Prisons &amp; child prisoners https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/12058/all cached version 16/10/2018 16:02:49 en Why are so many people dying on probation in England and Wales? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-roberts/deaths-probation-privatisation <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Flawed ‘reforms’ and part-privatisation have created havoc in the probation service. Amid the chaos: a sharp rise in self-inflicted deaths.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/ChrisGraylingresized.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/ChrisGraylingresized.jpg" alt="Former justice secretary Chris Grayling giving speech in front of poster which says, securing a better future" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Chris Grayling spearheaded probation reforms in his role as justice secretary between 2012 and 2015. Image: Joe Giddens/PA Archive/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>When a person dies in prison their death is investigated and an inquest is held.&nbsp;</p><p>Last year 276 people died in prisons across England and Wales. Many of these deaths will have been subject to independent scrutiny. Post death investigations are important for many reasons, not least because they provide an opportunity to prevent future deaths.&nbsp;</p><p>But what happens when a person dies&nbsp;<em>after&nbsp;</em>leaving prison, while they are in the community and still in the care of probation services?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>We don’t know. At present there is no investigative body routinely scrutinising these deaths. That said, the <em>numbers</em> of people dying post-release and even how they die, isn’t a secret.&nbsp;</p><p>Between 2010/11 and 2016/17, 1,378 people died while on probation, supervised either within the public sector, by the National Probation Service, or by commercial companies, known as Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs).</p><p>Last year 372 people died while on probation. The comparable figure in 2010 was 110. Improvements to recording practices could explain part of the rise, but not all. And these figures don’t show the complete picture. Two community rehabilitation companies have yet to release their figures.&nbsp;</p><p>The Ministry of Justice’s annual bulletin reveals that the rise in post-release deaths far outstrips probation caseloads.</p><p>A significant number of these deaths are self-inflicted. The number of self-inflicted deaths among people on probation rose by 488 per cent (from 24 to 117) between 2010/11 and 2016/17. During this same period caseloads increased by 90 per cent (from 37,000 to 70,000).</p><p>That so many people are taking their lives while in the care of probation services should cause alarm. But even as wider probation reforms are under attack, these startling figures barely register.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The number of self-inflicted deaths occurring during post-release supervision rose by 488 per cent</p><p>We know that in the first three months of 2017 at least 90 people died on probation.&nbsp;That’s roughly one person every day.</p><p>The Ministry of Justice released these figures to us in response to an FOI request. They released a list of names of people who died, their gender, date and cause of death. We know which probation provider was supervising them when they died.</p><p>In the data we received, 40 per cent were recorded as natural causes, 29 per cent self-inflicted, six per cent homicide, four per cent accidental. The remaining 21 per cent were ‘unclassified’, meaning that the cause of death is yet to be established.&nbsp;</p><p>This loss of life has occurred in the context of widely-criticised reforms to the probation services implemented by former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. It raises questions about the adequacy of support before and after release from custody.&nbsp;</p><h2>Transforming Rehabilitation: a silent killer?</h2><p>Last month MPs on the House of Commons Justice Committee delivered <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/justice-committee/news-parliament-2017/transforming-rehabilitation-report-published-17-19/">a scathing report</a> on the reforms. They said the probation service was “a mess” and they were unconvinced the reforms would ever deliver “the kind of probations service we need”.</p><p>The reforms included the contracting out of routine probation services to Community Rehabilitation Companies. </p><p>These are partnerships led by companies including&nbsp;Sodexo, a&nbsp;<a href="https://uk.sodexo.com/home/media/press-releases/newsListArea/uk-press-releases/sodexo-with-nacro-wins-six-proba.html">French outsourcing</a>&nbsp;giant with €21 billion of revenue, and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.interserve.com/how-we-help/facilities-management">UK-based Interserve</a>, whose specialities include construction, cleaning and catering.&nbsp;</p><p>High risk probation cases stayed with the public sector, managed by the National Probation Service.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GRAYLINGHARDWICKNOV2014_720.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="As justice minister Chris Grayling made prison harsher and dismissed his critics."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GRAYLINGHARDWICKNOV2014_720.jpg" alt="" title="As justice minister Chris Grayling made prison harsher and dismissed his critics." width="460" height="328" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>As justice minister Chris Grayling made prison harsher and dismissed his critics.</span></span></span></p><p>The MPs&nbsp;identified problems&nbsp;including: poor provider performance, contractual&nbsp;issues, a two-tier system between the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies, and low staff morale.</p><p>They said ‘through the gate’ support, help given to&nbsp;people&nbsp;when they leave prison, was inadequate. They found that there was no confidence in community alternatives to custody.&nbsp;</p><p>But attention has mainly focused on operational and contractual matters.&nbsp;</p><p>Absent from the debate is the human cost and how these failures may have directly impacted people on probation. The deaths&nbsp;discussed in this article&nbsp;provides a chilling example of this point.</p><h2>Institutional indifference</h2><p>How is it that so many people are taking their own lives while in the care of probation services?&nbsp;Why does no-one seem to care?&nbsp;</p><p>The Ministry of Justice and service providers must be aware that high numbers of people are dying while under their supervision. Parliamentary committees, the Chief Inspector of Probation, and the Prisons&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Probation Ombudsman should be scrutinising&nbsp;these&nbsp;deaths. They must&nbsp;hold&nbsp;the&nbsp;agencies&nbsp;responsible&nbsp;to account. This is institutional indifference on a grand scale.</p><p>Probation services are incentivised to manage risk of offending rather than more meaningful outcomes such as wellbeing, housing or health. One&nbsp;principal behind ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ was payment by results linked to reducing ‘reoffending’. On these terms, ‘success’&nbsp;is&nbsp;defined as&nbsp;less reoffending rather than the safety and care of people leaving prison.</p><p>In the chaos wrought by ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’, one can only speculate about the role that probation reforms have played in premature and unnecessary death. While correlation does not imply causation,&nbsp;it isn’t far-fetched to&nbsp;assume that&nbsp;it will likely be the people on probation that are hit hardest&nbsp;when services deteriorate.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Who has died, how they died, and whether probation reforms played a part in these deaths&nbsp;</p><p>The justice committee’s report focused on shortcomings in contracts and delivery models.&nbsp;There was no mention of&nbsp;the reality of a punitive and uncaring criminal justice system that does little to tackle underlying individual, social and economic problems.</p><p>The committee has recommended that the Ministry of Justice conducts a review&nbsp;of the entire probation system. The government should start by investigating the deaths of people who die on probation. Who has died, how they died, and&nbsp;the potential role that&nbsp;‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ played in these deaths.&nbsp;</p><p>If ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ has impacted negatively in this way, and contributed to untimely and preventable deaths, what is going to be done about it?&nbsp;</p><p>What is clear is that probation is not just in a ‘mess’. It is a catastrophic failure. People inside and outside of prison need better support and care. Government must work to end the culture of complacency, establish the reasons behind the staggeringly high number of deaths and introduce policies to protect the lives of people using their services.</p><hr /><p><em><span>Edited by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, Clare Sambrook &amp; Annissa Warsame for&nbsp;</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight"><span>Shine A Light.</span></a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/transforming-probation-or-wrecking-service-that-works">Transforming probation? Or wrecking a service that works?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/andrew-neilson/exploding-myth-of-payment-by-results">Exploding the myth of ‘payment by results’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/one-man-two-guvnors-conflict-at-heart-of-british-justice">One Man, Two Guvnors: the conflict at the heart of British justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/could-ministry-of-justice-grayling-be-prosecuted-for-manslaughter-over-pr">Could Ministry of Justice &amp; Grayling be prosecuted for manslaughter over prison suicides? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/who-is-that-man-in-lord-chancellors-seat">Who is that man in the Lord Chancellor&#039;s seat?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/payment-by-results-merry-go-round">The payment by results merry-go-round</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Rebecca Roberts Tue, 03 Jul 2018 23:00:38 +0000 Rebecca Roberts 118682 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Connor Sparrowhawk: How one boy’s death in NHS care inspired a movement for justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/sara-ryan-clare-sambrook/connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforLB <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li>The story of a UK campaign for truth and accountability. And respect for the lives of people who have learning disabilities. Review by Clare Sambrook. Extract by Sara Ryan.</li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ryan_Sara.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Sara Ryan"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ryan_Sara.jpg" alt="" title="Sara Ryan" width="460" height="376" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>‘What has Steve Wright got, Mum?’ he asked. ‘DJitis,’ I said. Sara Ryan (Rich Huggins)</span></span></span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="http://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html"><em>Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;A Death by Indifference</em>, by Sara Ryan</a></h2><h2>Review by Clare Sambrook</h2> <p>Sara Ryan began a blog six years ago, “mostly to document the funny stories that happened in our everyday lives.” Called <a href="https://mydaftlife.com">mydaftlife</a>, it’s a warm and funny read. Ryan has an ear for dialogue, a photographer’s eye —&nbsp;and she’s a nifty swearer. Star of the show is her son Connor, his quirky take on life. One of five children, they call him Laughing Boy, LB for short. He loves lorries, buses, coaches, London, Eddie Stobart, and the family’s Jack Russell, Chunky Stan. </p> <p>Connor is 15 when the blog starts. Here’s a conversation:</p> <ul><li>‘Hey LB! How did meal prep go today?’</li><li>‘Not good, Mum.’</li><li>‘Oh. Why not?’</li><li>‘I failed, Mum.’</li><li>‘Whaddayamean, you failed?’</li><li>‘I failed, Mum.’</li><li>‘Why? What did you cook?’</li><li>‘Kebabs, Mum.’</li><li>‘Oh. I don’t get it. What went wrong?’</li><li>‘I didn’t have a skewer, Mum.’</li><li>‘Oh. Why not?’</li><li>‘Dunno, Mum.’</li><li>‘So what did you eat for lunch?’</li><li>‘Bits, Mum.’</li></ul> <p>Connor has autism, learning difficulties, epilepsy. He’s nearing 18 and the prospect of leaving school, the people he knows and likes, when the story darkens. An early encounter with adult social care comes with a manager’s humourless remark: “I am his future.”</p> <p>At home and at school Connor becomes anxious, unhappy, unpredictable, unlike himself. Things come to a head when he punches Big Sue, his beloved support teacher. The family, at their wit’s end, learn that there’s an NHS unit close by that can help. It’s a Short Term Assessment and Treatment Unit (STATT, for short), a mile or two from their Oxford home. It’s called Slade House and run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. There a team of learning disability specialists —&nbsp;psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses —&nbsp;will keep Connor safe, take a few weeks to assess him, work out the cause of his distress.</p> <p>Connor is admitted one night in March 2013. The next morning, in the early hours, he is forcibly restrained by four staff, pinned face-down. Says Ryan: “That was the day he stopped being a sixth former.”</p> <p>Weeks pass. Connor loses weight. One morning, fifteen weeks and two days after his admission, Connor (he has epilepsy, remember) is left alone, behind a locked door, out of earshot, in a steep-sided bath. He has a seizure. And he drowns.</p> <p>His <a href="https://mydaftlife.com">mother’s blog</a>, and now her book, tells this story and its brutal aftermath, as Connor’s family tries to find out what exactly happened to him, how on earth it <em>can</em> have happened at all. </p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ryan_Justice640.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ryan_Justice640.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="363" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/family-campaigns">Other families</a> bereaved by state neglect and wrongdoing might find their own experience reflected here: the “indescribable terror”, the pain and struggle, being blocked and bewildered by official lying and contempt. The bullying and the bruising, the character attack, the surveillance, the accusation that <em>you&nbsp;</em>are the problem. </p><p>The waiting. </p><p>And the inequality of arms. About the early days, Ryan writes: “We had no idea how uneven the ‘playing field’ was in a game we didn’t yet understand we were playing.”</p> <p>Ryan’s craft —&nbsp;she is a Senior Research Lead at Oxford University —&nbsp;serves the fight.<strong> </strong>Her partner Richard Huggins is an academic too. Their #JusticeforLB campaign, supported by family, friends, and the charity INQUEST, forces the exposure of negligence and incompetence on a scale that is hard to comprehend. </p> <p>It turns out that seven years <em>before</em> Connor died, another patient <a href="https://mydaftlife.com/2016/03/27/one-way-wriggle-to-the-moon/">drowned in the same NHS unit</a>. <em>In the same bath.</em> A fact that Southern Health concealed for more than two years after Connor’s death. </p> <p>It turns out that Southern Health has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/dec/09/southern-health-nhs-trust-failed-investigate-patient-deaths-inquiry">failed properly to investigate</a> more than 1,000 unexpected deaths —&nbsp;in only four years —&nbsp;and that the deaths of people with learning disabilities are least likely to be investigated. Fewer than 1% of <em>their</em> unexpected deaths have been looked into. <em>One per cent</em>. As if their lives and deaths don’t matter.</p> <p>Without #JusticeforLB these things and more would likely have stayed hidden.</p> <p>Ryan points to the premature mortality rates of people with learning disabilities in the UK, the hate crime, the “lukewarm outrage” to documented experiences of abuse, the lethal undertow of eugenics.</p> <p>Connor’s life, a happy life, well-lived, shared, recorded, celebrated, proves the wrong and falsity in all of that. </p> <p>Ryan’s book speaks of a family’s dreadful loss, charts a creative, comradely and joyous campaign for truth, for justice and accountability, strikes a blow for human rights. And brings to life her funny, kind and much-loved son.</p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_2bigger5.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_2bigger5.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="65" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3500.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Connor at his school prom"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3500.jpg" alt="" title="Connor at his school prom" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor at his school prom (#JusticeforLB)</span></span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="http://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html"><em>Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;A Death by Indifference</em></a></h2><h2>Extract by Sara Ryan</h2><p>One thing that was never pinned down during the inquest was what actually happened on the morning Connor died. We found out from the documentation and witness statements that Connor woke up and was going to have a bath before going to visit the Oxford Bus Company. According to the documentation his support worker and key nurse checked on him every 15 minutes until 9.15am when he was found unconscious. Where the decision for 15-minute observations came from was never uncovered, as witness after witness was asked and said they didn’t know.</p> <p>They were both in the nurses’ office which was across the corridor from the bathroom, a short distance away. The support worker was doing an online Tesco order in between checking on Connor. The mundaneness of this detail fills me with queasiness. Still. Ticking the ‘3 for 2’ box while Connor drowned feet away. Their statements and witness testimony provided contradictory evidence about who did what and when. The support worker’s evidence revealed that the bathroom door was locked. She used a key to open it before she found him. Until then, we hadn’t been told that the bathroom door had been locked. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_bus2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="‘Bus’ by Connor Sparrowhawk"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_bus2.jpg" alt="" title="‘Bus’ by Connor Sparrowhawk" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>‘Bus’ by Connor Sparrowhawk</span></span></span></p><p>So, not only was Connor not supervised in the bath, but he was locked in the room. This was presented as allowing Connor the privacy to do ‘what boys do in the bathroom’. It was never made clear who locked the door. When it was raised a second time, one or two barristers leapt up to say that we did not know if the door was ‘locked’ – this in spite of the evidence given by the support worker that she had ‘used a key to open it’.</p> <p>Thinking back to Connor bathing at home in the downstairs bathroom with no door, and a constant in‑and‑out of talking to him, reminding him to wash his hair, chatting&nbsp;to him and answering his endless questions, I felt physically sick. In 18 years, we had never left him in the bath with the door shut, let alone locked. Big Sue and Tina said that, on residential school trips, they would always stand by the door of the shower and talk to the kids, even those without epilepsy. </p> <p>Sitting there in full view of the jury and listening to the evidence – ‘I checked…oh no, he checked’ sort of stuff – my brain was screaming: ‘What the actual fuck were you doing? Who checked? When? Did you ever fucking “check”? Or did you suddenly wonder where he was?’ The contradictory evidence over who checked and when was never fully addressed during the inquest.</p> <p>Staff evidence exhibited a mix of remorsefulness, defensiveness, reflectiveness and the downright offensive. The hardest to sit through was [consultant psychiatrist] Dr Murphy, which spread from the Friday afternoon in person to the following Monday by video link from Ireland.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Justicequilt-6_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Step-dad, Rich, brothers Owen &amp; Tom, Connor (far right) two weeks before his death (Ryan)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Justicequilt-6_0.jpg" alt="" title="Step-dad, Rich, brothers Owen &amp; Tom, Connor (far right) two weeks before his death (Ryan)" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Step-dad, Rich, brothers Owen & Tom, Connor (far right) two weeks before he died (Ryan)</span></span></span></p> <p>We knew from the Verita review [February 2014,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=76277">PDF here</a>]&nbsp;that Dr Murphy had assessed that Connor had not had a seizure on 20 May. She took his subsequent statement that he remembered biting his tongue when angry as the accepted version of what happened without discussion with us. The fact that she interacted with Connor a handful of times across the 107 days was irrelevant.</p> <p>When asked about if Connor had had a seizure, would it be appropriate to leave him in the bath, she replied, ‘If it was a proven seizure, it wouldn’t have been appropriate.’ She went on to say, ‘My understanding is Connor didn’t have a seizure while he was on the ward’ – a point the Coroner dismissed, gently reminding her Connor had a seizure on the day he died.</p> <p>When questioned about the bleedingly obvious point that you don’t rule seizure activity out in a patient with epilepsy, she replied, ‘I made a judgement call on that day, with all the information I had and I’m always thinking bigger picture and I think that’s normal.’</p> <p>Paul Bowen QC, [the family’s barrister] making his polite, missile-like points, continued his questioning, drawing on the testimony of expert witness Professor Crawford, a consultant neurologist and Director of the Special Centre for Epilepsy, York.</p><p>‘Dr Ryan had seen her son have seizures in the past.’</p> <p>‘Yes.’</p> <p>‘And she had seen how he presented after a seizure. And she was the best person to know, having seen him that day whether it was likely or not that he had had a seizure, wasn’t she?’</p> <p>‘I suppose so.’</p> <p>‘And indeed, I could put it to you that Professor Crawford draws the conclusion that it probably was as a result of an unobserved seizure that he bit his tongue.’</p> <p>‘Well, with all due respect, Professor Crawford wasn’t there.’</p> <p>‘I could say the same, you weren’t actually there when he was supposed to have had the seizure.’</p> <p>No.</p> <p>The inquest was obviously a difficult process, and compounded by what seemed to be a continuing tendency to mother‑blame. The staff witness statements produced for Connor’s inquest offered further examples of this. This set of statements typically included a section headed ‘My Relationship with Dr Ryan’ or just ‘Dr Ryan’. Such a heading was unnecessary for many reasons, not least that Connor clearly had a large family who (apart from Tom, who at 13 years old was not allowed on the ward) visited him in the Unit and interacted with staff. It was also odd given I was called Sara in the Unit – there was no ‘Dr’ stuff in those days.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_tom.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Connor and his brother Tom"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_tom.jpg" alt="" title="Connor and his brother Tom" width="460" height="339" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>At Marble Arch, waiting for the bus home after birthday day out, Connor & Tom (Sara Ryan)</span></span></span></p> <p>Charlotte [Haworth Hird, a leading human rights solicitor] sent us these witness statements in September 2015 with an email warning us of the content. It’s odd really, contrasting the actions that help or ease, with those that make a devastating situation worse. Reading the evidence in advance of Connor’s inquest was devastating. For example, a student nurse who until that point I thought I had got on well with stated:</p> <p>‘I had seen Dr Ryan shouting at a consultant and I did not want to experience that. I was scared of her; she was a bit different.’</p> <p>When something goes catastrophically wrong, pinning the blame on ‘Mum’ or the family rather than trying to establish openly and transparently what went wrong is one of those aspects of public sector provision that has consistently floored us over the past few years. Of course, mother-blame does, in effect, help to relieve a Trust or County Council from having to think about the pain and grief bereaved families experience.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ch6x2nsWwAEZjdZ.jpg-large_0.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Craftivisim by George Julian"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ch6x2nsWwAEZjdZ.jpg-large_0.jpeg" alt="" title="Craftivisim by George Julian" width="240" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Craftivisim by George Julian #JusticeforLB</span></span></span>It is also indicative of a wider shortcoming in many health and social care services – of failing to want to understand the experiences and views of families, and failing to factor this in when making decisions or statements.</p> <p>The County Council was also firing nuclear-type missiles our way. We received an independent report commissioned by the Director of Adult Social Care one morning, out of the blue. The report arrived in my inbox two weeks after it had been circulated to everyone and their dog. It was almost farcical, as so much of it was inaccurate. It was also deeply biased, slipping into a review about me and my actions rather than what happened and why.</p> <p>Days before Connor’s inquest began, Alicia Wood, then CEO of the Housing and Support Alliance (now known as Learning Disability England), had forwarded a copy of a letter to Caoilfhionn Gallagher, the human rights barrister who had earlier offered us pro bono support. The letter was from a less reflective Oxford County Council commissioner who had written to two disability activists excusing the Council’s role in commissioning such crap services. As I read it, I could see again subtexts of mother-blame.</p> <p>She described feeling ‘immense sympathy’ for me while stating, in the same sentence, that she believed my campaigning had done a lot of damage. ‘In hindsight’ featured, as it does so commonly when something goes catastrophically wrong. We-could-possibly-have-done-more-but-we-were-so-stretched-type bollocks. The letter ends with a toe-curling paragraph which combines ‘immensely sorry’ with the comment that bloggers have ‘a duty to be honest and accurate’:</p><p>‘My hope is that she can find some kind of peace with this, and that one day, she might be able to move on.’</p><p>Weary Mother, a regular contributor to my blog, captured what the experience is like for many mothers in the following comment on mydaftlife:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">So many of us have fought so bloody hard for justice for our sons and daughters and have all been treated as brutally as Sara and her family has…just for seeking justice. Many of us battle on, like Sara, now. </p><p class="blockquote-new">My son is an actor with a group composed of people with learning disabilities. With tears running down my face I watched him when they performed a play about the First World War. My son was the only soldier from that village to come home. In his tattered uniform he came slowly down the aisle in church, Last Post playing quietly. He leaned heavily on stick (as he now does from damage done to him in real life), his head bandaged and bloody. At front the widows wait with his wife, who moves towards him in beautiful and moving joy. </p><p class="blockquote-new">In the background, slowly and in time to the gently played Last Post, a row of our dead boys walk in line, eyes bandaged and unseeing, comrades all. Arm stretched out, hand on comrade’s shoulder. </p><p class="blockquote-new">I wept. So many, so many…so bloody many. Harm is done to our boys and our girls and like those widows, we are grateful if they just come home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>When cross-questioned at Connor’s inquest, the student nurse changed her position and said she was not scared of me. She said I was a mother trying to do her best for her son.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html">Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – A Death by Indifference</a>,</em>&nbsp;by Sara Ryan with a foreword by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.<br /> <strong>To order a copy for £12.99 go to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html">Jessica Kingsley Publishers</a>.</strong></p><hr /><p><iframe width="460" height="258" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gMtOGXBEDuo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a style="font-size: 17px;" href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/justiceforlb?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Ehashtag">#JusticeforLB: Notes by Clare Sambrook</a></h2> <p>• Sara Ryan continues to blog at <a href="http://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/">mydaftlife</a>.</p> <p>• Connor’s family is supported by the charity&nbsp;<a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/">INQUEST</a>, and represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Charlotte Hird Haworth of Bindmans solicitors.</p> <p>• Six weeks after Connor died, an unannounced inspection of Slade House by the Care Quality Commission found it to be inadequate in all 10 measures of assessment. That CQC report, published in November 2013, can be found in <a href="https://mydaftlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/cqc-slade-house-final-report-1.pdf">PDF here.</a>&nbsp;Sara Ryan notes: “The report reads like an inspection of a Victorian asylum.”</p> <p>• In February 2014 the Verita report, commissioned by Southern Health, confirmed&nbsp;that Connor’s death was preventable. <a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=76277">PDF here.</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>•&nbsp;A police investigation into Connor’s death was closed in August 2014.</p> <p>•&nbsp;An inquest jury determined in October 2015 that Connor’s death was contributed to by neglect and very serious failings —&nbsp;failings in the assessment, care and risk management of epilepsy in patients with learning disability, errors and omission in Connor’s care at the unit, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust Short Term Assessment and Treatment Unit (STATT), Slade House. The <a href="justiceforlb.org:full-jury-findings-connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforlb">full jury findings are here.</a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DNpj-P4XUAUI5qo.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Sara Ryan at the launch of her book, Doughty Street Chambers, 2 November 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DNpj-P4XUAUI5qo.jpg" alt="" title="Sara Ryan at the launch of her book, Doughty Street Chambers, 2 November 2017" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sara Ryan at the launch of her book, Doughty Street Chambers, London, November 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>• Under pressure from the #JusticeforLB campaign, NHS England commissioned an independent review of deaths of people with a learning disability or mental health problem in contact with Southern Health (from April 2011 to March 2015), known as the Mazars review. Despite Southern Health’s attempts to stop it, the report was published in December 2015. Mazars identified multiple failures of leadership and governance, and revealed that Southern Health had failed properly to investigate more than a thousand unexpected deaths, and that fewer than 1% of the unexpected deaths of people with learning disabilities were looked into. <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf">PDF here.</a> The matter was debated in the House of Lords on 10 December 2015. <a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldhansrd/text/151210-0001.htm">Text here</a>.</p> <p>• The Mazars findings prompted the Secretary of State for Health to ask the Care Quality Commission to examine how acute, community and mental health NHS trusts across England investigate and learn from deaths and identify necessary improvements. That review, published in December 2016 (<a href="https://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/20161213-learning-candour-accountability-full-report.pdf">PDF here</a>), reported that “families often have a poor experience of investigations and are not always treated with kindness, respect and honesty.” And: “This was particularly the case for families and carers of people with a mental health problem or learning disability.”</p> <p>•&nbsp;On 9 June 2016, Southern Health accepted full responsibility for Connor’s death, admitted negligence, admitted that it had violated both Connor’s and his family’s human rights. Statement <a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news-archive/2016/trust-statement-regarding-connor-sparrowhawks-death/">here</a> and below. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/KatrinaPERCY_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ex-chief executive Katrina Percy"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/KatrinaPERCY_0.jpg" alt="" title="Ex-chief executive Katrina Percy" width="240" height="264" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ex-chief executive Katrina Percy</span></span></span>• In <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36922039">July 2016 the BBC revealed</a> that Southern Health had handed contracts worth millions of pounds to past associates of chief executive Katrina Percy.</p><p>•&nbsp;In August 2016, under pressure from the public, patients and families bereaved by the Trust’s neglect, the Southern Health NHS Trust Board invited chief executive Katrina Percy to step sideways into a <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37288843">£240,000-a-year job created especially for her</a>. </p><p>• In October 2016, under continued pressure, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/190k-payoff-for-ex-chief-of-nhs-trust-that-failed-to-investig">Percy stepped down from that role with a £190,000 payoff</a>. At the time of writing (November 2017) Percy is advertising her <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrina-percy-88481258/">“strategic consultancy” services on Linkedin</a>. She cites her “inspirational and visionary leadership”, her reputation for “creating a culture which is open, accessible and energised”, and for “delivering ambitious service transformation, financial, quality and operational performance.”</p> <p>•&nbsp;In August 2017 a medical tribunal found multiple failings by Dr Valerie Murphy, the lead clinician responsible for treating Connor. During the tribunal Sara Ryan was grilled for two hours by Dr Murphy’s barrister which she described as a “barbaric experience”. Ryan <a href="http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/15488161.