John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, January 26, 2014
  DNA Marking offer for 125cc Motorbikes in West Midlands

The following is from WEST Midlands Police and benefits constituents who have 125cc Motorbikes

Motorbike marking a UK first


WEST Midlands Police are the first force in the UK to offer free motorcycle DNA marking for cyclists in a bid to beat bike thieves.

Thieves are stealing 125cc motorcycles and breaking them up for parts. The parts, which are not individually marked, are then sold on making them difficult to trace and, if recovered, hard to reunite with their owners.

In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the UK, the Force have teamed up with six motorcycle dealers across the region to offer free DNA motorcycle marking.

Each of the dealers has 150 marking kits, paid for by money under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The kits, which normally retail at about £30, consist of a bottle of DNA fluid, with which each part of the bike is painted.  This fluid dries and is not detectable by eye but contains micro dots that are then unique to that bike.

The motorcycle dealers will mark the motorbikes for free and then register each bike on a dedicated website.  If the bike or any part of it is then stolen and later recovered anywhere in the world officers will be able to identify the owner and gather much needed intelligence about where these stolen bikes are being traded.

To take advantage of this free offer, motorbike owners simply need call one of the dealers taking part in the scheme and make an appointment to visit them and get their bike marked.
Dealers taking part in the scheme are:

Sergeant Andy Gregory from the force’s Crime Reduction department said: “The more bikes we can get marked, the bigger the deterrent for would-be bike thieves and the more likely we can track where bike parts are being stolen from and sent to.

“ I would encourage as many people across the force who own 125cc motorcycles to take advantage of this offer and make appointments soon to get their bikes marked.”
 
Friday, January 24, 2014
  The Lobbying Bill - Lords Amendments
The Lobbying Bill returned to the commons and the following lords amendments were agreed:
 Increasing the spending limits in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from the levels originally set out in the Bill, giving an uplift of £20,000 to each nation.

. Removing all burdens from low-spending participants in a campaigning coalition by allowing larger campaigners to provide a single report on their behalf. 

. Removing the requirement for a return, or a nil return, in relation to spending returns, donations reports and statement of accounts, if a recognised third party has not spent above the registration threshold. 

. A review of the effects of the provisions of Part 2 of the Bill to report following the 2015 General Election, to ensure the regulatory system remains effective and proportionate.

. Reducing the length of the 2014/2015 regulated period during which campaigners have to limit their expenditure from 12 to 7 ½ months, meaning it will now start after the referendum on Scottish independence. This gives more time to produce clear guidance so that the changes in this Bill can be fully understood and prepared for.

. An exemption for the costs of translating material from and into Welsh, and for campaign costs relating to disability and security. 

There were also some lords amendments that were rejected.  One was a Lords Amendment which excluded the costs of staff time from third parties if the staff were not specifically employed for election campaigning.  The idea is to have transparency about election campaigning.  If you have a major section of the campaigning that is excluded then it isn't really transparent.


 
Monday, January 20, 2014
  Public Statement: JUDr Marica Pirosikova
First off, I would again like to thank to the British politician John Hemming MP, who notified me during the search for adequate solution in the case of Boor on the possibility for the Slovak Republic to enter into the proceedings before English courts as a third party. The judgment of Sir James Munby confirms that such approach of the Slovak Republic was accurate. It is a challenge also for the other countries claiming not to be able to help their citizens facing separation of children from their parents without relevant reasons in the United Kingdom, to intervening actively in a such proceedings before the family courts. At the same time it is very important for the intervening country to assess the cases also with regard to the ECHR case law. I remind that the PACE on 30 November 2012 adopted a resolution where it stressed that the children should be separated from their parents only in very exceptional circumstances. The adoption of the resolution was based on a report by Christopher Chope criticising the functioning of family courts e.g. in the United Kingdom. (http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-DocDetails-EN.asp?FileID=19190&lang=EN)" 

JUDr. Marica Pirošíková
zástupkyňa Slovenskej republiky pred Európskym súdom pre ľudské práva
Ministerstvo spravodlivosti Slovenskej republiky
Župné nám. 13

813 11 Bratislava

(written by her in English rather than translated)
 
Friday, January 17, 2014
  A45 Coventry Road Safety Update

Further to our work and the petition that was raised on this matter last year, we recently met with a representative from Birmingham Community Safety Partnership and local Police Inspector James Gooderidge to discuss developments in how safety concerns on the A45 could be addressed.

We presented the views of our constituents who have conscientiously written letters and emails to our office and from this, the following points have now been forwarded to the BCC Highways Department to look into further;

I will continue to post further developments in due course.
 
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
  Statement on the Child Protection System: Women Against Rape
WOMEN AGAINST RAPE

We are increasingly concerned about social services removing children from their mothers, especially after the mothers faced domestic violence. Mothers have come to us who, instead of getting support, were blamed for the situation and had their children taken into care or even adopted. In some cases, the children were given to the father without a thorough and independent investigation of the violence allegations. Mums are then sent to prison for breaking contact or gagging orders in order to defend their children and their relationship with them.

