Britain: More police funding but FEWER frontline officers to deal with street crime
The Leftist infatuation with bureaucracy again
The number of police available to deal with crime on the streets is falling, a high-powered academic report revealed yesterday. It said the ranks of fully-trained police constables have been thinned out in favour of more community support officers, middle management and civilian back-up staff. The findings challenge the longstanding Labour claim that police numbers have been greatly increased and that crime has fallen partly as a result. Researchers said Government crime policy was 'mired in contradiction'.
The report from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London said details of police numbers show 'the way in which the Home Office has relied on the recruitment of less qualified and lower paid auxiliary staff to boost the visible policing presence'. And it revealed that the number of police constables dropped by nearly 1,500 - more than 1 per cent - between 2006 and 2007. The past five years has seen the number of superintendents increase by 16 per cent and the ranks of chief inspectors swell by almost 20 per cent. Over the same period the amount of taxpayers' money used to fund police forces has risen 20 per cent.
The report's findings are borne out by Home Office figures on police numbers published earlier this year. These show that the number of constables peaked at 109,037 in 2005, dropping by nearly 2,000 to 107,048 in March this year. In the same timescale the number of community support officers leapt from 6,201 to 15,883.
The figures drew an alarmed reaction from opposition politicians. Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: 'This undermines all Labour's rhetoric about record police numbers. The fact is that because of Labour's target culture our police spend just 14 per cent of their time where the public want them,which is on the streets.'
Liberal Democrat justice spokesman David Howarth said: 'The report rightly points out how incoherent policy from a Government obsessed with looking tough has left staff at the sharp end of the criminal justice system confused and overworked.'
But the Home Office insisted that spending on additional staff has meant fully-qualified officers can spend more time combating crime. A spokesman said: 'Time spent by officers on frontline duties has increased each year since 2003 - equivalent to 5,340 more police officers. Additional police staff are freeing officers to return to the front line.'
British minister demands 'radical' reform on training of social workers in the wake of Baby P tragedy
Now THIS is long overdue
The training of social workers and their working methods needs a root-and-branch overhaul, Children's Secretary Ed Balls said yesterday. He called for more on-the-job training and less theory for students, who get their qualifications to become social workers largely in university classrooms. And he said he had commissioned a `taskforce' to shake up training schemes and to examine `how professional social workers are deploying their time'.
The pressure for sweeping reform of social work follows the Baby P and Shannon Matthews cases, in which two social work departments boasting high official ratings failed to prevent the most serious abuse of children in families under their supervision. In the Baby P case social workers from Haringey, London, were said to have spent much of their time form-filling while failing to notice the child's mother was living with a vicious boyfriend and lodger. The baby died despite 60 contacts between his mother and social workers, police and health staff.
A report - promised to be independent - is being drawn up on the actions of Kirklees, Yorkshire, social workers in the Matthews case. There are suspicions that the kidnapped girl's family was removed from the child protection register to help achieve Government targets.
Mr Balls told BBC One's Politics Show: 'This needs to be a very radical review. It needs to ask some very hard questions. In my view the training of social workers is too theoretical. 'There isn't enough on-the-job training, there isn't enough challenge and supervision through the early years. We need our schools and social workers to work more closely together, we need to boost leadership.' He added: 'There's lots to be done. And of course I wish that it could have happened earlier but in the end, in the Baby P case I don't think it would in the end have changed it, because that was a particular and harrowing tragedy.'
Mr Balls said that the standing of the teaching profession has been transformed over the past 10 years and the same must now be done for social work. A 'taskforce' to examine training and practice is to be set up, headed by Moira Gibb, who is currently the chief executive of Camden council. Miss Gibb, a former social services director, is one of the great and good of social work, who has headed the social services directors' association and been appointed by the Government as a member of the UK Statistics Authority. Proposals it will examine include rules to ensure that children's services directors have experience in social work.
Children's services departments replaced the old town hall social services departments after the scandal that followed the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in Haringey in 2000. They brought together education officials in charge of schools and colleges and social workers dealing with children and their families. Haringey children's services director Sharon Shoesmith - now shifted from her job on the orders of Mr Balls - was a former education chief with no experience as a social worker.
Miss Gibb's review will also why 'social workers prioritise their time in the way they do' and 'what actions by professional social workers make the most difference to vulnerable children and adults'. There will also be a new requirement for social work training to include a year's practical work. At present students qualify to become social workers through a three-year degree course - or a two-year course for graduates in other subjects - which is heavily theoretical. One typical university course calls for students to learn to 'manage change and deliver required outcomes' and tests their 'knowledge of social work theory and how it can be applied in practice'.
Are we too afraid of touch?
Our aversion to innocent physical contact has gone a touch too far
Look around you, there are notices everywhere: "Be careful: keep your eye on your possessions", "Swim at your own risk - no lifeguard on duty". We are told by government to be alert to the risk of terrorists. And we are watched by CCTV wherever we go. But all this advice to be watchful makes us fearful. It makes us shrink into ourselves. We become unkind, unconcerned for others, and our children become terrified of the outside world.
