Saturday, September 17, 2011

Britain's political police

The Leftward drift of the police — pretty much conceded this week by former top copper Lord Blair — continues.

Exhibit one: the Deputy Chief Constable of Cumbria, one Stuart Hyde, is a busy user of Twitter (alarm bells start to tinkle). He expresses vigorous disapproval of Right-wing think-tanks, accusing them of being secretive (unlike, ahem, the Police Federation, which he supports).

Guvnor Hyde does not think much of elected police commissioners. He is apparently no fan of Boris Johnson. He snorts that it is ‘an understatement’ to say Coalition policy on the police is being ‘fudged’. He suggests that ministers have no proper plan.

In short, DCC Hyde is politically gobby, and not in a pro-Coalition way. In elevated Whitehall offices this has been noticed.

Exhibit two: in rural Sussex, members of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt were recently arrested by police officers who behaved as though they were in some sort of SWAT team. Dawn raids. Sirens. Skidding stops. Handcuffs in the home.

One of those arrested runs a City investment company. Another was a veteran film-maker. Both these middle-class pillars would have happily reported to the local nick, but instead were treated like Al Qaeda suspects. Actually, that’s not fair. If they had been bearded Jihadists, they would have been offered translation services and a prayer mat and other amenities.

Some £200,000 has been blown by Sussex constabulary on prosecuting the hunt matter. Local MPs Francis Maude and Nicholas Soames have made official complaints about the police’s heavy-handedness. Mr Maude is Cabinet Office minister. He sees David Cameron and Nick Clegg almost every day.

When thick or mouthy rozzers behave like the uniform branch of New Labour, is it any surprise the Coalition cuts their budgets?


Paedophile's park ban lifted by judge because of his human right to keep fit

A paedophile banned from public parks to keep him away from children has had the court order relaxed because it was ‘a breach of his human rights’.

Christopher Williams, 49, was jailed for seven years for tying up and molesting a 12-year-old boy, and the ban on entering parks and play areas was imposed when he was released from prison. But the paedophile claimed it prevented him from keeping fit – and now, after an appeal, a judge has relaxed the terms of the order.

Judge Andrew Woolman ruled that Williams, who has health problems, should be allowed to exercise in his local park under certain conditions. He will be able to do so for an hour at a time on weekdays when children are attending classes, but not during school holidays or weekends.

Judge Woolman, sitting with two magistrates at Burnley Crown Court, said: ‘If we did not allow him, it would be potentially damaging to his health and would probably be a breach of his human rights.’

Child-welfare campaigners condemned the decision yesterday and said the human rights of children should come first. Rosie Carter, of the child-protection charity Safechild, said: ‘We despair of this decision. ‘When that individual was risk-assessed, they thought he would possibly molest children and that’s why he was banned from entering parks and play areas.

‘I fail to understand why they would disregard that consideration. This decision would not have been taken lightly by experienced and qualified professionals.

‘There must have been a serious risk identified, and parents and carers will be horrified that the Crown Court has overturned that decision. It’s truly appalling. They mention his human rights, but the welfare of children is paramount in English law, so we fail to understand how the court could overwrite the Children Act 1989. It’s frightening.’

Williams was jailed at Chester Crown Court in 1996 for indecent assault and gross indecency for his horrific attack on the boy.

On his release, he was given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order that banned him from public parks and play areas in an attempt to prevent him from coming into contact with children.

But last April a fresh warning was issued by the courts after he and another convicted paedophile, David Higgs, 28, set up home together in Rishton, Lancashire, and hosted visits by local children.

Police arrested both men for breaching Sexual Offences Prevention Orders and Higgs was jailed for 18 months. Williams escaped with a suspended prison term. After the latest conviction, Williams, who lives at a probation hostel in Carlisle, applied to Hyndburn Magistrates’ Court for his prevention order to be varied so he could go walking in his local park and play golf.

Magistrates refused the application after police objected, saying he could go walking in the nearby Lake District. But this week Williams appealed against their decision, claiming he had health problems and needed regular exercise. Relaxing the terms of the prevention order, Judge Woolman said: ‘We recognise that the possibilities for exercise under the existing regime, the existing orders of the court, are very restrictive.

