It is important to remember that taking a child into care is supposed to be a measure to prevent significant harm. Hence if the numbers taken into care are going up, but it is having no effect on the most significant harm of death then a question should be asked as to whether the right things are being done.
There always will be a financial need to limit the number of children taken into care. When Haringey were considering whether or not to take Peter Connolly into care they were under severe pressures. The fact is that there were children in care at the time in Haringey who were taken into care because their mother might say things to them that might undermine their self esteem. If those children were not in care there would have been space for Peter Connolly.
It isn't difficult to understand, but it appears to be beyond the government. If you take the wrong children into care there is not only the injustice for those children and their families, but also more children die.
The absence of an intellectually rigorous system for quality control on care decisions lies behind this.
As to the underlying case it depends in part on how frail the pensioners are as to whether this is or is not an appropriate action to take. I was contacted recently by someone representing a group of people who have left the country to get away from the biased procedures (Lashin v Russia) that operate in England and Wales. I hope to see this reported in some way (even if it is only on my web log) in the future.
I am not sure myself whether this will produce the result that the system is trying to get. However, it is only when there is a pattern of such cases that it becomes possible to judge independently what works and what doesn't. (Notwithstanding the issue as to whether this is proportionate).
The government have a responsibility to count imprisonments so we can check they are not happening in secret. They have, however, refused.
There are limits to protest. Violent protests are not acceptable. The occupation was generally well behaved, but there was an attempt to push past me into my office. (I was holding the door shut) That actually is the use of violence even though I have told the police that I do not wish to take this further.
The issue they were raising about the certainty of the arrangement of finance is a very important principle. It is important that when students commit to a financial arrangement that this is stuck to by government. It is governed by a number of statutory instruments. One if SI 2012/1309 The Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2012. This was laid before parliament on 21st May 2012 and could have been blocked by a motion in parliament. Hence it has parliamentary accountability. Furthermore it is also subject to judicial review (and there are no proposals to change this particular aspect of judicial review). Hence the arrangements in Article 1 Protocol 1 could be used to quash changes which affect the contractual elements of the arrangement.
Where they are right is that the money that graduates have to pay is more important than the amount of money that universities charge the system. About 3/4 of graduates' payments are dependent entirely on their income and are not affected by the amount of the fees that the universities charge the scheme.
This is to be fair the most important element of this area of public policy where there have been threats to change the arrangements but a number of politicians have argued against this (including myself).
Hence the basic principle behind the demonstration was flawed as well as its execution although I was not as stressed about this group as I was about the previous group who did do some specific harm to two of my constituents.
Factually, however, on the issue of the terms and conditions they are wrong. Hence it does not matter who actually owns the debt.
The Petition of an interpreter working in England,
Declares that the interpreter works in family court proceedings translating for families who speak Czech and Slovak.
She has been shocked at the way in which a judge was partial in proceedings and the evidence that was accepted which would never be accepted anywhere else in courts. There was a social worker who was interrogated by both sides who was asked whether the grandmother behaved appropriately with her daughter in the contact centre and the social worker said “yes she did”. The next question was whether she would behave appropriately in her own house. The social worker said that she could not say that she would and hence the court decided not to place the child with the grandmother. Furthermore the grandparents were criticised for approaching the media in England.
In a second case the family had signed documentation that they did not understand thereby giving their children to the local authority and this documentation was used to get the children adopted.
In other cases really flimsy evidence is accepted and parents are misled by their legal advisors into accepting the case against them because they may then get the children returned. The parents then find that the children are adopted using the fact that the parents had accepted the case against them as evidence.
Additionally a mother was forced to sign documents disowning Slovak nationality for her child on the basis that otherwise she would be imprisoned.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons establishes an inquiry into the quality of evidence accepted in family court proceedings.
Obviously I know who the interpreter is. However, that information is not publicly available. This is a good mechanism for whistleblowers to put information into the public domain protected by parliamentary privilege (in other words it is not subject to contempt of court proceedings) without themselves being identified. (A petition is a proceeding in parliament.)
There has been considerable debate about the change in policy so that tenants in Social Housing have to pay for any spare rooms in the same way that tenants in Private Rented properties have to pay the extra rent for a spare room.
The difference in Social Housing is that the rent is subsidised and housing benefit pays all of the rent apart from the spare room. In Private Rented rents are higher and if the rent without a spare room is greater than the lowest 3 in ten properties in the area then housing benefit is limited to that amount.
