Thursday, April 14, 2011
The useless (but politically correct) British police again
Woman driving to dying mum's side is arrested for a crime she didn't commit...then finds her car's been stolen when police release her SIX hours later!
A woman on the way to pick up her terminally-ill elderly mother for a hospital appointment was subjected to a nightmare ordeal by police who put her in a cell on suspicion of stealing petrol. It was six hours before officers realised they had made a mistake because the theft was in fact carried out by two men. [What utter imbeciles!!]
And by the time they returned law-abiding grandmother Beverley Bennett to the spot where she was arrested, her car had been stolen.
When Mrs Bennett, 58, complained about her treatment, police said she could not take action against them because they were immune from prosecution in negligence cases. But she has now been awarded £2,000 in an out-of-court settlement after she found a lawyer and the force admitted an ‘error’.
‘I have never been in trouble in my life,’ said Mrs Bennett, from Grays, Essex. ‘I don’t even have any points on my licence. How on earth did they end up arresting me, a little lady of 4ft 11in, when they should have been looking for two male suspects? ‘I cannot trust the police any more. I didn’t feel that way before but all they did was pass the buck.’
It was in May last year that staff at Tesco in Chadwell St Mary contacted Essex police to report that two men in a black Honda Accord had driven away without paying £20.70 for fuel. Mrs Bennett visited the same petrol station in her Honda Accord an hour later.
When police arrived to take details of the theft two days later, staff accidentally handed over her registration number and CCTV footage of her filling up and paying – although they did say the suspects were male.
Officers failed to view the footage, however, and the suspects’ sex was not put on to the Police National Computer. On June 24, Mrs Bennett was on her way to collect her 79-year-old mother Susanna Smith, who had cancer, for an appointment at King George Hospital in Ilford, East London. She was pulled over in Dagenham by an officer who noticed her registration had been tagged as belonging to a crime suspect.
‘I honestly thought it was a joke – that someone was having a wind-up,’ she said. ‘But once I was in the cells I realised they certainly were not joking.’ Her £1,500 car was left in a layby beside the A13 dual carriageway while she was taken to Grays police station, where her handbag, shoes and reading glasses were confiscated before she was transferred to a cell await questioning.
The divorced mother of two, who is a registered carer for her disabled grandson, protested her innocence but was not freed until officers finally checked the CCTV footage they had been handed.
She was taken back to her car but it had disappeared and was never recovered, forcing her to make a claim on her insurance. She has now replaced it with a 12-year-old Ford.
Mrs Bennett says the stress caused by the incident caused her mother to be admitted to hospital. She died in December from emphysema, although she had been battling breast cancer. ‘She could not handle any stress as it would cause a strain on her heart,’ she said. ‘It made her ill.’
Solicitor Ian Gould, who specialises in cases against the police, represented Mrs Bennett and won her the payout. He said: ‘It was a catalogue of errors by the police which led to this situation.’
The Essex force yesterday admitted it still had not arrested the right suspects for the theft at the petrol station. A spokesman added: ‘An investigation has concluded that, when crime details were recorded on Essex Police’s systems, vital detail was missed. ‘This was human error and the member of staff concerned has been spoken to.’ [What a comfort!]
Call young criminals customers: British probation chief says being considerate stops re-offending
Criminals must be treated as customers – not offenders, a probation service boss has insisted. They should be invited to speak about their needs and asked how they feel about the treatment they receive, London probation chief Heather Munro added.
And these people should not have to spend time in shabby waiting rooms or be sent to dingy offices to be interviewed. Giving criminals the same consideration a company gives its customers will steer them away from committing future crimes, according to Mrs Munro.
‘It’s a bit like running a business,’ she said. ‘Any business would ask its customers how it can improve its service. It just doesn’t make sense not to.’
The call for probation officers to make life more comfortable for offenders comes at a time of growing concern over the way their service deals with criminals under its supervision.
Last week judges criticised the Government’s plan to keep more offenders out of jail, citing worries ‘relating to occasional poor and ineffective monitoring and management’ of community sentences.
Around half of those given community punishments never finish them, and in London – where Mrs Munro’s service supervises 70,000 criminals a year – probation officers have a particularly poor record.
Lapses by staff were blamed for the decision to free violent career criminal Dano Sonnex from jail in 2008. He went on to torture and murder two French students.
Mrs Munro said the answer to helping criminals quit crime was to consider their feelings and think about how an offender would feel walking into a probation office. ‘I don’t think staff had thought about it from that angle,’ she said. ‘What do the waiting rooms look like, the interview rooms? How are people treated? ‘That whole process hadn’t been thought of in terms of the offender, it was, “how do we deliver this in a way that suits us?”.’