These days, you have to have a Criminal Records Bureau check before you volunteer to work with anyone described as vulnerable - children, anyone over 65, and a whole lot of others besides. That makes many young men, especially, nervous about volunteering at all, and others deeply irritated that they are being asked for a CRB check to work, say, in hospital radio.
If a young man has a criminal record, but now wants to help others who are younger still - just getting into trouble with the police and at risk of worse - he has to be incredibly determined not to be put off by the marathon of bureaucracy.
Hospital staff are often told not to put an arm round patients to comfort them lest it be viewed as assault. So it tends to be the porters and care assistants who give a bit of comfort, while the nurses only touch the patients when they have to carry out some kind of intervention. Many people, especially older people, don't want too many interventions. What they want is human contact, a bit of tender loving care.
We are all so terrified of child sexual abuse that we have outlawed taking photographs of children at nursery school without parental consent. And adults are terrified that their motives will be suspected if they talk to a child or, even worse, hug one. So, a few years ago, when Clive Peachy, a bricklayer, saw two-year-old Abigail Rae walking down the road after she had escaped from her nursery school in Warwickshire, he did not stop and help her because he thought people would think he was trying to abduct her. The result? She drowned in a pond.
Young male volunteers in primary schools describe feeling like pariahs, viewed with suspicion by many staff - when all they are doing is trying to help. And children want comfort if they fall over in the playground, yet teachers have been told never to touch the children in their care. So you get 12-year-olds with broken legs crying for their mothers, with staff unable to give them a hug, and five-year-olds putting sunscreen on each other because the teachers have been instructed not to touch them. The mess that ensues, and the visits to hospital because cream gets in their eyes, would be funny were it not so ridiculous. Equally absurd are the letters informing parents that children should not bring home-made birthday cakes into school in case of food poisoning - a position that results in children being less likely to share.
So what is all this about? First, there is a real fear of being sued, far greater than the actual numbers of cases would warrant. Second, there is a fear of what others might think. We have begun to internalise the messages that people might think we are abusers when we are not. Third, we are fearful of our children being injured, being killed, being abducted. Yet, in terms of ordinary accidents happening to children, the numbers have gone down dramatically rather than up over the last 30 years.
Nevertheless, our children are frightened to go outside because, as the think-tank Demos and the Green Alliance demonstrated a few years ago, they fear the outside world. They think the streets are full of terrorists, murderers and child-abductors. Worse, they think they know what they look like. They are white, male, middle-aged, wear horrible clothes and have a funny look in their eyes.
But children would not feel like this if adults did not encourage them. It is adult fear, stoked by government and insurers, by risk assessors and hospital and school managers. If we aren't careful, the next generation will consist entirely of wimps. They will go off on adventure holidays abroad, but they will not walk down the street or get on the Tube alone for fear of attackers. The net result will be not only a lack of life skills, but overwhelming fear: of predators, of accidents, of life itself.
Meanwhile, the sexual predators will carry on just as before - largely in the family - because no system of checks will root them out completely. And we will have created a whole generation of unhappy people. We need to be sensible, not risk-averse; we need to look out to see where we can help others. And, sometimes, we may even need to touch them.
Australia: 'Gutless' Turkish Muslims must pay $50,000 for bashing
Three men who bashed an off-duty policeman in an attack described as "gutless" by a judge have been ordered to pay their victim $50,000 in compensation. Senior Constable Simon Busuttil was punched, kicked and had his head stomped on after a car accident at Coolaroo in Melbourne in July 2005. He was set upon by the trio when he got out of his car to exchange details with the other driver. Snr Const Busuttil suffered a broken nose, extensive facial injuries, a torn liver and a fractured finger in the attack.
Three men, Vural Vuralhan, Ersoy Vural and Kemal Ciloglou, were jailed in August last year over the incident. In awarding him compensation, Victorian County Court Judge John Smallwood said Snr Const Busuttil had suffered a savage beating which caused him to develop post traumatic stress disorder. A medical examination found he had 18 separate injuries of bruising or abrasions and he required surgery. Judge Smallwood said Snr Const Busuttil suffered muscular pain and ongoing psychological problems, including depressive symptoms, sleep difficulties, feelings of shame and outbursts of anger following the attack.
The court heard that before the attack, Snr Const Busuttil suffered mild anxiety that was being treated with anti-depressants. After the attack he'd had suicidal thoughts.
In sentencing the three men in August last year, Judge Smallwood described the attack as gutless. "In the middle of the night these three men overpowered another man and over a prolonged period beat him with fists and boots while he is defenceless," he said at the time. "The conduct can only be described as gutless."
Vuralhan, of Meadow Heights, was jailed for 18 months with a minimum of nine after pleading guilty to one count of intentionally causing serious injury. Vural, of Coolaroo, was jailed for 12 months with a minimum of six after pleading guilty to one count of recklessly causing serious injury. Ciloglou, of Meadow Heights, pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious injury and was jailed for three months. He also received a two-year community based order, which included 100 hours of unpaid community work. The men were given two months to pay the compensation.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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