In a home (flat or house) there is the basic household which could be a single person or couple with or without dependent children. However, at times there might be "non-dependents" in the household. Those are normally adult children who have grown up, but not left the house. They could include a grandparent (or two). Additionally there can be lodgers (aka Sub-tenants) or Boarders.
A non-dependent is defined as someone who lives in the household, but on a non-commercial basis. A lodger is a sub-tenant who is living in the property on a non-commerical basis and a boarder is a lodger who eats some meals provided by the tenant.
As far as Social Housing goes (Housing Associations, Council Housing, ALMOs etc) any adults be they non-dependents, lodgers or boarders are included in the calculation as to how many rooms are needed. For non-dependents there is a "non-dependent deduction". For a non-dependent on benefits this is £13.60 per week. This might be less than the spare room payment (aka Bedroom tax) or it might be more.
For a lodger the tenant is allowed to keep the first £20 per week before any benefits are reduced, but there is no spare room payment. For a boarder it is the first £20 per week and then half of any greater sum (hence if someone pays £30 a week for boarding the tenant gets £30 and benefit is reduced by £5 (meaning the tenant keeps £25 per week).
I must stress that taking in lodgers is not something everyone would want to do. I personally have often had lodgers or shared accommodation with others. However, there are circumstances where this would not be appropriate.
However, if you think of a single man occupying a 3 bedroom flat. Say the rent is £80 per week. The spare bedroom payment is £20(25%). If the man has an income of £71.70 he is left with £51.70. With two lodgers he has an income of £111.70 and does not have to pay for the spare bedrooms.
The government wishes to see the spare bedrooms being used and to reduce rents more generally which is why the government is encouraging people to take in lodgers. I am currently trying to find out for certain if LHA will pay the £20 (It will not pay the non-dependent contribution).
Personally I am supportive of the MMR vaccination and think it is appropriate for my own children. However, I do have some difficulties with the approach of the court particularly in respect of a 15 year old girl. This falls into the questions of Gillick competence and the like.
If you have a toddler or an older child who has no strong views then that is one approach. However, if you have a child who is 15 I feel uncomfortable about forcing a decision on that child.
The courts do seem too willing to impose a judicial decision on people who are from a capacity perspective competent. Before the recess I assisted a young man with Muscular Dystrophy in resisting such an imposition. However, I do think there are issues about the extent to which people's decisions are overridden by the state. I could see a situation in which the state makes a decision that for herd immunity individual discretion is overridden although I am unsure that this justifies such an approach. After all anyone who wishes immunity can have the vaccination and that gives a substantial element of protection.
At this point in theory the vaccination has been given. However, we don't know the story from the perspective of anyone other than the judge.
There is also the issue that this appeared in the media before the anonymous judgment was published on Bailii (or the associated ones from 2011). I note that the judgments went onto Bailii yesterday (Saturday).
For the purposes of this Act, a child with respect to whom a constable has exercised his powers under this section is referred to as having been taken into police protection.
At times this power is abused by the local authority childrens services. They tell the police a child is at risk and the police go and arrest the child. The danger for the mother is that she only has a roughly 20% chance of getting her baby back. (whether she goes to the hospital with the baby or not).
Most likely what should have happened is that the local authority should have applied for an emergency protection order. That is a better system because because it gives the mother the chance to argue against the action rather than it just happening.
Potentially a judicial review of this decision would succeed. Sadly the people lobbying for the mother are people who have a strange legal belief known as "Freeman of the Land". I have never seen anything good come of FMOTLing. They mean well, but they ignore the fact that the "glorious revolution" was in fact a popular revolution in 1688 that established a new constitutional settlement. Only things derived from that constitutional settlement have force.
In any event we have this strange event in Somerset probably about a week ago where a mother is taken to hospital with the threat that her baby will go without her if she doesn't go. It may be injuncted off the net, but also it may not.
The rumours around the net is that the argument is that mother supports things being natural including no vaccination etc. Personally I support vaccination for my children, but I don't think this sort of argument necessarily warrants a baby being arrested within 24 hours of birth. At the same time, however, no-one present appears to fully understand the law in this area. Most importantly, however, the avoiding of an EPO process prevents the mother arguing her own view and merely takes the view of the state.
From Serious Case Review 8 dated 14th March 2009 (8 pages long)
When a child is presented to the Accident and Emergency Department there is a great need to challenge the history of an injury and any inconsistencies relating to that history as part of sound clinical skills in analysing paediatric injuries. There is great importance in using discussions with seniors as a forum for challenging opinions of juniors. These discussions must be documented. There is a need for greater awareness of safeguarding procedures particularly around referral to Children’s Social Care. Second opinions should be sought in equivocal cases, where the need for referral to child protection services is uncertain. There is importance in setting out the list of possible diagnoses and documentation of non diagnosis at the end of medical assessments. The need to communicate and document concerns to medical staff, nursing managers and the safeguarding nurse lead. There is a great need to communicate concerns to the community health staff via the liaison form. There is a need for criteria on timescales for visits for community staff when a child has been presented to accident and emergency with an injury – query cause. Timescales should be dependent upon the nature of the injury and this would aid staff in prioritising visits.
