particularly in the field of prehistory. But this is a man’s home - just how vital could that information possibly be, in comparison?

Probably quite a lot, if you work at Natural England, and want to go on working there, and keeping hold of your lucrative public sector pension (paid for out of the taxes of Mr Boggis and his neighbours, of course)…

More ‘Joined Up’ Government?

'Traffic signs' with red lines though pictures of beefburgers and skateboards are needed to stop people eating or misbehaving in libraries, councillors have argued.

They said "prompt action" was needed to stamp out anti-social behaviour in libraries in Norfolk.
Another example of the ‘dumbing down’ of our culture…?
The signs would include an image of a "line through a beef burger or a skateboard" to make users understand what was not allowed, under a set of ideas put forward by a Norfolk County Council working party on libraries.

These would bolster a new code of conduct that the councillors thought was necessary, banning "prolonged, loud or offensive phone conversations", "misuse" of computers and the consumption of hot food and drink.
Oooh, Andy Burnham isn’t going to like that! That seems to be just the type of behaviour he wants to encourage

Barking Mad!*

A university frisbee team has been told to change its nickname to avoid offending mental health patients, it was revealed today.
The nickname must have been awful

What was it? ‘The Screaming Spastics’? ‘The Winning Window-Lickers’..?
Staffordshire University's Ultimate Frisbee Club uses the name Mental Discs on a logo, which is printed on its kit.

But the university's Students' Union, which sponsors the club, has told the team to re-brand to avoid complaints.
Eh…? What on earth is offensive about that? Even by the usual standards of SUs, that’s going a wee bit too far.
Fiona Wood, president of the Students' Union, said: "Mental is a derogatory word and we are pre-empting any complaints because there are a few people unhappy with it.

"The club itself is happy to change its name. We are helping them out with the re-branding."
Well, isn’t that nice of you!
Team captain Lee Priest, a 20-year-old English literature student, told The Sentinel newspaper: "Mental Discs has been printed on our t-shirts for the past six years so we were amazed when the union requested we change it.

"We've never had any complaints. We respect people's opinions if they think it could be offensive, but we don't think it is."
You know, it’s possible to ‘respect people’s opinions’ and still keep your team nickname, Mr Priest. You simply refer them to the immortal words of Stephen Fry…

*apologies to any nutters offended by this post title.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Brown...? Mugabe..? Who Can Tell The Difference Any More?

Rampant inflation, a crashing economy, ministers with inflated delusions of grandeur, and now land grabs:
Homeowners are facing the prospect of being forced to sell their own land to make space for gypsy campsites under orders from the government.

Desperate to build permanent sites for travellers and gypsies, the Government is launching what has been described as a 'land grab', which could see fields and even private gardens converted into pitches for mobile homes.

One local authority is now warning its residents that their land could be brought under compulsory purchase if they refuse to sell up to make way for hundred of travellers setting up home in their town.
They've obviously learned from the best...
Terence Ruddigan, 73, who could have a campsite next to his home, said: 'They are just pinching our land and telling us, "you will have to put up with it".'
Yes they are. Because they can. Who are you going to vote for at the next election, Mr Ruddigan? Whoever it is, will it make a difference?
Chris Whitwell, of Friends, Travellers and Families, said: 'There are around 25,000 gypsies and travellers who do not have fixed places to live at the moment. We think that is disgraceful.

'The shortfall of pitches should be addressed as soon as possible. Gypsies have been in this country for 500 years, isn’t it about time people started to accept them?'
Well, Chris, as I see it, if they have 'fixed places to live', what the hell makes them 'travellers'..?

And using the government as a big stick to force people off their own land in an effort to make people accept you? Epic fail!

Update: a commenter points to this frankly scandalous example of partiality towards travellers by council employees.
Describing the decision as "absurd", Principal Robert Campbell, said it was an "accident waiting to happen".

Parents have set up a petition at calling for the council to reinstate the free transport.
A worthy petition, but it isn't a 'free' service. It's paid for by taxation. Your taxation...

