Saturday, 13 December 2008

Positive thinking

Saying that the police are a waste of time and space will get us nowhere. I reckon we still have a core of fine law officers. This blogger is one; check out her own description of herself

The police: upholding the law, protecting the weak and innocent, bringing the guilty to justice... or just a chaotic bunch of nincompoops? The opinion in this blog is not official, but it is that of a real serving policewoman and is Copyright of PC Bloggs, author of 'Diary of an On-Call Girl'. PS Readers referring to me as " MsBloggs", " Madame Author" or """Woman will have their comments removed. Unless they're really funny.

Firing Sharon Shoesmith will do nothing to make children safer. Nor will calling for public inquiries, naming and shaming those who directly killed Baby P, bemoaning the breakdown of British society/families/morals. No indeed, we need to go much further.

Since the dawn of time, people have abused their children, and I now propse this radical ten-step programme to eradicating child abuse FOREVER:
  1. Baby licenses. Couples have to apply to have children in the first place, and the adjudicators who give out the licenses will be people like Jacqui Smith and Boris Johnson.
  2. It goes without saying, certain categories of person will not be allowed to give birth at all: single parents, those who have had more than one marriage, or more than one partner, or more than one sexual partner, or any sex at all ever.
  3. Cameras installed in every home, with audio, and voice recognition to call the police immediately if any of the following sounds are heard: crying child, raised voice, loud thud or other noise.
  4. Social Services to vet the household of every new baby at one week intervals, for the first five years of their life, then fortnightly until they are 10, then monthly.
  5. Social Workers to have the power to have someone instantaneously convicted of child abuse without the need for judicial process.
  6. Sterlisation in police stations. Whenever someone is arrested, along with their DNA and fingerprints being taken, they will be sterilised. People who get arrested shouldn't be allowed to have kids.
  7. The immediate removal of all children from their parents. The parents will then have to retrospectively apply for a license as above.
  8. Parents to wear a tag with satellite navigation system, to allow their parental effectiveness to be monitored at all times.
  9. All children to be put into foster care, forever.
  10. The whole of the UK to become one big family, with all children as wards of the nation and politicians directly responsible for their welfare. This is because ultimately politicians know best how children should be brought up.
Until we enact the above programme, cases like Baby P will continue to happen.

I don't WANT that to be the case. But I do want to live in a society where people who aren't torturing and murdering their babies can bring them up without state interference. You can't have it both ways.

After that broadside, a image of a realistic police officer

Hard Hit

In another sign of holiday cheer, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported a 250 percent rise in the number of guns handed over in a no-questions-asked program to exchange weapons for holiday gift cards. The department's station in a high crime suburb received 964 guns, two hand grenades and two briefcases full of dynamite.

I find it hard to associate the message in a holiday gift card with the casual possession of hand grenades or briefcases full of dynamite. But then, I do have a bit of a Grinch DNA.

Death of a Brazilian

The Coroners' Inquest has now reported. The verdict of the Jury was Open. This is possibly the worst finding in such a important matter. It is tantamount to their saying "we do not know what happened". This despite a very full ventilation of the events of that day. There can be no closure for the family, vindication of the police or us, the public, knowing whether we can trust the ability and honesty of our public defenders. Obviously, contention increases newspaper sales even more than cheap fish and chips would do but they are still hammering on.

To me, the whole thing is like a sex act that did not come to the final physical event. Such a lot of well-intentioned effort but no satisfaction. I am disappointed at the Coroner's action in limiting the findings that could have been considered. This seeds further discontent; very few can understand or explain why he constrained the panel. I did not see anything in his closure regarding the fact that the Met. police seem to have driven a coach and horses through the law of the land regarding homicide. The sudden death implication of Kratos was not in their gift; parliament changes our laws.

There is another implication arising from leaving the veracity of police evidence up in the air. The Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) based their reports and recommendations on - presumably - the information now considered tainted. Just how does the suspicion implicit from the Coroners' Court change IPCC findings and will they re-convene?