The decision to refer to criminals as ‘customers’ follows efforts by police forces to find softer language to refer to some groups of offenders.
For example, the Metropolitan Police has referred to ‘group rape’ rather than gang rape. However the Met has used the word ‘customers’ in official terms only to apply to victims of crime.
The use of the word for criminals is an extension of the practice of social workers, who refer to troubled families as ‘clients’.
Mrs Munro, a 55-year-old mother of two, told the Guardian newspaper that probation officers should continue to help criminals after their period of punishment and supervision ends.
The idea of a 24-hour helpline for criminals would save money by making them more likely to stop offending, she added. And she suggested there might be a state employment agency for ex-cons to run alongside the helpline. She also called for a biometric fingerprinting system to check offenders turn up when asked to do so. In such cases, they would not need to speak to a probation officer.
Mrs Munro, who earns £130,000 a year, said that better treatment of offenders would be good for victims of crime. ‘The first thing is to acknowledge what any victim has been through,’ she said. ‘But you also want, as a victim, for something not to happen again. ‘And that’s the same as I want. It’s about fewer victims in the future.’
But her call was criticised by Tory MPs and academic experts. Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, said: ‘This is putting the criminal’s rights before those of victims and of ordinary law-abiding people – and it makes people’s blood boil. ‘We know from a poll that 80 per cent of people think sentencing is too lenient. ‘With people like Mrs Munro in charge, that is no wonder.’
Criminologist David Green, of the Civitas think tank, said: ‘The use of the word “customer” could not be more inappropriate. If a customer doesn’t like what they see in Tesco, they don’t need to shop there. But an offender on probation cannot choose his probation officer. ‘This undermines the authority of probation officers. They have to build a good relationship with an offender, but their job is to serve the public, not the criminal.’
A London Probation Trust spokesman insisted it had ‘not adopted’ the word customer to describe offenders but to ‘illustrate a particular approach’. ‘Our chief executive was simply outlining that if we were a business we would conduct customer feedback,’ he added. ‘In this context we would do so to gain insight into how we could cut re-offending further in order to make communities safer.’
Screwy Seattle renames Easter eggs 'spring spheres'
Eggs are not spherical, for a start
Show most children an Easter egg and they'll refer to it as just that, regardless of their cultural background. So when one teacher asked 16-year-old Jessica, who was volunteering at their elementary school in Seattle, to refer to the eggs as 'spring spheres' she was stunned.
The sophomore, who attends a private high school in the city, told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson, the incident happened at the end of a week-long community service project at the school. She declined to give her full name and refused to name the school in question in the telephone interview.
Jessica told the presenter she had loved working with the third graders so much that she wanted to give them a present. 'At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that,' the girl said.
Jessica went on to say she had been worried about the gift after sitting in on a meeting earlier in the week where she had learned about the school's 'abstract behaviour rules'.
'I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay,' Jessica said. 'She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat "spring spheres". I couldn't call them Easter eggs.'
Jessica said she decided to 'roll with it' but when the children saw the eggs they didn't toe the PC line. 'When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said: "Oh look, spring spheres" and all the kids were like "Wow, Easter eggs." So they knew,' Jessica said.
A spokesman for the Seattle Schools District told MailOnline they had not been able to confirm the incident had happened. 'We have asked around about it but have not heard that it happened,' they said before adding: 'It's a big district. Usually when something like this happens we hear about it.'
However the district's guidelines for the observance of religious holidays states that such holidays can be discussed and recognised in school providing it is done in 'an objective instructional way'.
The actual observance and celebration of these holidays however 'belongs in the home and with religious institutions.' 'Any programme which might be interpreted as religious indoctrination or which promotes or favours the beliefs and practices of any one or several religious faiths, or non-faiths, shall be avoided,' the guidelines state.
The Seattle elementary school in question isn't the only government organisation to leave Easter out of the equation. The city's parks department has removed Easter from all of its advertised egg hunts.
Luckily the annual White House 'Easter Egg Roll' will still be called the 'Easter Egg Roll' this year.
Australia's Leftist Prime Minister declares war on the idle
A worthy aim. Let's hope there is more to it than talk
JULIA Gillard has declared war on idleness, revealing she will use the May 10 budget to press Australians to "pull their weight" and not give in to welfare dependency and economic exclusion.