"...I believe that children are our future mealticket..."

Much of the public is scared of children, with half saying British children behave like animals and pose an increasing danger, according to a survey.
Sounds like an unfair comparison to me. To the animal kingdom.

Still, what's the survey owners recommendation? More discipline in schools? Removal of incentives for the underclass to breed feral kids? Harsher juvenile detention facilities?

Not quite:
The charity said there is an unjustified and disturbing intolerance of children, despite the vast majority making positive contributions to their communities, attending school, taking part in activities and a significant number volunteering.

A report, Breaking the Cycle, insists children who are troublesome and engage in antisocial and criminal behaviour are often those most in need of support.
The charity who ordered the survey is Barnardos you see. And they aren't about to start biting the hand that feeds them. Unlike most of today's feral yobs...

Update: Barnardos are releasing this 'shocking' advert to try to change opinions among the populace (and beg for more of our money, of course).

Trouble is, I suspect that the decent people fed up with living on estates plagued with these youths are likely to be cheering on the hunting party.

Working As Intended....

NHS hospitals units are facing closure as patients choose to be treated in more successful medical centres, new figures show.
Yes. And...?
The internal market reforms were the source of a bitter struggle within the Labour Government. Tony Blair and Alan Milburn, his Health Secretary, fought against union and backbench opposition to force through many of the changes to the way the NHS was run.
Perhaps we should introduce the same scheme to social services? Haringey would be bankrupt in a week!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

It's Not The Music That's The Problem, Is It...?

One man has been stabbed and two others wounded during a music awards ceremony in south-east London, police have said.
Hmm, I wonder just what kind of 'music' they were celebrating? Chamber? Country? Jazz...?
The man was seriously hurt while two others had minor injuries at the Urban Music Awards at the O2 arena.
Mike Muller, 38, from London, said there was a lot of confusion and hysteria.

"The company I work for, Intensify Youth, were presenting an award. Our man was just about to go on stage and present the award when this happened.
'Intensify Youth'..? Do we really think that the 'youth' that listen to this kind of music needs intensifying?
"The irony is Intensify Youth is a project that aims to combat knife crime so this is really disappointing."
It'd take a heart of stone, wouldn't it...?

Friday, 14 November 2008

Chasing More Phantoms....

But the popularity of the game has led many experts to have concerns over the extent to which youngsters are developing unhealthy addictions.

Dr Richard Graham, a child psychiatrist at the Tavistock Centre, said: "Some of my clients will discuss playing games for 14 to 16 hours a day at times without breaks and for those the consequences are potentially very severe.

"The problem with World of Warcraft is the degree it can impact and create a socially withdrawn figure who may be connecting with people in the game and is largely dropping out of education, social opportunities."
Yup, why worry about the kids stabbing each other on the streets? The real problem is clearly kids spending too much time PvP'ing in Arathi Basin. Perhaps Dr Graham has a few characters he'd like to level up to 80, so he's hoping to get the 'research' done on some university's time..?
Some of the childen referred to him even failed to attend appointments because they were playing the game, he told the BBC.
Obviously far too sensible to be seeing a psychologist in the first place then!

Now, if you'll excuse me, that Lich King isn't going to kill himself...

Here's A New Definition Of 'Chutzpah'...

A website statement said to come from the organisation's leadership council called the recent execution of nine death row prisoners, including convicted insurgents, "barbaric" and raised concerns about fair trials.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

"Don't Bother Us With Real Cases, We're Busy Chasing Phantoms Here..."

Detectives investigating alleged cases of historical child abuse at a former children's home in Jersey are expected to say no children were murdered there.
Oh, dear. So this was yet another Orkney saga, was it, run up out of whole cloth by the child protection ‘experts’ who have so singularly failed ‘Baby P’ (a real case with plenty of real evidence, should anyone have bothered to act on it on any of those 60 seperate occasions)?

That won’t come as any shock to some people, of course. Or to me…
The detectives are expected to announce dozens of burnt bone fragments found in cellars could be hundreds of years old.