All in all. an unsatisfactory fudge. Saloon bar pundits will run this for some while longer.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Fresh scene

If you now reading this are the solitary reader that I have, you might notice a few tweaks here and there.

Courtesy of The Guru Lady. Comes Highly Recommended.

Strength - not the muscular sort

An ambulance man writes about what it takes to do his job.

It's the strength that you need when you have picked up the fourth severely demented patient in a row, they curl up on our trolley having been unable to move for many years, their arms and legs contracted into the foetal position. Their bodies are skin and bone, as we pick them up their joints creak and crack and they shriek in our ears, long nails dig into our arms.

It's the strength that you need when driving the ambulance and you hear them start to cry in the back, your crewmate holds their hand and tries to reassure them but they can't get through. Instead all you can hear is the sobbing and the noises that are left them now that language has gone. they can't tell you if they are in pain or are scared - instead all they can do is moan, and cry and scream.

It's when you walk into a nursing home full of the demented elderly. Stuck on the walls outside the doors to their room are photographs from their prime. Happy mothers holding their children, proud men standing to attention in military uniform. Sepia memories from the past, what they were, not what they are. You open the door and the person in the photographs is lying on urine sodden sheets, legs heavily bandaged from ulcers that will never heal, with hands constantly grasping for something imaginary that floats just out of reach. The person that they were is gone, all that is left is the shell, no expression behind the face that smiled all those years ago for the photo outside the door.

Then one takes hold of your hand and looks up at you with bright blue eyes and asks if you are their dad, long since dust.

And your heart breaks.

I don't know how much longer I can do this.

Happy Hour

I always enjoy the blogs written by someone who describes himself as NHS Blog Doctor. He is frank about NHS problems and names and shames. Today however, he has initiated a Christmas competition seeking the best ten reasons why PM Gordon Brown must go. He does find himself in a quandary - his Short List remains at fifty reasons and he has great difficulty in cutting that down.

There is a preponderance of William Hague YouTube clips. These should be on the list of everyone looking for a present suitable for David Cameron as they form a true Master Class of how a Leader of the Opposition should conduct himself. The only path to salvation of the Conservative party is to get Hague back to take over from Cameron. Just as the Speaker is dragged to his place as part of the ritual, there should be a dragging of Hague.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Truth repeats itself

I remember seeing the film about the US lawyer who obtained compensation for people living near a chemical plant. In the movie, Erin Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts, uncovered a conspiracy involving contaminated water which was making local residents sick. She helped to secure the largest settlement in United States history- 333 million dollars.
By signing up a considerable number of claimants, all of whom agreed to pay a relatively small proportion of any reward, her firm made considerable profits. Nothing legally wrong in that; open to personal interpretation as to the moral angle.
Now we have the story here in UK of a legal firm criticised for a repeat of Erin's activities. The senior partners in a firm of South Yorkshire solicitors have been paid almost £30 million for settling thousands of compensation claims on behalf of dead or sick miners. Until late 2003, Beresfords’ head office was to be found among a shabby line of redbrick terraced buildings on tired and dust-stained Balby Road in Doncaster. Near-neighbours on the street included a Chinese takeaway and Lorraine’s CafĂ©. The premises are now boarded up and for sale. Beresfords no longer needs them because in November 2003 the firm moved into a luxurious £4.8 million lakeside development at Quay Point in Doncaster. An ocean of shimmering glass fronts the new 38,000sq ft office, big enough to house the 200 employees who, the solicitors’ website announced in 2003, would be housed together for the first time since the rapid growth of the firm. When the firm’s three partners — Jim Beresford, 55, his daughter Esta, 27, and Doug Smith, 48 — gaze from their “magnificent boardroom overlooking the lake”, they may well reflect on the wisdom of recognising the potential for expansion and glittering profits via the coal health compensation schemes. To date, Beresfords — which in 2004 was describing itself as “a unique law firm . . . dealing with industrial disease and personal injury claims only” — has registered 80,474 chest disease claims on behalf of miners and their families, more than any other solicitors’ practice in the country. Only 15,713 — less than 20 per cent — of those claims have so far been settled, yet the Department of Trade and Industry has already paid Beresfords a total of £27.2 million in legal costs. If all the remaining cases were successfully settled on the same basis, the firm potentially could receive a further £100 million from the public purse. Beresfords has enjoyed a close working relationship with the Union of Democratic Mineworkers and Vendside, the claims-handling company owned by the union, which chose to pass on several thousand of its cases to be dealt with by the Doncaster solicitors. And as the three leading individuals at the UDM have flourished financially, so have their friends at Beresfords. The profits allocated to Mr Beresford in 2002 and 2003, the most recent year for which his limited liability partnership has returned a financial statement, totalled £1.4 million. Meanwhile, Mr Smith has been busy spending his money. In November 2003 he sold his modern, red-brick house at Tickhill, near Doncaster, for £340,000. Three months earlier he had spent £840,000 to buy Noblethorpe Hall, a Grade II-listed Victorian country property with seven bedrooms, four reception rooms, grand hall, scullery, butler’s pantry and cellars, set in 18 acres of parkland, including a ha-ha and folly. In the past few weeks Mr Smith has also spent more than £200,000 on two cars, an Aston Martin DB9 and a Bentley Arnage.
Solicitors Jim Beresford and Douglas Smith have been found guilty of misconduct by the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal in London over compensation payouts for sick miners.
The two former senior partners faced 11 allegations of serious professional misconduct. They were accused of conduct unbecoming a solicitor in failing to represent the best interests of their clients, misleading a government minister, breaching referral rules and entering into “sham arrangements”.
The tribunal found eight out of the allegations against the lawyers proven.