The Prime Minister last night vowed to use the prosperity of the mining boom to fund programs to boost workforce participation, arguing that many people on disability and other pensions should be working.
She said taxpayers should not have to fund welfare for people capable of supporting themselves, and that she would offer training opportunities as part of a push to "entrench a new culture of work".
Her uncompromising comments came in a speech to the Sydney Institute in which she also promised to withdraw government spending to reduce pressure on inflation as the private sector lifted its activity after a period on the economic sidelines forced by the global financial crisis.
Since ousting Kevin Rudd from the Labor leadership last June, Ms Gillard has frequently expressed her belief in what she describes as "the dignity of work" and promised to use education and training to deliver equality of opportunity. At the same time, the government has been working on policy to deal with the fact that current work participation rates will be insufficient to support the ageing population.
In her speech last night, Ms Gillard married the themes, declaring that Labor was "the party of work, not welfare" and placing respect for work and a fair go at the centre of the national policy agenda.
While she conceded there would always be some Australians who were unable to work because of disability, Ms Gillard said it was a "social and economic reality" that some people who could work would not. "Relying on welfare to provide opportunity is no longer the right focus for our times," the Prime Minister said.
"In today's economy, inclusion through participation must be our central focus." She said the nation's strong economy provided a perfect opportunity to target people stuck on welfare with reforms based on "high expectations that everyone who can work, should work".
While she gave no details of the reforms, the Prime Minister hinted at measures to help those she described as "hard cases" to prepare themselves to work by dealing with their health issues and providing opportunities for them to balance work with their family responsibilities.
Ms Gillard suggested welfare recipients could be ushered back into the workforce with the right mix of policies. This could involve training or measures "as simple as learning to read and write at a higher level". "It is not right to leave people on welfare and deny them access to opportunity," she said. And every Australian should pull his or her own weight. It is not fair for taxpayers to pay for someone who can support themselves."
The comments are likely to upset the welfare sector, which has recently warned against punitive measures to force welfare recipients to work.
Labor's left wing could also baulk at the reforms, although the opposition has been proposing its own measures to lift workforce participation, including grants to help the unemployed move to areas of high employment.
The Prime Minister said 230,000 Australians had been unemployed for more than two years, while 250,000 families did not have an adult in the workforce for at least a year.
"The party I lead is politically, spiritually, even literally, the party of work - the party of work, not welfare, the party of opportunity, not exclusions, the party of responsibility, not idleness," Ms Gillard said.
"The values I learned in my parents' home - hard work, a fair go through education, respect - find themselves at the centre of Australia's economic debate in the challenge to cut long-term welfare dependency."
Ms Gillard rejected claims that her pledge to return the budget to a surplus by 2012-13 was a political decision and that she could cause less pain for taxpayers if she delayed the plan.
The Prime Minister said that although her promise was political in the sense that she made it during the election campaign, it was also economically prudent for the government to cut spending after more than two years of heavy economic stimulus to offset the effects of the global recession.
"When the private sector was in retreat, the government stepped forward to fill the gap," she said. "Over coming years, as the private sector recovers strongly, it is the right time for the government to step back."
Ms Gillard also allowed herself a note of satisfaction, saying she was sceptical of "exaggerated" commentary about politics. She noted that people had predicted she would be unable to deliver reforms such as her flood levy, health reform package or her National Broadband Network legislation. In each case, she said, she had prevailed with patience and perseverance.
Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said last night the government's mismanagement and wasteful spending on programs such as the Building the Education Revolution, pink batts and the National Broadband Network "makes a mockery" of the Prime Minister's claim in her speech that Labor was committed to fiscal responsibility.
"The government's budget in May will not be worth the paper it is written on," Mr Hockey said. "It will not include the revenue and expenditure from its new carbon tax."
Former Labor minister Graham Richardson launched a blistering attack on what he said was the Gillard government's use of a politically unheard of "big-target" strategy on a series of issues ranging from carbon tax compensation to cuts to health research funding.
Mr Richardson used his Sky News show Richo to criticise the government for not giving details of the likely impact of the carbon tax and how people would be compensated. Planned measures to limit gambling on poker machines ensured that every pub and club in Australia would become a campaign office for the opposition, he said.
Mr Richardson added that it all got worse this week when it emerged the budget would cut $400 million in health research.
That was mean-spirited, he said. "If they do it, they're crazy."
Ms Gillard's appearance at the Sydney Institute dinner at Luna Park attracted a band of gay marriage protesters, who called on her to "open your heart" to "marriage rights now".
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.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.