‘It would be oppressive to leave the orders as they are and some limited alteration is appropriate.’

While Williams can now use his local park, he is still banned from going anywhere near the children’s play area. He is also allowed to play golf.

Williams – who also has a 1980 conviction for indecent exposure and a lifetime ban on working with children – told the court: ‘I have no reason at all to go anywhere near the swings. It doesn’t interest me. ‘I admit I have done wrong and I know my risk level will never change, but from 1996 to 2010 I have not been in trouble.’

He said doctors had told him to lose weight as he suffered from a heart condition, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

The judge said no order of the court could prevent all contact between Williams and children – he would, for example, come into contact with them when he was out shopping.

The court order allows Williams out of his probation hostel between 9am and 3.15pm, 4pm and 7.30pm, and 8pm and 11pm.


Welfare cheating not treated seriously in Britain

Last Tuesday two events occurred within hours of one another that perfectly demonstrate the gulf between rhetoric and reality.

In London, the Prime Minister announced that benefits claimants who cannot speak English will be ordered to take language classes or have their handouts stopped for up to three years.

A hundred miles away in Birmingham, a 51-year-old woman by the name of Halima Hameed was being ushered into court number 18 at the city’s magistrates court.

The single mother was accused of working while claiming more than £9,000 in Income Support.

For the three magistrates who made up the panel hearing the case, the details were laid out as follows: Hameed has been claiming benefits since 1998, but in 2007 started work as a printing press operator, doing 36 hours a week. However, she did not inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of her new job.

Had she done so her benefits would have been stopped. Hameed would later claim in her defence that she did what she did only ‘because of the situation she found herself in’ — namely that her daughter and grandchild had moved back in, making money tight.

Such sob stories are familiar fodder to the magistrates. But what they were especially struck by as they browsed a pre-sentence report prepared on the legally-aided Hameed is the fact that she required the proceedings to be relayed to her by a Punjabi-speaking translator who sat by her side.

‘Miss Hameed has been in England since the age of six,’ Mary Small, chair of the bench, pointed out, ‘so why does she still need an interpreter?’

She is told (via the interpreter) that while Hameed understands English she ‘lacks confidence to express herself in it’. ‘After spending 12 years in our education system?’ Mrs Small responded incredulously.

That acute observation aside, Mrs Small gets on with sentencing. She is told that Hameed, who has admitted the offence, has started paying back the money she claimed fraudulently. But because she is no longer working, illegally or legally, the repayments come from the Income Support she is still allowed to claim. At the current rate of £40 a month, it will take more than 18 years to clear the debt.

On top of that Hameed is sentenced to a 12-month community order — where the criminal serves time in the community, under the supervision of a probation officer, rather than in prison. Miss Hameed was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and told to pay costs of £100.

So you see, Mr Cameron, it is not simply the case that there are those claiming benefits who cannot speak English; there are those claiming benefits who cannot speak English but are perfectly happy to rip off the system. And, to add further insult to injury, when they are caught they are then able to milk the same system further as they attempt to mitigate their criminal behaviour.

As for ‘getting tough’, there was precious little sign of that in Birmingham. In the 18 cases I witnessed on that single day it was alleged that a total of £160,000 had been cheated out of the benefits system. But not one of those attending court was jailed.

The nearest to prison any defendant came was Lesley Barrett, 39, who over a decade had claimed Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit as a single mother when, in fact, her partner lived with her.

As a result of the deceit she had received some £60,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.

Despite the sum involved, Barrett was given a suspended prison sentence after a judge at Birmingham Crown Court was told that she had to care for her two epileptic daughters.

The re-payment arrangement for Barrett, as with the other defendants, had been made prior to her arriving in court. In most cases, all fraudulent claims will be paid in instalments from their future benefits.

While a sympathetic view needs to be taken in some cases, Barrett’s case also serves to reinforce the feeling that whatever a Government promises to do to reform the benefits system, there is always something that stops it being put in to action on the ground.

Benefit fraud is now so widespread that it costs the country more than £1billion a year.