A Jersey police spokeswoman said the briefing would detail "significant developments in how the investigation would be taken forward".
To hell with the bone fragments! How old was the coconut…?

And while the usual suspects were drumming up hysteria and speculation based on little more of substance than Internet rumours, in Haringey, a bunch of scum were slowly torturing a toddler to death under the very noses of the authorities…

And in Devon, an inadequate mother was abandoning her young baby in scenes of squalor that made even policemen choke:
A two-year-old boy was left naked on his own in a filthy flat with no fresh food when his mother ran away because she could not cope, a court has heard.

The toddler's cries were heard by a postwoman at flats in east Devon.

Exeter magistrates were told the flat was littered with dirty nappies, there was human waste on the carpets and disposable razors on the floor.

MSM Comment On The ‘Baby P’ Case…

I don’t have much to say on the case yet, preferring to keep my claws sheathed until the inevitable enquiry, when I suspect certain social workers will become as infamous as Lisa Arthurworry (but will probably not face any more ‘punishment’ than she did…).

I was just struck by the comment from the big dailies. From the ‘Telegraph’:
Sharon Shoesmith, chairman of Haringey's Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: "The very sad fact is that we can't stop people who are determined to kill children. I am satisfied that the action that should have been taken was taken."

The complacency of this comment is breathtaking. There was nothing inevitable about Baby P's death. It was largely the result of a series of poor and negligent decisions taken by numerous individuals, each of whom assumed that final responsibility could be passed on to someone else within the vast, bureaucratic system. It was about allowing a child to be killed.
From the ‘Times’ (by the great Theodore Dalrymple):
Will anyone benefit in the end from this terrible case, that causes one to tremble when one reads of it? Will Baby P have died in vain, as (apparently) did Victoria Climbié? Yes, there will be beneficiaries. I have little doubt that information technology consultants, asked whether they can come up with a system that will co-ordinate all the information about all the children at risk in the country, so that nothing like this ever happens again, will come up with a plan that will cost billions to install and that will not work. But they, the consultants, will have benefited enormously.

What seems to have been the stunning incompetence of the Haringey social services is actually by no means unusual in contemporary Britain; it is the dramatic and immediate human consequence of that incompetence that is unusual. We see the same incompetence in other spheres of endeavour every day.
From the ‘Guardian’…? Just this self-pitying list of excuses from the likes of Sharon Shoesmith, chair of Haringey local safeguarding children board, and Ian Johnston, chief executive, British Association of Social Workers. Only Tim Loughton, the shadow children's minister, is a dissenting voice.

Still, they have to think about their audience, I suppose….

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Forecast: Heavy Leniency, With Brief Gusts Of Liberal Handwringing…

Nine schoolboys are facing years behind bars for a 'punishment' gang-rape on a 14-year-old girl who had 'disrespected' the gang's leader.
Seems like an open and shut case to me. Throw the book at them! But wait:
The boys were aged as young as 13 when they took it in turns to attack their victim.
Hmm, I wonder where this is leading…?
One youth told the victim, now 16: 'I can't help you now, I'm with my boys.'
Ahhh, it’s their ‘culture’, we mustn’t be too hard on them…
An order prohibits publishing the identities of the youths, who are all members of a gang called the Kingshold Boys.
Best we not see what kind of ‘children’ these are. After all, the wrong inferences might be drawn…
Judge Wendy Joseph QC said: 'One of the things I think is so sad about this case is I'm absolutely sure that she was telling the truth when she said that (one of you) said you could not help her because you were with your boys now.

'Essentially it wasn't about you setting out to do what you did, it was about you setting out to stick with your mates. You have each been convicted of a terrible series of crimes and the only sentence I can pass will be one of custody.'
You can almost hear the ‘…unfortunately’ that she wisely leaves off the end of that sentence, can’t you?
Judge Joseph ordered pre-sentence reports, adding: 'They are very young - I want to know what's been going on in their backgrounds.'
Ah, the pre-trial report! The saviour of many an inclined-to-be-lenient judge or magistrate.