At the same time, women and children who ask for protection are being raped and even murdered following neglect by police and social services. The benefit cap is also trapping women and children in violent relationship, impoverishing those who escape. See our petition about this: here

To remove children from their mother or other primary carer is in itself irreparable child abuse and should never be undertaken unless there is an immediate and significant danger to the child.

The secrecy of the family courts are a major obstacle to justice and protection for mothers and children at risk of domestic violence. Their lack of accountability prevents any thorough examination of the facts, putting lay people at a disadvantage in relation to unscrupulous professionals who often have a vested interest in having children removed from their mothers. This is increasingly true as legal aid is also being cut. We support the call made by numerous parents and organisations and by John Hemming MP for these courts to follow the principles of open justice.

To contact us, war@womenagainstrape.net
www.womenagainstrape.net

 
  The failings of the family courts in public family law (more children are dying)
Today Face the Facts went into more detail about the various networks across Europe that are helping refugees from the English and Welsh Family Courts. It is a good programme and worth listening to.

This and Panorama from Monday are, however, only one side of the argument. The key objective of the Child Protection System is to protect children. One way of measuring how well the system is doing is to consider how many children are dying from child abuse and neglect.

There are a number of sources of information. One I use is the number of prosecutions for manslaughter or murder of a child (Baby P's). In 2011 according to the CPS there were 16, in 2012 there were 19 and in 2013 there were 34.

There are also significant incident notifications sent to Ofsted. However, Ofsted have now decided that they will refuse to give me the anonymised list (something they have done up to 2012). This gives a larger number as obviously there will be cases where a child has died, but there is insufficient evidence for a prosecution. There will also be cases where abuse and/or neglect is suspected at first and it turns out that it was not NAI. In itself I think it is wrong for Ofsted to cover up their failure to properly manage this information.

Hence it is quite clear that on a very basic measure of the system that things seem to be getting worse. There is a good reason for this which is that it is very difficult when a child is born to predict that the child will die as a result of abuse or neglect many years later. Often the circumstances change. However, the system has been pressurised by government to go back to what was happening until 2008 which is a high priority on young babies.

As far as babies under 1 month are concerned 1,400 were taken into care in 2010 1,480 in 2011, 1,750 in 2012 and 2,030 in 2013. However, at the same time the evidence is that child deaths have risen.

Obviously when I say "the wrong children are taken into care", that is shorthand for me saying that many decisions are wrong. Some younger children are taken into care unnecessarily and the pressure on the system then means that older children are left to die. Whichever way this is not something that should be ignored. Hence I have tabled a motion about it.

 
Monday, January 13, 2014
  AIMS statement re child protection system
Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services
PRESS RELEASE 13 January 2013

AIMS, run entirely by volunteers, has been a national pressure group for 53 years, for expectant and new parents. Because our help-line is totally confidential, we are trusted with a great deal of information which parents no longer give to doctors, midwives and nurses because information about children is now shared.

Without their knowledge, every pregnant woman (and expectant father) is screened by the NHS to see if they may be a risk to the child, and they are monitored for risk factors like previous mental illness, domestic violence, being a teenager, unemployed, homeless, a former or current drug user, etc. They are then automatically referred to social services, who may hold child protection planning meetings before the baby is born.

At a time when both the current and previous government demanded increased adoption numbers, and newborn babies are the most wanted and adoptable material, such referrals evoke huge fear in parents, and the stress levels this causes have been shown to cause long term damage to unborn children. It also means that mothers are mow concealing mental illness (like post-natal depression) for fear of having their children removed, as many studies (including postnatal suicides in mothers) have shown.

President Jean Robinson, who sat on the GMC for 14 years and its Professional Conduct Committee for 6, says that, having seen many court Documents in AIMS cases, and been a witness in Family Court, she is appalled at the quality of expert evidence accepted without question. This could only happen because hearings are secret; in medical negligence cases expert evidence is of higher quality. And the lack of integrity in social workers’ evidence is so common that we are no longer surprised by it.

There are no studies showing whether current social service policies in fact do more harm than good, and we have seen hundreds of families who have suffered long term damage as a result of even minor interventions. WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE-BASE FOR BENEFIT AND HARM FOR THIS EXPENSIVE AND INCREASINGLY COMMON INTERVENTION?

Beverley Beech, Chair, AIMS
chair@aims.org.uk

Jean Robinson, President AIMS
jean.robinson@aims.org.uk

 
  Response to comments from CAFCASS
It is an error to say that because there are more children in care that there are "more children protected". a) The most important question is whether or not we are seeing a reduction in children being subjected to serious abuse. In particular those children that die from child abuse and neglect. b) The secondary point is that it is not true to say that just because a child is in care that that child is "protected". The situation in care at times is worse than it was whilst with the family.
 
Sunday, January 12, 2014
  Panorama - "Emigrate to get a fair trial"
The advice for pregnant women to emigrate to get a fair trial is nothing new. There are many cases of people who have emigrated (particularly pregnant women). I would highlight two cases (although there are others on my blog).