Chairman David Leverton said: “If ever there was a group of persons who needed the full care and attention from solicitors, it was these miners. Mr Beresford described himself as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, his attitude allowed himself and Mr Smith to put commercial goals before his clients’ best interests.”

The lawyers were also accused of not giving adequate advice and entering into contingency fee deals against their clients’ best interests. Both men denied the charges at the tribunal hearing last month, which heard that up to 30 per cent of a miner’s damages could be deducted by Beresfords. The compensation scheme was set up by the Government because of British Coal’s lack of safety standards and led to hundreds of thousands of claims from former miners and their families.The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) agreed to pay lawyers’ fees in successful cases and it was also agreed that in unsuccessful cases miners would not have to bear costs.Some miners claimed they were not told what compensation they might obtain.

Beresfords expanded rapidly with the advent of the coal claims, acting in more than 83,000 cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more than 14,500 cases of Vibration White Finger (VWF), a painful condition caused by working with vibrating tools.

Beresford and Smith’s joint earnings went from more than £182,000 in 2000 to £23,273,256 in 2006, the tribunal heard. But Timothy Dutton QC, appearing for the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority (SRA), said charging conditional or contingency fees over and above those set out in the scheme was “unacceptable”. In one case, the firm deducted a “success fee” from the widow of a miner, leaving her with a total payout of just £217.73, the tribunal heard. The law firm argued there was “absolutely nothing wrong” with earning substantial fees from its business conduct. The tribunal panel will now decide what penalties to set.

I like it when people such as this get their come-uppance.

Even more of a sad dog day

My RentaDog project is no more. Thinking about the abandonment yesterday led me to face up to the fact that I am really too old to undertake the walking on a guaranteed daily basis. Rather than get the dog into a place where it was expecting me, only to be disappointed when I chickened out, was not acceptable.

Dogs do pick up on this. Think how they look when a toy goes missing and the joy when it is regained. His owner is a good sort and he was not neglected when I started. Just that his day will not be as full as it had been for a short while.

Neither will mine.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Sad dog day

Woke up this morning with flu like never before. Dragged myself about and got ready to walk Trooper but realised as I walked to collect him that I was in no fit state to wrestle a dog round the park.

