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Showing posts from January, 2007

Silent Calls success at last

Ofcom has today imposed financial penalties on four companies under section 130 of the Communications Act 2003 (the “Act”). Penalty notices have been issued to Bracken Bay Kitchens Ltd, Space Kitchens and Bedrooms Ltd, Toucan Residential Ltd (formerly IDT Direct Ltd) and Carphone Warehouse plc, for contravening section 128 of Act by making an excessive amount of silent or abandoned calls. Silent calls can occur when automated calling systems used by call centres generate more calls than the available call centre agents can manage. When the person called answers the telephone and there is no agent available, the automated calling system abandons the call. This can result in the person called experiencing silent on the line when they answer the telephone. Ofcom has imposed the following penalties: Space Kitchens £45,000 Bracken Bay Kitchens £40,000 Carphone Warehouse £35,000 Toucan £32,500

Mass Application to European Court of Human Rights

Following discussions with a number of victims of the system of Public Family Law in the UK the suggestion has been put forward that there should be a mass application to the European Court of Human Rights. This would apply under a number of Articles including: ARTICLE 3 PROHIBITION OF TORTURE The maltreatment of pregnant women and women who have just given birth ARTICLE 4 PROHIBITION OF SLAVERY AND FORCED LABOUR Forcing women to give birth and give their baby to the state ARTICLE 5 RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND SECURITY False imprisonment by social services under threat of removing a child ARTICLE 6 RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL The whole system fails to operate legally ARTICLE 7 NO PUNISHMENT WITHOUT LAW Being punished with the removal of children for "offences" such as not going to fat club ARTICLE 8 RIGHT TO RESPECT FOR PRIVATE AND FAMILY LIFE There is little respect for family life ARTICLE 9 FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION Such issues as home education coming in to family pro

Association for Improvement in Maternity Services backs Hemming on Adoption

BABIES ARE BEING SNATCHED FOR ADOPTION JOHN HEMMING IS RIGHT, says Consumer Group FROM The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS) The government is denying that social workers are targeting babies for adoption. Listening to desperate calls from pregnant women or mothers of new babies and toddlers on our help-line would quickly show their denials are not true. Health visitors are often instructed to give all parents a “risk rating”, if possible while the child is still in the womb, or soon after the birth - this is done without parents’ knowledge or consent. The questionnaire used is highly inaccurate as a predictive tool, and has a very high rate of false positives. Pregnant teenagers, the unemployed, anyone with a history of mental illness, and so on, are on the watch list - supposedly so that they can get extra support, but it is often simply extra surveillance. Midwives are instructed to report risk factors, and are losing the trust of the women the

Written Parliamentary Question: 29th January 2007

WPC Yvonne Fletcher Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) recent steps she has taken and (b) steps she plans to take to bring the person who murdered WPC Yvonne Fletcher in 1984 to justice. A: Metropolitan Police Service officers last visited Libya to pursue the case in December 2006. We regularly raise the case with the Libyan authorities and I have done so myself. We continue to press for resolution of the case.(Kim Howells, Minister of State (Middle East), Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

Iraq and Graffiti

Actually Graffiti and Iraq, really. We did one of our traditional door knocking sessions this morning. The most frequently raised issue was Graffiti, but Iraq was the second most frequently raised issue. The feeling was generally positive which bodes well for the next local elections. share my view that Labour cannot afford an early general election. The question, of course, is whether things get worse for them as we go down the track or not.

"notorious social services paedophile ring"

A quote from the Daily Mail (yesterday's article see link). Liam himself said: "There's a lot about my childhood I can't remember. There's a lot I can remember and wish I couldn't. The best I can say about it is that it's over, and that I learned a lot, that will probably make me a better person in the end." He was in and out of Islington's care from the age of two, and witnessed his birth mother suffer domestic violence and descend into drug addiction. When he was nine she died of a heroin overdose. The distraught, vulnerable boy was initially fostered by a motherly woman who asked to keep him. But the council instead sent him, from age five to 11, to a 'therapeutic' boarding school, New Barns in Gloucestershire. This was later closed following a child abuse and pornography scandal. During school holidays he was fostered by a man later imprisoned for abusing another child in his care. When Liam was nine, Islington placed him in its childre