__39_Inhumane__39___Connor_Sparrowhawk__39_s_mum_outraged_by_delay_to_tribunal_decision/">told the Oxford Mail</a>: “It was truly traumatising. It was a complete shock.” In November 2017 the tribunal found Murphy <a href="http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/15656594.TRIBUNAL___Deplorable__care_failures_in_Connor_Sparrowhawk_tragedy/">guilty of misconduct</a> and said she had failed in ways that “fellow professionals would regard to be deplorable.” The Tribunal is due to meet in February 2018 to consider a sanction for Dr Murphy.</p> <p>• On 18 September 2017, Southern Health <a href="http://press.hse.gov.uk/2017/southern-health-nhs-foundation-trust-pleads-guilty-following-hse-prosecution/">pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws</a> in relation to Connor’s death. Two months later Southern Health <a href="https://www.shponline.co.uk/southern-health-nhs-trust-admits-guilt-womans-death/">admitted guilt</a> in relation to the death in April 2012 of 45 year old Teresa Colvin. The Trust’s new chief executive Dr Nick Broughton said: “The prosecutions against the trust are extremely serious and have contributed to a wholesale programme of change.”</p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_CROP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_CROP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="23" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">We can't stop thinking about this dream of <a href="https://twitter.com/sarasiobhan">@sarasiobhan</a> 's. Wouldn't it just be incredible? <a href="https://t.co/g4ugkT9Zl5">https://t.co/g4ugkT9Zl5</a> <a href="https://t.co/WexHTdOa6W">pic.twitter.com/WexHTdOa6W</a></p>— My Life My Choice (@mylifemychoice1) <a href="https://twitter.com/mylifemychoice1/status/723161111189659648">April 21, 2016</a></blockquote><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news-archive/2016/trust-statement-regarding-connor-sparrowhawks-death/">Trust statement regarding Connor Sparrowhawk’s death</a></h2> <p><span style="font-size: 1.2em;"><strong>Southern Health NHS Trust Statement, June 2016</strong></span></p><p>Almost three years ago Connor Sparrowhawk died while in our care, for which we are deeply sorry, and we would like to take this opportunity to again offer our unreserved apologies to his family for his preventable death.</p> <p>We have now been able to come to a successfully mediated settlement with Connor’s family, as detailed in the statement below. The statement and an easy version of the statement are also attached on the right hand side of this page as pdf documents.</p> <p><strong>PUBLIC STATEMENT BY THE TRUST</strong></p> <p>1. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (“the Trust”) accepts that it was responsible for the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, an 18-year-old boy who was a much loved son, brother and friend. He died on 4th July 2013 whilst in the care and custody of the Short Term Assessment and Treatment (“STATT”) Unit, Slade House, for which the Trust was responsible. Connor’s preventable death was the result of multiple systemic and individual failures by the Trust in the care provided to Connor on the STATT Unit.</p> <p>2. The Trust accepts:</p> <p>(i) The findings of the independent investigation into the death of Connor Sparrowhawk by Verita, dated February 2014, which concluded that his death was preventable and found significant failings in the care provided to Connor in particular concerning the management of his epilepsy;</p> <h2><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/southern_banner.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/southern_banner.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="121" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news-archive/2016/trust-statement-regarding-connor-sparrowhawks-death/"></a></h2><p><a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news-archive/2016/trust-statement-regarding-connor-sparrowhawks-death/"></a></p><p>(ii) The findings of the inquest jury on 16th October 2015, which determined that Connor died by drowning following an epileptic seizure while in the bath, contributed to by neglect* due to a number of very serious failings. These failings included both failures in the systems and processes in place to ensure adequate assessment, care and risk management of epilepsy in patients with learning disability at the STATT Unit, and in terms of errors and omissions in relation to Connor’s care whilst on the Unit. The Trust accepts that contributory factors included:</p> <ul><li>(a) A lack of clinical leadership on the STATT Unit;</li><li>(b) A lack of adequate training and the provision of guidance for nursing staff in the assessment, care and risk management of epilepsy;</li><li>(c) Very serious failings in relation to Connor’s bathing arrangements;&nbsp;</li><li>(d) Failure to complete an adequate history of Connor’s epilepsy;&nbsp;</li><li>(e) Failure to complete an epilepsy risk assessment soon after admission;</li><li>(f) Failure to complete an epilepsy risk assessment thereafter;&nbsp;</li><li>(g) Inadequate communication by staff with Connor’s family regarding his epilepsy care, needs and risks.</li></ul><p> 3. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust acknowledges and accepts that:</p> <p>(i) The failings identified by Verita and by the inquest jury:</p> <ul><li>(a) Caused Connor’s death.</li><li>(b) Were negligent breaches of the duty of care the Trust owed to Connor.</li><li>(c) Violated Connor’s right to life protected by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.</li><li>(d) Violated the Article 2 rights of Connor’s family.</li></ul> <p>(ii) The Trust failed to take all reasonable steps to locate all relevant evidence and to disclose this to the Coroner and Connor’s family.</p> <p>4. The Trust will pay Connor’s family the sum of £80,000 by way of compensation for its unlawful acts and omissions.</p> <p>5. The Trust fully acknowledges that Dr. Sara Ryan has conducted herself and the Justice for LB campaign in a dignified, fair and reasonable way. To the extent that there have been comments to the contrary by Trust staff and family members of staff, these do not represent the view of the Trust and are expressly disavowed.</p> <p>*As that word is understood in coronial law.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="http://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html"><em>Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;A Death by Indifference</em>, by Sara Ryan</a>&nbsp;with a foreword by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.&nbsp;</h2><h2><strong>To order a copy for £12.99 go to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html">Jessica Kingsley Publishers</a>.<hr /></strong></h2><p><strong><br /></strong></p><h2><strong><em>Produced by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em></strong></h2><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_CROP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_CROP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="23" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><br /></em></strong></p><p><strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p><hr /><p><strong><em><br /></em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Since my brother’s preventable death . . .</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/190k-payoff-for-ex-chief-of-nhs-trust-that-failed-to-investig">£190K payoff for ex-chief of NHS Trust that failed to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/ally-rogers/we-apologise-to-anybody-who-feels-let-down">‘We apologise to anybody who feels let down’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight ourNHS Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Sara Ryan Wed, 29 Nov 2017 00:06:20 +0000 Sara Ryan and Clare Sambrook 114931 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How lawyers fail migrants in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/mia-light/lawyers-fail-migrants-in-uk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Access to justice has diminished almost to vanishing point, leaving asylum seekers and irregular migrants at risk of exploitation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.NEWbiometric_permit.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Detail from a Biometric Residence Permit"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.NEWbiometric_permit.jpg" alt="lead " title="Detail from a Biometric Residence Permit" width="460" height="254" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A lawyer is charging Suleiman £900 for an application that should be free for him as a refugee.</span></span></span></p><p class="Standard">I strain to understand what Amir* is saying; his English is broken and the phone signal in Brook House immigration removal centre is notoriously bad. “I have a ticket for Friday” he says. It’s Monday. I’m not sure what to say. “Do you have a lawyer?” I ask limply. I’m not optimistic.</p> <p class="Standard">Most likely, Amir does not have a lawyer. He might not know how to go about getting one. One in three people in detention do not know they are entitled to 30 minutes of free legal advice. It’s also possible that Amir’s case is not in the scope of Legal Aid since the <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/cuts-legal-aid-have-decimated-access-justice-thousands-most-vulnerable">cuts</a>. Best case scenario is that Amir is entitled to Legal Aid and does understand the Legal Aid <a href="http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/united-kingdom/detention-asylum-seekers/procedural-safeguards/legal-assistance">‘surgery’</a> system in England’s immigration removal centres. But he will be told that he must wait for an appointment, as most people <a href="https://hubble-live-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/biduk/redactor2_assets/files/213/Legal_Advice_Survey_-_Spring_2017.pdf">have to wait over 1 week</a> and there is no official mechanism to prioritise people. The Home Office will have forcibly removed Amir before he has a chance to secure legal representation.</p> <p>Or maybe Amir does have a lawyer — one that he is paying for privately. He will be paying privately because, due to those practical and administrative barriers, he cannot get Legal Aid. Amir’s private lawyer might have come recommended by someone in his community. Amir might be very happy with his lawyer, because they’re not letting on how bad the situation is, merely feeding Amir with legal sounding lies. Amir might also be angry at his lawyer, for being unresponsive or incompetent. </p> <p>Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, founder of the Refugee Studies centre at Oxford University and the <a href="http://www.refugeelegalaidinformation.org/">Rights in Exile Program</a>, is all too familiar with these scenarios. </p> <p>She told me of a lawyer selling legal services to asylum seekers and others out of a house in Oxford, even though he’s been struck off. </p> <p class="Standard">Another practitioner, known to the <a href="http://www.unitycentreglasgow.org/">Unity Centre</a> where I volunteer, has for years offered women held at the notorious Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire free consultations and the option to pay after work done. Sounds attractive? Time and time again he has taken action that has jeapordised women’s cases irreversibly and then pursued them and their families for money. </p> <p class="Standard">Unity volunteers try to warn women against him but it’s difficult. Many women see him as their only hope.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.NEWbiometric_permit.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.NEWbiometric_permit.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="223" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Standard">Angel, who lives in a city in the north of England, tells me she’s heard that her ‘lawyer’ has almost definitely left the country. She says he’s left with her money and her documents. All her documents. Her and her son’s identity cards, and the photographs and the original papers necessary to substantiate her claim.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">I meet Suleiman, an elderly Eritrean man at a drop-in centre. Straightaway he tells me of his mental health issues. “I was in hospital a long time in my country,” he says. Suleiman proudly shows me his Biometric Residence Permit, that coveted pink and blue card that conveys his leave to remain as a refugee. It will expire he explains, this November, and he must pay £900 to renew it. I’m confused by this because I know applications to renew refugee status are free. They are one of the few applications still covered by legal aid and the application itself has no fee for refugees. </p><p class="Standard">I speak to the drop-in centre staff who confirm that they are aware of the situation. But Suleiman’s mind is made up. He wants to use this lawyer and believes it necessary to pay the £900. Such blatant malpractice, preying on the vulnerable, can only be complained about with the consent of Suleiman who does not give it. This lawyer will get his £900 and this lawyer remains untouchable. </p> <p class="Standard">I meet Tariq at a community meal, whilst doing outreach for Unity. He came to the UK aged 14 from Iran. He speaks with a Scottish accent and is small, still child-like in appearance. The Home Office refused Tariq’s asylum claim when he first came, but gave him leave to remain in the UK until he was 17 and a half years old. Now he is 19 and awaiting the Home Office to decide on a “fresh claim”. Tariq could be detained and forcibly removed from the UK at any time. </p> <p class="Standard">It is standard practice for the Home Office to give children who are refused asylum leave to remain in the UK which expires just before their 18th birthday, it is known as Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (or <a href="http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/resources/uasc-leave/">UASC</a>) leave. But being granted UASC leave does not mean your future in the UK is secured, and any competent lawyer would advise a client (child or otherwise) to appeal the refusal of an asylum claim if possible. </p> <p class="Standard">I listen to Tariq recount his story. He tells me that he speaks English now and gets what is going on, but in the beginning he didn’t understand anything. Not the English language, nor the UK’s legal processes. “My lawyer told me there was no need to appeal the Home Office’s refusal, because I got leave to remain,” he says. “I had no reason not to trust him, he said he would look after me.” There’s nothing I can say. “My social worker is my witness,” he says. “My lawyer said that, he told me not to appeal even though I could have done, but now he acts like he didn’t. My social worker didn’t know the law either. She listened to my lawyer and she trusted him too.” </p> <p class="Standard">With the appeal deadline now long passed, Tariq is what is called “appeal rights exhausted”. Tariq’s lawyer did not apply to extend his UASC leave and instead advised him to make further submissions to the Home Office (often referred to as a “fresh claim”). Tariq had to <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/forcing-penniless-asylum-seekers-to-travel-to-liverpool-is-hardly-good-customer-service-9998953.html">travel to Liverpool at his own expense</a> to submit this. Now all he can do is wait.</p> <p class="Standard">What makes matters worse is that it is apparent Tariq’s lawyer had prepared his fresh claim badly, it is weak when it could be strong. Tariq has been failed and there is no redress, as according to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission any complaint <a href="https://www.scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk/making-a-complaint/advice-and-information/time-limits.aspx">should be made within 1 year</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/5.NEWbiometric_permit copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/5.NEWbiometric_permit copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="326" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Standard">Tariq’s lawyer is not what is known as a ‘back-street’ lawyer. He would not be considered a rogue practitioner, in fact he is the principal solicitor of a well-known high-street firm. His bad practice is testament to the deplorable quality of representation that those seeking asylum or with irregular immigration status may encounter.</p> <p>Why is this happening? </p> <p>I asked former barrister and vice-chair of the <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/">Institute of Race Relations</a>, Frances Webber. She said: “Access to justice has diminished almost to vanishing point, making a mockery of our supposed adherence to values of fairness, justice and the rule of law.” She said: “People who don't have English as their first language are expected to navigate areas acknowledged to be of fiendish legal complexity on their own, without legal help.”</p> <p class="Standard">Cuts to Legal Aid implemented on 1 April 2013 have been <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/cuts-legal-aid-have-decimated-access-justice-thousands-most-vulnerable">devastating</a>. The pressure on lawyers has increased, with desperation often leading to shoddy practice. To stay above water, some firms take on too many clients. This means that there is not enough time to communicate with clients or explain things fully.</p> <p class="Standard">Alice, a solicitor in a busy Legal Aid immigration firm, tells me: “I have client appointments all day.”</p> <p class="Standard">I ask her: “If you see clients all day, when do you do the work that you’re promising in the appointments?”</p> <p class="Standard">“I stay late,” she says flatly. </p> <p class="Standard">“Does everyone stay late?” </p> <p class="Standard">Alice gives me a look.</p> <p class="Standard">Asylum seekers and other migrants may have multiple vulnerabilites. Denied the right to work, threatened with removal, maybe locked up or living in dangerous accommodation, struggling with language difficulties. People’s lives often depend on remaining in the UK. </p> <p class="Standard">They’re perfect prey for dodgy lawyers. </p> <p class="Standard">Making a complaint against a lawyer is a complicated and laborious process. One that requires a good grasp of the English language, time, energy and confidence. The bigger the mistake a lawyer makes, the worse a situation a person is likely to be in. Securing alternative legal representation and taking steps to regularise immigration status will be likely priorities, not engaging in the bureaucratic complaints process. Lawyers can therefore bet safely that those they wrong are not likely to seek redress. </p><p dir="ltr">Many Legal Aid firms continue to do right by their clients, including law centres across the UK who recognise the benefits of supplementing Legal Aid income with other funding. But securing funding is a job in itself. The odds are against the good guys. These<span>&nbsp;stories are those that I have encountered personally in the last few months. There must be countless others.</span></p> <p><em>* All clients’ names have been changed.</em><em> </em><em>If you are interested in assisting&nbsp;people&nbsp;to make complaints about immigration lawyers, please contact <a href="mailto:immigration.info2@gmail.com">immigration.info2@gmail.com</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em><span>Editing and images by Clare Sambrook for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</span></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/lucy-alper/locked-up-pushed-out-shaida-s-welcome-to-britain">Locked up, pushed out. Shaida’s welcome to Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/money-talks-meet-three-people-who-want-to-live-in-uk">Money talks: Meet three people who want to live in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/lydia-noon/if-i-d-known-what-to-ask-for-i-wouldn-t-have-gone-hungry">‘If I’d known what to ask for, I wouldn’t have gone hungry’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Mia Light Tue, 17 Oct 2017 07:15:04 +0000 Mia Light 114012 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The UK outsourcing experiment: playing with vulnerable lives https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/kiri-kankhwende/uk-outsourcing-alan-white-serco-G4S <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A review of Alan White’s&nbsp;<em>Who Really Runs Britain?</em>&nbsp;—&nbsp;the private companies taking control of benefits, prisons, asylum, deportation, security, social care and the NHS.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460_0.JPG" alt="" title="A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p><span>By any measure, the allegations of abuse by women imprisoned in Yarl’s Wood detention centre should be a public scandal, but despite a stream of reports prompting the Chief Inspector of Prisons to brand the centre </span><a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/yarl-s-wood-detention-centre-becomes-a-national-concern">“a place of national concern”</a><span>, sustained campaigns and protests, there has not yet been a collective public outcry.</span></p> <p>Research into the plight of women at the centre is hampered by a lack of access to official information. In June 2016, the Independent <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/home-office-refusing-to-reveal-whether-women-in-yarls-wood-have-been-raped-to-protect-the-commercial-a7077736.html">reported</a> that a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office asking for further information about sexual violence against detainees was denied on the grounds that “disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests” of the company running it, Serco. </p> <p>The lack of transparency by both the government and Serco, and the obstacle this presents to those seeking accountability for crimes against the women held there, are twin themes at the heart of Alan White’s book on Britain’s outsourcing industry, Who Really Runs Britain?. </p> <p>Yarl’s Wood is just one of many case studies detailed in the book which illustrate both the vast scale of the outsourcing project and the devastating human cost when things go wrong and the lines of accountability are muddied. White examines key areas of the state where services are outsourced, including the NHS, Ministry of Justice, asylum services, social care, disabilities and unemployment — all arms of the state with which some of the most vulnerable people in society interact.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/animals_blurred--(None)_LRG_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl&#039;s Wood, March 2015"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/animals_blurred--(None)_LRG_1.jpg" alt="" title="Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl&#039;s Wood, March 2015" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl's Wood, March 2015</span></span></span></p> <p>The book opens with a memorable case study and one of the few outsourcing stories to permeate the national consciousness, the mismanagement of the security project for the 2012 London Olympics by G4S, which resulted in the army standing in at the last minute. It’s one of the few stories that made a national impact, as the country and the world were focused on London in 2012. However, White notes that “while the implications of the scandal seemed severe for G4S at the time, they actually made little impression on it or the industry”. </p> <p>White goes on to reveal an industry enjoys lack of competition and oversight, meaning that companies like G4S will have multiple contracts and be constantly bidding for more, despite sometimes high-profile failures. </p> <p>Counter intuitively, some contracts are not particularly profitable for the companies involved. However, they are low-risk, as the state provides a safety net in the event of failure, and there are guaranteed inflows of cash.</p> <p>White returns repeatedly to the human cost of failure. As a society, we have to ask ourselves, what is an acceptable level of risk when lives are on the line? </p> <p>The major incentive for the state is supposed to be savings, but interestingly, sometimes outsourcing costs more.</p> <p>White underscores repeatedly that finding data on the details, merits and outcomes of the outsourcing projects is difficult, partly due to the confidential nature of some of the contracts but also because there is no one place that all the information is systematically retained. This is exacerbated by the fact that corresponding figures for comparison don’t really exist for the period when the state ran the services. In essence the British outsourcing project is an experiment with no systematic method of evaluation.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">In essence the British outsourcing project is an experiment with no systematic method of evaluation.</p> <p>The sheer scale of the outsourcing project is facilitated by settled political ideology on its merits. </p><p>Labour firmly adopted the Tory idea of Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) while in power. White notes that in the political context of New Labour’s compromise between social democracy and neoliberalism, “outsourcing was considered a natural development in a corporate-led world”. The pace has increased markedly since the coalition government in 2010. Although outsourcing itself is not an ideology, White notes that it is borne of one, and this consensus hampers cross-party criticism and oversight.</p> <p>Despite the challenges in scoping the industry, White is at pains to point out that rather than a sinister plot, very often the problem is miscommunication or lack of communication between government departments. This book is not a polemic but a forensic and even-handed inquiry. </p> <p>It becomes clear that four companies dominate the sector: G4S, Atos, Serco and Capita. The biggest spenders are the Department of Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice, funnelling hundreds of millions of pounds to these firms, which are too big to fail. They cover everything from security, transport or waste collection to “human services” such as welfare, prisons and probation services to transport, waste collection. </p> <p>White’s book was first published last year with the title Shadow State, Inside the Secret Companies that Run Britain. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Who_Really_Runs_Britain_460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Who_Really_Runs_Britain_460.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="369" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>This new edition carries an afterword given over to voices from these companies, who, perhaps understandably, are often reluctant to engage with a critical media. Nevertheless, there is an acknowledgment from some in the industry of the “accountability vacuum” that White so eloquently unpacks in this book —&nbsp;and which is apparent in the case of asylum seekers housed in a “fire trap” G4S-run hostel in Halifax, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-fire-trap-hostel-halifax-asylum-housing-grenfell">recently exposed on Shine A Light</a>. Multiple actors including a private landlord, G4S, the Home Office and Calderdale Council all have some responsibilities towards the tenants in the hostel. Activist John Grayson found that “one dangerous consequence of the privatisation of asylum housing, apparent in this case, is the fog around who is responsible for what”.</p> <p>Companies like G4S are quick to point out that when things go wrong, they are often gagged from talking publicly about their contracts by the government on grounds of “commercial confidentiality”, while also being blamed for failures — adding to the confusion around accountability. They are also not allowed to trumpet their successes. </p> <p>There are quite a few points of agreement between White and the outsourcers who have spoken to him both on and off the record: “they want many of the same things campaigners do: more transparency, more innovation, a more competitive market.” </p> <p>But when it comes to figuring out why that hasn’t happened yet, we find ourselves in yet another fog of confusion with contractors and the government pointing fingers at each other. </p> <p>Another point of agreement is that White does not believe outsourcing is inherently wrong, but he does suggest that it can be done better, perhaps by social enterprises, which have different aims and focus to large for-profit companies. Currently, small providers are squeezed out of the broken market. White points to places where outsourcing has worked, using local knowledge, smaller scale and an emphasis on putting the humanity back into human services.&nbsp; </p> <p>A physicist friend of mine once asked incredulously, how the company running the physics laboratory where he worked could be expert at this and also in everything from leisure services to traffic lights and still maintain standards? </p> <p>White points to larger questions: is the for-profit incentive for private companies compatible with improving lives — a qualitative measure which does not sit in the neat margins of a profit/loss worksheet? Following lengthy interviews with advocates of outsourcing, he concludes: “Outsourcers will tell you how they can save money. But few can promise to make things better.” </p> <p>Although the chief executive of Serco makes an impassioned argument that for-profit companies can still work for the public good, &nbsp;a multitude of cases in the book illustrate that standards can fall in pursuit of profit, prompting White to explore whether the profit incentive encourages the contractor to do a good job or encourages them to game the system. For example, how does the need for repeat business square with targets of reducing reoffending rates in the prison system?</p> <p>And surely, this should be the point. How should we, as a society, be caring for those among us who are most in need of it and maintain their human dignity? </p> <p>There are clearly problems in the way that some projects are administered in that they do not take account of the complex needs of disabled or vulnerable people. White points out time and again that the human toll of failure is visited on groups that the public is least likely to care about, like asylum seekers, who are often out of sight and out of mind. </p> <p>But, given that profits are not currently ploughed back into the services (or necessarily staying in the UK), this concerns all of us a matter of social value and the potential effect on society’s social fabric.</p> <p>The outsourcing of public services without effective means of evaluation and rigorous oversight and accountability mechanisms is an experiment with very high stakes indeed.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Who Really Runs Britain?&nbsp;The private companies taking control of benefits, prisons, asylum, deportation, security, social care and the NHS</em>, by Alan White, is published by Oneworld on 6 July.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/harmit-athwal/neglect-and-indifference-kill-american-man-in-uk-immigration-detention">Neglect and indifference kill American man in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jackie-long/headbutt-bitch-serco-guard-yarl-s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">&#039;Headbutt the bitch&#039; Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sarah-uncles/fit-to-run-prison-g4s-dodges-difficult-questions">Fit to run a prison? G4S dodges difficult questions</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kiri-kankhwende/we-all-bring-something-to-table-young-migrants-in-uk">&#039;We all bring something to the table&#039; Young migrants in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">Behave or get deported, says G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sian-evans/fighting-to-win-asylum-from-rape-case-of-erioth-mwesigwa">Fighting to win asylum from rape: the case of Erioth Mwesigwa </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/fail-and-prosper-how-privatisation-really-works">Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is">British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/stuart-crosthwaite/marked-out-for-attack-living-in-uk-asylum-market">Marked out for attack: living in the UK &#039;asylum market&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/antony-loewenstein/disaster-capitalism-and-outsourcing-of-violence-in-uk">Disaster capitalism, and the outsourcing of violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/dying-detainee-84-taken-to-hospital-handcuffed-to-chain-dvorzak-">Dying detainee, 84, taken to hospital, handcuffed to a chain. Dvorzak inquest. Day 5</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Kiri Kankhwende Sun, 09 Jul 2017 23:08:00 +0000 Kiri Kankhwende 112090 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK charity seeks funds to challenge use of painful restraints on children https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/uk-charity-seeks-funds-to-challenge-use-of-painful-restraints-on-childre <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How can it be wrong to hurt vulnerable children <em>inside</em> a secure children’s home, but all right to inflict pain in transit?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy460.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p>Some 200 of the most vulnerable children in England and Wales are held in secure children’s homes. The law prohibits staff from using pain-inducing restraint on children <em>inside</em> the <em>homes</em>. But <em>outside</em> the homes, on visits to court, hospital or a family funeral, pain-inducing restraint <em>is</em> permitted for those children who are remanded or sentenced. What’s more, children can be locked into a “waist restraint belt”. In relation to immigration deportation, the prisons inspectorate has warned the waist restraint belt can be used like a “body belt”,&nbsp; the most extreme form of restraint available in prison, and very rarely used.</p> <p>At the children’s rights charity Article 39, we aim to stop the authorisation of painful and unjustified restraint on vulnerable children. We’re <a href="https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/no-pain-restraint/">seeking funds to mount a legal challenge</a> against the Ministry of Justice. <span></span></p> <p>Secure children’s homes are not the same as child prisons. Of the 200 children in secure children’s homes, about half are placed there for their own welfare and half sent by criminal courts.</p><p> The needs and backgrounds of children sent by the two different routes are virtually identical.</p><p> <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585991/key-characteristics-of-admissions-april-2014-to-march-2016.pdf">Youth Justice Board data</a> shows that 40 per cent of children sent from criminal courts to secure children’s homes in 2014-16 were children in care. Nearly half (47%) were believed to have a learning disability or difficulty. The same proportion were said by council staff to be at risk of suicide or self-harm. And 17 per cent of the children were the subject of a local authority child protection plan, meaning action was already being taken to protect them from harm.</p> <p class="p1">By anyone’s standards, children in secure children’s homes are extremely vulnerable.</p><p><a class="mag-quote-right" href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/463220/Guide_to_Children_s_Home_Standards_inc_quality_standards_Version__1.17_FINAL.pdf">“Restraint that deliberately inflicts pain cannot be proportionate and should never be used on children in children’s homes.”