He had to settle for 15 minutes of indoors play and attention. He got his treats but missed out on the run around. Still, I hope that the concentration of a 40 minute walk into 15 minutes of talk and rough and tumble made up for it. At least, he was not left wondering what he had done to cause his fat friend to abandon him. Hard to explain things to dogs. Maybe that is part of the attraction really - never having to explain?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Suffering little children

This is from a police officer's blog. Seems appropriate to post it here. Even though it is over eighteen months old; Baby P's situation was nothing new.

There's been a couple of instances recently in the news where young children have been either neglected or actively abused by family members leading to the deaths of the children.

One of the things I found hardest to get to grips with after joining the job was coming face to face with this sort of depravity and not throwing the parent out of the nearest window. I couldn't understand how an adult could treat any child so badly, never mind their own. But there were lots and lots of examples of how wrong I was. Still, I never quite got used to it.

One particular time, we'd been looking for a guy who was wanted for theft and burglary and we knew he spent a lot of time at a particular house. The woman who lived there, we'll call her "Sara", was a raging heroin addict and had four kids. The youngest was still in nappies and the eldest about fourteen. Her place was basically an open house for any drug addled low life in the area and when her benefits couldn't stretch to her heroin she paid for them by whoring herself to the other users and anyone else she could find. She'd do this at home with the kiddies still in the house.

Anyway, we'd gone round there and put containment on the house to stop the bloke we were looking for skipping over the back wall. I knocked on the door and, after being told to "f*ck off" several times I persuaded Sara that it would be easier if she opened the door from the inside rather than us doing it from the outside.

I walked in and the sight I was met with was enough to block out the abuse she was giving me from about six inches away. As she called me every name under the Sun, including a few I'd never heard before, screaming into my ear I gazed around her "home".

The kitchen was covered in dirty clothes and dirty plates and pans. To the point that you couldn't see any of the work tops and most of the floor. There were flies, living and dead, all over and a small army of ants working their way around the days old rotting food. Turning left, I walked down the hall into her "living room". I call it that, but the only things actually living there were probably what Tony Blair was searching for in Iraq. The sofas were taken up by a group of heroin addicts I was on nodding terms with and they were engrossed in the football. I said hello to them as I looked behind the sofa for the chap we were looking for.

Instead, I found Sara's youngest, filthy dirty and with a nappy overflowing with piss and shit. He gave me a big smile and wave. His hands were black with ingrained dirt.

Sara's carpet was purple originally, but in most places had either worn away or was now more of a browny black colour. There was a stench of human fecaes that made me retch. I asked one of the bobbies with me to wait in the living room and I walked upstairs. Again, the carpet had all but worn away. On the landing there was an ironing board set up and, on the ironing board a large saucepan. Sticking out of the pan was a wooden spoon. I looked inside and saw it contained some rice krispies and milk that had long since gone off. The stink of the sour milk did help to cover the smell of urine from the bedrooms though so small mercies...

The bathroom was more filthy than the living room, the toilet caked in brown stains and the bath full of more dirty clothes. The bedrooms were equally bad, with matresses on the floor barely covered by dirty sheets. Again, the floors were covered in dirty clothes and half eaten takeaway meals.

Sara's room, unsurprisingly, was the cleanest of the lot. That said, it still stank of sweat, dirt and recently burned heroin. I prodded around the rooms with my stick and we eventually found the bloke we were looking for hiding in a cupboard set into the wall in one of the kid's bedrooms. Considering he was going to go to prison, he was remarkably compliant. I put this down to the fact he was close to passing out due to the smell. In fact, he perked up enough to put up a bit of a fight one he'd had some fresh air.

We obviously removed the kids that were there under a Police Protection Order and Sara kicked right off. The loving, caring mother was probably stressed about losing her child benefit payments. As I carried the toddler out (admittedly at arms length. I mean, I like kids as much as the next person but...) Sara was again screaming at me as she was held back by a bobby and one of her smack head mates. The temptation to drag her upstairs and stick her face in the pan on the ironing board was almost overwhelming.

Instead, as she followed me outside and played up to the growing audience of jeering anti-Police neighbours I instead just pointed out, loud enough for them to hear, why exactly I was taking her children away. All of a sudden the neighbours weren't quite as supportive of her.

