Wednesday 17 June 2009

Someone Needs An Attitude Adjustment, That’s For Sure…

A woman labelled "potentially violent" after she complained to a Berkshire council about a vandalised flowerbed is suing the authority for libel.
It seems the lady in question saw some anti-social behaviour, and sought to do something about it, instead of walking on by, as so often happens, and letting her local area descend even further:
Ms Clift told the jury that the child was uprooting plants, pulling the heads off flowers and "squashing everything".

She said: "I noted there were adults in the park but no-one seemed to be supervising him."

She approached five adults on a bench but when one of the men became abusive she called the police, who advised her to contact the council.
Ahh, the buck passing we’ve all come to expect these days…
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Ms Clift, said the authority's anti-social behaviour co-ordinator Fozia Rashid was "very dismissive" and said criminal damage was a matter for the police.

He said Ms Clift was told that she had been provocative and should have left the area.
Hang on, I thought we were all encouraged to report anti-social behaviour?

Certainly, the council-sponsored ’Proud To Be Slough’ campaign would like to encourage the perception of the town as ‘a town that is active, inclusive and safe; well run; environmentally sensitive; well designed and built; well connected; thriving; well served and fair for everyone’.

Difficult to achieve if no-one takes reports of ASB seriously, you’d have thought.
When she complained about Ms Rashid's attitude, she said that as far as she was concerned Ms Rashid could "drop down dead" and followed the matter up with a letter.

Ms Clift wrote: "I felt so affronted and so filled with anger that I am certain I would have physically attacked her if she had been anywhere near me.

"I truly am not of that nature and so, surely, this should act as a wake up call to the borough as to the capacity she has for offending people."
Instead of reading this as her way of saying ‘This officer’s attitude would have made Ghandi reach for a weapon…’, the council read it as ‘VIOLENCE!! THREAT!! OMG!!!’ and promptly took action to prevent themselves ever having to read sarky letters about their staff from the people who pay their wages:
Patrick Kelleher, the council's head of public protection, then told Ms Clift that a marker would be placed against her name for 18 months as a result of her allegedly "violent and threatening behaviour".
Note: not actually proven ‘violent and threatening behaviour’, just the councils’
perception of such…

Isn’t it fun when you get to make up the rules that the sheep who have to pay for your index-linked public service pension must live by?
Ms Clift brought her claim against the council and Mr Kelleher on the basis that she was libelled by the entry of her name on the council's Violent Persons Register and by an email sent to a large number of people informing them of this.
I’d be intrigued to know exactly who that ‘large number of people’ to receive the email would potentially be…

And I wish her luck with her court case. If the council loses, the costs should come out of Fozia Rashid’s wages.


Ian B said...

Wait a minute- there's a "violent persons register"?


Stan said...

That's Slough for you. I've come across the same obstructive behaviour from council officials myself and if you dare to question them they threaten you with this sort of thing. I've long since given up on writing to the council and instead go direct to my MP. She doesn't do anything about anything either, but at least she is polite and doesn't go around casting aspersions on my character.

Stan said...

Yep, Ian B - not to be confused with the Violent Offenders Register. They even have an acronym for the behaviour - VATB (Violent and Threatening Behaviour).

It is supposed to mean "Violent, aggressive and threatening behaviour (VATB) – The Health and Safety Executive
defines work-related violence as: “Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or
assaulted in circumstances relating to their work”. This can include verbal and written
abuse or threats, aggressive behaviour or harassment that causes distress (whether in person
or over the phone), as well as physical attacks."

However ....

"It does not include anger without being abusive."

Of course, this is all very subjective because what someone perceives as justified indignation is perceived by someone else as abusive or harrassing behaviour. All a council employee has to do is make the claim and that's you labelled. You have no right to question their decision, no right to have your viewpoint heard and no right to counter claim.

Welcome to Stasiland.

Anonymous said...

No wonder Betjeman wanted the place bombed out of existence.

Ross said...

What's an "anti-social behaviour co-ordinator ". Should we really be employing people to direct the anti-social behaviour, surely there's enough of it already?

Anonymous said...

What, ANOTHER stupid state database, no doubt full of hearsay, innunendo, and gossip, and totally secure of course, oh yes sir, no doubt about that at all, only half a million people have access to it and NONE of them writes their passwords on Post-It notes stuck on their screen, no certainly not.

Who is on this register? How did they get there, and how can they challenge it? By what law was it established, who audits it, who guarantees its integrity? I am guessing none, nobody, and nobody.

Makes you sick, doesn't it?

JuliaM said...

"Wait a minute- there's a "violent persons register"?"

All very Kafka-esque...

"That's Slough for you."

Got to agree. And with Henry Crun!

"What, ANOTHER stupid state database, no doubt full of hearsay, innunendo, and gossip, and totally secure of course, oh yes sir, no doubt about that at all, only half a million people have access to it and NONE of them writes their passwords on Post-It notes stuck on their screen.."

There's probably something like this in most councils - I doubt if it's a central thing. All different, all incompatible.

Ms Clift should ask for her details under the DPA, and raise holy hell if there's the slightest thing wrong...

resident said...

i know fozia rashid. instead of being highly dismissive of any situation, she was instead dismissed by the council because she wouldnt turn a blind eye to antisocial behaviour. i had a situation in my street that the council ignored for ten years. (someone smell a backhander?) residents were subjected to threats of house fires, racial abuse, bodily harm, etc by a business/garage owner. after ten years of complaints ms rashid found the huge thick file of complaints that had been 'filed away' by slough borough council and took the guilty parties to court. she also stood up to the people within the council and parking enforcement who had allowed the situation to go unchecked. she was also a victim of racial harassment and intimidation by the person who is the head of the antisocial behaviour department in slough. (disturbing)

remember - slough borough council is always going to throw someone under the bus when they are in trouble, and unfortunately ms swift has fallen for the councils little trick of using Ms rashid as the patsy.

also, remember, just because ms swift says something, doesnt necessarily mean it is true. true, i dont know her, but having known fozia rashid for years, and seen her at work, she would have had to have had a total personality bypass in order for her to have behaved unsympatheitcally to ms swift.

i can also say that if miss swift was catagorised as dangerous by Ms rashid i would put money on their having been more than one abusive phone call by Ms swift.