</a></p><p class="p1">The security company GeoAmey holds the Ministry of Justice contract to escort remanded and sentenced children to and from secure children’s homes. GeoAmey has, <a href="https://www.geoamey.co.uk/services/youth-justice-board">“a fleet of 30 vehicles designed specifically for the transportation of children and young people”,</a> according to the company’s website.</p><p class="p1"> Last year, the Youth Justice Board revealed in its annual report that the behaviour management system devised for child prisons is now used by its <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/539930/Youth_Justice_Board_Annual_Report_and_Accounts__2015_to_2016.pdf">“secure escort contractor” taking children to and from secure children’s homes</a>. This system includes techniques that deliberately inflict pain on children. A new form of restraint equipment — the “waist restraint belt” — has been added for the purposes of escorting.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Inflicting pain during restraint is banned inside children’s homes. Statutory guidance states:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/463220/Guide_to_Children_s_Home_Standards_inc_quality_standards_Version__1.17_FINAL.pdf">“Restraint that deliberately inflicts pain cannot be proportionate and should never be used on children in children’s homes.”</a></p> <p>We wanted to know what the prison service’s independent medical advisor had told the government about the safety of restraint techniques used on detained children. </p> <p class="p1">The response to our freedom of information request last September explained that the medical advisor had graded use of the techniques in different scenarios for likelihood of harm, and for the level of seriousness of potential harm. </p> <p class="p1">Of 66 scenarios, 28 were rated as 2, on a scale of 1-5, for the risk of “death or permanent severe disability affecting everyday life”. If a child is subject to restraint with a “head hold”, the waist restraint belt carries this intolerable risk, we were told. Not surprisingly, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/543806/DSO_07-2016_Use_of_Restraints.pdf">the Home Office has banned the use of the waist restraint belt on pregnant detainees</a>.</p><p class="p1"> The Ministry of Justice told us at the same time that no child had suffered serious injury or breathing difficulties while under escort. But this doesn’t explain why the Ministry of Justice has authorised the use of pain during escort, when the Department for Education says such treatment can never be proportionate.</p><p class="p1"> There is also the question of when restraint can be lawfully used on vulnerable children. The law allows escort officers to restrain children for “good order and discipline”, even though similar statutory rules were <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2008/882.html">quashed by the Court of Appeal</a> in 2008 as a breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Staff working in children’s homes are not permitted to restrain children to make them follow orders.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Adam Rickwood"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD460.jpg" alt="" title="Adam Rickwood" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Rickwood</span></span></span></div><p>The infliction of pain on children during restraint has proved lethal.</p><p class="p1"> Fourteen year-old Adam Rickwood was remanded to a secure training centre run by Serco in Durham. There were no custodial places to begin with, so Adam was looked after in a children’s home where he settled well. Once imprisoned, his mental health severely deteriorated. He threatened to take his own life and wrote to the judge pleading for bail. </p> <p class="p1">One Sunday, around a month after Adam arrived at the secure training centre, he was instructed to go to his cell because he had passed a note between two other children. The officer who read the note disapproved of its contents. Adam asked what he had done wrong and refused to leave the communal area. The restraint procedure was activated and four officers came running into the unit, grabbed hold of Adam and carried him, face down, into his cell. One of these four officers later conceded that Adam had been calm and had even tried to defuse the situation. </p> <p class="p1">Adam struggled against the unlawful assault and was inflicted with a “nose distraction”, a restraint technique transferred from adult prisons. Officers would apply an “upward strike” to a child’s nose with the intention of causing severe pain. Adam’s nose bled for around an hour and his requests to go to hospital for an X-ray were ignored. </p> <p class="p1">Hours later, Adam was found hanging in his cell.</p> <p>Adam left behind a note for his lawyer explaining he had asked officers what gave them the right to hit a child in the nose, and they said it was restraint. </p> <p>Adam died 13 years ago. </p> <p>Since then authoritative experts and NGOs have expressed opposition to this form of restraint. They include the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Human Rights Council, the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the NSPCC and the UK’s four Children’s Commissioners.</p><p> Adam was not the only imprisoned child to die following restraint in 2004. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Fifteen year-old Gareth Myatt</a> was in a secure training centre in Northamptonshire run by G4S. He refused to clean a sandwich toaster because other children had also used it.</p><p> Gareth was ordered to his cell. He complied. Officers followed him and started removing his few possessions, including a piece of paper that had his mother’s new mobile phone number on it. Gareth was said to have raised his fist at this point.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH_MYATT460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Gareth Myatt"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH_MYATT460.jpg" alt="" title="Gareth Myatt" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span></p> <p>An officer “enveloped” Gareth who weighed just 6½ stone and stood less than five feet tall. Three officers then forced Gareth into a sitting position and bent his upper body towards his thighs and knees. They ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe.</p><p> The terrifying ordeal lasted for six or seven minutes before Gareth lost consciousness. </p> <p>This was his first time in custody. He had been sentenced on a Friday afternoon. By the following Monday evening he was dead.</p> <p>The inquests, litigation, reviews and investigations which followed the deaths of Gareth and Adam brought into public view the reality of widespread unlawful restraint. The prison service was contracted to come up with a new system of behaviour management and restraint, and this was launched in 2012. It is called “Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint” (MMPR).&nbsp;</p><p> One-third of the restraint techniques within the MMPR system rely on the deliberate infliction of pain. The “nose distraction” that devastated Adam was replaced by the “mandibular angle technique”. </p> <p>This involves officers applying pressure behind a child’s ear at the back of the jaw. We can try and piece together what is involved by reading the instructions to trainers that haven’t been redacted (crucial bits are blacked-out): </p> <p>The instructors are told: “Emphasise staff can use finger or knuckle dependent on length of finger nails.” And: “Apply pressure inward and forward at a 45 degree angle.” </p> <p>Last year BBC Panorama <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2016/jan/11/panorama-exposes-teenage-prison-abuse-video-extract">appeared to show a 14 year-old child, ‘Billy’, being subject to the mandibular angle technique</a> at Medway secure training centre, which was then run by G4S. (It was later transferred to the prison service). Billy tells the officer he can’t breathe. Panorama asked Dr Andrew McDonnell, a clinical psychologist with expertise in reducing the use of restraint, to view the video clip. He said what was done to Billy was “really dangerous”. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Screenshot, BBC Panorama, &#039;Teenage prison abuse exposed&#039;, January 2016"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460_0.jpg" alt="" title="Screenshot, BBC Panorama, &#039;Teenage prison abuse exposed&#039;, January 2016" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot, BBC Panorama, 'Teenage prison abuse exposed', January 2016</span></span></span></p> <p>The mandibular angle technique features in the independent medical advisor’s assessment. When a child is standing (as Billy was) or being held down, this is also rated 2, on a scale of 1-5, for likelihood of causing death or permanent severe disability.</p><p> Adam and Gareth had both lived in children’s homes. Adam had hoped to move back to one. He kept his packed sports bag in the staff room so he could quickly leave the secure training centre once news of his bail arrived. He took his bag out of the staff room the day before he died, apparently resigned that a transfer to a children’s home was not going to happen.</p> <p>As well as prohibiting pain, children’s homes’ statutory guidance says: “Children in residential child care should be loved, happy, healthy, safe from harm and able to develop, thrive and fulfil their potential.” </p> <p>That statement is based upon centuries of learning about the needs of children, and conveys the respect we now give to children as human beings with dignity, feelings and rights. Our legal challenge seeks to uphold this commitment to children, from the moment they leave the court building. </p> <p>As a small charity, Article 39 does not have the funds to bring this vital case. We need at least £8,000 to cover our application for a costs-capping order and to pay for unavoidable court fees and charges. And so we’re asking for help. If you can, please back our CrowdJustice appeal <a href="https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/no-pain-restraint">here</a>, tell friends about our work, and share this link on social media. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a>&nbsp;at openDemocracy.</li><li>@CLARESAMBROOK</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-s-rights-and-uk-general-election-2017">Children’s rights and the UK General Election 2017</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight openJustice Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Tue, 04 Jul 2017 12:15:47 +0000 Carolyne Willow 112071 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Security company G4S housed six families with babies and toddlers in a fire-trap hostel in Halifax.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Looking out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460.JPG" alt="" title="Looking out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>“The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there,” neighbours warned. “It’s because we are black, they don’t care,” one tenant said. They’re talking about a hostel that is home to six families and their nine children, most of them babies and toddlers.</p> <p>Tenants of the six flats in a converted house in Halifax, West Yorkshire, have told me they are frightened. They say the wiring is faulty, the hallways are blocked, and there’s repeated leaks and flooding. They’ve shown me the evidence. They worry about risk of fire, and how they might escape.</p> <p>I first learned about the hostel a little over two weeks ago, on Friday 9 June. A charity worker who supports one of the tenants asked for my help. She said tenants had struggled to get anybody to act on their concerns about fire safety and repairs. </p> <p>Some feared speaking out, worried that this might affect their claims for asylum. All of the tenants are asylum seekers.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A_Street_view_hostel.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A_Street_view_hostel.JPG" alt="" title="The G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>The worker told me: “At 8.15pm on Tuesday 6 June I went to the flats. I noticed there was no indicator light on the alarm control panel. I contacted the regional manager for G4S, who called a repair man. He arrived just before 9pm, and began installing smoke alarms in the hallways. I am really worried about how safe people are in there.”</p><h2>A visit to the hostel</h2><p><span><span>I visited the hostel on Saturday 10 June and spent four hours inspecting, taking photographs, listening to tenants’ concerns.</span></span></p><p><span>The hostel is part of a converted townhouse, just off Halifax town centre, in the borough of Calderdale. The flats sit atop an electrical shop and another shop, apparently abandoned.</span></p><p>Directly above the shops are two flats. Another floor up, three more flats. Up another flight of stairs, at the top of the house is Flat 6, with more stairs leading up to a mezzanine within the flat.</p> <p>The hostel is owned by a private landlord and managed under a UK government contract by G4S, the international security company. A subcontractor procured the property. The client is the Home Office. Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services also have responsibilities towards tenants.</p> <p>One dangerous consequence of the privatisation of asylum housing, apparent in this case, is the fog around who is responsible for what.</p> <p>Here’s what some tenants told me. For their protection we’re calling them Mary, Brian, Eric, Helen, Tasmin, Joanne.</p><h2>Water rushes through the ceiling</h2> <p>“One day in January the electric main board was flashing ‘fire in room 3’ and we dialled 999,” Mary said. “The fire engine could not find the address. I was jumping up and down in the street waving my arms to get them to the flats. It took them forty-five minutes to get here from our call. They said that a leak from a boiler in the flat above had caused the alarm.”&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/B.water_thru_electrics.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Water rushes through light fittings"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/B.water_thru_electrics.JPG" alt="" title="Water rushes through light fittings" width="460" height="215" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Water rushes through light fittings (screenshot from tenant's video)</span></span></span></p><p>Brian worked as a builder in his home country. He worries about the risk of electrical fire.&nbsp;</p><p><span>“Water pours in everywhere,” he said. “This happened last week.” He showed me a video on his camera. I could see water rushing through the light fittings.</span></p><p>Joanne pointed to exposed wires hanging from the ceiling on one of the landings. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/C.water-leak-electrics.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Evidence of water penetration and ceiling repairs"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/C.water-leak-electrics.JPG" alt="" title="Evidence of water penetration and ceiling repairs" width="240" height="174" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Evidence of water ingress, ceiling repairs</span></span></span></p><p>“Perhaps the wires are not live there,” Joanne said. “But they frighten the older children who hear us talking about the water and the electrics causing fires.”&nbsp;<span>Signs of water penetration and ceiling repairs were all around.</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D.G4S_hob.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="This hob replaced the cooker that fused the hostel&#039;s electrical circuits (John Grayson) "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D.G4S_hob.JPG" alt="lead " title="This hob replaced the cooker that fused the hostel&#039;s electrical circuits (John Grayson) " width="240" height="180" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Replacement hob </span></span></span></p><p><span>Eric said his G4S cooker had fused the electrical circuits throughout the building. He showed me the replacement two-ring hob that G4S had supplied for himself, his wife and their baby.</span></p><p>Joanne took me to the only external door at the rear of the hostel. Because so many families with young children live here, the hallway is full of buggies. </p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G.Shoddy_work_behind_cooker.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G.Shoddy_work_behind_cooker.JPG" alt="" title="Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker" width="240" height="189" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker</span></span></span>“This is our only escape, we have to leave the buggies here, the stairs are so difficult, there is no fire escape,” Joanne said.&nbsp;</p><p>A neighbour who knows the flats had told her: “The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there.”</p><p><span>All the tenants said that over eight months, time and time again, they had contacted the G4S helpline pleading for better and safe conditions for their children.</span></p><p><span>Mary said: “They never do anything, even for the big things, heating and flooding. They don’t care. It’s because we are black, they don’t care.”</span></p> <p>She told me about when the downstairs corridor flooded: “There was water full of oil and waste from the drain outside.” She showed me video on her phone. The water was ankle deep.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/F.flood_best.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The flood water was ankle deep"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/F.flood_best.jpg" alt="" title="The flood water was ankle deep" width="460" height="490" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The flood water was ankle deep (screenshot from tenant video)</span></span></span></p><p>Tasmin pointed to wet plaster in a corner of the kitchen units in her flat. </p> <p>“Always water comes in,” she said. On her phone were pictures of the debris left when the wall unit crashed down, she said, narrowly missing her six-year-old daughter.</p><p><span>Tenants told me about other worries.</span></p> <p>“Early one morning I heard noises in my living room which woke me and I found a man from G4S there,” one lone mother said. </p><p><span>“He said he had used his own key to get in. My daughter was terrified, she has bad memories of men hurting me in the past. For months the door on my toilet and bathroom would not shut. G4S never did anything. I could have been in the toilet or showering when that man came in.”</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/E.buggies_hall.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Buggies crowd the escape route"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/E.buggies_hall.JPG" alt="" title="Buggies crowd the escape route" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Buggies crowd the escape route (John Grayson)</span></span></span></span></p> <p>She went on: “The local women’s centre suggested to G4S that I get a chain on my door. They refused, but the women’s centre threatened to get the work done themselves, and G4S put a chain on the door, and one on the door of another woman here — but still refused to fit chains on the other four flats.”</p><p>One of the support workers told me: “Three months ago, in March, St Augustine’s community centre sent complaints about the hostel to G4S, but nothing was done about them.” </p> <p>Another tenant recalled a visit from the Home Office: “G4S took them only to the flats where they knew the tenants could not speak good English and were frightened to complain. When I asked why they did not come to my flat, they said the Home Office did not have time.”&nbsp;</p><h2>If you won’t listen to the tenants. . . </h2> <p>G4S knows me and my work. I’m a housing academic. I work alongside refugees at South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk">SYMAAG</a>. </p> <p>Since G4S won the Home Office asylum housing contract five years ago I’ve <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">published quite a lot about them</a>. </p> <p>On Monday 12 June I contacted G4S and Calderdale Borough councillors and told them that the hostel was unsafe.</p> <p>My intervention prompted an emergency inspection by council officers and West Yorkshire fire service on the Tuesday. On the Wednesday, a G4S welfare officer called in. One tenant suggested an emergency fire drill: “We have never had one, and it would show we cannot get out of the building safely.” </p> <p>The G4S welfare officer allegedly refused, saying: “That’s up to G4S, not me.”&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/H.REAR_VIEW_LITTLE_BOY.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hostel rear view, little boy just visible at top window (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/H.REAR_VIEW_LITTLE_BOY.JPG" alt="" title="Hostel rear view, little boy just visible at top window (John Grayson)" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hostel rear view (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Heidi Wilson is Calderdale Council’s head of environment and housing services. After the inspections she told me that the council took reports of risks to tenants “very seriously” and was “giving them a high priority”. They had given G4S a list of actions and a “short time frame”. Should G4S fail to make the necessary improvements the council “would certainly consider enforcement action”.&nbsp;</p><h2>A dangerous place for babies</h2><p>When I called in to check on progress on Thursday 15 June, I found G4S workers making repairs that had been first reported months ago. I was told that the Home Office was going to send someone to inspect the place.</p><p>I climbed all the way up to the top of the house to see Helen. She lives up there with husband Brian and their three year old son. Another stairway led to the small mezzanine where their son had had access to a floor-level window. On Tuesday&nbsp;<span>the council had noted the “poor guarding to the window”. So&nbsp;</span><span>G4S workmen had boarded up the stairway.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/J_BRAND_NEW_NOTICEBOARD15_June_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/J_BRAND_NEW_NOTICEBOARD15_June_0.jpg" alt="" title="Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Helen told me: “The G4S boss when he came up here yesterday said: ‘This is a dangerous place for babies.’”</p><p>As I left the property I saw the G4S supervisor putting up a noticeboard by the front entrance, near the alarm control panel. He had pinned up no-smoking signs, a&nbsp;<span>warning about the absence of fire extinguishers,&nbsp;</span><span>a fire safety log book and a floor plan. Someone had taken a fat red marker pen and marked out a rough escape route on the plan.&nbsp;</span></p><p>All the information was in English. Most tenants are still learning the language.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/I.ESCAPE_PLAN_15_June.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/I.ESCAPE_PLAN_15_June.jpg" alt="" title="At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)" width="460" height="411" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>I set about researching fire safety, emailing and phoning the tenants and G4S with more questions.</p> <p>It wasn’t easy. Fire safety regulations are fiendishly complex. G4S’s own spokesman confessed to having difficulty. </p> <p>G4S appeared to be in breach of fire regulations. </p> <p>Before the hostel opened last year, it seems, they should have arranged for a fire risk assessment by a qualified fire safety practitioner — as required by the <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1541/contents/made">Fire Safety Order 2005.</a></p><p>From what I could see, G4S had an obligation to test the alarm every week and hold a monthly fire drill. Tenants told me these things hadn’t happened.</p><div><p class="mag-quote-left">Tenant: It’s because we are black, they don’t care.</p><p>The regulations require that testing dates are recorded in a log book displayed in the building. The log book on the newly erected notice board contained just one entry —&nbsp;for a test dated April 2017.</p> <p>All escape corridors and landings should have smoke alarms and emergency lighting. But the hallway smoke alarms were fitted on Tuesday 6 June 2017, eight months after the hostel opened. </p> <p>Every kitchen should have a fire blanket. And they do. I asked one tenant, who is fluent in English, to open the packaging. She said: “The instructions are confusing. No one has ever told us about fire safety here. There are no instructions on the fire blanket or anywhere else in any language — except difficult English.”</p> <p>My reading of the regulations suggests that G4S has a responsibility to inform and regularly update tenants on fire safety — and to provide safety information in appropriate languages.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">Neighbour: The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there.</p><p>All of these things seem anyway like basic common sense if you are housing multiple families with small children in a four or five storey house.</p> <p>As landlords of asylum housing for babies and small children, G4S has particular obligations. </p> <p>The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (<a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/11/section/55">Section 55)</a> requires that immigration and asylum functions be carried out with respect for the need to “safeguard and promote the welfare of children”.</p> <p>After the Calderdale council inspection on Tuesday 13 June, one tenant told me: “The council man said the bedroom with my children should not be used. He said the window was too small to let light in for them.” &nbsp;</p> <p>I asked G4S to respond to the issues raised in this article. On 15 June a G4S spokesman said the building had a valid electrical certificate and was “compliant with fire safety standards”. </p> <p>About the flooding, G4S said: “There has been a very recent issue with damp after the landlord installed a new concrete walkway outside the property which is not draining effectively.&nbsp;We are in discussions to have a drain fitted. A roof leak has also recently been rectified and the landlord will be making good any cosmetic damage that arose.”&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/K.G4Slogo2JUNE2006.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/K.G4Slogo2JUNE2006.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="284" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>And the intrusion? G4S said: “Our protocol is that when our staff visit a property they knock twice (leaving a gap in between).&nbsp;If there is no answer they unlock the door and call out to announce themselves.&nbsp;If there is still no answer they then proceed into the property, calling out that they are from G4S. We are entirely confident that this procedure is — and was — followed at this property.”</p> <p>At the company’s request —&nbsp;(the spokesman sounded quite flustered) — we delayed publication of this piece to give G4S time to provide further comment.</p><p>On Tuesday 20 June, I tuned in to BBC Radio Sheffield, for&nbsp;<span>Toby Foster</span><span>’s</span>&nbsp;breakfast show. He had an <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p056f4dx">interview with John Whitwam</a>, the ex-army officer who is G4S managing director, immigration and borders. Whitwam told listeners that G4S had about 18,000 asylum-seekers in 5,000 properties. “There is a great deal of scrutiny,” he said. “These properties are probably the most inspected in the UK.”</p></div><p><span>Whitwam said the G4S helpline took 4,000 calls last month. Toby Foster cut in: “5,000 houses, 4,000 calls! Nearly every house is ringing you every month!”</span></p> <p>Whitwam replied: “These aren’t <em>all</em> complaints.” And then: “That’s not to say many of them aren’t.”</p> <p>I was still waiting for the company’s response to my queries on Tuesday evening, when a tenant called to say that an extractor fan had fallen off the wall in Flat 2. She said she was only slightly injured, but her four year old child was hysterical.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/L.John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/L.John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire.jpg" alt="" title="John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017" width="460" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>On Tuesday evening, Brian was back in touch. He said the G4S welfare officer had been round to tell them: “The Home Office are coming tomorrow, you have to say everything is fine in the flats.”</p> <p>On Wednesday afternoon Brian called again. He said the woman from the Home Office had been round, she’d done more talking than listening and assured them that if there’s a fire, they’ll have plenty of time to get out.</p><p>On Thursday another tenant called to say that workmen were, at last, fitting smoke alarms in tenants’ rooms.&nbsp;</p> <h2>A curious response from G4S</h2> <p>Also on Wednesday came the company’s detailed response to my queries.</p> <p>It was odd.</p> <p>G4S offered a series of curious assertions that neither confirmed nor denied tenants’ allegations about fire safety, but, rather, bypassed their concerns.</p> <p>For example, G4S noted: “Smoke alarm and fire alarm tests as recorded in our monthly property inspection report.”</p> <p>On the absence of fire drills, G4S claimed: “Drills are not mandatory for private dwellings.”</p> <p><em>Private</em> dwellings? </p> <p class="mag-quote-right">G4S: These properties are probably the most inspected in the UK.</p><p>And: “All fire safety information is provided as part of the induction when asylum seekers move into the property and information in 71 languages is available in the home.”</p> <p>Seventy-one languages!</p> <p>About the absence of fire log books, G4S claimed: they “are sometimes taken away and used as notebooks by residents.”</p> <p>And the apparent failure to arrange a fire risk assessment on the building until after I got involved? G4S claimed: “All fire alarm systems are checked monthly.” </p> <p>About the Fire Service inspection of 13 June, prompted by my interventions, G4S claimed: “All adjustments recommended have now been completed. Any observations made by the fire services regarding door fittings or openings were rectified within two days.”</p> <p>About the alarm control panel that had either been turned off or was defective, G4S said: “We require service users to report defects to control panels and we operate a 24 hours turn around policy to fix or replace such systems.” </p> <p>G4S has claimed repeatedly that it <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/8e793754-d6dd-3531-b8b9-c00de20fb4a9?mhq5j=e3">loses money on asylum housing.</a> The company, which had no prior experience of housing asylum seekers, won the Home Office contract after a computer-based reverse auction. G4S bid £8.42 per family member per night (according to contract details revealed in a High Court judgement <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2017/200.html">here</a>). At that price, packing 17 people into the Halifax hostel brings the monthly take to around £4,300.</p> <h2>Who’re you gonna call?</h2> <p>Until last Thursday, Calderdale <a href="https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/community-and-living/equality-and-diversity/asylum-seekers-and-refugees">Council’s website told asylum-seekers</a> in the borough that their housing was provided, not by G4S, but by another company, Cascade Homes. The council supplied a phone number tenants could call if they needed help and advice.</p> <p>I called the number. An angry man picked up. He said he was fed up with getting calls and he had nothing to do with Cascade.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/N.calderdalewebsite.20JUNE2017_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Calderdale Council&#039;s misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/N.calderdalewebsite.20JUNE2017_1.jpg" alt="" title="Calderdale Council&#039;s misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)" width="460" height="382" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Calderdale Council's misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)</span></span></span></p><p>I told the council about that —&nbsp;they corrected the online advice. They said Cascade no longer managed properties in Calderdale, only procured them. G4S confirmed: “Yes, all properties in the Halifax area are provided by Cascade.”</p><p>I was sorry that Cascade had been given any role to play. </p> <p>Over years I’ve reported on their shoddy behaviour. How Cascade asylum properties in Leeds were <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby%E2%80%99s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">infested with cockroaches and slugs</a>.&nbsp;<span>Male staff </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/their-secret-is-out-but-for-g4s-and-friends-%E2%80%98abject-disregard-for-human-dign">harassed women tenants</a><span>.&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/g4s-forced-to-step-in-over-sub-contractors-performance/7001552.article">Cascade failed to pay energy bills and council tax bills</a><span>. </span></p><p><span>My evidence has been&nbsp;</span><span>cited in Parliamentary inquiries and debates. Speaking in the Commons on 27 February 2013, </span><a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/71/71vw32008_HC71_01_VIRT_HomeAffairs_ASY-93.htm">Mark Durkan MP said</a><span>: “What is especially alarming is that the neglect and suffering go on, regardless of this kind of public and Parliamentary exposure. There has been little impact on the everyday practice of G4S and their subcontractors.”&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>In February 2014 G4S announced that they&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/g4s-forced-to-step-in-over-sub-contractors-performance/7001552.article">had dropped Cascade.</a></p> <h2>‘<span>I watched that place burn</span><span>’</span></h2> <p>While we were working on this piece, on Wednesday 14 June 2017, fire gutted a tower block in West London with appalling loss of life. </p> <p>The block was called Grenfell Tower. </p> <p>The residents were mostly people of colour, and poor. The first victim to be named was <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-first-victim-named-mohammed-alhajali-syrian-refugee-a7791401.html">Mohammed Alhajali, a Syrian refugee</a>. </p> <p>Grenfell tenants had warned repeatedly that the flats were unsafe. Their warnings were variously dismissed, ignored, and met with legal threats. </p> <p>“White tenants said their concerns were ultimately ignored, but officials were more likely to listen to them,”&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/opinion/london-tower-grenfell-fire.html">British journalist Dawn Foster</a>&nbsp;<span>wrote</span><span>&nbsp;in the New York Times. “Black and South Asian survivors told me they felt the implicit message from everyone they contacted before the fire for help with the building was ‘you are a guest in this borough, and a guest in this country, you have no right to complain’.”</span></p> <p>Back in the Halifax hostel, the tenants have come from East Africa, West Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.&nbsp;<span>Up in the top flat, Brian told me how Grenfell had shocked him: “I watched that place burn,” he said. “I thought I couldn’t get out of this flat if there is a fire.”</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>Edited by Clare Sambrook for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a> at openDemocracy.