As we drove away we felt like we'd done a good job all round and I definately didn't mind filling in the paperwork for Social Services to follow up on our P.P.O. Thing is, within a week, the kids were back living in the slum after Sara had given "assurances" to the social workers. Still, we felt like we'd done our bit and at least we knew to keep an eye on the kiddies in the future.

I bumped into her eldest not long ago. She'd left Sara's as soon as she could and got a place at a hostel for young people. She found a job and started a college course and she's doing OK. She's been in trouble once or twice, but not for anything particularly bad and I felt really proud of her. She's beaten the odds and I just hope her brothers and sisters do too.

Reticence of the aged

Michele Hanson is a blogger who has just announced "I can sew, make stews, do apostrophes and recite poems, but I can't name certain body parts out loud. Something is going frightfully wrong with a bit of Rosemary's body that she is loath to talk about. "Upper body," she shouts, "and not my heart." That's as far as she is prepared to go. "I don't want to talk about it, frankly," she adds, "and neither do you."

No, I don't. Perhaps it's a generational thing. We older persons have our merits. Attitudes towards us are changing now that times are hard, even if we can't be newsreaders. We're no longer just a bank or a burden, but a treasured resource with ancient skills. "Darling Granny, will you please darn my woolly? Mummy doesn't know how and she can't afford to buy me a new one." We can sew, mend, make stews, do apostrophes, know poems by heart, and can easily adapt to blackouts, but there's still one thing many of us could never, and still cannot, do - name certain body parts out loud.

I, for one, cannot say the V, P, N, G or B words in public or private. I'm still stuck on "chest" or "front bottom" and the like. Which is perhaps why some of us don't go to the doctors as soon as we should and so drop off our perches too early.

Younger women do not have a problem with discussing their 'bits'. I am not sure where my preference lies.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Top of my list

This is the genre. This is the Number One Man with another genius.

I listen to this when my eyes need a rinse!

Different sort of music but Gosh, ain't it good.

See what he does with those guitars - the riffs send shivers down my spine.

More of what I like

I first put him in my list of Things I like as a drummer but he moved on. This gives us a bit of both!

Laugh at the Devil

Bit of a lazy blog today. Sorry - think of it as a way for me to make my tastes known!

This is the man who makes me laugh when the Black Dog has me in it's grip.

Meditation as medication

A Monty Python script surely!

I had to check the date when I read this today. No - it was not April Fools Day. So, even the poor old guy twisted out of any human shape may keep his hand in with a bit of robbery and violence,

A company called Constitution Arms claims that the FDA has classed its "Palm Pistol" (a squeezable handgun suitable for people with arthritis) as a Class I medical device ("a classification reserved for devices that pose little risk to a patient's health, such as stethoscopes and walking aids") and they imply that Medicare will help you buy one. The FDA denies any certification and an expert on medical device regulation says that Medicare probably wouldn't subsidize these even if the FDA gave it the nod.

"It's something that they need to assist them in daily living," says Matthew Carmel, president of Constitution Arms in Maplewood, New Jersey, which hopes to manufacture the Palm Pistol - now just a patent and specifications.

"The justification for this would be no more or less for a [walking aid] or wheelchair, or any number of things that are medical devices," he says.

The sales information reads: "It is also ideal for seniors, disabled or others who may have limited strength or manual dexterity. Using the thumb instead of the index finger for firing, it significantly reduces muzzle drift, one of the principal causes of inaccurate targeting. Point and shoot couldn't be easier."

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Call to arms

Something that has often annoyed me whenever I mention my Army service is the response that War is Evil and Must Be Banned. When I do bother with any response - infrequently - it is to ask them how they intend to achieve that end state - would they use force against another Nation?

Certainly, the man Mugabe is a foul tyrant who deserves the worst treatment possible that will cause him to go away from the country he had bled dry. Not an easy task; he still holds the services of a fair sized arm. Then, again, there is that No War faction.

So, I was rather surprised to read of all the good and beautiful and their calls for him to be forced out of office. See chaps - there is something to be said for violence after all.