What became apparent from the stream of cases I witnessed during the day I spent at court in Birmingham this week is that many of those who plead guilty to the offence commit benefit fraud out of greed and opportunity — not survival.


The Lazy Non-Poor People Below the "Poverty" Line Who Get Welfare, and the Hard-Working Poor Above it Who Get Taxed

There are plenty of people below the poverty line who aren’t really poor, and some people above the poverty line who are indeed quite poor. The poverty line is a very arbitrary measure seemingly designed to justify lots of spending on welfare and social services for “disadvantaged” people who aren’t really poor, spending that generates jobs for government employees (and government-subsidized non-profits) who provide welfare and handouts.

Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation explains how many people below the poverty line aren’t really poor at all:
There is a wide chasm between the public’s concept of poverty and “poverty” as it is defined by the Census Bureau. The public generally thinks of poverty as . . . homelessness, or malnutrition and chronic hunger. In reality, the vast majority of those identified as poor by the annual census report did not experience significant material deprivation.

In a recent Rasmussen poll, adults agreed (by a ratio of six to one) that “a family that is adequately fed and living in a house or apartment that is in good repair” is not poor. By that simple test, about 80 percent of the Census Bureau’s “poor” people would not be considered poor by their fellow Americans.

In the same Rasmussen poll, however, 73 percent said poverty was a severe problem. Why the disconnect? The answer: Public perception of poverty in the U.S. is governed by the mainstream media, which invariably depicts the Census Bureau’s tens of millions of poor people as chronically hungry and malnourished, homeless or barely hanging on in overcrowded, dilapidated housing.

The strategy of the media is to take the least fortunate 3 percent or 4 percent of the poor and portray their condition as representative of most poor Americans. . .[But] they are far from typical among the poor. . . a poor child in American is far more likely to have a widescreen plasma television, cable or satellite TV, a computer and an Xbox or TiVo in his home than he is to be hungry. . .In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked parents living in poverty this question: “In the last 12 months, were [your] children ever hungry but you just couldn’t afford more food?” Some 96 percent of poor parents responded “no”: Their children never had been hungry because of a lack of food resources at any time in the previous year. . . .

Here are more surprising facts about Americans defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau. . .

Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning. Fully 92 percent of poor households have a microwave; two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR. Nearly 75 percent have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks. . .Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television. Half have a personal computer; one in seven have two or more computers. More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as Xbox or PlayStation. . . A third have a widescreen plasma or LCD TV. . .

At a single point in time, only one in 70 poor persons is homeless. The vast majority of the houses or apartments of the poor are in good repair; only 6 percent are over-crowded. The average poor American has more living space than the average non-poor individual living in Sweden, France, Germany or the United Kingdom. . .Forty-two percent of all poor households own their home; on average, it’s a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio. . . among the lowest-income fifth of households, inflation-adjusted consumer spending actually increased modestly during the recession.

Given these facts, how does the Census Bureau conclude that more than 40 million Americans are poor? They identify a family as poor the family’s cash income falls below specific thresholds. For example, in 2009 a family of four was “poor” if annual cash income fell below $21,954.

But in counting income, the Census Bureau ignores almost the entire welfare state. This year, government will spend over $900 billion on means-tested anti-poverty programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and targeted social services to poor and near-poor Americans. . .This means-tested welfare spending comes to around $9,000 for each poor or low-income American — virtually none of which is counted by census officials for purposes of calculating poverty or inequality.

I am a lawyer, but I actually live worse than many so-called “poor” people collecting government welfare due to their being below the poverty line. As Rector notes, among the substantial fraction of people below the poverty line who own their own home, the average home is “a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.” I have a two-bedroom house with no garage and no porch or patio. (I live in a high-living-cost area — metropolitan Washington, D.C., where well-paid government contractors and federal employees are able to bid up the cost of housing — with the result that I cannot afford a larger house. My little two-bedroom house is assessed at $570,000, and a larger house would cost more.) But because I live in a high-cost area, I am paid a salary that is above average for the American worker, meaning that I am treated as being “rich” by the Obama administration for purposes of things like phasing out the child-tax credit I would otherwise receive for my daughter if my income were lower.