</li><li>To follow John on Twitter: @SYMAAG</li><li>To follow Clare and Shine A Light:&nbsp;</li><li>@CLARESAMBROOK</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/welcome-to-my-asylum-home-i-d-offer-you-seat-if-i-had-one">Welcome to my asylum home. 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Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:08:14 +0000 John Grayson 111844 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Children’s rights and the UK General Election 2017 https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-s-rights-and-uk-general-election-2017 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A leading advocate calls for an Act of Parliament to enshrine children’s rights in law.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/20141104_UNICEF_7222460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="©UnicefUK/Sutton-Hibbert All rights reserved"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/20141104_UNICEF_7222460.jpg" alt="" title="©UnicefUK/Sutton-Hibbert All rights reserved" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>©UnicefUK/Sutton-Hibbert All rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p>Whoever gets to form the next government has the opportunity to go down in history as the political party that introduced a law to promote and protect the rights of every child.<strong><br /> <br /> </strong>Nothing has stopped<strong> </strong>successive governments from doing this before, of course, but this is the first general election in which two of the three main political parties have pledged to enshrine in law the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Liberal Democrats first committed <a href="http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/ge10/man/parties/libdem_manifesto_2010.pdf">two general elections ago</a> to making this UN children’s rights treaty part of our domestic law. Now Labour has made <a href="http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017/leading-richer-lives">the same promise</a>. The Conservatives declared an open mind earlier this year.<br /> <br /> UK children’s rights advocates and civil servants helped draft the UN children’s rights treaty; it covers all aspects of childhood and guarantees every child a comprehensive set of economic, social, cultural and civil and political rights. <br /> <br /> Eleanor Roosevelt said human rights begin “in small places, close to home” and this is precisely where children need them most. Take children’s right to know their rights, contained in article 42 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite the UK ratifying the treaty in 1991, there has never been a public education campaign and it remains outside the national curriculum. </p> <p>More than&nbsp;4000 schools across the UK have teamed up with Unicef’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.unicef.org.uk/rights-respecting-schools/">Rights Respecting Schools</a>&nbsp;Award, whose aim is to create safe and inspiring places to learn, where children’s rights are respected, their talents are nurtured and they are able to thrive.&nbsp;An independent evaluation found children were more likely to report abuse after hearing about their rights. A primary school manager told researchers: <br /> <br /> <a href="https://www.brighton.ac.uk/_pdf/research/education/rrsa-uk-evaluation-full-report.pdf">“We always get some disclosures when we talk about rights at the beginning of the school year. [Children] feel empowered enough to say and we have to follow them up, they feel empowered to tell someone and that is something that probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for this.”</a></p><p> My charity’s name, Article 39, is taken from the treaty; it’s the part that guarantees children who have been abused, neglected or exploited the right to recover in environments which nurture their health, self-respect and dignity. It requires governments to do everything possible to help children rebuild their lives and self-worth after rights violations. With central government funding to local councils for child protection services <a href="https://www.childrenengland.org.uk/dont-take-child-protection-for-granted">due to be axed from 2020</a>, a legal duty around recovery from trauma could literally be life-saving. It could make all the difference to young people forced out of children’s homes and foster care years before they are psychologically and emotionally ready.<br /> <br /> You would be right to retort that children have the Human Rights Act to protect them, like everyone else. This legislation has safeguarded children in countless ways: it led to the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/337568/iro_statutory_guidance_iros_and_las_march_2010_tagged.pdf">creation of independent reviewing officers</a> to monitor and protect the rights of individual children in care and care leavers; it helped ensure <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2005/634.html">children’s wishes and feelings are properly represented</a> in court proceedings held to decide with whom they should live after their parents’ separation; and <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2008/882.html">it brought an end to rules</a> which allowed prison officers to use force on children to make them obey orders. The Act protected young children and their pregnant mother from being <a href="http://www.bhattmurphy.co.uk/media/files/Chen_Order_interim_relief.pdf">unlawfully restrained during deportation</a>; it precipitated a change in the law so that <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2013/982.html">17 year-olds are given the same protection in police stations as other children</a>; and forced the scrapping of discriminatory rules that <a href="https://www.cafamily.org.uk/advice-and-support/money-benefits-work-and-childcare/benefits-and-tax-credits/payment-of-disability-living-allowance-for-a-child-in-hospital/">took benefits from very poorly children hospitalised for long periods</a>. </p> <p>The Human Rights Act is vital for people of all ages and absolutely must stay. But it only protects the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights and was not drafted specifically with children in mind. The UN children’s rights treaty was tailor-made to ensure children can lead happy, safe and fulfilled lives and, as with all human rights treaties, it is ever-evolving. Since the UN adopted the treaty in 1989 it has passed three protocols giving additional protection in the areas of sexual exploitation, armed conflict and the creation of an international complaints procedure (which the UK is yet to sign up to). </p> <p>The Labour Government’s 1997 White Paper on ‘bringing rights home’ — the precursor to the Human Rights Act — said: <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130814142233/http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/hoffice/rights/chap1.htm">“over the years [the ECHR] has become one of the premier agreements defining standards of behaviour across Europe”</a>. There is no doubting the Convention on the Rights of the Child is <em>the</em> premier children’s human rights agreement. It is the most widely ratified human rights treaty, with only one country (the USA) failing to take on its legal obligations. A Unicef <a href="https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/law_reform_crc_imp.pdf">review of 52 countries</a> published several years ago found two-thirds had made the Convention part of their domestic law. These manifesto commitments are entirely credible and based on years of evidence-gathering (see <a href="https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforChildrensRights/filestore/Filetoupload,368351,en.pdf">research undertaken by Queen’s University Belfast</a>) and positive developments in Scotland and Wales.</p><div>Back in November 2009, Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Joan Walmsley introduced a <a href="http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/childrensrightshl.html">Children’s Rights Bill</a> which would have made the treaty part of our domestic law. The legislation has been in hibernation ever since, though the Peer’s attempt to introduce children’s rights duties for public authorities during the recent passage of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 had impressive backing, including from one of the lead campaigners for the Human Rights Act, Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC. Had the Bill gained government support, it would have required public authorities like schools, hospitals and children’s services to actively consider the treaty when carrying out their functions.</div> <p>The Convention gives children over 40 substantive rights; many of these relate directly to supporting parents and family life. Its four overarching principles grant children the right to enjoy all of their rights without any form of discrimination (article 2); require that children’s best interests are a primary consideration in all actions concerning them (article 3); provide that children have the right to maximum survival and development (article 6); and entitle children to have their views given due weight in all matters affecting them (article 12). If even these four provisions were legally enforceable for every child, how much easier would it be to advocate for and obtain essential services and support? </p><p>Directors of children’s services and councillors with lead responsibility for children’s services in England have been required to have <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/271429/directors_of_child_services_-_stat_guidance.pdf">regard to the treaty’s general principles</a> since 2012. More than a quarter of a century after we ratified, it’s time we moved from simply considering the treaty and gave it the full force of law.</p><p> During her latest attempt to secure children’s rights in law, Baroness Walmsley drew a parallel with the public sector equality duty in the Equality Act 2010, citing how this has made a tangible difference to many people’s lives. She concluded:<br /><a href="https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2016-11-08b.1082.2">“a culture of concern for equality issues has infiltrated public organisations. I would like to see a similar culture of concern infiltrate public organisations in relation to children’s rights.”</a></p> <p>In the same debate, Lord Hope of Craighead, a former member of the UK Supreme Court, described how judges grapple with cases concerning children’s rights by following the well-established legal principle “that when the United Kingdom has signed up to an international convention, it is to be presumed that this Parliament, when legislating, will legislate in accordance with what the convention provides”. </p> <p>Labour’s Shadow Children’s Minister Emma Lewell-Buck took up the children’s rights baton when the Children and Social Work Bill reached the Commons. The Ministerial response to her children’s rights duties’&nbsp;amendment indicated the boulder is at last nudging up the hill: Edward Timpson said in January he would <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-01-12/debates/2aea2b6d-772e-422b-aca4-19b18339bc91/ChildrenAndSocialWorkBill(Lords)(SeventhSitting)">“remain open-minded about the right way forward”.</a> </p> <p>One of the many strengths of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is that it demands action on child poverty and disadvantage. It contains rights which a country as rich as ours (using GDP as the measure, we have the <a href="https://fullfact.org/economy/uk-worlds-5th-or-9th-largest-economy/">fifth wealthiest economy</a> in the world) is comfortably able to uphold – the right to a standard of living which allows children to fulfil their human potential; the right to enjoy the best of health; and the right to social security and social insurance. Remember when the Supreme Court <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/18/uk-benefit-cap-is-lawful-supreme-court-rules">found that the benefit cap was lawful, but it breached the UN children’s rights treaty</a>? Had the Convention been enshrined in UK law, this breach would have also been unlawful and ministers would have been compelled to revisit the policy. </p> <p>We shouldn’t be fixated on the courtroom, however. The impact of the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act extend far beyond litigation, which takes us back to those small places, close to home. The core, universal obligation is that we respect and take care of each other in times of need. That we reach out on the basis of shared humanity and social justice, not charity or paternalism. Children are respected and gain the help they need &nbsp;because they are human beings with equal worth to adults, but also because they are precious. Additional human rights for children were borne out of their particular needs and vulnerabilities; their lack of status and powerlessness at an individual and structural level; and in recognition of the magnificent human potential existing in that space we call childhood.</p><p> Children feeling empowered, thriving, being listened to and accorded their due dignity wherever they happen to live — this is what making the Convention on the Rights of the Child part of UK law could achieve over time. As we continue to come to terms with the horrific scale and impact of child abuse, past and present, what greater message could we give to children about their integrity and worth than by consulting them and then passing an Act of Parliament devoted to protecting their rights?&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/england-s-bonfire-of-children-s-rights">England’s bonfire of children’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/child-was-held-for-staggering-151-days-in-men-s-immigration-l">Child was held for a staggering 151 days in men’s immigration lockup Morton Hall in Lincolnshire</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/england-s-bonfire-of-children-s-rights">England’s bonfire of children’s rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Tue, 06 Jun 2017 23:08:30 +0000 Carolyne Willow 111432 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“To them it’s just another number, someone else being sent back. But when you’ve got three children being left without their dad … it’s quite major.”</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong><strong><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light"><strong>Shine A Light</strong></a><strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></strong><strong>reports from the frontline of Britain</strong></strong><strong>’s immigration and asylum system. See also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/usman-sheikh/home-office-cost-of-immigration-visas">Money talks</a> and&nbsp;</strong></strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/lydia-noon/if-i-d-known-what-to-ask-for-i-wouldn-t-have-gone-hungry/feed"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.333333015441895px;"><strong>‘</strong></span><strong><strong>If I’d known what to ask for I wouldn’t have gone hungry</strong></strong><span style="font-weight: bold;">’</span></a><span style="font-weight: bold;">.</span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/16massgroup_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="shine a light migration series"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/16massgroup_1.jpg" alt="Illustration showing a crowd of men, women and children. Some have placards and pieces of paper." title="shine a light migration series" width="460" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>All illustrations by Carrie Mackinnon. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Tom&nbsp;was about to leave for school when they&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">came.&nbsp;</span></strong></p><p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">He was putting his shoes on by the front door of the small flat he shares with his mum, dad and two younger brothers. He heard a loud thud, something heavy hitting the front door. Then a bang. Another bang. The noise hurt his ears. In their bedroom, Tom’s mum and dad were confused. </span><i>Who was trying to break down their door? </i><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"> Amid the noise, shouting: “Immigration and police! Immigration! Police!” </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Tom’s mum Leah ran toward the door, shouting: “Stop, stop, I’ll just open the door.” The front door flew off its hinges. Half a dozen officers in uniform charged into the house, into the kitchen, bathroom and main bedroom. They’d come for Michael. As they led him away, neighbours on the estate stood watching.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Inside the house, some officers stayed to interrogate<strong> </strong>Leah. <i>Who lives here? What about the children? </i>Leah was shaking. Tom, 12, and his younger brothers, Zackey, aged four and Jermaine, 10, were terrified. <span style="color: red;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">A female officer noticed the children. Her manner softened. She tried to answer Leah’s questions. </span><span style="color: black; mso-themecolor: text1;">She said </span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Michael was on that morning’s list of people being rounded up for deportation.</span><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">There had been no warning, Michael was in the ‘system’, but no one told them this could happen. The officers hadn’t even rung the doorbell.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Michael had an ongoing case with the Home Office, Leah said, he was challenging his removal from the country. The officer replied, </span><i>No, he hasn’t got anything lodged with the Home Office. That’s why we’ve come to get him. </i><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">“That’s not true,” said Leah. “I know that’s not true.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Well, if what you say is correct then it’s not a problem, he can sort it out. </span></i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">But still they took him away. Later he would call her from an immigration lockup near Gatwick Airport. It’s called </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/child-was-held-for-staggering-151-days-in-men-s-immigration-lockup-mor/feed"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Brook House</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">. Two people recently died there.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">It was Thursday, Leah’s day off. From now on Leah would spend her Thursdays fighting to stop the Home Office forcing Michael onto a plane to a Caribbean island, 4,000 miles away from his family.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">She would learn fast.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><span class="mag-quote-center" style="font-family: Helvetica, Arial, 'Liberation Sans', FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;">Why is he still here? Why doesn’t he just go? The children will be fine without him</span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><br />She would learn to explain things she’d never had to put into words before, not to strangers anyway. That her children needed their dad, that she and Michael had a real relationship, that it just wasn’t fair.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">But each time, Michael’s Home Office caseworker would say: </span><i>Why is he still here? Why doesn’t he just go? The children will be fine without him.</i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">All that would come later. For now, the day of the raid, Thursday 26th January, a friend called round and took the bewildered children to school. Leah waited alone for the council to send someone to fix the door.</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p><hr />&nbsp;<p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Michael&nbsp;had arrived in the UK in 2001 aged 19, scared and shaken after a run in with local gangsters back home, a small town in the West Indies.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">He had witnessed a murder and thwarted a drug deal, four local gang members came looking for him. </span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">They shot him in the back and carried him off to a warehouse. He was beaten, stabbed, burned with cigarettes, still bears the scars. They demanded his parents pay a ransom. </span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">When they paid part of it Michael was dumped on the streets. He spent three days in hospital, then local police advised him to leave the country for his own safety.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Michael chose the UK where his nan and grandad lived. For a few years, he lived with them in the north of England</span><strong> </strong><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">then moved down to London with his cousin. Michael was a car fanatic: “Fixing, driving, mechanics, electronics.”&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">When he first arrived, he applied for college but couldn’t afford the fees. He was granted leave to remain and was permitted to work but wasn’t entitled to subsidised or free education. Michael began working at a garage in South London and became a father to two children (now young teens —&nbsp;this was before he settled down with Leah). Eventually he set up his own garage. “Things were good,” he said.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Then came 2008: the economy crashed, banks collapsed and Michael’s garage struggled. “Everything went wrong,” he said.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Michael made some bad decisions. He borrowed money from a murky source — a little under £10,000 — which turned out to be drug money. He was convicted of money laundering. The judge, making an example of him, sentenced him to five years in prison.</span></p><p style="text-align: left;" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">He served his time and was released in 2011. Michael’s probation report described him as low risk all round: low risk to the public and low risk of reoffending. He spent the last five months of his sentence at an open prison in Kent, free to spend away days with his family.</span></p><p style="text-align: left;" class="MsoNormal"><span class="image-left" style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/1family_1.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/1family_1.jpeg" alt="Illustration of a man with his arms around his wife. She is holding a baby. Two small children hold their hands." title="" width="460" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>On release Michael set about trying to rebuild his life. His garage had long since collapsed, but he found work as a parts technician. “It was good and steady work,” he said. Leah gave birth to Zackey, and Michael stayed out of trouble. In 2014, the family planned a holiday and Michael applied to renew his passport. Things were good.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p style="text-align: center;" class="MsoNormal"><span class="image-left" style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">***</span></span></p><p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">But while Michael was moving on with his life, the political rhetoric against migrants was becoming increasingly hostile.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">The tabloids have had a longstanding habit of using the terms “refugee” and “asylum seeker” as terms of abuse.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">“Blunkett ‘right to lock up refugees’” shouted one Daily Mail </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi;"><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-79512/Blunkett-right-lock-refugees.html"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">headline</span></a></span><span class="MsoHyperlink"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"> in 2001, referring to the hardline Labour Home secretary David Blunkett.&nbsp;</span></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">“Asylum fraud chaos” and “SCANDAL AS ASYLUM SEEKERS GO ON RUN” yelled the Daily Express in 2003.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Antipathy turned toward foreign national offenders in 2006 when then Home Secretary Charles Clarke&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">admitted that 1,013 migrants had been released without being considered for deportation</span><i>. </i><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">At the time, the law required that foreign offenders sentenced to 12 months or more in prison be considered for removal. </span><span style="color: black; mso-themecolor: text1;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">The Home Office was attacked by the </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmpubacc/788/788.pdf"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Public Accounts Committee</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"> and in the Commons. Public pressure mounted. “Home Office blunders left foreign rapists in UK” shouted the </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-384183/Home-Office-blunders-left-foreign-rapists-UK.html"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Daily Mail. </span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">And “</span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-385683/Killers-human-rights-placed-public-safety.html"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Killer’s human rights placed above public safety</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">”. In response&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Prime Minister Tony Blair sacked Charles Clarke, and replaced him with hardliner John Reid who promised a stricter regime at the Home Office. He wanted deportation to be automatic for any foreign nationals who received “significant” jail sentences. An intention subsequently embodied in the UK Borders Act 2007, which resulted in automatic deportation, irrespective of personal circumstances, for those imprisoned for 12 months or more.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Academic and migration expert Luke de Noronha has traced a line from this period, when foreign national offenders first entered the public consciousness as figures of hate and fear, to now. He writes: “Today, conversations about immigration control rarely proceed without reference to these unequivocal ‘baddies’. Their notoriety might appear self-explanatory: they are migrants </span><i>and</i><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"> criminals, and most British people don’t like either.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class="mag-quote-center" style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Tony Blair sacked Charles Clarke, and replaced him with hardliner John Reid who promised a stricter regime at the Home Office</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Initially, none of this impacted on Michael. He served his sentence, returned to his family and heard nothing from the Home Office. But in 2013 the Coalition government stepped things up a gear up with a plan to dramatically increase the number of foreign prisoners it deported. The plan covered three departments, several ministers and would entail a “tougher environment” for migrants with convictions.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/15alltogether.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/15alltogether.jpg" alt="Illustration of group of men, women and children holding papers." title="" width="460" height="331" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">It was part of the then Home Secretary Theresa May’s desire to create a&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">“<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/10/immigration-bill-theresa-may-hostile-environment">hostile environment</a></span></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">”&nbsp;for migrants and refused asylum seekers. More Home Office case workers were hired to systematically seek out foreign national offenders and deport them. The net widened to include people who had served sentences of less than 12 months.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">This “hostile environment” was given legal effect by the Immigration Acts of 2014 and 2016, which turn doctors, </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/right-to-rent-checks-introduced-for-landlords-in-england"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">landlords</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"> and bank managers&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">into border guards; obliging them to check a person’s migration status and refuse to treat them, rent to them or allow them to open a bank account if they lack the right papers.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Those professionals who refuse or fail to carry out these checks face criminal and civil sanctions.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Operation Nexus was one another feature on the landscape of the “hostile environment”. Nexus purports to target serious, dangerous criminals for deportation, Home Office and police forces across the country share information to catch these </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/operation-nexus-high-harm"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">“high-harm”</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"> individuals.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">A policy setting out to achieve these objectives might appear uncontroversial. But the reality is that Operaton Nexus scoops up anyone who has had contact with state authorities, whether through stop and search,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://thejusticegap.com/2016/04/caught-nexus-dragnet/" style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.333333015441895px;">activism</a>,&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.333333015441895px;">or an old or non-violent conviction.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">While <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13621025.2017.1328486">leading research at the University of Bristol</a> on the family lives of men facing deportation from the UK, academic Melanie Griffiths witnessed the reality of Nexus at immigration tribunal hearings.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.333333015441895px;">“The rhetoric is usually about&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">‘high harm</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">’ individuals, with a lot of reference to&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">‘gangs</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">’, but actually in my experience the people that get caught up are often only involved in very, very low criminality, if at all,</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">” she says.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">“And yet aged 18 they are told that they are being sent to Somalia, say, by themselves, even though they haven't seen the country since they were three. Such cases seem like an over the top response to what is basically a teenage kid that the police doesn</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">’t like very much.</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/4mates_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/4mates_2.jpg" alt="Illustration of three boys with their arms on each others shoulders, talking." title="" width="460" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Even those acquitted of criminal charges can be deported. </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/news/2017/mar/05/rough-sleeper-immigration-raids-charity-collaboration-st-mungos-thames-reach"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Rough sleepers on the street are rounded up by charities and police officers.</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"> If they’re foreign, they’re handed over to immigration officials. Some are deported, others are locked up in immigration detention, while the Home Office builds a case against them. Cuts to legal aid for immigration cases, introduced by the Coalition Government in 2013, make it difficult to challenge detention and impending removal.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;">To effect the removal of those rounded up as part of Operation Nexus, <a href="https://corporatewatch.org/news/2017/jan/06/deportation-charter-flights-collective-expulsion-2017"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">mass charter flights</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"> carrying people to the Middle East and Africa are booked in advance, and immigration officers are under pressure to fill them. The flights are kept secret with people taken late at night or in the early hours of the morning, and deported before they can challenge the state’s case against them. That this can happen is a consequence of changes to the Immigration Rules&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">introduced by Theresa May during her tenure as Home Secretary, meaning some people </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="https://www.freemovement.org.uk/remove-first-appeal-later-provisions-force-today-new-guidance-published/"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">could appeal their case only after deportation.</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"> In reality few are able to exercise this right once they are outside of the UK.<span class="MsoHyperlink"><span style="text-decoration: none; text-underline: none;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"><span class="MsoHyperlink"><span class="mag-quote-center">Yet aged 18 they are told they are being sent to Somalia, even though they haven't seen the country since they were three. Such cases seem like an over the top response to what is basically a teenage kid that the police doesn't like very much&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">In 2014, as the government’s plans unfolded, Michael and Leah happily planned a holiday. They would take the children to Euro Disney. Michael applied to renew his passport.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">That same year, he was stopped and search by the police —&nbsp;a routine occurrence for many black men in London. On two occasions, as the officers took his details they said: </span><i>Immigration has got a serious interest in you.</i></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/2familyabsent.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/2familyabsent.jpg" alt="Illustration of a man holding the shadow of his wife and three children." title="" width="240" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Michael went to see a solicitor. “Why would immigration be interested in me?” He thought it might be to do with the passport, but his solicitor said: </span><i>Well, you have a criminal conviction. </i><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Still, Michael had been clean since his release, he wasn’t worried.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Then came a letter from the Home Office. It ordered him to “stop working, stop using the NHS” and to sign on once a week at a Home Office immigration reporting centre in London Bridge.