John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, January 29, 2012
  David Lammy is right about discipline
There has been quite a bit of press reporting about David Lammy's comments about the operation of the care system acting to undermine discipline.

Clearly this is not the only reason that the looting occurred, but I know of a number of cases where the care system has undermined parental discipline to the clear and obvious detriment to the children. Hence I agree with him about the principle.
 
Sunday, January 22, 2012
  Australian Government Peak Oil Report
The link is to a copy of a report produced by the Australian Government in 2009 which was then as far as I can tell sat on and removed from the list of reports.

The summary includes the following:
The trends in discovery of oil can be used to project similar trends in the subsequent
production of oil. Using a method developed here, forecasts of future oil/liquids
production for 40 countries/regions around the world have been produced.
The oil production prospects of different countries and regions vary immensely.
However, on balance, when an aggregation is done across the globe, it is predicted
that world production of conventional oil is currently just past its highest point
(conventional oil is oil pumped from wells on land or in water less than 500 metres
deep). A predicted shallow decline in the short run should give way to a steeper
decline after 2016.
However, deep water and non-conventional oil production are growing strongly,
turning a slight decline into a plateau for total crude oil (non-conventional oil is heavy
and viscose or indeed tar-like oil). Given the growth in deep and non-conventional
balancing the shallow decline in conventional production, it is predicted that we
have entered about 2006 onto a slightly upward slanting plateau in potential oil
production that will last only to about 2016—eight years from now (2008). For the
next eight years it is likely that world crude oil production will plateau in the face
of continuing economic growth. After that, the modelling is forecasting what can
be termed ‘the 2017 drop-off’. The outlook under a base case scenario is for a long
decline in oil production to begin in 2017, which will stretch to the end of the century
and beyond. Projected increases in deep water and non-conventional oil, which are
‘rate-constrained’ in ways that conventional oil is not, will not change this pattern.
Importantly, these forecasts assume that world oil production is not constrained in the
near term by reduced demand arising from lower world economic growth. Depending
on the length of time before a return to more normal levels of world economic growth
and resulting higher demand for oil, the dropoff is likely to be delayed.
 
Saturday, January 21, 2012
  Court of protection story in The Telegraph
The link is to a story where a local council attempted to stop an elderly lady with dementia from going on a cruise. In this instance the CoP found for the human beings. My experience is that it normally finds for the state however bad the arguments for the state happen to be.
 
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
  Court of Appeal 'redefine' Liberty
The Court of Appeal Judgement in Cheshire West and Chester v P appears to redefine the concept of deprivation of liberty to exclude disabled people, in effect depriving anyone locked up by social services on the basis of an *alleged* disability of safeguards and appeal rights.

This judgment has been criticised in this excellent article by Sam Smith - along with many others including Community Care magazine , 39 Essex Street Chambers and the Mental Health Alliance .

I have argued for the reform of the Court of Protection for some time - and this judgement only underscores the serious problems with the system.

The Mental Health Alliance will be proposing options for reform in a forthcoming report and it is to be hoped the Department of Health listens. This is one of the most pressing issues facing this country today. Extract from the report here.
 
Monday, January 09, 2012
  (partially) Secret Committal Hearing in Northampton
The link is to a story from Northampton where a mother was given a 28 days suspended sentence for putting information about her case on Facebook.

RSC Schedule 1 Order 52 states:
(2)If the court hearing an application in private by virtue of paragraph (1) decides to make an order of committal against the person sought to be committed, it shall in public state –

(a)the name of that person;

(b)in general terms the nature of the contempt of court in respect of which the order of committal is being made; and

(c)the length of the period for which he is being committed.


I don't have any information about the case apart from what is in the Northampton Chronicle. Clearly the existence of the hearing is not secret, but the identity of the mother is.

My own reading of Order 52 is that suspended committal orders are not distinguished from other committal orders.

It remains that contempt of court applications are of a criminal nature and for the protection of the rule of law they should involve open justice. It is particularly oppressive when people are prevented from speaking out about the situation as happens when reporting restrictions are applied.

The judge is also quoted as saying:
“I have broad shoulders and can accept that the difficult decision I had to make could cause great unhappiness to one or more of the parties. But it is not right the judge should be criticised in this way. If criticisms are justified then they should be made in the form of an appeal to a higher court.”

I personally am unsure as to
a) What criticism was made
b) What criticism in itself should have any impact on an order for committal whether suspended or not.

It remains, however, that although there are grounds for appeal of the courts decision (see Schedule 1 above) it is unlikely that there will be an appeal given the practical difficulty of making appeals.
 
Sunday, January 08, 2012
  Failed Adoptions create more homeless youths (in the USA)
The link is to a story (29/12/2011) in the New York Times about failed adoptions leading to homelessness.

The USA started the obsession with adoption as a "solution" to care. They have about 50,000 "adoptions" from care each year. They don't actually track the total adoptions figure as the most recent total figure is from 2001 and is around 127,000.

There is a very important distinction between adoption from care in the USA and England. In the USA there is often an adoption fee paid by the state which results in more children being "adopted". The question, of course, is what happens when the money stops.

That is also why there are more older adoptions in the USA.

In the UK the starting problem is that the care system often makes really silly decisions. We had the story in The Times about adoptees voting with their feet in their teens. It is important to note that this applies to children adopted in the 1990s. Our big push for adoption was from 2000 onwards hence one would expect this to become a bigger problem over this decade.

If you take a simple comparison of population of the USA at 300M and England at 50M then the English rate of adoptions at just over 3,000 (3040 to the nearest 10) would give 18,000 adoptions in the USA (from care). If you take the figure of permanence at just under 6,000 that compares to 36,000. However, the USA figure also really includes foster care. That is why their figure is so high. (And why you get stories like the NY times story linked to).

I don't know enough about the USA system to comment much more. I know a lot of children die violent deaths in the USA. However, I don't know to what extent they are teenagers dying in gang warfare or children dying at the hands of their carers. It remains that the Gilbert conclusion in the Lancet (also December 2011) is that the approach in both countries to child protection is not actually reducing the amount of child maltreatment.

That particular aspect is a much more complex issue.
 
Thursday, January 05, 2012
  Times Story about Adoption Reversals
The link is to today's story in The Times about adoptions reversing as children get older. There has already been some of this, but with the more aggressive approach to adoption there are many more wrongful adoptions.

The story is behind a paywall. I will extract a few quotes
The two leading adoption charities are deeply concerned about the big increase in online unplanned contact, which flouts guidelines on contacting adopted children and risks seriously disrupting the lives of already troubled young people.

The problem affects children who were taken into care for safeguarding in the 1990s. In the worst cases, children traced by their birth parents suffer a complete breakdown in the relationship with their adoptive family, the charities warn.

Research by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering found that 53 per cent of adopted children have used unofficial means, including Facebook, to trace birth parents. A quarter said that the outcome had been unsettling.

Where I am critical of the article is that it makes no reference to the fact that at times social workers exaggerate the problems in families in order to obtain care orders.

In the end it is likely to be the adopted children that will bring about the pressure for the policy we currently have to change unless it is changed first by parliament.
I made this point a number of years ago and as the cohorts forced through the system since 2000 start becoming of sufficient age to speak out then there will be a greater demand for change (and probably the same apology as was given to the home children).
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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