From Serious Case Review 25. (182 pages long) Keanu Williams died on 9th January 2011. He was only 4 months old when the previous serious case review was published.
Key Learning Point 4:
The quality of child protection medical assessments and the process followed by staff before and after the child protection medicals was found to be seriously lacking particularly when sharing and analysing information. The lack of clarity between the professionals involved, including their line managers, in terms of their understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities affected the quality of the decision making and therefore the outcome.
The BSCB should ensure that the Interagency Protocol for Child Protection Medical assessments and the procedures in place to support this should be critically reviewed by representatives from Children’s Social Care, Health and the Police in consultation with front line staff in the relevant agencies to ensure that the medical assessments are carried out to a good standard as a part of the assessment process. The updated Protocol should be reviewed regularly by the BSCB on the same interagency basis.
Expected outcome 4:
The core agencies; Health, Children’s Social Care and the Police, should undertake child protection medical assessments in line with the relevant Protocol, which should be subject to regular BSCB audit. When there are differences of opinion and /or specialist medical knowledge is required there should be arrangements in place to ensure that staff can access second opinions or specialist practitioners.
Unless we can deal with both the bullying management culture and the guidelines that prevent experienced staff being employed and move away from the tick box culture things will not improve. Comments on Radio 5
As it currently stands the four largest ISP's all offer systems which use a centralised database. The following are the comments that I have from each of the ISPs.
Virgin Media said:
We're in the process of transitioning from our existing device-based parental controls solution, to a new, DNS network-based solution. By the end of 2014 all new and existing customers will be given the choice of whether to implement these new controls. Through a robust, two-step verification process, we will ensure it is only the adult account holder who makes the decision on whether to apply the filters.
Our new solution is applied at a household router level. It uses the IP address assigned to the subscribers' router to deliver a consistent level of filtering to any and all devices connecting to that home broadband connection. We have procured and invested in the solution in line with Government's desired objective of "whole home" filtering.
Where a subscriber has opted in to apply the filters, DNS lookups associated with that subscriber's IP address will be analysed against our block list to determine whether access is permitted. Only subscribers that opt in to the filters will have their DNS lookups analysed.
Whilst it is clearly necessary for us to retain data on whether an IP address has selected filters in order for us to implement them, details of sites accessed by subscribers will not be recorded unless specifically required for diagnostic purposes, and will not be retained after diagnosis is complete.
Our solution does not utilise Deep Packet Inspection technology. As such, our systems only get sight of URL data, unlike systems that use DPI which have the capability to view all traffic passing across the network.
We are committed to providing our customers with all the tools they need to keep their families safe online. As a result, we will be rolling out a ‘whole-home’ filtering service before the end of the year. This will give our customers complete piece of mind, letting them control the type of content that is available across all internet-connected devices used in the home.
The system will use DNS technology to identify the websites that need to be filtered out according to a customer’s preferences and will not use deep packet inspection technology.
To make this solution work, we need to store the level of filtering required by each customer and we will not keep a record of individual web queries. The information on the choices customers have made about what content to filter out is also subject to stringent data protection measures
We don't have a formal response from TalkTalk, but their system appears to operate based upon a proxy server. With a central database.
We at BT take seriously the need to keep children as safe as possible online. The Government has been clear in its online child safety agenda about its desire to see ISPs do more to make all their customers aware of and apply filtering tools. BT is responding to that. We take customer privacy, data protection and confidentiality of customer records equally seriously in doing so.
Our child protection filters are optional . There are multiple filtering categories of which pornography is but one – and this has always been the case. By the end of next year all new and existing BT customers will be given the unavoidable choice as to whether to block pornography, but as before, they can also choose to block any of the existing other categories: these will be applicable to all devices in home. BT and other ISPs are required to have in place a process which ensures that the internet account holder is not by passed in the setting, re-setting or alteration of filtering choices. This is to ensure that children in households cannot bypass parental choices without their knowledge.
If you want me to respond to any comment please either comment only on the past few entries or put something in your comment to make it clear what you are commenting on (the URL would help). Otherwise I will not be able to find the comment quickly and will not respond.