&nbsp;</span></p><div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Michael re-applied for leave to remain in the country. Early in 2015 his application was refused. The Home Office increased his reporting requirements to twice a week, this time in Croydon. Again, he was told not to work but this time his driving license was taken away as well. Michael tried to keep the family together, applying for different types of British residency as a carer for his children. Both applications were refused.</span></div><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">With Michael unable to work Leah had to rely on working tax credits to boost her income. Michael for his part loved the extra time with his three boys. He took them to school, helped them with homework. But he needed to be earning and found himself increasingly depressed unable to do so; a state of mind compounded by the uncertainty of his situation.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">This uncertainty and stress lasted nearly two years before the raid in January 2017 and Michael’s subsequent detention. Looking back, Michael says: “If I was the person who they made me out to be, I would have turned to crime. I can’t work, I can’t look after my family. What do you want me to do?” </span><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">For the children, their lives are divided into the time before and after the raid. Before the immigration raid they had their dad, he took them to school, played football with them. after the raid, he wasn’t in their lives any more. Not like before.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Every Sunday their mum drove them for nearly two hours through central London beyond the M25 to the place that looked like a prison. Brook House. They had to go through secuirty, their bags searched. They would meet him in the visitor</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.333333015441895px;">’s room. He could get up to say hello, but that was it. Physical contact, such as hugs, were prohibited.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Week after week, Michael watched his children change and worried about the effect his situation was having on them. “Jermaine is worried. Zackey is playing up. His mum is at work and when I was there we were close. Now I’m not there. Tom don’t show any emotion, he won’t tell you what he is thinking.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Michael appealed against the decision to removed him from the UK arguing that removal would result in a breach of his<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica;"><a href="https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/blog/article-8-right-respect-private-and-family-life"><span style="mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">article 8 right to a family life. </span></a></span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">He wanted to stay in the UK to be a father to his five children in the UK and a partner to Leah. </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Using her Thursdays off, Leah worked on gathering evidence for Michael’s case. There were letters from the children’s teachers, the local dentist, her own boss and another school mum to testify that Michael was part of their lives. </span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sadfacedrawing_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sadfacedrawing_0.jpg" alt="Child's drawing of a sad face with caption, please mend our family." title="" width="460" height="449" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A child’s plea: Jermaine’s drawing </span></span></span>The Home Office response was that Leah and her children would manage fine without Michael.</span><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">“Kids need their dad,” Leah said. “You hear sometimes the government placing emphasis on the reason that things are going wrong is single parent families and dads not looking after their children. All that sort of stuff. But, yet they are causing that to happen. I don’t understand.”</span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Leah was mostly worried about Tom. They live in an area where boys could get into trouble with gangs. “It’s quite a lot easier to get involved in that without his dad around,<span style="font-size: 13px;">”</span>&nbsp;she said.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">“</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Growing up in London. You just hear about all these stabbings.</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica;">”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><br />&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class="mag-quote-center" style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.333333015441895px;">The children wanted to help with the case. Tom tried start a gov.uk petition to call on the government to “stop deporting dads”. A few of his mates were going to sign it. It was rejected.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Leah went to see a social worker to get evidence to support their case. The social worker said it might be Zackey she had to watch: “You are more worried about the older boys, but they’ve had their dad with them to this stage. By the time the little one gets to their age, he wouldn’t have had his dad around for much longer.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">The children wanted to help with the case. Tom tried start a gov.uk petition to call on the government to “stop deporting dads”. A few of his mates were going to sign it. It was rejected. They said Michael’s case was still ongoing, so the petition wasn’t valid. </span><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></p><div><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Jermaine,10, handwrote a letter to one of the judges hearing Michael’s case while he was detained:</span></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/lettertojudge_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/lettertojudge_2.jpg" alt="Handwritten letter. Child's handwriting." title="" width="240" height="238" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;</span></i></span></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Dear Judge,</span></i></span></div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;</span></i></span><i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">I would like you to please bring our dad home because he is a very big part of our family. He has been doing a lot for us, since our mum has been working, and without him there are a lot of things changing for us. He cannot take me or my brothers to our clubs anymore, and our mum has to cut back on working hours to do so. He isn’t here to help me with our homework and me and my brother can’t watch movies with him anymore either. May I ask how you would feel if you could not do any fun things with your father as a child. And so I am asking you to please bring our father home.</span></i></div><div style="text-align: left;"><i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;</span></i><i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Yours faithfully,&nbsp;</span></i><i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">[Jermaine*] (middle son of [Michael])</span></i></div><p style="text-align: left;" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-bidi-font-family: Baghdad; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"><br /></span></p><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Michael a</span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">pplied f</span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">or bail in a bid to stay with his family while his appeal was considered. The&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">b</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">ail heari</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">ng, on&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">February 28th, was held&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">at a tribunal court in London, Michael appeared via video link&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">and Leah was there in person. T</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">her</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">e’s no le</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">gal aid for immigration bail hearings so they hired a private solicitor, borrowing and using their savings. Before the hearing, they worried that Michael would be denied bail and remain in detention until he won his appeal. What happened was worse. There was no point in granting bail, the Home Office lawyer said at the hearing, because Michael was booked on a charter flight for 8th March. Eight days away.</span></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">***</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Leah sprang into action straight after the hearing. She contacted her MP and their solicitor lodged a judicial review of the decision to place Michael on the charter flight. They didn’t get a response from the Home Office. Leah panicked. The charter flight to Jamaica was due to leave at 6am on 8th March. Michael prayed. When he called his mother to tell her, she cried. She lives in America now, most of his family long since emigrated.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Then, the day before the flight, Michael’s solicitor told him his ticket had been cancelled.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">That night Michael went to bed, naked under the covers. “Brook House is hot.” At around 10pm there was a knock at the door and two guards came in.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">You’re on a flight, </span></i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">one said. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">“No, I’ve got this JR, my ticket’s cancelled,” Michael replied. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">OK, we’ll go check. </span></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">They returned a few minutes later with more guards. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">You are on the reserve list. </span></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Michael was confused. The guards swooped to restrain him. He yelled. They bent his wrist and arm, one guard had his hands around Michael’s neck. Michael, still naked, struggled and tried to free himself. One of the guards squeezed his testicles. He gave up and&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">went limp.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/7visadetail.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/7visadetail.jpg" alt="Illustration showing someone holding an open notebook and pointed at the page." title="" width="240" height="240" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal">A guard pulled boxers onto him,<span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;then they strapped a restraint belt around his waist and strapped his arms. Another set of guards took him and drove him to the airport.</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Leah heard what happened by text, from Michael’s roommate. “That’s it, he is actually going,” she said. “It’s final. I just thought there’s no chance of him coming back really. They say it’s an out of country appeal but I don’t know how many people have managed to appeal and come back. I can imagine it’s very minimal. It is far… It’s not like we can afford to just go there. Especially with three children.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">“To the Home Office it’s just another number, someone else being sent back. It doesn’t really affect them. But it’s a big thing… when you’ve got three children being left without a dad. It’s quite major. I now have to bring them up on my own.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"><br /></span></p><h2><hr /></h2><h2><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt; font-weight: bold;">A second chance?</span></h2><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Leah was still crying when Michael called her from the security guard’s van to say they weren’t taking him after all. Last minute cancellations are common. Michael was certain that the guards knew before they drove him to the airport that he wasn’t on the flight, but they kept him in the van all night anyway.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">The guards who drove Michael to the airport are employed by Tascor, a security company to whom the work of ‘escorting’ people from detention to the airport has been outsourced.</span></p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/5mateabsent.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/5mateabsent.jpg" alt="Illustration of a young man walking alone." title="" width="240" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Michael spent the night in the van thinking about the past. “I was not a criminal really. I just got caught up. It was a mistake that I’m paying for. That was when I was 25. I’m going to be 35. I’m not the same person.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Two days later the Home Office requested issued further removal directions, beginning the process again. And again, Michael tried to appeal. “It all seemed to run smoothly,” said Leah. “The judge was on our side.</span><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">The Home Office didn’t put up too much of an argument. To me and the solicitor it went quite well.” But the judge reserved his decision: taking time to consider the case before giving his judgment.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">Following the appeal hearing Michael applied for bail again but his application was refused. It was the judge dealing with Michael’s bail application who dropped the bombshell that his appeal had been refused. That was the first Leah and Michael had heard of it. There’d been no letter. “It seemed to go so well,” said Leah. “I don’t understand what could have gone wrong.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">A week later, on the 9th May, Michael was deported.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;</span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/9dancerabsent_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/9dancerabsent_2.jpg" alt="Illustration of a woman dancing alone." title="" width="240" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Seated on the plane Michael still believed a miracle might save him. “He’s always hopeful,” said Leah.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">“But I don’t see how.” </span><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><div><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Twice that day he spoke to me by phone, first as he was being driven to the airport. His voice trembled. He sounded scared to me. Then, when he was on the plane, sitting between two guards, I called him again. “I’m fearful for my life,” he said. “I wonder what’s going to happen to my kids.” Then the line went dead.&nbsp;</span></div><div><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"><br /></span></div><div></div><div></div><div><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">At the time of writing, Tom, Jermaine and Zackey do not know that their father has been deported. Tom and Jermaine have exams coming up and it is Jermaine’s birthday Thursday. Leah cannot face telling them. Not yet.&nbsp;</span></div><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">For her part, Leah has had little time to grieve. And acceptance will be a long time coming “If he was born in this country he would have just served his time and then been allowed to get on and bring up his kids like he is supposed to do. But just because he wasn’t born here, not only him, but all his children have to now be punished for the rest of their lives. It just sounds ridiculous. I don’t understand it.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;"><i>*Michael, Leah and their children</i>’<i>s names have been</i></span><i style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">&nbsp;changed to protect identities. &nbsp;</i><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">&nbsp;</span></p><hr /><p>Illustrations by&nbsp;<a href="mailto:cmackinnon@hotmail.com">Carrie Mackinnon</a>. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</p><p>This piece was funded by Shine A Light and Red Pepper<span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.333333015441895px;">’</span>s Black Journalism Fund.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/black journalism fund logo .jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/black journalism fund logo .jpg" alt="Black journalism fund logo" title="" width="240" height="68" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/theresa-mays-dangerous-record-on-immigration">Theresa May&#039;s dangerous record on immigration</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/nadia-graham/5-reasons-why-we-stopped-ukgov-deportation-flight-to-nigeria-la">5 reasons why we stopped a UKgov deportation flight to Nigeria last night </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/child-was-held-for-staggering-151-days-in-men-s-immigration-l">Child was held for a staggering 151 days in men’s immigration lockup Morton Hall in Lincolnshire</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/people-come-in-here-normal-but-they-get-ill-protesting-against-">‘People come in here normal, but they get ill.’ Protesting against deaths at a UK migrant jail</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jenny-bourne/seeds-of-post-brexit-racial-violence-lie-in-government-policy">The seeds of post-Brexit racial violence lie in government policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/simon-parker/theresa-may-this-is-not-crisis-of-migration-but-crisis-of-inhum">Theresa May, this is not a ‘crisis of migration’, but a crisis of inhumanity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/mia-light/do-your-parenting-by-skype-uk-tells-fathers-being-deported-to-jama">Do your parenting by Skype, UK tells fathers being deported to Jamaica</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Sat, 03 Jun 2017 10:00:00 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 111189 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Money talks: Meet three people who want to live in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/usman-sheikh/money-talks-meet-three-people-who-want-to-live-in-uk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Government visa fees tell would-be immigrants that in the UK, money talks ...</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><strong><strong><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Lig</a><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">ht</a>&nbsp;reports from the frontline of Britain</strong>’s immigration and asylum system. See also&nbsp;</strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/lydia-noon/if-i-d-known-what-to-ask-for-i-wouldn-t-have-gone-hungry/feed"><span><strong>‘</strong></span></a><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/lydia-noon/if-i-d-known-what-to-ask-for-i-wouldn-t-have-gone-hungry/feed">If I’d known what to ask for, wouldn</a><span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/lydia-noon/if-i-d-known-what-to-ask-for-i-wouldn-t-have-gone-hungry/feed">’</a></span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/lydia-noon/if-i-d-known-what-to-ask-for-i-wouldn-t-have-gone-hungry/feed">t have gone hungry</a></strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/lydia-noon/if-i-d-known-what-to-ask-for-i-wouldn-t-have-gone-hungry/feed"><span>’</span></a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/when-you-ve-got-three-children-being-left-without-their-dad-"><span>Theresa May</span><span>’s tough line on immigration punishes British children.</span></a></strong></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/16massgroup_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/16massgroup_2.jpg" alt="lead lead lead lead lead lead Illustration showing a crowd of men, women and children. Some have placards and pieces of paper." title="" width="460" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>All illustrations by Carrie Mackinnon. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><hr /><p><span>These stories are fictionalised examples drawn from various clients’ experiences.</span></p><h2>Paula loves Edison and wants to live with him</h2> <p>Edison is a 24 year old Brazilian man. He’s from Salvador in the north east. He met Paula, a 21 year old British woman, while she was travelling in Brazil after finishing university in the UK. They fell in love and want to be together. They have decided to make a home in the UK.</p> <p>Paula wants to start her career in the UK and Edison is happy to give it a go. They have just got engaged and they are over the moon. Paula has <a href="https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/immigration/visas-family-and-friends/getting-a-visa-for-your-spouse-or-partner-to-live-in-the-uk/">done some research</a> and knows she has to earn £18,600 a year before she can apply for Edison to live with her in the UK. She has started a job in marketing on a starting salary of £19,000. She&nbsp;lives in London and is paying a lot in rent and bills.</p> <p>She has to pay £1,464 in Home Office fees (recently up from £1,195). She has no savings. She can’t afford it. But there is no way around it — if she does not pay, the application will not be considered. She also finds out that later on, when Edison wants to extend his visa or apply for British citizenship, he will have to pay more fees.</p> <p>She tries to get help. Her parents say that she is an adult, so she has to deal with it herself. Edison earns very little in his job teaching surfing (that’s how he met Paula). He has no savings. Paula finally manages to borrow some money from her older sister.</p> <p>She has looked into the application process and can see it is complicated. She wants to get a lawyer to help. Because of government cuts,&nbsp;there is no legal aid for immigration law. Most lawyers that she speaks to are charging £1,000 or more to help with this type of application. Paula finds a family and immigration law solicitor, Peter, who will do it for £500.</p> <p>Unfortunately, he isn’t very good.</p> <p>Peter neglects to ask Edison&nbsp;if he has ever come to the UK before. In fact he came to visit Paula last year. He was cautioned by the police for smoking a cannabis joint on the street. Peter does not record this in the visa application. The British Embassy dealing with Edison’s case refuse the application, claiming that Edison was trying to deceive them. The Embassy will not return the Home Office fee.&nbsp;</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/8dancing_3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/8dancing_3.jpg" alt="Illustration of man and woman dancing. " title="" width="460" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>If Edison wants to apply again, he will have to pay the Home Office fee again. Peter is claiming that the Embassy’s refusal is Edison’s fault, not his. He is refusing to return any of his fee for his work. He says it will be hard for Edison to obtain a visa in the future. If Edison had mentioned the caution, it might not have been such a big problem. Edison is annoyed. He’d been&nbsp;smoking with Paula and her friends on the way to a party, but the police did not caution anyone else.</p> <p>Paula and Edison are distraught. Paula doesn’t want to give up the career that she has just started in marketing. Her Portuguese is not good enough to find work in Brazil. And there aren’t many jobs in Salvador anyway.</p> <p>What’s more, Paula has now heard that the Conservatives want to increase the amount that she will have to earn before she can apply for a visa for Edison to live with her in the UK. (It’s in their <a href="https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/manifesto2017/Manifesto2017.pdf">Manifesto</a>). She only just had enough money this time, so she does not know what she will do if she and Edison make another visa application.</p> <p>Paula and Edison feel even worse now that Edison tells Paula that his friend, Rodrigo, had a much easier time coming to settle in the UK.&nbsp;Rodrigo&nbsp;did not have to pay any Home Office fees when he applied and the application process was simple. He did not bother to hire a lawyer. He has just received his visa.</p> <p>Paula learns that it was easier for Rodrigo because he is married to a Portuguese woman living in London. As his wife is an EU citizen, Rodrigo can apply under a different – and cheaper – system. Even though the UK is still in the EU, Paula does not count as an EU citizen in this situation. Rodrigo is now on his way to the UK (but he is worried about what will happen after Brexit).</p> <p>Paula and Edison don’t know what to do next.</p> <h2>Samira wants to protect her mother</h2> <p>Samira was born in Canada. Some years ago, she met a British man, Faisal, online. They had plenty in common — they both had parents from India, they were both looking for a Western Muslim partner and they were both teachers. Samira obtained a spouse visa, then indefinite leave to remain (settlement) and now she is a British citizen. She and Faisal have two British children and they live in Cambridgeshire.</p> <p>Back in Canada, Samira’s father&nbsp;recently&nbsp;passed away. Her mother Zarina&nbsp;is lost without him. He had always looked after her well, especially after she developed hip problems, which have limited her mobility significantly. She needs help going up stairs and moving around the house. She used to rely on her husband to drive her around. She is now alone and isolated. She wants to be with Samira, to whom she has always been close. Samira cannot move back to Canada - she is settled in the UK, with her British husband and children. Zarina, 67 years old, lives on her modest pension and has asked Samira to pay the costs of bringing her to the UK.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right">Vijay explains that the Home Office fee alone for the application is £3,250&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Samira stopped working as a teacher after the birth of her children. Her husband, Faisal, is currently supporting the family. He earns £38,000. The family are managing — just about. Samira thinks that it will be easy to bring Zarina to the UK. She found it fairly easy to obtain her visa and she assumes that the Commonwealth links between Canada and the UK will help. Just to be on the safe side, she has arranged a meeting with an experienced immigration solicitor, Vijay.</p> <p>Vijay has a series of nasty shocks for Samira. First, her mother Zarina stands a low chance of obtaining the visa. It is unlikely that her situation is serious enough to meet the rules. Samira wants to try anyway. Vijay explains that the Home Office fee alone for the application is £3,250 (recently up from £2,676). He explains that the Home Office fees do not just cover the administrative cost of the system - they also contain a large profit element. His fees to help with the application will be £1,800.</p><p>Vijay points out that if — as is likely — the British Embassy dealing with the case refuse Zarina’s application, she may not be able to do much about it. She may not have a right to appeal to a court. If she does have a right to do this, she will need to pay more fees (some court fees and another £2,300 for Vijay). Zarina would probably have to wait at least a year for a court to hear the case.</p> <p>Samira decides that she can’t go ahead with the application. It is just too expensive and too uncertain. She calls her mother, Zarina, to explain. But Zarina interrupts her to say that she has had a fall at home and is very upset. She wants to know how soon she can come to the UK.</p> <p>Samira does not know what to say.</p> <h2>Hasan desires prestige and convenience</h2> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/11walletdetail.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/11walletdetail.jpg" alt="Illustration of a person holding open a wallet with notes. " title="" width="386" height="392" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Hasan is a 41 year old Pakistani man. He knows exactly what to do and exactly what to say. After all, he is a multi-millionaire. He is attracted by the prestige of holding a British passport — something which, for all his money, his Pakistani passport could never bring him.</p><p>Hasan is taking advice from Charlotte, a solicitor in the City specialising in immigration for “ultra high net worth” individuals. He will apply for an investor visa, offering to invest £10 million in a UK company. He will pay £1,561 in Home Office fees (recently up from £1,530) —&nbsp;not much more than Paula had to pay.</p> <p>Hasan will pay Charlotte £15,000 for her services helping with his application. Charlotte tells him that usually, to get a long term visa, you have to be able to speak English. But this one is special; there is no language requirement.</p> <p>Money talks, it seems.<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/10manwithwallet.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/10manwithwallet.jpg" alt="Illustration of a man holding a wallet with notes." title="" width="240" height="512" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Charlotte has told Hasan that the UK government wants to “roll out the red carpet” for immigrants like him. The government will offer him a fast track to settlement within 2 years - for which he will be happy to pay the £2,297 Home Office fee (recently up from £1,875). By then, he will need to learn English, but Karen has promised to recommend some elite English tutors.</p> <p>After that, Hasan will apply for British citizenship, unfussed by the £1,282 Home Office fee (recently up from £1,236). At each stage of the process, Charlotte will make sure that he is successful first time.&nbsp;</p> <p>After Hasan obtains his British passport, he will probably withdraw his investment and put it back into his bank account in Cyprus.</p> <p>As a multi-millionaire, Hasan has time to reflect on things. He knows that he obtained his wealth in Pakistan in questionable circumstances (though his expensive lawyers have made the allegations go away). He has always been willing to do anything necessary to get what he wants. Life in Pakistan showed him that was possible.</p> <p>Now, thinking about his move to the UK, he sees little real difference between the UK and Pakistan. In both countries, he can buy what he wants — in the UK, things are just more expensive. For him, British citizenship was always simply another product to be purchased. In both countries, he is surrounded by people saying Yes to him — in the UK, those people are just more expensive. In both countries, the rich get what they want and the rest get what they are given.&nbsp;</p> <p>He doesn’t think much about the UK’s welfare state, but he hears that it is struggling anyway.</p><h2>Social bonds</h2> <p>The government’s approach to visa fees encourages the Hasans of this world. It tells people who want to come to the UK that only the wealthy need apply. They reduce our social bonds to economic transactions. That makes us a poorer country.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/9dancerabsent_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/9dancerabsent_1.jpg" alt="lead lead Illustration showing the shadow of a woman dancing alone. There are feint outlines of a partner." title="" width="460" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>See also: Colin Yeo, <a href="https://www.freemovement.org.uk/interregnum-11-years-without-free-movement-1962-1973/">The interregnum: 11 years without free movement from 1962 to 1973</a>, Free Movement Blog.</li><li><a href="https://www.counselmagazine.co.uk/biography/ronan-toal">Ronan Toal</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.counselmagazine.co.uk/articles/hostile-environment">Hostile environment</a>, Counsel Magazine, August 2016.</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Illustrations by&nbsp;<a href="mailto:cmackinnon@hotmail.com">Carrie Mackinnon</a>. All rights reserved.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/theresa-mays-dangerous-record-on-immigration">Theresa May&#039;s dangerous record on immigration</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police">Theresa May and the love police </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/so-many-reasons-why-turning-landlords-into-immigration-official">So many reasons why turning landlords into immigration officials is a bad idea</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/deportation-increasingly-foreign-britain-at-war-with-itself">Deportation: an increasingly &#039;foreign&#039; Britain at war with itself</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/britain-has-become-open-prison-to-migrants">Britain has become an open prison to migrants</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/love-is-not-all-you-need-says-court-of-appeal-can-you-afford-to-love-migr">Love is not all you need, says Court of Appeal: can you afford to love a migrant?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/can-you-afford-to-fall-in-love-with-migrant">Can you afford to fall in love with a migrant?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Usman Sheikh Sat, 03 Jun 2017 10:00:00 +0000 Usman Sheikh 111193 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Violent and dangerous places: the rise in prison suicides in England and Wales https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/lorraine-atkinson/violent-and-dangerous-places-rise-in-prison-suicides-in-en <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Cuts, overcrowding and understaffing have created a toxic mix of violence, death and human misery.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/09_aylesbury_3768.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/09_aylesbury_3768.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>HM Prison Aylesbury (Andy Aitchison @prisonimage) </span></span></span></p><p><span>One hundred and six&nbsp;people have died in prison so far in 2017. This includes 28 people who have taken their own lives. Last year was the highest number of self-inflicted deaths since current recording practices began in 1978. 120 people took their own lives in prison in 2016. On average a prisoner died by suicide every three days.</span></p> <p>The rise in prison suicides has coincided with cuts to prison staffing and budgets and a rise in the number of people in prison, resulting in overcrowding. Some prisons introduced restricted regimes and many prisoners are spending hours each day locked in their cells with little to occupy them. Overcrowding and understaffing have created a toxic mix of violence, death and human misery in our prisons. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/safety-in-custody-statistics">Data from the Ministry of Justice</a> reveal high levels of assaults and self-injury. Some prisoners were too frightened to come out of their cells, according to <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/07/HMIP-AR_2015-16_web.pdf">reports from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP)</a>. </p> <p>The Howard League and Centre for Mental Health conducted a <a href="http://howardleague.org/what-you-can-do/transform-prisons/inquiry-into-preventing-prison-suicides/">two year inquiry on suicides in prisons</a>. We published four reports on suicide prevention in prison and submitted evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry on mental health and deaths in prison. Our report on preventing prison suicides stated that a prison regime should be built around a normal life, where prisoners are able to get up each day, take a shower and have breakfast and then occupy themselves productively. Prisoners should also be able to exercise daily and go outdoors. Prisons need to become healthier, safer places for all in order to reduce the risk of death.