By the time the panoply of social workers, youth liaison officers, probation officers and child psychologists assigned to these wastes of oxygen have finished their magnum opuses, Judge Wendy will probably haul the victim back to the stand and criticise her for not being more understanding and forgiving of them due to their ‘terrible upbringing’…

Let’s take a closer look at Judge Wendy.

She doesn’t seem too concerned about knife crime or contempt for the justice system:
Langston was yesterday found guilty of contempt but Judge Wendy Joseph QC bailed him to reappear at Snaresbrook crown court for sentencing on December 8.

She said: "There is always the risk he will end up hurting someone really badly or even kill them and spend the rest of his life in prison."

Langston, who had been drinking heavily before coming into court, even reportedly threatened to punch his own barrister Claire Harden after she went down to the cells to visit him.
Not really all that concerned with protecting the public, or even her colleagues then…

And in her former role of defence, she secured the release of a former PE teacher who abused boys with behavioural problems because he’d since become ‘a good husband’:
Representing him, Wendy Joseph QC said more time had passed since the allegations than Figes had been alive when they occurred, and added that he was now a good husband to his wife, Helen.

She said: "The passage of time since 1973-1974 is not far short of 30 years. His behaviour in that time bears him some credit, perhaps more than anything else in his life."
Fair enough, Wendy. What’s a few abused boys, after such a long time, eh? Best we just all forget about it…

Bus she obviously now feels keenly for those who are wronged by the justice system – as long as they are the ones in the dock, that is:
A judge has said sorry to a man who stabbed three police officers during a drink and drug-fuelled rampage.

As violent Jonathan Eade, 20, stood in the dock at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Wendy Joseph QC took the surprising step of apologising for the length of time it would take to prepare pre-sentence psychiatric reports.

Ms Joseph said: “I know how frustrating this (delay) is. I’m not going to pretend that you won’t receive a long prison sentence but it could be a determinate or non-determinate sentence and so there’s a difficulty here and we must get this right.

Ms Joseph added: “On the face of it (Eade) would appear to be very dangerous, but the other side of the coin is that all his violence tends to be directed towards particular sorts of people, and that may be easier to control than widespread violence that explodes everywhere.
In other words, he only stabs coppers when he’s had too much to drink or taken too many drugs, so why worry so much…?

Ladies and gentlemen, the English ‘progressive’ judge in its full winter plumage. A frequent visitor to our courts, though it lives far from the crime-ridden and unsafe inner cities.

Not so rare a bird now as it once was. Some might say there’s a link there….

Keeping It In The Family

The Treasury has come under strong criticism for allowing a senior officer to hire his wife as a consultant and pay her almost £100,000 of taxpayers’ money.
There’s a surprise…!
David Partridge, former chief operating officer for the Revenue & Customs Prosecutions Office, was dismissed for gross misconduct after awarding his wife a lucrative consultancy contract and then becoming the company secretary for her firm.

Mr Partridge, a former official from the Serious Fraud Office, hired his wife, Michaela, to help out for six months with human resource support at Revenue & Customs Prosecutions when the Inland Revenue merged with Customs in 2005.
Another success story from Gordon Brown! Aren’t we lucky, to have such a wise head in charge of our country?
Her contract, finalised four weeks after Mr Partridge’s appointment, was not cleared in advance, despite the apparent conflict of interest – although the Treasury gave its approval afterwards. However, when the National Audit Office investigated the accounts in 2006 it described the appointment as “novel and contentious”.
Well, at least Partridge was dismissed. Wonder if anyone else will be?