‘Fat police’ put children on abuse list

“Obesity in itself is not a child protection concern,” he said. “When parents fail to act in their child’s best interests with regard to their weight — for example, if they are enrolled on a behav-ioural treatment session and only get to two out of 10 sessions or if they miss medical appointments — then the obesity becomes a child protection concern.” Dr Alyson Hall, consultant child psychiatrist at the Emmanuel Miller Centre for Families and Children in east London, said that in some cases children were put into foster care to ensure their safety. So if the Fat Police tell you to go to a "behavioural treatment session" and you miss some of the sessions then your children are taken off you. We cannot rely on the courts to protect children and families from this major abuse of state power as they (apart from a few honourable exceptions such as Macfarlane and Munby) tend to rubberstamp proposals from Social Services. As always it is necessary to see all of the details. I don&

PC Yvonne Fletcher

It is good that she has not been forgotten by the government. The written answer to a question I asked recently is linked. Although one can relax to some extent about diplomats not paying the congestion charge the events with Yvonne Fletcher is not one to let drop. It is good that police officers have visited Libya recently.

BBC runs story about adoption targets

The BBC website has run the story about adoption targets. It is quite easy to spot a situation where the Social workers are trying to steal a baby. Firstly, they prevent the baby remaining with the mother. Secondly, they argue that noone else in the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles etc) is good enough to look after the baby and then they gradually reduce contact. In the mean time the Family Courts rubber stamp the proposals from the social workers. One woman (from Buckinghamshire) who tried to run away with her baby was sentenced earlier this month to a year in prison for doing so. She is not a threat to society. If the prisons are full why is she locked up. I am still collating the figures to make a more precise calculation as to the numbers of babies stolen by social workers each year.

Rape in Foster Care in Cornwall

The link (which may go away) is to a story from Cornwall. The key quotes are: "Social services took me from a bad place with my mother to somewhere which was even worse," she said. "I just wanted to die there. I just hated it. I just cried and cried but I was just told that I had emotional problems. and "This is clearly a very concerning and thankfully an isolated incident, which does not reflect the immense amount of good work and high quality care that is provided by almost 500 carers within the Cornwall County Council Foster Care and Short Break Service, who look after children from the county during approximately 12,000 placements that are made each year," said a council statement. It is important to remember that Foster Parents are normally very good people. This is an exceptional, but sadly not unique incident. The key point is that if too many children are taken into care then the pressures on the system grow so that marginal carers are used when if ther

Babystealers leaflet

We have now agreed the leaflet about the baby stealers. The members of some of the organisations supporting "justice for families" will be distributing copies of the leaflet (see link) which tells people how to fight the baby stealers. Anyone who wishes to help should print a couple of hundred copies of the leaflet (See link) and hand it out to visitors to the local maternity unit. The baby stealers must be stopped.

Its the second call

Twas one of those things. We were all set up to have a vote on the adjournment, but had not been warned that the first vote was on that the vote be now put. That was not supposed to be a division, but noone had told me and the Nats. I then asked who was running the second call. I was told that there were tellers so went into the Lobby. The tellers did not do the second call and lo and behold there was no vote and the second division was not called. C'est la vie. That's "proceedings in parliament" for you. Next time David Howarth and I will whip the vote.

Written Parliamentary Question: 24th January 2007 (II)

Simvastatin Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the effects on costs to the public purse of prescribing Simvastatin instead of Atorvastatin or other branded statins; and what the timetable is for Simvastatin to be prescribed instead of branded statins. A: The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement recently published the "Better Care, Better Value" indicators for the second quarter of this financial year. The statins indicator shows that if every primary care trust (PCT) achieved levels of prescribing of lower cost statins similar to the top quarter of PCTs then £84.7 million could be released for patient care. There are no targets, but we expect PCTs and clinicians to be aware that they can help treat more patients by prescribing one of the lower cost statins where it is clinically appropriate. (Caroline Flint, Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health)

Written Parliamentary Question: 24th January 2007

Foundation Trusts Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will change the relevant rules to give members of Governors Councils of Foundation Trusts who are not members of committees of the Council the right to attend meetings of those committees. A: The circumstances of each national health service foundation trust (NHSFT) are different, which is why the legislative framework for NHSFTs gives them freedoms of local flexibility to tailor their governance arrangements to their individual circumstances and those of their community, over and above minimum legal requirements. It is up to each NHSFT to consider whether to set up committees or sub-committees of its board of governors and determine the circumstances under which these should operate. Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2003 states that the constitution of each NHSFT must include details on the practice and procedure for the board of governors, and may also make other provision about the board of governors a