</p> <p>In 2013 the prisoner incentives and earned privileges (IEP) scheme was revised, resulting in a more punitive regime for many prisoners. HMIP noted, in its <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/Wormwood-Scrubs-web2015.pdf">report on Wormwood Scrubs prison</a> in 2015, that “the very restricted regime and limited time unlocked rendered much of the [IEP] scheme ineffective as there was too little offered to encourage good behaviour”.&nbsp;</p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">A prison regime should be built around a normal life, where prisoners are able to get up each day, take a shower and have breakfast and then occupy themselves productively.</span></p> <p>On arrival at a prison, a high risk time for suicide, prisoners are placed on “entry level” and are deprived of basic coping mechanisms such as contact with their family or friends, at a time when they most need support. Prisoners who show “insufficient commitment to rehabilitation and purposeful activity” or have behaved badly can be placed on basic level with limited time out of cell and visits and are only allowed £4 a week of their own money to spend on necessities such as food, toiletries or phone calls. </p> <p>The most challenging prisoners are often the most troubled and the most likely to be placed on basic regime. Prisoners’ poor behaviour can be a sign of their distress but the response from prison staff is often the use of punishment including solitary confinement.</p> <p>In <a href="http://howardleague.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/3b_-_Frances_crook_smt_SIGNED.pdf">evidence to the Supreme Court</a> in 2015, the Howard League stated that prisoners in segregation “often tended to be the most disturbed and vulnerable prisoners, characterised by being young, institutionalised, with mental health difficulties or histories or self-harm or attempted suicide”. Segregation has been found to have a serious adverse psychological impact on prisoners and can cause irreversible damage. </p> <p>The Ministry of Justice does not publish data on the use of solitary confinement. Prisoners can be held under segregation conditions for weeks, months and even years. There are no limits on how long a prisoner can be segregated nor is there any requirement for the prisoner to be informed of how long he or she will remain in segregation. In April this year the <a href="http://howardleague.org/news/felthamsolitaryconfinementjr/">Howard League brought a judicial review</a> on behalf of a 16 year old boy who had been held in prolonged solitary confinement in Feltham prison. </p> <p>Concern about the rise in deaths in our prisons have been raised by members of parliament, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and coroners. Numerous recommendations have been made, with the aim of preventing further deaths.</p> <p>The <a href="http://iapdeathsincustody.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Harris-Review-Report2.pdf">Harris Review</a>, an inquiry into the self-inflicted deaths of 18 to 24 year olds in prison, was published in July 2015. It called for radical changes and stated “unless progress is made on the proposals that we have made, young people will continue to die unnecessarily in our prisons”. 22 young people aged 18-24 have taken their lives since the report was published less than two years ago.</p> <p>In the 2016 annual report, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspectorate of Prisons stated that prisons had become “unacceptably violent and dangerous places” and described the picture in respect of self-harm and suicide as “shocking”. It made nine recommendations concerning the care of people in crisis in prison.</p> <p>The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman investigates every death in prison. In his <a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/PPO_Annual-Report-201516_WEB_Final.pdf">2016 annual report</a>, the PPO described “a shocking 34% rise in self-inflicted deaths” and “steadily rising numbers of deaths from natural causes”. He noted that “improving safety and fairness is less about identifying new learning and more about implementing the learning already available”. </p> <p>In April, the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) <a href="https://rm.coe.int/168070a773">published a report on the UK</a>. </p> <p>The committee was “deeply concerned” about the high levels of violence in prisons and noted that overcrowding and inadequate regimes were having a negative effect. The Committee stated: “the situation was particularly austere for those juveniles who were placed on ‘separation’ lists (denoted by vivid pink stickers of ‘do not unlock’ on their cell doors), who could spend up to 23.5 hours a day locked up alone in their cells.” The CPT concluded this amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment.</p> <p>In November 2016 the Ministry of Justice published a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/565014/cm-9350-prison-safety-and-reform-_web_.pdf">White Paper on prison safety and reform</a>. </p> <p>It recognised the need to improve safety and security in prisons and announced there would be investment in staffing and an increase in the number of prison officers by 2,500 by 2018. It also announced plans to reform the prison estate to make it less crowded.</p> <p>Increasing staffing levels in prisons should help to prevent suicides. Positive staff/prisoner relationships are crucial in managing suicide risk in prisons. Prison officers need knowledge but also time to identify and support prisoners in crisis. Having a cup of tea and a chat with a prisoner might be the vital intervention that prevents a death.</p> <p>However urgent action is still needed to reduce the number of people in prison. <a href="http://wp.unil.ch/space/files/2017/04/SPACE_I_2015_FinalReport_161215_REV170425.pdf">Statistics published by the Council of Europe</a>&nbsp;<span>show that the prison population rate in England and Wales is 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than the European average of 133.8 and the highest rate in Western Europe. Prison should only ever be used by the courts as a last resort for the most serious offences and when someone poses an immediate risk to public safety. Reducing the number of people in prison will have a far more immediate impact than building new prisons, which takes time and resources and is likely to lead to an increase in the prison population in the long term.</span></p> <p>Prisoner safety should be a top priority for the new government following the general election in June. Reforms cannot be delayed or more lives will be needlessly lost; more families and staff will face bereavement.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/suicide-murder-despair-coalition-government-makes-its-mark-on-prisons">Suicide, murder, despair. Coalition government makes its mark on prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/juliet-lyon/rising-suicides-and-assaults-more-punitive-regimes-less-rehabilitation-no-pr">Rising suicides and assaults, more punitive regimes, less rehabilitation. No prisons crisis?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/laura-janes/playing-politics-with-prisoners-access-to-justice">Playing politics with prisoners’ access to justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/who-is-that-man-in-lord-chancellors-seat">Who is that man in the Lord Chancellor&#039;s seat?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/mark-day/filth-overcrowding-five-suicides-in-one-year-at-wormwood-scrubs-no-prisons-cris">Filth, overcrowding, five suicides in one year at Wormwood Scrubs. No prisons crisis? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/peter-dawson/solitary-confinement-and-avoidable-harm">Solitary confinement and avoidable harm</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Lorraine Atkinson Wed, 24 May 2017 07:32:00 +0000 Lorraine Atkinson 111104 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fighting to win asylum from rape: the case of Erioth Mwesigwa https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/sian-evans/fighting-to-win-asylum-from-rape-case-of-erioth-mwesigwa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Today, Monday 20<sup> </sup>February, at 4.30pm, a protest has been called outside the Home Office against the removal and detention of Erioth Mwesigwa, a rape survivor from Uganda.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/WARprotest.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/WARprotest.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>WAR protests at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, June 2014</span></span></span></p><p>When Erioth Mwesigwa came to the self-help group we help coordinate, she said nothing. She said nothing at the second meeting either but she looked a little less wary and withdrawn. But then she started chatting to other women in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7wZ8gJxuMs">the All African Women’s Group</a> in North London. By the time Erioth came to her fourth meeting she was standing up to report on the help she had given a woman who was under threat of losing her child. Within six months she was speaking about asylum seekers being denied health care at a meeting to save the NHS in Camden Council’s Chambers — such is the power of collective action.</p> <h2>Erioth’s story</h2> <p>Erioth was imprisoned and raped by soldiers in Uganda over 30 years ago because her husband was suspected of opposing the president. He escaped and was given asylum in the UK. Erioth didn’t. After she escaped from prison she hid with her godfather until she was recognised.&nbsp; She fled from his home, but her godfather was killed by soldiers who came to find her. She was hidden in an orphanage by a priest where, until she was recognised and had to flee again, she never left the compound. More discoveries and more escapes followed until in 2002 she ran out of places to hide. Erioth was being ordered to trap her husband into returning to Uganda.&nbsp; Friends warned her she would be killed and organised for her to come to England.&nbsp; </p> <p>After nearly 14 years living in the UK, Erioth was detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. Lately —&nbsp;on 10 February — guards came to take her to the airport to remove her to Uganda. She refused, politely, as is her way, and the guards backed off. But they threatened that next time she would be forced onto the plane. </p> <h2>Talking about rape</h2> <p>In one respect Erioth’s case is unusual – the rape she suffered has been believed. <a href="http://www.womenagainstrape.net/resource/book-misjudging-rape-breaching-gender-guidelines-a">Research by Women Against Rape (WAR)</a> found that 88% of victims seeking asylum are disbelieved by the Home Office. But even when women’s accounts are accepted, rape and its aftermath are routinely downplayed as grounds for asylum.&nbsp; </p> <p>Like many women, Erioth tried to keep her experiences of rape secret.&nbsp; Our research found that 20% of women had not been able to speak about rape before the Home Office considered their case and 14% still had not reported by the time of their appeal hearing.&nbsp; Erioth could not claim asylum because she couldn’t face speaking about the rape she suffered. Instead she again lived “underground”. It was only after she was offered counselling that she felt able to tell anyone she had been raped.&nbsp; </p> <p>But when interviewed by the Home Office, this reserved, quietly spoken woman couldn’t challenge immigration officials whose default position appears to be one of hostility and scepticism, tinged with not a small amount of racism. So the notes contain damaging inaccuracies which have been used to say she can safely return to Uganda.&nbsp; </p> <p>The aftermath of rape is at best systematically downplayed, at worst completely ignored, by the Home Office. So-called inconsistencies and late arriving disclosures are interpreted as evidence of lying, rather than symptoms of trauma. Erioth’s experiences, even though they were 33 years ago, continue to have a devastating impact on her life.&nbsp; We see the victims of historic child abuse speaking now still traumatised by what they suffered. Who would dare say that many years have passed and they should “get over it”?&nbsp; But that is what Erioth is being told.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AAWG_Ms_EM.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AAWG_Ms_EM.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="310" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The All African Women’s Group celebrates Erioth stopping her flight, February 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>Erioth’s case was deemed <em>“manifestly unfounded”</em> so denying her the opportunity to go before a judge and prove the Home Office wrong. No account was taken of the way she was forced to live in Uganda — she was barely asked about this in her interview.&nbsp; </p> <p>She was said to have <em>“failed to demonstrate systematic failure of state protection</em>” because she should have reported what happened to the police.&nbsp; Amnesty International has documented <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2010/04/uganda-victims-rape-and-sexual-violence-denied-justice/">how hard it is for rape victims in Uganda to get justice</a>; how much harder must it be if your attackers are soldiers. That is common sense, right? But it is a common sense ignored by the Home Office determined to deport at any cost, no doubt fired up by a politician-led witchhunt against asylum seekers and immigrant people. Even the <a href="http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/4538_independent_inspector_calls_for_improvements_in_home_office_decision_making">Home Office’s own internal audits</a> have marked its casework records “weak” and “fail”.</p> <p>Even when evidence is presented to support a woman’s case, it is routinely ignored, disbelieved or wilfully misconstrued.&nbsp; In such circumstances, the right to appeal is vital — WAR found that women with expert evidence, from an organisation such as ours, are six times more likely to win at appeal than those without.&nbsp; </p> <h2>Collective self-help in action</h2> <p>The All African Women’s Group (AAWG) fortnightly meetings at the Crossroads Women’s Centre where we are also based, are now attended by over 90 women. Campaigning and legal cases are discussed using the principle of collective self-help. When a woman speaks about her situation, other women who often have suffered similarly, offer advice. &nbsp;If a woman needs extra help she often gets referred to the weekly work sessions WAR runs with AAWG, Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Legal Action for Women (LAW). Volunteers using <a href="http://legalactionforwomen.net/2015/03/12/stop-press-new-updated-self-help-guide-for-asylum-seekers-and-their-supporters-now-available-free/">LAW’s Self-Help Guide for Asylum Seekers and their Supporters</a> helped Erioth understand her case and write a summary which she used to find a new lawyer.&nbsp; This is “collective self-help” in action.&nbsp; </p> <p>Many women’s cases are undermined by poor or no legal representation; legal aid cuts have devastated their access to justice.&nbsp; Erioth’s solicitors spent two months failing to reply to her calls, let alone challenge the Home Office.&nbsp; We found another lawyer, but Erioth’s first solicitor was slow to forward her papers so time lapsed before it came to court. Judge Ockleton, then blamed Erioth saying she had deliberately used delaying tactics. </p> <h2>Rape survivors in detention</h2> <p><a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/a-dickensian-classic-set-in-bedfordshire/">Legal Action for Women’s investigation</a> found that over 70% of women in Yarl’s Wood are rape survivors.&nbsp; Our <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/15/yarls-wood-report-calling-for-closure-decade-abuse-complaints">dossier</a> (published jointly with Black Women’s Rape Action Project) documented 10 years of systematic sexual abuse by guards including rape, which has been covered up by Serco and the other corporations. A guard is due to go on trial shortly for alleged rape. But other accused guards still work at Yarl’s Wood and some have been promoted. Black Women’s Rape Action Project has been the main support for women inside who have spearheaded protests, including hunger strikes, demanding that the centre be shut down. When a whistleblower corroborated women’s reports he was sacked and blacklisted. We raised the abuse with the Joint Committee for Human Rights and key women MPs, but have seen no action. </p> <p>The government <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/david-rhys-jones/when-youve-been-tortured-does-it-matter-who-your-torturer-was">claims its “Rule 35”</a> procedure triggers release of victims of torture, who should not be detained.&nbsp; Erioth was accepted as a victim but she is still inside.&nbsp; The in-house doctor who spent approximately five minutes with her recorded that Erioth was having “flashbacks of the torture she suffered” since being detained. But the doctor concluded: “I’m not worried that continued detention will affect the lady’s mental health.”&nbsp; </p> <p>The only action triggered by Erioth’s Rule 35 report was the issuing of her “Removal Directions”. The Home Office could then justify her detention on the grounds that she faced imminent removal. </p> <p>In Erioth’s case the Home Office accepted that a GP was qualified to comment on a person’s mental health. Earlier this year I attended an appeal at which the Home Office disputed a GP’s competence on mental health—&nbsp;when the diagnosis undermined the Home Office case.</p> <h2>The bigger picture</h2> <p>Hundreds of people from all walks of life, including actor Miriam Margoyles, have now written to the Home Secretary to demand Erioth is released and given the right to an appeal in the UK.&nbsp; </p> <p>This outpouring of compassion is not unusual. We see it every time a woman is able to describe what she has suffered. But what is rarely heard is the voice of women from Africa who put the responsibility squarely with western governments and corporations for why people have to flee in the first place. For that we give the last word to the All African Women’s Group: </p> <p>“We are here because we were imprisoned, raped, starved, our children killed or taken from us under dictatorships and corrupt governments propped up by the West. The UK got rich from colonialism — £7 trillion was stolen from Africa and this theft of wealth and the most precious resource — people — continues to this day. When we arrive in the UK we are treated like beggars and criminals.&nbsp;We are made destitute, put in detention, racially and sexually abused. Politicians blame us for the lack of jobs and housing, the low wages, the strain on schools and the NHS. We didn’t cause austerity. We were its first targets.”</p> <p>For us in Women Against Rape we are motivated by the knowledge that in defending Erioth Mwesigwa we are defending ourselves; we refuse to be divided. Information about how you can write to the Home Secretary to support Erioth can be found <a href="http://womenagainstrape.net/erioth-mwesigwa%E2%80%99s-case-refused-%E2%80%93-more-help-needed">here</a>. Please join us at the demonstration outside the Home Office organised by the All African Women’s Group on Monday 20 February between 4.30 and 5.30pm. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jackie-long/headbutt-bitch-serco-guard-yarl-s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">&#039;Headbutt the bitch&#039; Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/vanessa-munro-sharon-cowan-helen-baillot/rape-and-asylum-claims-credibility-and-constr">Rape and asylum claims: credibility and the construction of vulnerability</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/child-bleeding-anus-interrogation-by-uk-border-agency">A child, a bleeding anus, interrogation by the UK Border Agency</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/lotte-lewis-smith/ghosted-away-uk-s-secret-removal-flights-examined">Ghosted away: UK’s secret removal flights examined</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/barbara-tagged-and-monitored-like-criminal">Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/july-court-rejects-uk-gov-attempt-to-send-transplant-patient-to-her-death">JULY: Court rejects UK gov attempt to send transplant patient to her death — AUGUST: &#039;Free at last&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Sian Evans Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:04:05 +0000 Sian Evans 108921 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The end of domestic violence support for black and brown women in the UK? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/end-of-domestic-violence-support-for-black-and-brow <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Dedicated refuges were created to answer a desperate need. Now their survival is at risk.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p>Balancing her baby daughter on her lap, Leah* sits in a bright room on the top floor of an East London office block. It’s a lively part of town. Newly built luxury flats tower over streets lined with decades-old black beauty shops, one-stop mobile phone stalls. The storefronts of family-run greengrocers are piled high with yams and bowls of okra, peppers and coriander.&nbsp;</p> <p>Leah is waiting to get help and advice from <a href="http://lawadv.org.uk">Latin American Women’s Aid</a>. They’re a small charity challenging violence against women and working with survivors of domestic abuse. They rent three rooms — one for an office, a crèche space for children and a place to see women.</p> <p>Lawa, as the group is widely known, opened in 1986 and they run the only domestic violence refuge for Latin Americans in the UK. Like other refuges and organisations set up in 70s and 80s Britain, they arose from radical women’s rights and anti-racist movements. Domestic violence shelters specifically for black, south-Asian, Chinese, Latin American and other ethnic minority women, now bundled under the term BAME, were founded because these women weren’t getting support from statutory or mainstream places.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersprotest2_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersprotest2_1.jpg" alt="lead lead lead Young woman holds banner. It says: "BME refuges are bridges to safety."" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sisters Uncut block city bridges across the UK ahead of govt. spending statement. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Decades on, by the time the Coalition government made deep cuts in public spending in 2010, many BAME domestic violence organisations, including Lawa, relied on council funding to pay for part, if not all, of what they offered. Bed spaces, English as a second language classes, counselling, childcare, time intensive advice work, court assistance.</p> <p>But in the past six years, cash-strapped local authorities have cut back frontline domestic violence services, diverting money from small specialist providers and awarding contracts to larger organisations making promises to deliver more for less money. </p> <p>Each year Women’s Aid surveys the state of refuge and service provision, each year the numbers are worse and each year brings news of another refuge closed. </p> <p>Then, last month, in response to the worsening crisis, the government released a £20m pot of funding for local authorities to bid for, in partnership with local specialist domestic violence providers. “Domestic abuse knows no barriers,” said Communities Secretary Sajid Javid. “It can happen to anyone of us, at any time. Our £20 million fund is designed to increase refuge spaces and ensure that no victim is ever turned away from the essential support they need.” The government said the fund was “also seeking to address the needs of diverse communities, including BME victims and those from isolated communities, so they can access support and help.”</p> <p>But there’s a problem.</p><hr /><p>It is a Tuesday when Leah visits Lawa’s drop-in session, and already she is dreading the weekend. Leah is 25 and lives in a two-bedroom flat with her husband Gabriel*, her baby and four other adults.</p> <p>Alejandra, one of Lawa’s case workers, sits across from Leah, taking notes at a table between them. </p> <p>Behind Alejandra, there’s a colour photo of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and a poster: “Unity, Strength, Resistance” splashed on red. Across the room Rosie the Riveter has been refashioned into four women: black, Spanish, white and Native American. The caption reads, Si, Se Puede! A Post-it note stuck to a cork noticeboard says, “Hey you don’t give up. Okay.” </p> <p>Leah tells Alejandra that she needs housing advice— that’s the purpose of her visit. But as Alejandra listens, another story emerges.&nbsp; </p> <p>Originally from Guatemala, Leah and Gabriel have lived in the UK for little over a year. Like nearly half of all Latin American migrants in London, Leah’s husband took an unskilled job. He cleans nine hours a day, and earns roughly £1,300 each month. Most weekends he drinks heavily, using alcohol to ease the disappointments of their life in London. </p> <p>Leah smiles and bounces her four-month old daughter on her lap. “He is a good man,” she says. “He is a good dad. It is just that the alcohol makes him aggressive.” </p> <p>Alejandra asks: “Are you frightened?”</p> <p>“No.” Leah shakes her head, still smiling. He is frustrated, she adds, the housing situation is unbearable and the family struggle to survive on his wages. </p> <p>It’s a familiar story to the women running Lawa. Men forced to work long hours in menial, ‘feminised’ jobs, become violent and abusive towards their wives.&nbsp; </p> <p>In Leah’s case the abuse is verbal. Malicious comments, name calling, heated arguments over money. Except the one time he grabbed her by the throat.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersuncutprotest9.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersuncutprotest9.jpg" alt="Protestors walk on Waterloo Bridge carrying large banner. It says, "Give migrant survivors access to D.V services."" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Waterloo Bridge, London. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>Between 2001 and 2011 Britain’s Latin American community grew fourfold. And though Latin Americans are not officially recognised as an ethnic minority, they experience the harassment, employment discrimination and problems that affect other minority groups in the UK. </p> <p>There are high employment rates for Latin Americans in London (85 per cent compared to the average for other foreign-born residents, 55 per cent), but much of that work, around 70 per cent, is concentrated in cleaning, hospitality and catering, despite professional training and experience acquired in their home countries.</p> <p>They face discrimination at work, 11 per cent are illegally paid below the minimum wage and the majority send a significant chunk of their low incomes back home. As with other poor and even middle income households in London, it is impossible to find decent housing, close to the centre where many of them work cleaning corporate buildings.</p> <p>These are the conditions revealed through research by Trust for London in the 2011 report No Longer Invisible. Few Latin Americans in London access public services, the report says, one in five never visit a GP. The restrictions on legal aid for poor migrants means few can get legal advice to regularise their migration status to access the full range of rights citizens receive. Settling into British life is difficult because of the unsociable hours in the typical jobs available, like cleaning and hotel work. English as a second language lessons are most likely to be during work hours or when people need to sleep because they work nights.</p> <p>When a woman in this community faces domestic violence, her experience intersects with the other problems she faces as a disadvantaged minority. The threat of homelessness, poverty, childcare, immigration, language needs, among other things.<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersprotest8_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersprotest8_0.jpg" alt="Young women at protest. Banner says, "Black services for black sisters."" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Around 600 women and non-binary people took part in Sisters Uncut actions in Newcastle, Bristol, Glasgow and London. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <p>This is where Lawa comes in. “The language barrier is almost the smallest issue women face if they go to a generic service,” says Salma, Lawa’s senior development officer. She adds: “The most important thing is that when they come through our doors, they are believed, culturally understood and properly supported, rather than judged and discriminated. BME services play a key role in building a bridge between BME survivors, local services and the wider British society. In our last user survey, 85 per cent of women did not feel confident enough to access mainstream services prior to seeing Lawa.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Lawa has changed over the years as more Latin Americans have arrived in London, mostly from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, and often via Portugal or Spain. As Home Secretary, Theresa May promised to create a hostile environment for migrants, and migrant women fleeing violence were no exception. Many of Lawa’s cases are “European Economic Area cases”, that is Latin American women with an EU passport from Spain or Portugal. Lawa sees women who flee to the UK after some sort of crisis, abuse by a relative or spouse. Or the women might be living in the UK on a spousal visa, linked to their husband’s British/European Economic Area status.</p> <p>In both cases Home Office rules restrict their access to public services, which means they are more likely to be destitute, homeless and vulnerable to exploitation and further violence. Women can apply to have the restriction lifted, but the threshold for proving violence and destitution, thus entitling them to public support, is high. The recent changes to immigration law have created a culture of suspicion among public sector professionals who aren’t always sure what foreign born women are entitled to and so lean towards refusing services or charging for it. </p> <p>One of Alejandra’s clients lives in the UK on a spousal visa. Originally from Colombia, she is married to a British man. He’s ex-Army, has access to guns that he uses to threaten her. She wants to leave, but her spousal visa comes with the condition that she has no recourse to public funds. </p> <p>Alejandra found a bed for her at a shelter that accepts ‘no recourse’ women. She is lucky; there are few such refuges in the country. The next step is securing a non-molestation order to prevent the husband from contacting her. This is expensive — they’ll need legal aid. Even then, it’s a tall order. She’ll need to prove destitution and provide evidence of the domestic violence. This involves gathering and collating GP letters, a marriage certificate, passport, bank statements and evidence from the refuge. If and when legal aid is secure, Alejandra can go ahead and apply for the non-molestation order. All this could take weeks. </p> <p>“Working with women who have no recourse to public funds is tough,” says Victoria, Lawa’s violence against women and girls coordinator. “What happens after the initial help? There are so few places we can send the women to. There aren’t many organisations that work with no recourse women, so we have to do the work ourselves. But we are a small charity with limited capacity and can’t indefinitely support the neediest women with no extra funding.”</p> <p>On the day of Leah’s visit, Victoria is working across the corridor in Lawa’s office on the phone, trying to reach a local GP. Other Lawa staff dash in and out, speaking in Spanish and English, to each other and on the phone to clients. Camilla, Lawa’s counsellor, has just secured a grant to expand the charity’s mental health support next year. Nayane, originally from Brazil, rushes out to help an Angolan woman, who has arrived with letters from the Department for Work &amp; Pensions stopping her grandson’s Disability Living Allowance. She is his sole carer and unsure of what to do next. Nayane gets on the phone to the DWP. </p> <p>Victoria shushes her colleagues as the doctor answers the phone. He wants £20 for a letter explaining the domestic violence Victoria’s client has experienced. “My client has nothing,” Victoria tells me later. “She was totally dependent on her husband.” </p> <p>Without the letter, they might not secure legal aid, which the woman needs to fight her husband in the family courts for custody of their children. In the worst cases women are deported, made homeless or forced to stay with their abusive partner.</p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/SISTERSPROTEST4_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/SISTERSPROTEST4_0.jpg" alt="Protestors shout while walking across Waterloo Bridge. " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"You block our bridges, so we block yours." Rallying cry at feminist direct action protest against cuts to DV services. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <p>More women than ever need help. Lawa can’t keep up. Two years ago, Islington Council stopped funding Lawa’s work. “Since then we have been struggling to balance the books,” says Salma. “We continue to provide the service by going above and beyond, but there is great insecurity. We don’t know how much longer we will be able to provide the service women deserve without additional funding.”</p> <p>About that £20m funding pot from the government. The design and structure of the commissioning process may block access to the groups who serve “BME victims and those from isolated communities”. Groups like Lawa. </p> <p>Earlier this year, research among charities based in London where around 40 per cent of the population is from an ethnic minority, revealed a profound lack of trust in the people who commission services. Imkaan, a black feminist network of violence against women and girls organisations, reported that many of its members felt local commissioners did not recognise the importance and necessity of BAME services. </p> <p>In England last year 662 women were turned away from domestic violence refuges because they had no recourse to public funds, up from 389 the year before. These women would have already been denied access to social housing, benefits or legal advice because of their status. There are no safe places for them to flee to. “The women we work with are victims twice over,” says Victoria. “First of domestic violence and then of the system's refusal to help them.”</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/SISTERSPROTEST7_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/SISTERSPROTEST7_0.jpg" alt="Protestor holds placard. It says, "Trans services for trans survivors are bridges to safety."" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>One of Sisters Uncut demands is comprehensive DV services for all, especially underserved communities of black and brown, disabled and LGBT+ survivors. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><div>In May, MPs held a parliamentary debate about the future of domestic violence refuges. Labour MP Julie Cooper called the debate todiscuss the lack of ring-fenced funding for women’s refuges. Cooper directed her plea to George Osborne, the then Chancellor responsible for orchestrating Conservative spending cuts, said: “At the end of every cut he makes to local authorities, there is a woman who will die, avoidably, at the hands of a man who once promised to love her. Cuts to public spending are creating orphans who could have grown up with parents. I beg the Minister to ensure that this Government do not unravel 40 years of good work. I beg him to listen and to act without delay.”<br /> <p>More than one politician said they feared BAME specialists services would not survive. Sarah Champion, Labour MP, spoke up for Lawa and for Apna Haq, a small domestic violence charity in her own constituency of Rotherham. “Such dedicated services are vital for women,” she said. “They are experts in their provision, designed and delivered by, and for, the users and communities they serve. The women who seek shelter see themselves reflected in the staffing and the management of the services.</p><p>“ … specialist services are trusted by the women who use them. Their presence is known in the community, meaning that women will self-refer, enabling those women to leave a violent relationship because they know that support exists.”</p> <p>But what if that support is taken away?</p><hr /><p><br />Leah’s interview with Alejandra lasted about 25, 30 minutes, long enough to squash any dream of finding a rented flat for just herself, her husband and daughter by in London. “It’s going to be very difficult to find somewhere to live, especially on his wages,” Alejandra said. They might qualify for housing benefit, but they need to find a place to live first and a contract before applying. “It is impossible.” A look on Leah’s face suggests she knew this. She smiled, then more questions. If I go back to Guatemala without telling him? What will happen? And then: I would like to divorce him. A divorce would invalidate her right to remain in the UK. Leah gets up to leave and puts her daughter into her pushchair. She plans to come back to Lawa for the free English lessons. Alejandra has told her about a service in north London for families with drug or alcohol problems, the couple should attend together. If your husband refuses, she says, “Call me.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">When a Man Kills a Woman</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/jeremy-corbyn-and-women-matter-of-policy-not-appointment">Jeremy Corbyn and women: a matter of policy not appointment </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maid-in-london/exposing-daily-violence-of-womens-hotel-work">Exposing the daily violence of women&#039;s hotel work</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/rahila-gupta/assault-on-bme-womens-organisations-in-uk">16 Days: cutting Black and minority ethnic women&#039;s organisations </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rats-in-lunchbox-mould-in-mattress-living-in-squalor-in-london">Rats in the lunchbox, mould in the mattress: living in squalor in London</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight UK Economics Equality Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light 16 Days: activism against gender based violence gender justice Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Tue, 06 Dec 2016 07:30:59 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 107377 at https://www.opendemocracy.net £190K payoff for ex-chief of NHS Trust that failed to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/190k-payoff-for-ex-chief-of-nhs-trust-that-failed-to-investig <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why Katrina Percy had to go.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: left;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/KatrinaPERCYCROP.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/KatrinaPERCYCROP.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="335" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Katrina Percy</span></span></span></p><p style="text-align: left;">In August, Southern Health NHS Trust’s Board invited failed chief executive Katrina Percy to step sideways into a £240,000-a-year job created specially for her. Today, under pressure from the public, patients and families bereaved by the Trust’s neglect, Percy stepped down from that role with a £190,000 payoff.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Percy presided over neglect, cover-up and cronyism at Southern Health. The Trust failed to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths, defamed bereaved families who fought to expose malpractice, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36922039">handed contracts worth millions of pounds</a>&nbsp;to companies owned by Percy’s past associates.</p><p style="text-align: left;">In an agreed statement, Percy said today: “I reflected on the responses to my remaining employed by the Trust working as a regional strategic adviser.&nbsp;After discussing the current situation with colleagues, we have come to the conclusion that it is not possible for me to continue with my work supporting GPs as they develop new ways of working in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Today we republish my piece from April 2016 which revealed that:</p><ul><li>• the Trust knew of failings at least 10 months before a young man called Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in its care;</li><li>• senior management suppressed the fact that <b>before</b> Connor died another patient had drowned <strong>in the same bath</strong>;</li><li>• while Southern Health failed to safeguard Connor Sparrowhawk, staff had devoted time and resources to monitoring his mother’s blog.</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="entry-title">On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death</h2><h2 class="entry-title"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;">A leaked document reveals that an NHS England Trust knew of failings 10 months before a young man died in its care.</span>&nbsp;</h2><p style="text-align: left;">first published 14 April 2016&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connorsparrowhawk_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connorsparrowhawk_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Body">Tuesday morning brought fresh shock to the family of Connor Sparrowhawk, a quirky, funny young man who drowned following a seizure in a bath at an NHS facility nearly three years ago.</p> <p class="Body">On Tuesday Connor’s mother, Sara Ryan, received a copy of a leaked NHS document, dated August 2012, that noted failings at the facility, failings that might have set alarm bells ringing a full 10 months before Connor’s death.</p> <p class="Body">Late last year an inquest jury at Oxford Coroner’s court determined that Connor, who had learning disabilities and epilepsy, had drowned following a seizure in the bath at the Southern Health NHS Trust unit knows as STATT (short-term assessment and treatment team) in Slade House, at Headington, near Oxford. He was 18 years old.</p> <p class="Body">The jury said that Connor’s death, on 4 July 2013, had been “contributed to by neglect”, that there was a lack of training and leadership at the unit and poor communication between staff and the family.</p> <p class="Body">Connor was known to be epileptic, and his mother had warned staff —&nbsp;in writing — that he had an injury to his tongue that suggested a recent seizure. Yet Connor was allowed to bathe unsupervised and behind a closed door. (A support worker at Connor’s inquest said she used a key to open the door which suggests it was locked.)</p> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Justicequilt-6.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Justicequilt-6.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor with his stepdad, Rich, and brothers Owen and Tom 2 weeks before his death (Sara Ryan)</span></span></span></p><p class="Body">The document leaked this week, dated 22nd August 2012 and headed “Quality and Safety Review Update”, suggests that Southern Health NHS Foundation was aware of failings at the unit 10 months before Connor died and three months before they officially took over the provision in November 2012.</p> <p class="Body">Among detailed criticisms of the short term assessment unit, the document notes a “lack of clarity” in patient care plans. It was “difficult to track care for patients, identify the reason for admission”.</p> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3southernhealthconnorcollage.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3southernhealthconnorcollage.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Extracts from document dated 22 August 2012</span></span></span>The move of information onto an electronic record system (known as RiO) was “limited”. The document identified “a gap between what is up to date in paper form and what is now being recorded on the RiO.”</p> <p class="Body">(Or rather, it noted: there “seems to be a gap”. Either there was or there wasn’t a gap. The lack of clarity and rigour in the document itself is revealing).</p> <p class="Body">Clinical team meetings, held each week, lacked information. Staff were aware that there had been an audit of care plans on the RiO system, but “they were not aware of any results or action plans to make improvements”.</p> <p class="Body">There were concerns about cleanliness, maintenance and repairs, particularly in the bathrooms “where floors, tiles and units are worn or damaged.” And: “Some items such as broken floor tiles would represent a risk, particularly if a patient might self harm.” </p> <p class="Body"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Connor’s brother Tom</a>, now 16 years old, read the leaked document on Tuesday. He said: “This latest news is really sad. It’s not like they were crap because they didn’t check what they were doing. They checked and they didn’t care.”</p><p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/68257_10151094198400957_865874159_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/68257_10151094198400957_865874159_n.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="339" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor and his brother Tom (Sara Ryan)</span></span></span></p> <p class="Body">This is only the latest in a series of shocking discoveries for Connor’s family, who were initially informed by Southern Health that he had died of “natural causes”.</p> <p class="Body">Connor’s mother Sara Ryan has recorded <a href="https://mydaftlife.com/category/laughing-boy-tales/">on her blog</a> that during the inquest “the big shocker (and there were several)” was the revelation on Day 4 that a patient had died in 2006 in the same bath in which Connor drowned.</p> <p class="Body">Ryan wrote: “The Responsible Clinician let it be known, through her counsel, that she had been actively discouraged by members of . .&nbsp; senior management from raising the issue of this earlier death. In the same bath . . . Ground spinning stuff.”</p> <p>In the aftermath of Connor’s death, and in response to his family’s relentless campaigning, NHS England commissioned an audit of deaths at Southern Health from the audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars. </p> <p>Their report, published in December last year (there’s a PDF <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf">here</a>), found that Southern had failed to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths, and that the likelihood of a death being investigated depended heavily on the patient’s profile. Deaths of learning disabled people were least likely to be investigated. When investigations <em>were</em> carried out, said Mazars: “There was a very poor quality of written investigations at all stages.”</p> <p>Mazars wrote: “A culture across the Trust has developed that means there was an absence of mortality review in Mental Health and Learning Disability which results in lost learning, a lack of transparency when care and delivery problems occur as well as a lack of assurance to families and commissioners that a death was not avoidable and has been properly investigated.”</p> <p>The morning after Connor’s death, according to an internal document dated 5 July 2013, Southern Health took the trouble to note “potential media interest” in the incident. That document holds yet another disturbing revelation. The Trust that so thoroughly failed to safeguard Connor Sparrowhawk had, for months, devoted time and resources to monitoring his mother’s blog.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Cf7zRVyWwAA6J0o.jpg-large blue.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Cf7zRVyWwAA6J0o.jpg-large blue.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;</p> <h2>Notes</h2> <ul><li>• Sara Ryan blogged throughout Connor’s time at Slade House and has continued to do so since Connor’s death.&nbsp;<a href="http://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/">Here is her blog</a>.</li><li>• Connor Sparrowhawk’s family is supported by the charity <a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/">INQUEST</a>, and represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Charlotte Haworth of Bindmans solicitors.</li><li>• Details of the Care Quality Commission inspection report of December 2013 can be found&nbsp;<a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/media/news/care-quality-commission-damning-report-on-unit-where-connor-sparrowhawk">here</a>.</li><li>• The Verita report, commissioned by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which confirms&nbsp;that the Connor’s death could have been prevented,&nbsp;can be found&nbsp;<a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news/report-into-death-sparrowhawk/">here</a>, along with a statement of regret from Southern Health’s chief executive Katrina Percy. (February 2014)</li><li>• The Mazars review: Independent review of deaths of people with a Learning Disability or Mental Health problem in contact with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust April 2011 to March 2015 <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf">PDF here</a>. (December 2015)</li></ul> <p class="Body">&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Since my brother’s preventable death . . .</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Fri, 07 Oct 2016 17:34:46 +0000 Clare Sambrook 105831 at https://www.opendemocracy.net England’s bonfire of children’s rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/england-s-bonfire-of-children-s-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new bill threatens decades of carefully drafted laws designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in care.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MIRROR FRONT PAGE-14feb1945 CROP.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MIRROR FRONT PAGE-14feb1945 CROP.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="296" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Daily Mirror front page 14 February 1945</span></span></span></p><p>Twelve year-old Dennis O’Neill was pronounced dead on the afternoon of 9 January 1945. A <a href="http://www.thetcj.org/child-care-history-policy/the-monckton-report-by-sir-william-monckton">public inquiry by Sir Walter Monckton</a> reported the coroner’s finding that the child had suffered “acute cardiac failure following violence applied to the front of his chest and back while in a state of under-nourishment”. </p><p>Dennis had been seen once in six months by a local authority clerk, who recorded after her visit that he looked ill and frightened and kept his eyes to the ground when answering questions. </p><p>The coroner criticised the lack of local authority supervision. Foster carers Reginald and Esther Gough were convicted of manslaughter and neglect respectively. Terence O’Neill, aged 11, told the court of the starvation and beatings he and his brother endured, and recounted how Dennis had sometimes been so desperately hungry he would suck milk from a cow’s teat when the Goughs weren’t looking. </p> <p>In 1946, rules were introduced requiring six-monthly reviews of children in foster care. The duty to monitor individual well-being and progress was later extended to those living in children’s homes, with the requirement to take into account the child’s views added in 1991. </p><p>After sustained judicial concern, Parliament passed legislation in 2002 to make local authorities appoint independent persons to lead the review process. Independent reviewing officers must be qualified and experienced social workers and their statutory role includes checking the local authority has informed the children they look after about their rights to make a complaint and access support from an advocate, and helping the child obtain legal advice; they are also duty-bound to consider referring a child’s case to Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) when a local authority is failing to meet its legal obligations.</p><h2>Bonfire of children’s rights</h2> <p>Now, decades of carefully drafted laws designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in care are under threat of demolition.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-public-bill-office/2016-17/compared-bills/Children-and-Social-Work-AAGC-tracked-changes-version.pdf">Children and Social Work Bill</a>, which reaches Report Stage in the Lords next month, contains an extreme measure to absolve local authorities of virtually all of their duties towards vulnerable children. More than 80 years of legislation is affected, encompassing child protection, family support and services to children in care, disabled children and care leavers.</p> <p>A fast-track procedure will enable local authorities, individuals appointed by ministers, and the education secretary herself, to seek exemptions from duties for up to six years. Parliament will have the chance to block orders, though constitutional convention means this is highly unlikely: the <a href="http://blog.hansardsociety.org.uk/delegated-legislation-frequently-asked-questions/">Hansard Society reports only 0.01 per cent of all statutory instruments have been rejected since 1965</a>. Exemption orders will apply to one or more councils, leading to the fragmentation of child welfare law for the first time. Children in neighbouring towns and cities will have different rights. Siblings placed apart could be subject to different legal protection.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/duty not put aside CROP_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/duty not put aside CROP_2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="223" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Daily Mirror, May 1945, quoting from the Monckton report</span></span></span></p> <p>No evidence has been offered to show that legislation stifles effective children’s services. On the contrary, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/535043/Childrens_services_spending_delivery_report_Aldaba_EIF_July_2016.pdf">research for the department for education</a>&nbsp; discovered, unsurprisingly, that statutory duties had helped to shield services in the face of severe government cuts.&nbsp;<span>The researchers wrote: “statutory responsibilities limited the choices that local councils had available to achieve savings”.</span></p> <p>Exemptions will test whether “better outcomes under children’s social care legislation” can be achieved, or the same results reached “more efficiently”.</p> <p>Isabelle Trowler, the country’s chief social worker for children and families, urges the bill’s many critics to <a href="http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1158130/adcs-conference-trowler-defends-social-work-bill-%E2%80%98exemption%E2%80%99-clause">“warm up a bit”</a> and claims “this is not some kind of sinister political plot to overthrow public authorities or a ruse to wipe out decades of children’s rights”. She’s avoided the head-scratching question, though, which is: how can legal duties work better for children when they no longer exist?</p> <p>Like Trowler, schools minister Lord Nash claims that independent reviewing officers are not necessary in every child’s case. <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2016-07-11/debates/1607127000561/ChildrenAndSocialWorkBill(HL)">The minister has gone so far as to state that only around 20 of 400 children looked after by North Yorkshire County Council “require regular in-depth reviews”.</a> Latest government statistics show that a third of children looked after by this council who completed a psychological well-being assessment were a cause for concern. That’s 74 children. Borderline scores were reached by a further 38. The <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2014-to-2015">official spreadsheets</a> reveal that 255 children are subject to full care orders, meaning a court in each case found the child had suffered (or was likely to suffer) significant harm. Every way you look, the proposition that 95 per cent of looked after children in this local authority can do without full reviews lacks credibility. </p> <p>The same civil servants who briefed the minister will presumably have responsibility for sifting exemption applications, should the legislation pass. They have not shown themselves to be rigorous.</p> <p>Schools were given the ‘power to innovate’ in 2002 but only 32 exemptions were made in seven years and 97 per cent of institutions managed without them. The department for education reflected some years later that schools <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/346932/Powers_to_Facilitate_Innovation-2006.pdf">“often discover that the Power is rarely needed as the necessary freedoms and flexibilities already exist”.</a> Legislation was not a barrier to creativity, after all.</p><h2>Deregulation without consultation</h2><p> Unlike exemptions from education law, the bill before parliament empowers Whitehall to spearhead social care deregulation, independent of the wishes of local communities, children’s services professionals or councillors. Individuals sent by ministers into struggling local authorities will be able to seek exemptions after consulting locally. No such consultation duties are ascribed to the secretary of state or her nominated person. The children’s commissioner for England and Ofsted’s chief inspector will be asked their views prior to the drafting of regulations removing duties, but without any power to halt the process and there is no requirement to publish their advice. </p> <p>Moreover, there is a large question mark hanging over the appropriateness of such a task for the children’s commissioner, whose <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/31/section/2">primary statutory function is to promote and protect children’s rights</a>.</p><p> Education exemptions may have proven to be unnecessary, but they were followed by Michael Gove’s free schools programme. Since legislation was passed in 2010 all schools in England can apply to become academies, which are independent of local authorities and receive their funding direct from central government. Weeks before Justine Greening MP was appointed new education secretary, her predecessor was forced to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36227570">backtrack on the government’s plan to compel every school in the country to become an academy by 2022</a>.</p> <p>A vision for children’s social care, published in July, declares the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/535732/Putting_Children_First_-_delivering_our_vision_for_excellent_children_s_social_care.pdf">government’s ambition that more than a third of local authorities will be delivering (or preparing to deliver) their children’s services through a trust or other legal entity by 2020</a>.</p> <p>Are children’s legal entitlements to care and protection collateral damage in an ideological project to remove children’s services from local council control? You don’t have to believe in sinister plots to ask this question.</p><h2>Who needs social workers?&nbsp;</h2><p> The level of risk involved in deregulating social care is exponentially higher than in education. It interferes with human rights in a way that tinkering with school rules doesn’t. The most frequent type of education exemption involved a slight modification to the school day. Deregulation plans being mooted in social care include withdrawing independent reviewing officers and disbanding panels that provide vital safeguards in fostering and adoption.</p> <p>There has even been the suggestion that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2016/jul/18/children-and-social-work-bill-workforce-services">children in foster care could manage without social workers</a>.</p> <p>The law as it stands requires that children who have lived in a foster home for 12 months or more can be visited by a social worker as little as twice a year, with the child’s agreement. This skeleton service was made possible through regulations introduced last year, which slashed the minimum number of yearly visits from four to two. Exemptions could reduce this to nil.</p><p> Andy Elvin, chief executive of TACT fostering and adoption charity, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2016/jul/18/children-and-social-work-bill-workforce-services">says he would like to pilot</a> children in long-term foster care not having their own social worker, when this accords with the child’s wishes.</p> <p>I spent 12 years working directly with children in care and the most common refrain about social workers was that they didn’t visit often enough. One girl persisted to the highest level of the council’s complaints procedure in order to have a female social worker. She told me she had lost trust in men after being raped in her family, so she hardly spoke to her male social worker. Eventually the local authority was forced to do the right thing. (In case you’re wondering, the right to make a complaint could be exempted too).
</p> <p>Allowing a competent child to decide not to have a social worker could be construed as progressive and respectful. But this presupposes social workers have the time and the inclination to be constantly visiting children who don’t need their help. This just doesn’t happen. Moreover, Elvin’s trial of a handful of children in an area not having their own social worker (foster carers would still have one) would be so dependent upon individual circumstances, that the results would not be transferable to the wider population of looked after children. </p><h2>We must do better</h2><p> Those children who have had very poor experiences of social workers may, understandably, want nothing more to do with them. We can, and must, do better for children in these situations. As Elvin’s charity states in its <a href="http://tactcare.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/TACT_children_guide_to_foster_care.pdf">guide for children</a>, social workers “make sure you are OK, so you should think of them as someone who is there to help you”. The charity’s <a href="https://www.tactcare.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/TACT_yp_guide.pdf">advice to young people</a> is: “Please let your social worker know if you think someone is taking away any of your rights”.<br /> <br /> Children may fear electing to hold onto their social worker will be perceived by carers as an act of disloyalty or ingratitude. A small number could be punished for such a decision. <a href="https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/evaluation-of-services/keeping-children-safe-report.pdf">Research undertaken for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children</a> found that each local authority in England has an average of three confirmed cases of child abuse in foster care every year, slightly higher than in residential care. </p><p>Post-Savile, we should be doing everything possible to safeguard children who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to speak out about abuse. Rather than stripping back the law, it would be in children’s interests to focus energies on developing the skills and approaches of social workers, so the minimum two visits a year are experienced as helpful and enjoyable by all children. Putting the onus on children to ‘choose’ whether or not to have this basic safeguard is a betrayal of adult responsibility.</p><p>So too is branding deregulation as innovation, and pretending vulnerable children will get more with less. Social care exemptions are a unilateral break with the postwar professional and political consensus that vulnerable children need the law behind them. They require us to abandon lessons learnt from past inquiries and investigations into institutional abuse and the necessity of robust, universal safeguards. In concluding his four-month inquiry into the death of Dennis O’Neill, Monckton observed: “the duty to be sure in the care of children must not be put aside&nbsp;however great may be the pressure of other burdens”.</p> <p>This radical legislation was drafted in haste, without public consultation or manifesto pledge.</p> <p>Article 39 is a small charity set up in 2015 to promote and protect the rights of children living in institutional settings. We have joined forces with nearly 40 leading organisations and individual experts to reject this part of the Bill, which is to be debated again in the Lords in October 2016. Then the legislation goes to the Commons, though officials are already assessing proposals for exemptions. Now is the time to voice concerns loudly and clearly. Education secretary Justine Greening, appointed in July 2016, had nothing to do with drafting this Bill. We have to hope she will very soon disown this part of it.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Carolyne Willow has created a 38 Degrees petition <a href="https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-the-rights-of-vulnerable-children-and-care-leavers?">here: Protect the rights of vulnerable children and care leavers</a>.<br /></em></p><p><em>Keep up-to-date on the Bill, and add your name to those opposing the exemption Clauses, via the ‘<a href="https://togetherforchildren.wordpress.com/">Together for Children’</a> site.</em></p><p><em>Find the Monckton Report in two parts <a href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/174364/response/444024/attach/3/Monckton%20Report%20Part%201%20of%202.pdf">here</a> and <a href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/174364/response/444024/attach/html/4/Monckton%20Report%20Part%202%20of%202.pdf.html">here</a>: <em>Report by Sir Walter Monckton KCMG KCVO MC KC on the circumstances which led to the boarding out of Dennis and Terence O’Neill at Bank Farm, Minsterly and the steps taken to supervise their welfare,</em>&nbsp;Home Office, May 1945.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 29 Sep 2016 07:48:36 +0000 Carolyne Willow 105591 at https://www.opendemocracy.net G4S: Don't blame us — blame the prison system https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-roberts/g4s-dont-blame-us-blame-prison-system <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An activist reports from G4S annual general meeting, Surrey, England, 26 May 2016.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**G4Slogo Securing your worldCROP.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**G4Slogo Securing your worldCROP.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Throughout the criminal justice system, combinations of state bodies and voluntary sector organisations have increasingly been joined by private sector companies to manage and deliver services. Academics and activists have labelled this expanding marketplace as the “<a href="http://www.prisonabolition.org/what-is-the-prison-industrial-complex/" target="_blank">prison industrial complex</a>”.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.prisonabolition.org/what-is-the-prison-industrial-complex/" target="_blank">Empty Cages Collective</a>&nbsp;describe the prison industrial complex as not just prisons, but the “mutually reinforcing web of relationships, between and not limited to, for example, prisons, the probation service, the police, the courts, all the companies that profit from transporting, feeding and exploiting prisoners”.</p> <p>Globally the prison industrial complex is a multi-billion pound industry that draws together private and government interests. It profits from using policing, prisons and punishment as a response to social, political and economic problems. It is a self-perpetuating system targeting the poor, people of colour and those most vulnerable to detainment, such as those experiencing mental health, drug or alcohol problems. It reinforces and recreates inequalities, ensuring there is an endless supply of people to feed into the criminal justice system.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <h2><strong>G4S: “Securing your world”</strong></h2> <p>One of the private companies involved in the prison industrial complex is G4S, currently drawing international scrutiny as the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is-one-of-t">employer of Florida shooter Omar Mateen</a> who slaughtered 49 people in an LGBT night club on Sunday 12 June. </p><p>A company with more than 600,000 employees across 110 countries, G4S boasts that it is “securing your world”. Their <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/">website</a> outlines the range of services they operate in the UK, including children’s services, custodial and detention, electronic monitoring, immigration and borders, policing support services and health. <span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*G4S ORLANDO-extra stories_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*G4S ORLANDO-extra stories_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>openDemocracyUK front page Monday 13 June 2016</span></span></span><br /></span></p> <p>G4S has drawn significant negative publicity and criticism over recent years. Throughout 2015/2016 there has been a steady flow of official reports and media exposés highlighting reasons to be concerned about the company’s services. </p> <p>In May 2015, Ofsted, the regulator for education and children’s services, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-%E2%80%98degrading-treatment%E2%80%99-by-guards-high-on-">released a report</a> on Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre revealing that young people in the care of G4S were subjected to “racist comments”, “degrading treatment”, “while being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs”. </p> <p>In June 2015, <a href="https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/resources/ongoing-electronic-tagging-scandal">it was revealed</a> that the Ministry of Justice were still paying G4S and Serco to deliver electronic tagging, more than a year after they withdrew from such contracts after “overbilling”. </p> <p>In January 2016, a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">BBC Panorama documentary revealed</a> serious abuse at Medway Secure Training Centre that led to the suspension and arrest of G4S staff. This was followed by an announcement in February that they would be withdrawing from youth justice services in the UK and US.</p> <p>In May 2016 I attended the G4S Annual General Meeting as a shareholder, along with other members of the <a href="https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com">Reclaim Justice Network</a>. This is the third consecutive year our members have attended. The goal was to ask the G4S board of directors about the company’s role in criminal justice services.