A. Michelle Freedman whose case was reported here. It is important to note that she is a family court barrister. I tabled an EDM about her case here which says:
That this House notes the withdrawal of care proceedings against Michelle Freedman by Barnet Council; further notes that Barnet Council has caused psychological harm to Michelle's elder daughter; further notes that had she not left UK jurisdiction both her daughters would have suffered further psychological harm; further notes that Ms Freedman is a family court barrister with over 10 years' experience and she left the jurisdiction because she was aware through her experience of similar cases that any local authority in this situation would be likely to invent allegations against her in order to win the case had she remained; further notes that legal proceedings were initiated because Ms Freedman had made a complaint against a social worker; further notes that Barnet's case included a criticism of Ms Freedman that she had done what she had been asked to do by Barnet Council which it then claimed put her daughter at risk and that the rules of estoppel should normally have prevented this being used against Ms Freedman; further notes that the Government intends to reduce the access of parents to truly independent assessments which will make it easier for local councils to win cases by making things up; recognises that if a barrister has so little confidence in the system that she leaves the jurisdiction to avoid being subjected to false allegations by a local authority there are serious difficulties in the system; and calls for parliamentary committees and the Government to review this issue.

The second is the Cootes family. Their case has been reported in lots of places. Here is a Daily Mail story.

It is important to remember that there have been a number of suicides (one a fortnight ago) as a result of the trauma of proceedings in the UK.

My advice is always to ensure that people take their paperwork and talk to the authorities whichever country they go to. Many countries already know how silly things are in England and are sympathetic. Also remember you need to be self financing and don't go to Ireland.

Emigrating when pregnant is not illegal. The situation is different if court proceedings have started.

There are lots of reasons why people don't get a fair trial. The secrecy has allowed a lot of bad practice to develop. However, the fundamental problem is with the nature of the evidence. The assessments and care plans are normally done by the local authority. Hence they are subject to the managerial policies of the local authority.

There is a european court of human rights case Lashin v Russia that explains why this is procedurally flawed.

The underlying question is whether Local Authorities are so perfect in their analyses of situations that parents should not expect any independent opinion. The system operates on the principle of the infallibility of local authorities. At the same time LAs have adoption targets to hit. This results in managers telling social workers not to return baby to their parents. And in one leicester case that I have documented firing a social worker because she recommended the return of a child against managerial dictat.

It is also worth reading This Birmingham Post Article

I must stress that this option is not one for everyone to consider. If court proceedings have started it is futile and counter productive. Also the finances are really difficult and need to be well thought through. However, it has been successful for a number of families. The Webster case (aka Hardingham) started with the family going to Ireland. Effectively it is form of forum shopping rather than evading justice.

Ireland is now a bad place to go as so many people went there that the authorities now push people back to England.

Can I please stress, however, that the above cannot be taken as advice to stay or advice to go. Before I advise an individual as to how best to respond I need to see all the case paperwork.

 
Sunday, January 05, 2014
  Birmingham City Council - why can't they keep the streets clean?
I have received a number of complaints recently about the failure of street cleaning across Yardley (and a considerable number specifically from Acocks Green).

My constituents have asked why Solihull MDC can keep the streets clean, but not Birmingham. The Labour Party would like to say "money". Well I have the estimated budgets for the next financial year (which starts on 1st April 2014).

For the next financial year Birmingham will be spending (including government grant) around £2,587.09 per dwelling and Solihull will be spending only £1,831.52 per dwelling.

Hence Birmingham hasn't got enough money when it gets £700 per dwelling more than Solihull. Solihull has enough money.

Birmingham does, however, have enough money to spend tens of millions of pounds on wheelie bins. Politics is about choices. Labour, now they have control of the city council, have clearly decided to accept rubbish on the streets.

The Labour administration in Birmingham need to wake up and smell the coffee. They are in charge of the priorities. My constituents want the city kept clean. There is, in fact, good evidence that this reduces crime. It is not a trivial issue. My constituents are right about this.

We are poaching Solihull's Chief Executive. Maybe he will get Labour to see sense. I don't blame Stephen Hughes for the mess on the Streets I blame Sir Albert Bore and the Labour Councillors.

 
Saturday, January 04, 2014
  Stuart Syvret released from prison
For those that follow this issue. Stuart Syvret who as health minister in Jersey blew the whistle on maltreatment of children has been released from prison again. He was imprisoned for what he said. Yes I know it was contempt of court, but at the end of the day the offence was one of speech. Specifically speech criticising the failure of the authorities in Jersey to prosecute certain individuals. There is a blog posting about this with a short interview with him here
 
  Independent Story about Mental Capacity Issues
This story in The Independent looks at the issues of the variability of capacity proceedings (both in the court of protection, but more widely).

The nub of the issue is that the interests of the state tend to predominate over people's wishes. Quoting from the article:
Lawyers believe that patients who make controversial decisions are left vulnerable to the court assuming they lack capacity. “We have the impression that where decisions a person makes are contentious, there is often a swift conclusion that the person lacks capacity, and substituted decisions are made for them,” they wrote.

 

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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