That EDM 626 Row

A mild row is going on about EDM 626. (link on edmi) That is the EDM that says: That this House notes that local authorities and their staff are incentivised to ensure that children are adopted; is concerned about increasing numbers of babies being taken into care, not for the safety of the infant, but because they are easy to get adopted; and calls urgently for effective scrutiny of care proceedings to stop this from happening. It is worth doing some analysis on the evidence for this EDM. This part: local authorities and their staff are incentivised to ensure that children are adopted; Is incontravertible. There has been a targeting system for getting children adopted from care for some time. A visit to CSCI will demonstrate the pressure on local authorities and their staff to increase adoptions from care. Doing so would be a laudable objective if it meant that children who otherwise would remain in foster care got adopted. However, if it means that children would otherwise re

Court of Appeal lets Blair off the Hook

Although the Court of Appeal decided that Blair wasn't required by law to answer questions today, the battle for effective government continues. I will post the judgment on my website when it is available. Now I need to see whether I can use other routes to make Ministers answer questions.

The Court of Appeal - and Proceedings in Parliament

Actually tomorrow is the first time that the definition of "Proceedings in parliament" has been considered in court. I thought it had been considered by the 1958 Scrap Cables case when the Judicial Committee considered the issue of a letter written by an MP to a minister. However, Erskine May was wrong on this and in fact it did not consider this. The interesting point is that if a letter written by an MP to a Civil Servant is a "proceeding in parliament" then so is a court action by an MP in the Court of Appeal. What this means that if I lose and the Treasury Solicitors try to get me to pay the costs then because the action is a proceeding in parliament I am covered by the rules relating to Contempt. That means that the Committee on Standards and Privileges can send the Treasury Solicitors and their Boss, the Chief Minister of the Treasury, (aka the Prime Minister) to the Tower. If I win, however, then I win and he has to answer questions. It is a difficult one

Healthy White Babies - Unpaid surrogate mothers

The surge in the numbers of healthy white babies being taken into care continues. Parents and Grandparents are mystified as to why their babies are being taken off them. The mothers feel like unpaid surrogate mothers. However, this will help the government to hit their targets in increasing the percentage of children in care that are adopted. It is relatively easy to find a family for a healthy white baby. The only problem is that these children already have families. The babies health is damaged by Social Services preventing breastfeeding (Dagenham) or making breastfeeding difficult. Sadly the Family Courts remain mainly secret. This monstrous evil, therefore, is kept out of the newspapers and magazines. Parents are still being forced to sign gagging orders that go well beyond the legal requirement.

A trip to the court of appeal

If I am lucky I may visit the Court of Appeal twice next week. I am working on some papers for a second Appeal as well as the one I am going on Tuesday. Both have substantial significance, but one is Family Division and hence covered by confidentiality at the moment.

Written Parliamentary Questions: 19th January 2006

Litigants in Person Q: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 13 December 2006, Official Report, column 1074W, on litigants in person, if she will assess the merits of increasing the rate at which litigants in person can claim costs. A: The award of costs is a matter for the judge in the light of the circumstances of a particular case. Under the current rules of court, litigants in person can be awarded costs for the work done in connection with the case of £9.25 per hour. If, however he can prove a higher financial loss for that work he can claim that higher figure subject to an absolute cap on the amount recoverable of two thirds of the amount that would have been allowed if the litigant were legally represented. He can also claim his disbursements. The flexibility of the current system ensures that litigants are fairly compensated for the work carried out. The Government have no plans to review the current rates. (Vera Baird, Pa

Written Parliamentary Questions: 17th January 2007

Court Information Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his Department's policy is on the provision to courts of information regarding the inclusion on list (a) 98 and (b) 99 of people giving evidence. A: 'List 98' is not a list maintained by the Department for Education and Skills. Some educational establishments and authorities have introduced and maintained such lists under local arrangements, but they are not a requirement under education or employment law. Requests from courts for information about people giving evidence who are on List 99 are not received routinely. Any request or order by a court, or for the purpose of court proceedings, would be considered in accordance with the law on a case by case basis. (Jim Knight, Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills) Predictive Dialling Technology Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which contractors his Department employs who use predi

Three Early Day Motions EDM 626 LOCAL AUTHORITY ADOPTION TARGETS That this House notes that local authorities and their staff are incentivised to ensure that children are adopted; is concerned about increasing numbers of babies being taken into care, not for the safety of the infant, but because they are easy to get adopted; and calls urgently for effective scrutiny of care proceedings to stop this from happening. EDM 629 MINISTERIAL RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS That this House notes that from time to time ministers incompletely answer questions, refuse to provide information or give no answer to written questions, resulting in a substantial failure of public accountability; therefore believes that it is right for processes to exist to force ministers to give proper answers in the public interest; and calls for all appropriate bodies to act to ensure that public accou