Some people who are suffering economically, and who have very little net income, are treated as not being poor for purposes of the federal poverty line. Many financial and legal obligations are not factored into the government’s definition of income, which is what matters for purposes of the poverty line and most welfare benefits. For example, child support payments are not tax deductible, so if you are ordered to pay most of your income in child support, leaving you with little money to buy food, you are not deemed to be poor or below the poverty line. This often happens to people who were ordered to pay large amounts of child support based on the fact that they used to have a well-paying job, but no longer do. Child support is supposed to be based on your income under state child-support guidelines. But in practice, state child support agencies typically refuse to reduce child-support obligations when people lose their jobs or experience reduced income due to a recession. The Urban Institute found that only 4 percent of non-custodial parents managed to obtain reductions in their monthly payments. A recent news story described how family-court judges are now jailing fathers who faithfully paid all of their child support as long as they were employed, but then became temporarily unable to make their payments due to the loss of their job in the recession.

As MSNBC noted, you can end up
behind bars if you . . . are behind on your child-support payments. Thousands of so-called “deadbeat” parents are jailed each year in the U.S. after failing to pay court-ordered child support . . .But in what might seem like an un-American plot twist from a Charles Dickens’ novel, advocates for the poor say, some parents are wrongly being locked away without any regard for their ability to pay. . .

Randy Miller, a 39-year-old Iraqi war vet, found himself in that situation in November, when a judge in Floyd County, Ga., sent him to jail for violating a court order to pay child support. He said he was stunned when the judge rebuffed his argument that he had made regular payments for more than a decade before losing his job in July 2009 and had recently resumed working. “I felt that with my payment history and that I had just started working, maybe I would be able to convince the judge to give me another month and a half to start making the payments again,” he told “… But that didn’t sit too well with him because he went ahead and decided to lock me up.” Miller . . . spent three months in jail before being released.

In Virginia, whose child-support guidelines are likely to increase soon to grossly-excessive levels, the state courts regularly impute imaginary income to non-custodial parents for purposes of calculating (and increasing) their child-support obligations. If you quit your salaried job to start a small business and it succeeds, making you rich, the courts will increase your child support to reflect your actual increased income. But if your small business fails, they will reproach you for “gambling” with your family’s future, and base your monthly child-support obligations not on your current actual income (which is lower because you can’t go back to your old job), but instead based on your past income from the old job that you no longer have. This is called “imputed income,” and it discourages divorced parents from starting small businesses, reducing the size of Virginia’s economy. It could be summarized as “heads I win, tails you lose,” and it has been criticized by experienced family lawyers like Richard Crouch.

Impoverished investors also get fleeced despite being poor under the current definition of “poverty.” Some types of financial losses are not factored into taxable income. A person who experienced catastrophic capital losses is partly out of luck, since only $3,000 in net capital losses can be deducted annually on your tax return (by contrast, there is no limit to the amount of capital gains that can be taxed, and capital gains taxes can be imposed even if the entire capital “gain” is the result of inflation, and is essentially an accounting fiction, meaning that the investor really made no money at all). Remember that the next time someone tells you that the tax code discriminates in favor of people whose income is from capital gains. In reality, the tax code discriminates against capital gains except when the economy is growing and inflation is low, since capital gains taxes are levied on increases in asset value that are the product of inflation, rather than actually increases in value. America’s capital gains tax rates, which Obama wants to raise, are already higher than in Canada and much of Europe, and much higher than in Germany and Japan. Even countries with higher tax rates than the U.S. sometimes actually tax less than the U.S. does, because they allow taxpayers to avoid capital gains taxes based on inflationary gains, unlike the U.S.

People treated as “poor” by government welfare programs often get more money in food stamps than many taxpayers (like me) actually spend on food. A record 45.8 million people are now on food stamps, including some millionaires who are treated as “poor” because although they have lots of assets, they have little monthly cash income (or because their income is tax-exempt). The $800 billion stimulus package largely repealed welfare reform, and resulted in changes in some state laws that made it easier for lazy people to collect welfare.



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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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