A shopkeeper told an inquest that he fought off and killed an armed robber who came at him like a “mad dog” trying to steal the day's taking. Tony Singh, 34, was ambushed by Liam Kilroe, 25, a wanted criminal, in February outside his Lifestyle Express store in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, as he tried to get into his car after work.
Needless to say, the powers-that-be swung straight into action, and arrested the man who’d had the temerity to defend himself and his livelihood against a violent criminal:
By the time police arrived Mr Singh had subdued Kilroe, who was either dead or dying. Officers arrested Mr Singh on suspicion of murder and, although he was subsequently released on police bail, he feared that he could face a murder charge for some days before the Crown Prosecution Service declared that he had acted in self-defence.
Of course! The police have their targets to keep up, after all…
Mr Singh, a popular figure in the community, was renowned for working long hours trying to build up his grocery and off-licence business. By contrast Kilroe had a long record for violent crime and was wanted by police at the time for evading trial for two similar armed raids on shops.
Yet another familiar aspect – the contrast between the utter worthlessness of the criminal scumbag and the hard-working businessman.

And then you read something like this, and you wonder why people like Tony even bother to maintain a business to serve a ‘community’ like this one:
Earlier the inquest was told that when Mr Singh had Kilroe pinned to the ground, he punched him repeatedly in the face. It appeared to one witness, Deborah Barker, that the shopkeeper had “lost it”.

Mrs Barker said: “The children came upstairs and said, ‘there's a fight outside and Tony's involved' and so I came straight downstairs and by the time I was out the door Tony was on top of the other man. I was telling Tony to get off him because he was going to hurt him and Tony was screaming ‘The f****** b****** has tried to rob me!'. He said he had stabbed him or something.

“They were covered in blood, and he was going hysterical.”
Anyone would think there’s no moral difference between the two men.

And to people like Mrs Barker, there probably isn’t…

Technology – Working For Us…

Drivers who spot hidden speed cameras will be able to alert other vehicles within three seconds with the help of a dashboard gadget. They will no longer need to flash their headlights to oncoming drivers but will simply press a button on a satellite-positioning device.
Technology is so often our master, these days. Isn’t it nice when it enables you to put one over on those who would be our masters..? ;)
The device, which exploits a loophole in the law, transmits the location of the speedtrap to a processing centre. The information is relayed to other drivers who have installed the same equipment. A car travelling 300 yards behind the driver who first spots the trap would receive the warning in time to slow down before the camera.
Well, getting drivers to slow down is the point, after all, isn’t it?
Road safety groups said that the new device would undermine the ability of police to enforce the limit because drivers would be able to speed with very little risk of being caught. More than 50,000 drivers in France already have the new device. In September they reported 27,000 traps.
But they will be ‘enforcing the limit’ – we’ll be slowing down, after all?

Could it be that getting people to slow down isn’t the raison d’etre of these ‘road safety’ pressure groups after all? Perish the thought!
Novus, the company behind the device, which is known as Mini Coyote, is taking advantage of a legal grey area. Police forces sometimes give warnings that drivers could be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice if they try to alert other drivers to speed traps. But there have been very few successful prosecutions.
Look for this loophole to be closed pretty quickly…
The Government has said it intends to outlaw devices that detect radar or laser systems used by speed cameras. But when contacted by The Times yesterday, the Department for Transport appeared unaware of the existence of the Mini Coyote and unsure how to respond to it. A spokes-woman said: “The police do need the ability to carry out unannounced enforcement with mobile cameras.”
Typically on the ball when it comes to innovations in technology – that’s our Department of Transport!

But why the whine about police needing to ‘enforce the limit with mobile cameras’..? This way, the drivers are enforcing their own limits before they even see the mobile camera! All that’s missing will be the fine – and surely that’s not the point of the enterprise, is it?
Robert Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: “It should be made clear to drivers who are thinking of buying these devices that they could be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.”
Heh. Yeah, once the various committees have sat, pondered, debated and passed the legislation needed to prosecute. Good luck with that one! Somehow, I suspect technology will stay well ahead of the curve on this front.
But Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “We think it would be extremely difficult to prosecute someone for perverting the course of justice if they had warned another motorist of speed cameras ahead.”
It will be. But they’ll have a go, I’m sure. Eventually…
Nigel Carter, from Novus, said: “This is actually a road-safety device because it will help prevent accidents caused by drivers stamping on the brakes when they spot a camera too late. As far as we can see, there is nothing illegal in the unit.”
Everyone’s a winner, surely..?