Written Parliamentary Question: 15th January 2007

Dr. David Southall Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will re-examine all child protection cases in which Dr. David Southall was involved. A: It is the responsibility of individual local authorities to fulfil the child protection functions that fall to them under the Children Act 1989. In undertaking this, they frequently need to work in partnership with health and other professionals. The Department for Education and Skills does not collect information which identifies individual practitioners who have been involved in child protection cases. (Parmjit Dhanda, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Skills)

Staffordshire Care Home problems again

The link is to a story from Staffordshire (today) about a Children's Home where the children were threatening each other. The home may have been closed down, but we really do have to ask if this is a good level of care. The boy, then aged 17, dubbed Ed Adair to protect his identity, lived at Hill House, also a false name. It was home to seven boys until it shut in 2005 as part of a series of council closures. Mr White says: "Ed Adair's experience was the stuff of nightmares, not knowing whether someone would assault him, abuse him, take his possessions, or break into his room while he was asleep. "For four months he lived with this anxiety and little was done to help him. The failures in dealing with his complaints and the delay meeting with him meant that the situation persisted for longer than it should have. "It confirmed Ed Adair's belief that no-one really listened and that nothing would change." This may relate to 2004, but there is always a delay

Respect refuse to vote for Troops out of Iraq

At Tuesday's Council meeting the Lib Dems put a motion down calling for the troops in Iraq to be withdrawn as soon as possible. The response from Respect was to walk out and refuse to vote on it. They basically went in with Labour on the issue of Troops out of Iraq. Quite surprising.

GMC does not protect patients - inquiry

I would like a copy of the report rather than just The Independent story about the report. However, the independent story is worth reading. Serious flaws in Britain's system for disciplining doctors have been uncovered by an independent inquiry that raises doubts about its fairness to doctors and its protection of patients.

Written Parliamentary Question: 11th January 2006

Contempt of Court To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) how many people have been held in police cells for more than24 hours in relation to contempt of court proceedings relating to the family courts in each month starting in January 2004; (2) how many people aged (a) 18 and over, (b) 16 to 17, (c) 14 to 15 and (d) under 14 were given prison sentences by the family courts in each month since January 2004, broken down by sex; and what the (i) longest, (ii) shortest and (iii) average sentence handed down to those given prison sentences was in this period; (3) how many of those imprisoned after in-camera proceedings in family courts in each month since January 2004 (a) attempted suicide and (b) succeeded in a suicide attempt in prison. (John Hemming) A: The information requested in relation to contempt of court in family proceedings and attempted or actual suicides following imprisonment after in-camera family proceedings is not collected centrally and co

Tim Congdon switches to UKIP

This is an interesting article by Tim Congdon as to why he is moving from the tories to UKIP. Cameron's approach of trying to be all things to all people is in some ways more meaningless than Blair's initial position. Losing 2-3% from Conservative to UKIP in key seats can have quite an impact on the numbers elected.

Parliamentary Prvilege Act 1770 and "proceedings in parliament"

Section 342 says: Ashby v. White, 40 and Reg. v. Paty, 41 and to the difference between the views as expressed in the first edition of Blackstone's Commentaries in 1765, which were not unfavourable to the House of Commons, and those in the fifth edition, which was published a year after the Parliamentary Privilege Act: see 1st ed., vol. 1, p. 159; 5th ed., vol. 1, p. 165.] The Attorney-General has referred to four cases in which one would have anticipated this privilege, if it was thought to exist against proceedings, being raised, and there are others, mainly of libel of a criminal nature, which may be relevant: Rex v. Lord Abingdon 42; Rex v. Creevey. 43 Stockdale v. Hansard 44is the most important decision for the purposes of the present case, the importance of it being in its decision that the lex parliamenti is part of the law of the land and it is for the courts alone to decide what it is. [Goffin v. Donnelly 45 was also referred to.] In paragraph 8 of the Report of the C

Emotional Abuse - when should children be taken into care

The link is to the NSPCC's page on Emotional Abuse of children. They define emotional abuse as: Answers to common questions about emotional abuse "My neighbour constantly shouts at her children and threatens them; should I be worried?" Yes. "My friend treats her toddler well one day, then badly the next. I am worried about the effect this may have on him." Children need consistency from parents and carers. Some parents have unrealistic expectations about their child's behaviour and capabilities. They may be cold and disapproving if their child misbehaves or fails at something, and withdraw affection in an attempt to control the child's behaviour. This can be just as damaging as harsh words or threats. It is important for parents to understand what a child can and cannot do at a particular age and to be patient. [after other things] ... we suggest you talk about your concerns with a NSPCC Helpline adviser on 0808 800 5000. "My friend is suffering fr

Written Parliamentary Questions: 10th January 2007

Dr. David Southall To ask the Secretary of State for Health what investigations have taken place in the NHS into the research practices of Dr. David Southall.(John Hemming) A: The Government commissioned a full review of the research arrangements at North Staffordshire hospital in 1999, in response to concerns about how research had been conducted there by Dr. David Southall, among others. The review, chaired by Professor Rod Griffiths, reported in May 2000 and the Government accepted all the recommendations of the "Report of a review of the research framework in North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust", The Griffiths Report. The report recommended a substantial audit of the use of continuous negative extrathoracic pressure, a research intervention, to see if claims of significant benefit or damage could be substantiated. The findings were published in The Lancet on 1 April 2006 as "Outcome after neonatal continuous negative-pressure ventilation: follow-up assessment"

Another Social Services Mess-up

The linked story is to another problem with Social Services. This one is in Norfolk where it was found that: Social workers were criticised for treating rumours about the woman, who had a mental health disorder, as fact. 'Insufficient evidence' The council said the inquiry into the case also found that some evidence had been destroyed. It called a social worker's report "inaccurate, unrepresentative and unbalanced". The woman's unborn baby was wrongly placed on a child protection register by Norfolk County Council, the independent inquiry decided. The problem is that this is actually a pattern of behaviour. What happens from time to time is that Social Workers produce rubbishy reports full of unevidenced rumour and tittletattle. They have them backed up by expensive unevidenced reports from experts who at times are not in any way qualified. In the mean time CAFCASS come along to give the family another kick towards destruction and destroy a few more childr

South Yardley Library - progress on roof

The good news is that progress is being made on plans to repair the roof of South Yardley Library. It has been shut since November, but funds have been identified and there is now a plan to redo the roof and reopen later this year. Things always slip in terms of timing, but we should hopefully see work start by the end of February. With a bit of luck some work on ways to improve the library will also be incorporated.

Travelling the open road

My experience of the rule of law is that for people to respect it it needs to be enforced. I have had conversations with travellers who believe that British Law does not apply to them. That is whey they feel they have a right to pack their caravans on parks such as Oaklands and dump tarmac on them. My view is simply this. The rule of law applies to everyone in the UK and should be enforced. There is an interesting post on one of the police blogs about this issue. I tend to be sympathetic with the general position of police officers. The rule of law should be enforced.

Conflicts of Interest in the Family Division

One interesting aspect of Family Law is the role of the Guardian Ad Litem. In theory this is someone who is appointed to represent the interests of the child. The problem is that although the individual concerned works for CAFCASS the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service actually they are in fact another arm of the state. Furthermore firms of solicitors who act for parents on legal aid may also act for the state. We, therefore, have a substantial conflict of interest with the legal advisors also working for the state. The Chair of the CAFCASS board is a working Labour Peer and the Chief Executive is someone who previously was a director of Social Services in Havering. There are those who honestly believe that being in the care of the local authority is a good thing for children. The evidence is that this is not the case. It does strike me as a conflict of interest and indeed an offence against the principle of "equality of arms" to have CAFCASS represen

X Council v B EWHC (Fam) 2005 2015

This case is the linked one about Emergency Protection Orders. The key conclusions are that: ) An EPO, summarily removing a child from his parents, is a "draconian" and "extremely harsh" measure, requiring "exceptional justification" and "extraordinarily compelling reasons". Such an order should not be made unless the FPC is satisfied that it is both necessary and proportionate and that no other less radical form of order will achieve the essential end of promoting the welfare of the child. Separation is only to be contemplated if immediate separation is essential to secure the child's safety; "imminent danger" must be "actually established". ii) Both the local authority which seeks and the FPC which makes an EPO assume a heavy burden of responsibility. It is important that both the local authority and the FPC approach every application for an EPO with an anxious awareness of the extreme gravity of the relief being sought

Emergency Protection Orders - an important judgment

The link is to BAILII and a judgement (EWHC (Fam), 2006 510) relating to a case where a 9 year old child was taken into care under an Emergency Protection Order when there was found to be no good reason for this when it came to the final court hearing. In this case the Social Work Team Manager did considerable harm to the girl and the parents by taking her into care when it was wrong to do so. The conclusion of the judgment is: Emergency Protection Orders: good practice guidance For ease of reference I will now draw together the observations I have made with some additional guidance: a) The 14 key points made by Munby J in X Council v B should be copied and made available to the justices hearing an EPO on each and every occasion such an application is made; b) It is the duty of the applicant for an EPO to ensure that the X Council v B guidance is brought to the court's attention of the bench; c) Mere lack of information or a need for assessment can never of themselves establish th

Breastfeeding for babies taken into care

The link is to BAILII and is to case reference 2003 EWHC 850 in which the following statement is made: 44. iv) If a baby is to be removed from his mother one would normally expect arrangements to be made by the local authority to facilitate contact on a regular and generous basis. It is a dreadful thing to take a baby away from his mother: dreadful for mother, dreadful for father and dreadful for the baby. If the state, in the guise of a local authority, seeks to intervene so drastically in a family's life – and at a time when, ex hypothesi, its case against the parents has not yet even been established – then the very least the state can do is to make generous arrangements for contact. And those arrangements must be driven by the needs of the family, not stunted by lack of resources. Typically, if this is what the parents want, one will be looking to contact most days of the week and for lengthy periods. And local authorities must be sensitive to the wishes of a mother who wants t

River Cole, The Shingles, Yardley, 1911 and 2007

It is difficult to be certain. The name "the shingles" has been used for this part of the River Cole. We are having a debate in the Constituency Party as to whether the words on the back of the picutre are "the dingles" or "the shingles". I am a part of "the shingles" faction. The Dingles are in Hall Green anyway. In the 1960s the Birmignham Salvage Department (the name for waste management before the County Council was formed) dumped a lot of rubbish on this area to raise the park to stop parts flooding. Hence there have been changes. This was the location for the ack ack guns which were the anti-aircraft guns used to protect Birmingham in the 2nd world war.


Graffiti is clearly becoming a bigger problem. Particularly in Yardley. Yesterday, therefore, it was agreed that I would chair the Constituency Graffiti Working Party. We need to catch the people responsible and ensure that they are prosecuted for the substantial damage that they do. A sensible punishment is spending all the weekends for months clearing up the mess.

More interesting cases re Fractures and Metaphyseal Fractures

I had two more interesting cases today and yesterday. Both related to where a baby had a broken bone at an early age (under 3 months). A full skeletal survey was then done (which involves about 19 x-rays). Various vague fractures were then diagnosed. In one case after about 6 months of traumatic experiences the court sensibly decided that actually there was no evidence of the parents having done any damage - although there is evidence that the radiologist has done some damage. The other case is continuing. What one of the cases shows it that many social workers don't understand how the courts perceive "balance of probabilities". There is a robust approach based upon most fractures being caused by abuse that means that social workers press to take the children into care. Actually without other evidence a simple fracture is not enough to warrant taking a child out of its family. These things do happen accidentially. Furthermore some questions do need to be asked abo

Vaccination and Public Health

There have been a lot of debates about vaccination. There is a doctor in the USA who runs a blog (see link) that posts about vaccination. I am generally a supporter of the principles of vaccination. In a sense the debate about MMR shows how things can get a little flakey argument wise. There are adverse reactions to vaccinations, but they are almost invariably a lower risk than the adverse reaction to the underlying disease. I am uncomfortable with having a legal requirement for vaccination, but I do generally encourage people to have vaccination. The debate about TB vaccination is an interesting one. I have been arguing that it should be made more widely available to those people who request it. Dr Flea's arguments, however, are worth reading (see link).

Age Limits and Smoking

I have tended to have "non standard" views on age limits. I don't have a problem where there are different age limits for differing things. When the age of majority was changed from 21 to 18 this affected not only the right to vote, but also the age at which someone could enter into a binding contract. Specifically the issue of obtaining credit is something that I would not wish to make easier at an earlier age. Whilst otherwise the case is being argued for say a reduction in the voting age it is odd that there is an argument to increase the age at which people can buy tobacco. There is an issue in principle which is the question as to what age such purchases should be allowed. I don't think the case has been made for this to be increased. At the same time there is a practical issue in that it is unlikely to have any effect on the availability of tobacco as there are many under 16s who already smoke. It will be an interesting debate to square with all the other