</p> <p>No electronic items were allowed into the meeting, making reporting of the questions and answers, difficult. There were a number of campaigners from <a href="http://www.waronwant.org/g4s">War on Want</a> and the BDS movements, among others, raising concerns about G4S’s services in Israel. What follows here is a summary of some of the questions raised by Reclaim Justice Network members in relation to G4S’s criminal justice operations in the UK.</p> <p>The AGM took place at the Holiday Inn in Sutton. The room was lined by around twelve uniformed G4S security guards. The front row was packed with what seemed to be G4S staff. They were joined by various individuals in “plain clothes”, wearing badges marked with “Security”.</p> <p>John Connolly, G4S’s Chairman, opened the meeting – offering a polite, yet strong warning that anyone who disrupted the meeting would be asked to stop and then asked to leave. During his opening remarks, people around the room took turns to chant “Action”, “Not words”. And “Shut”, “Them”, “All”, “Down”.</p> <h2><strong>Medway &amp; Rainsbrook</strong></h2> <p>The first shareholder question was from a man representing a large pension fund with investments in G4S. He raised concerns about the use of excessive force as seen at Medway Secure Training Centre in an undercover BBC Panorama documentary. He asked whether such incidents would affect the value of investments and if it had directly impacted upon directors’ remuneration.</p> <p>In response, John Connolly, who last year took £370,000 in fees and benefits in his part-time job as G4S chairman, said there was a “rigorous process” for assessing the senior management team. </p><p>Ashley Almanza, the G4S chief executive, followed on, stating the contract had now come to an end after an agreement with the Ministry of Justice that it would not be extended.&nbsp;</p><p>Almanza, who took £2.5 million in pay and bonuses last year, said the BBC Panorama documentary had been “appalling” and “shocking”. He claimed there were “rigorous methods” for recruiting staff and it had been “deeply disappointing”. </p><p>He defended the services in Medway and Rainsbrook secure training centres, pointing out both had achieved either “good” or “outstanding” inspections. Almanza said that lessons had been learned from Medway and shared across the whole prison estate.</p> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="225" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'All I asked you to do was clean this fucking door and you aint!' G4S Medway officer to boy, age 14 (BBC Panorama)</span></span></span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>One shareholder raised the issue of the restraint of children at Medway, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">as revealed by Panorama</a>, and asked what G4S is doing to remedy the harms experienced. Almanza said that it was important to understand the distinction between restraint techniques developed and approved by government – and “individuals ignoring policy and training”.</p> <p>He said that Medway offered a “learning point for everyone involved and across the UK”, as after Panorama’s revelations, “methods have changed”. Almanza said that G4S want to work with the government to improve safety and mentioned the trialing of body-worn cameras.</p> <p>In later questioning Almanza also emphasised that the company had withdrawn from all “juvenile custody” services in both the UK and USA. He was asked a number of times for clarification on the reasons for this withdrawal but seemed reluctant to offer a direct response — or accept any connection to the incidents at Medway. He eventually said that the company wants to focus on areas they believe they can do the “best job” to “benefit our shareholders”.</p> <p>The board was asked if there were any other outstanding and undisclosed investigations into the behaviour of staff in relation to the treatment of children and young people in secure training centres and children’s homes. Almanza said that he was not aware of any “government investigations”. &nbsp;</p> <p>The shareholder asked again, whether G4S knew of any ongoing and undisclosed investigations into G4S staff behaviour towards children. Almanza responded that it was difficult to say given the number of people they are dealing with and can’t necessarily be aware of all incidents. </p> <p>The shareholder again asked for confirmation: “So, to be clear, shareholders are unlikely to hear further revelations about this kind of thing?” He said that a “hotline” has been set up for staff to report any concerning behaviour, but as this is a new process, he did not have figures.</p> <p>On 8 June 2016, just a couple of weeks after Almanza’s response, <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2016/06/08/Medway%20Secure%20Training%20Centre/">a statement from G4S</a> confirmed that five more G4S staff from Medway STC had been charged by Kent police.</p> <h2>Not G4S prisons, just run by G4S</h2> <p>A question was posed on the right to life, on self-harm and self-inflicted deaths in G4S prisons. A shareholder highlighted that <a href="http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/exposed-alarming-self-harm-rates-suicides-8599851">6 people had died in HMP Altcourse</a> and in 2013 there were more than 900 recorded incidents of self-harm. The shareholder asked whether this “tragic pattern” indicated a failure in the duty of care for human beings.</p> <p>Almanza emphasised that these are not G4S prisons, and that they are owned by the Ministry of Justice. “G4S runs them,” he said, “with oversight from government”. Almanza said that self-harm and deaths in custody are experienced across the prison estate. He said that all members of the board have visited G4S run prisons, and boasted that “you as shareholders would be impressed by the way staff run the prisons”. They are “difficult environments” to work in and he emphasised the “skill of staff”. Almanza said the company will look to continue to reduce self-harm in prisons.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/securing injustice.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/securing injustice.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Activist artwork</span></span></span></p><p>The same shareholder then detailed how at a public meeting in February 2016, attended by around 80 people, they had heard a G4S prison custody officer detailing the alleged response by staff to a prisoner who had attempted to take their own life by burning themselves through lighting matches around their clothing. Almanza asked for “evidence”. He said “our facilities are inspected continuously” and said the shareholder had “made a serious allegation” – “provide us with evidence and we will investigate”.</p> <p>The shareholder in question, Dr David Scott, spoke to Ashley Almanza and John Connolly after the meeting. They invited him to put his concerns in writing which he did so the same week. He is yet to receive a reply, but <a href="https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/g4s-a-global-leader-in-human-rights/">you can read his letter here</a>. It eloquently outlines very important issues relating to G4S commitment to human rights. Scott also asks that “G4S undertake a thorough investigation into the treatment and response of staff to prisoners who self-harm, experience mental health problems and / or experience or have acted upon suicidal ideation”.</p><h2>Electronic tags and 'overbilling'</h2><p>The questioning then moved onto electronic monitoring and G4S overbilling the Ministry of Justice. Almanza said it was important to understand that electronic monitoring services covered the “tracking of products and goods”. He said they will continue to offer it for prisoners as well as for goods and look for new markets. I didn’t note the exact wording but I remember feeling very uncomfortable at the implication that prisoners were simply “goods” to be tracked and monitored.</p> <h2><br />Human rights</h2> <p>One shareholder highlighted G4S’s claim to be a leading company when it came to human rights. She asked what assurances the Board could provide that human rights and civil liberties are a priority — and asked what individual members of the Board are specifically doing to protect human rights and civil liberties.</p> <p>Clare Spottiswoode (a non executive director and chair of the G4S Corporate Social Responsibility Committee who takes £81,500 per year for her part-time G4S job) was invited to respond by John Connolly. She said that “human rights are central to our work” and that the company aims to “spread good human rights work wherever we go”.</p> <p>Shareholder, David Scott who had raised a number of questions about the company’s commitment and record on human rights, asked whether G4S could guarantee a focus on human rights in next year’s annual report. Almost two hours into the meeting, John Connolly, said yes, they would take that as a recommendation from the meeting and consider conducting a human rights audit.</p> <p><span>After two hours of shareholder questions, the chairman then attempted to bring the meeting to a close. At this point a number of shareholders, who had largely posed questions on G4S’s role in Israel, began to shout and disrupt the proceedings. One by one, people were dragged out by the G4S security staff.</span></p> <p>The first person removed from the meeting was a man shouting “shut down Yarl’s Wood” — referring to the notorious Bedfordshire detention centre run by Serco where G4S has provided health service since September 2014.</p><p>Following him, a woman in the process of being carried from the room had some of her clothes pulled from her body. Two other women who objected to this were escorted out. Another man was then dragged out, grabbing empty chairs as they removed him while shouting “you are all complicit in the worst human rights violations”.</p> <p>As the chairman read out the resolutions to be voted on, we could all clearly hear the same man chanting “G4S, shame on you” from outside the door.</p> <h2>Who is to blame?</h2> <p>The meeting was enlightening and frustrating. Clear answers were rarely provided by G4S to what were very direct questions from shareholders. The chairman, John Connolly, referred nearly all questions to Ashley Almanza. With the exception of Clare Spottiswoode, the rest of the board sat in almost complete silence. Staring at the room or down at their paperwork, I couldn’t work out whether this was boredom or embarrassment. They certainly appeared uncomfortable. When a shareholder challenged them on this — asking why no one else on the Board was asking questions&nbsp;— they continued to sit in silence.</p> <p>The key message from Almanza on questions relating to safety in prisons, deaths in custody, self-harm and the use of restraint was that they are part of wider problems in the criminal justice system. On one level, he is right — prisons are damaging institutions, no matter who runs them. However, it also felt like he was trying to avoid responsibility and evade blame for a catalogue of serious issues raised by shareholders.</p> <p>This prison industrial complex captures people. It punishes them. It damages people, their families and communities. It spits them back out. G4S and other companies are complicit in this – they do the dirty work of government whilst turning a profit. People are not “goods” to be transported, imprisoned and monitored. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is">British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-suspends-5-staff-over-alleged-attempts-to-massage-999-res">G4S suspends 5 staff over alleged attempts to massage 999 response figures</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/ruth-hopkins/g4s-abuses-in-south-african-prison-still-ignored">G4S abuses in South African prison still ignored</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/nice-work-g4s-wins-118-million-guant-namo-contract">Nice work: G4S wins $118 million Guantánamo contract </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/ellie-butt/g4s-serco-fraud-oops-we-couldnt-tell-difference-between-right-and-wrong">G4S &amp; Serco fraud: Oops, we couldn&#039;t tell the difference between right and wrong</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">G4S guard bludgeoned woman to death</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/concealment-and-trickery-thats-g4s-childrens-homes">Concealment and trickery - that&#039;s G4S children&#039;s homes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Roberts Tue, 14 Jun 2016 12:30:00 +0000 Rebecca Roberts 102874 at https://www.opendemocracy.net British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li>• Omar Mateen, who killed 50 people in gay nightclub, was employed as armed guard by G4S.</li><li>• G4S guards have killed before.</li><li>• Company sells its expertise in vetting staff.</li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo 2009 RGB JPG_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo 2009 RGB JPG_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="292" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The international security company G4S <a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2016/06/12/Statement%20on%20Omar%20Mateen/">has confirmed that Omar Mateen</a>, who slaughtered 50 people in the Pulse LGBT nightclub, was one of their employees.</p> <p>“We are deeply shocked by this tragic event,” said the company's North America CEO John Kenning after the Orlando nightclub killings. “We can confirm that Omar Mateen had been employed by G4S since September 10th, 2007. Mateen was off-duty at the time of the incident. He was employed at a gated retirement community in South Florida.</p><p>“Mateen underwent company screening and background checks when he was recruited in 2007 and the check revealed nothing of concern. His screening was repeated in 2013 with no findings.<br /><br />“We are cooperating fully with all law enforcement authorities, including the FBI, as they conduct their investigations. In 2013, we learned that Mateen had been questioned by the FBI but that the enquiries were subsequently closed. We were not made aware of any alleged connections between Mateen and terrorist activities, and were unaware of any further FBI investigations.<br /><br />“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of this unspeakable tragedy, and their friends and families.”</p> <p>G4S claims expertise in vetting and screening employees: “A robust employee screening programme helps organisations minimise the risk of making inappropriate recruitment decisions,” G4S <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/What%20we%20do/Services/Investigative%20services/Screening%20and%20vetting%20services/">tells potential customers</a>. “We have a wealth of experience in developing and implementing background checks and security clearance for companies in the private and public sector.”</p> <p>But time and again racist, misogynist and otherwise dangerous people have slipped through the company’s own screening process and been given power over vulnerable people. Repeatedly the company’s readiness to act in response to warnings has been found wanting.</p> <h2>Khanokporn Satjawat —&nbsp;murdered by G4S guard, November 2012 &nbsp;</h2> <p>In November 2012 a 42 year-old pharmaceutical worker from Thailand took part in a conference about HIV treatment&nbsp;at&nbsp;Glasgow’s&nbsp;Clyde Auditorium. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">Her name was&nbsp;Khanokporn Satjawat</a>. A G4S guard checked&nbsp;Satjawat’s&nbsp;ID. He didn’t like her manner. Later he followed her into the toilets and bludgeoned her to death with a fire extinguisher.</p> <p>At the High Court in Glasgow in October 2013, Clive Carter was found guilty of Khanokporn Satjawat’s murder. <a href="http://news.stv.tv/west-central/246102-clive-carter-has-been-found-guilty-of-murdering-secc-delegate/">The court heard</a> that the huge&nbsp;G4S guard (six foot five)&nbsp;tended to become enraged when women contradicted him. In a police interview his wife described the&nbsp;35 year-old&nbsp;as “violent and manipulative”.&nbsp;His GP had referred him for anger management counselling.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Khanokporn Satjawat_5_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Khanokporn Satjawat_5_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="238" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Khanokporn Satjawat</span></span></span>A few days before the killing, Carter had knocked on a woman’s door at the Holiday Inn Express hotel,&nbsp;carrying a fire extinguisher and&nbsp;claiming there had been a report of a fire.</p> <p>In response to my questions after the murder verdict, a G4S spokesperson said:</p> <p>“Clive Carter passed screening in May 2010, following receipt of two employment references and two character references. He had a Security Industry Authority license and therefore went through Home Office screening including a criminal record check.”</p> <p>The company went on:</p> <p>“His instability only became apparent after the murder . . . The incident at the Holiday Inn was not reported to G4S and only came to our attention during the trial. Had we received any complaint concerning him at that time, we would have immediately launched an investigation and if necessary suspended him from duty whilst that investigation was underway.”</p> <p>But G4S’s readiness to act in response to warnings of risk has repeatedly been found wanting.</p> <h2>Jimmy Mubenga unlawfully killed by G4S guards, October 2010&nbsp;</h2> <p>In July 2013 in London an inquest jury found that G4S guards had unlawfully killed Jimmy Mubenga during an attempted deportation in October 2010. Jimmy Mubenga was a healthy 46 year old and the father of five children.</p> <p>After the killing, on a British Airways plane at London’s Heathrow airport, police checks on guards’ mobile phones revealed <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">numerous racist texts that were extremely offensive</a>.&nbsp;Assistant deputy coroner Karon Monaghan QC said that the quality and number of racist texts, and the fact that they were circulated widely among G4S guards, suggested not a couple of “rotten apples” but evidence of “a more pervasive racism within G4S”. [<a href="http://inquest.gn.apc.org/pdf/reports/Mubenga_R43.pdf">PDF here</a>]</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MUBENGA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MUBENGA.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="240" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jimmy Mubenga</span></span></span></p><p>The coroner wrote: “For example, one message read as follows: ‘fuck off and go home you free-loading, benefit grabbing, kid producing, violent, non-English speaking cock suckers and take those hairy faced, sandal wearing, bomb making, goat fucking, smelly rag&nbsp;head bastards with you.’”</p><p>The <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">racist texts were withheld from jurors</a> who found three G4S guards not guilty of manslaughter in December 2014.&nbsp;</p> <p>G4S, among other UK government contractors, had for years been warned about the dangers of excessive force and guards’ racist abuse, most resoundingly in a dossier compiled by medics and lawyers entitled <a href="http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/about/mj-reports/411-qoutsourcing-abuseq-report-140708.html">Outsourcing Abuse</a>, published by the charity Medical Justice in July 2008, more than two years before the killing of Jimmy Mubenga.</p> <h2>G4S man Danny Fitzsimons kills 2, August 2009</h2> <p>Another G4S employee approved by the company’s screening process was Danny Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper passed fit for work in Iraq while he was on bail for firearms offences and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.</p> <p>Ahead of Fitzsimons’s deployment in 2009, a fellow worker <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-19730387">sent a series of emails</a> warning G4S about the man’s instability.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public,” wrote the whistleblower, signing one email “a concerned member of the public and father”.</p> <p>Another email warned:</p> <p>“Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust. I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”</p> <p>Within 36 hours of arriving in Baghdad’s Green Zone in August 2009, Fitzsimons had shot and killed fellow security contractors Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare.</p> <p>In 2011 the Karkh Criminal Court of Iraq sentenced him to life in prison for the murders.</p> <p>His parents said <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/feb/28/danny-fitzsimons-jailed-iraq-murders">he was suffering from PTSD</a> and should never have been employed in a war zone.</p> <p>Clive Stafford Smith, <a href="http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/2011_02_28dannyfitzsimonslifeimprisonment/">director of the charity Reprieve</a>, said:</p> <p>“If G4S had done the proper checks and risk assessments when Danny applied to work with them, they would have quickly seen that he was suffering from serious PTSD, a consequence of loyally serving his country. Instead they conducted minimal checks and sent him off to Iraq. Now Danny could spend the rest of his life in a hostile prison hundreds of miles from home, when he should be receiving psychiatric treatment.”&nbsp;</p><p>Reporters at BBC Scotland who revealed the emailed warnings also discovered that the company had carried out <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-27594094">two audits five months before the shooting</a> which found shortcomings in its screening and vetting systems.</p> <h2>Gareth Myatt, 15, dies “under restraint” by G4S guards, 2004</h2> <p>In 2004, a boy called <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Gareth Myatt was restrained to death</a> by G4S guards at Rainsbrook child prison near Rugby, England. He was 15 years old, of mixed race, small for his age and weighed just 40kg.</p> <p>One of the guards involved in the restraint was six foot tall Dave Beadnall, who weighed 100kg. An inquest held in 2007 heard that when Gareth complained: “I can’t breathe”, Beadnall responded: “if you can talk then you can breathe.”&nbsp;</p> <p>When Gareth said he was going to defecate, he was told: “you are going to have to shit yourself”, and the restraint continued.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400_0_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400_0_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="168" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span>The inquest heard that one year before Gareth died, David Beadnall had been <a href="http://www.communitycare.co.uk/articles/15/03/2007/103801/myatt-officer-investigated-for-previous-restraint-inquest.htm">investigated</a> for overuse of pain-inducing ‘distraction techniques’. Beadnall told the inquest he had no recollection of that.</p> <p>G4S training documents listed guards’ nicknames. They included “Clubber”, “Crusher” and “Mauler”.&nbsp;</p> <p>An inquest jury ruled that Gareth’s death was “accidental”. </p><p>After the inquest, the coroner, Judge Pollard <a href="http://inquest.gn.apc.org/pdf/myatt_rule43report.pdf">wrote personally to then justice secretary Jack Straw</a> to ensure that no other child should be harmed by improper restraint methods, and to highlight the remarkable failure of G4S’s management to act on reports of abuses. (The coroner refers to Rebound, the division of G4S responsible for Rainsbrook).</p> <p>“Inadequacy in the monitoring of the use of Physical Control in Care at Rainsbrook by Rebound management caused or contributed to Gareth’s death,” wrote the coroner. “We also wish to record that there was a problem with the lack of response by Rebound to the information from Rainsbrook.”</p> <p>Three years ago I revealed that since Gareth’s death <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Dave Beadnall had been promoted</a> and was working as health and safety manager for G4S children’s homes. A G4S spokeswoman told me: “His current role does not involve any direct contact with young people.”</p><p>Questions regarding the company’s culture and competence are frequent and grave.</p><p>In October 2013 the South African prison authorities&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/09/g4s-sacked-south-africa-prison-mangaung">took over management of the Mangaung</a>&nbsp;maximum security prison run by G4S after the security company “lost control” of the prison. G4S&nbsp;<a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/media%20centre/news/2013/10/28/mangaung/">strongly denied allegations</a>&nbsp;that it had&nbsp;forcibly administered medication and electric shock treatment to Mangaung inmates.</p> <p>In England this year Kent police have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for-g4s-chil">made 11 arrests</a> in relation to abuse allegations after the BBC’s Panorama programme<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35287765">&nbsp;broadcast undercover footage</a>&nbsp;of children at Medway Secure Training Centre being subjected to physical and emotional abuse by G4S guards.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">G4S guard bludgeoned woman to death</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-suspends-5-staff-over-alleged-attempts-to-massage-999-res">G4S suspends 5 staff over alleged attempts to massage 999 response figures</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsource">Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by gigantic outsourcer G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/ruth-hopkins/g4s-abuses-in-south-african-prison-still-ignored">G4S abuses in South African prison still ignored</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Mon, 13 Jun 2016 06:54:11 +0000 Clare Sambrook 102899 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How many children are sexually abused in prison? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In England nobody is counting. How official secrecy and obfuscation on sexual abuse, restraint and injury put children at risk. See also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for-g4s-chil">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a>.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESE.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESE.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Ministry of Justice: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (2014/15)</span></span></span></p><p>A ground-breaking review of child abuse was published last month. It describes children being coerced, controlled, humiliated, intimidated, degraded and bullied. Children who complained of mistreatment were not believed because there was no CCTV evidence to back them up. Self-harming children were watched even when taking a shower or visiting the toilet. Punishments included banning children from eating in the dining room. This was the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/medway-improvement-board-report-and-moj-response-to-its-recommendations">report of the Medway Improvement Board</a>, established by justice minister Michael Gove in the wake of BBC Panorama’s programme, ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ymzly">Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed</a>’, about the G4S-run prison for 12 to 17 year-olds. </p> <p>The Improvement Board’s investigation is impressive on many counts, though what is striking is that this could have been a report about a school, a hospital or a children’s home, about your children or mine. The metanarratives of child prisoners being violent, damaged and out of control are to the margins of this report, and the dominant representations are of children in search of dignity, safety, fairness and adults they can trust. </p> <p>One young person told the board of an incident where a child who self-harmed “was left in his room with like nothing and he couldn’t speak English and he doesn’t know where his family are so he was just all alone with no-one and nothing”. The board observes the “irony that a young person being held in an STC [secure training centre] was able to articulate this concern, but that all of the professionals … did not seem to understand the impact of such a policy”.</p> <p>I am a children’s rights campaigner and registered social worker, with a long record of pressing for laws and polices that uphold the dignity and worth of children. Since I served on Lord Carlile’s independent inquiry into the use of physical restraint, solitary confinement and forcible strip searching of children in prisons, I have submitted several hundred freedom of information (FOI) requests on various aspects of child incarceration. </p><p>This is more than 11 years of politely asking public bodies to publish material the layperson might assume was already in the public domain. Information that would be useful to families, social workers and youth offending team workers visiting children in prison, to help raise awareness of the dangers and hopefully prompt safeguarding conversations that would otherwise not occur. Judges passing custodial sentences, and remanding to custody, could be reasonably expected, also, to keep abreast of what actually happens to children ‘sent down’. Then there are the wider goals of holding the powerful to account, and standing up for children.</p> <p>So I have asked about sexual assaults, strip-searching, self-harm, restraint injuries, abuse allegations, complaints, sackings, damages paid to child prisoners, and sought the publication of internal reports on children’s bones breaking during restraint. Every response is meant to be published on official websites (it’s not always); my book, <a href="https://policypress.co.uk/children-behind-bars"><em>Children behind bars</em></a>, organises the material into different chapters according to the harm caused to children.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.*ARM—THROAT.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.*ARM—THROAT.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: restraint of child at Rainsbrook secure training centre (2014/15 report)</span></span></span></p> <p>Each new response invariably elicits an emotional reaction. First, there is the upset that comes from imagining vulnerable children in situations of powerlessness and fear. Second, incredulity that we subject children to such treatment, and amazement too when I am told, frequently, that vital data is collected by nobody.</p> <p>Next comes dismay at the public servants who use their human ingenuity to maintain secrecy. Sometimes I feel sad, dumbfounded and disgusted all at once, like when I was sent data on sexual assaults in juvenile young offender institutions. I asked for the number of assaults between 2009 and 2013. The table provided, minus any actual figures, showed sexual assaults by child prisoners had occurred at least once every year, but the frequency was masked by asterisk marks. </p><p>The justification? Low numbers and fear of breaching data protection legislation, a reason I’ve been given many times before. Indeed, G4S invoked the same excuse when refusing the Youth Justice Board monitor at Medway unfettered access to CCTV footage, a position the Improvement Board inevitably found to be legally untenable.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/4.*BREATHING DIFFICULTIES.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/4.*BREATHING DIFFICULTIES.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="122" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BREATHING DIFFICULTIES: restraining children with asthma (2013/14 report)</span></span></span></div><p> <br /> Accessing sexual assaults data in respect of officers proved impossible, since I was told: “The assaults data does not specifically include a category for&nbsp;sexual assaults by staff on prisoners.”</p><p>Information about officers assaulting children was buried in the ‘other’ category and a single asterisk mark indicated at least one occurrence in 2010.</p><p>Presumably this was <a href="http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/prison_officer_jailed_over_inmate_abuse_1_296571">not the officer with a 30-year career in the prison service who sexually assaulted a boy “at every opportunity”</a> when the child was incarcerated at Warren Hill Young Offenders Institution, because these crimes occurred in 2008 (though the officer was jailed in 2010)? Did the incident occur at Downview women’s prison, I pondered, because separate FOIs had elicited at least one child had been sexually abused there? </p><p>What I could be sure of was that the one or more incidents in 2010 did not tally with the separate data I obtained from the prisons inspectorate. This revealed that children had told inspectors on 15 separate occasions they had been sexually abused by prison staff — these allegations were made in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.*OFF-CAMERA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.*OFF-CAMERA.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="157" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>OFF CAMERA: restraints carried out away from CCTV (2013/14 report)</span></span></span></p><p>In another FOI, which went to internal review (the process to follow when FOIs are refused), I was told six officers had been disciplined for an “inappropriate relationship with a prisoner/ex prisoner” in child prisons, in 2011/12 and 2012/13. </p><p>The Sexual Offences Act 2003 created a new offence of abuse of position of trust, so the prison service’s terminology is archaic.&nbsp;Even before 2003, you would be hard-pushed to find a childcare setting where a staff member having an “inappropriate relationship” with a child would be seen as anything other than sexual exploitation. </p><p>This appalling cloaking of abuse by the prison service will, I expect, be of great interest to the <a href="https://www.iicsa.org.uk">Goddard Inquiry</a> into institutions’ failure to protect children from sexual abuse. </p><p>That no single statutory body collates children’s complaints of abuse cannot, of course, wait for Dame Lowell Goddard’s conclusions in several years’ time. This must change immediately. &nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RAINSBROOK LONG.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RAINSBROOK LONG.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="724" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Rainsbrook (2014/15 report)</span></span></span>Not all of the disclosures I have obtained would invite condemnation from human rights bodies or be of interest to undercover reporters. But they are unsettling. </p><p>Take the report I obtained from the Youth Justice Board, which was an independent review of food in young offender institutions for children aged 15 to 17. This revealed that five of nine child prisons didn’t have their own kitchen: food was prepared and transported from adjoining adult prisons. </p><p>How could it be possible, in 2013, for an institution looking after children 24 hours a day not to have a kitchen? That’s shocking to me.</p> <p>A visit to Serco-run Hassockfield secure training centre, in Durham, as a member of the Carlile Inquiry team, got me started on FOI requests. The centre director showed us a form on which custody officers recorded their use of “distractions” —&nbsp;the official euphemism for severe assaults to a child’s nose, ribs or thumb. </p><p>I thought we had uncovered a major abuse scandal, right there on our very first visit, until the director assured us these were, in fact, officially authorised restraint techniques. To be lawful, they could be applied only in extremely grave situations when no other intervention was possible. </p><p>My first FOI revealed these extreme, last resort techniques were used 768 times in a single year in four secure training centres. They were routine, in other words. <br /> <br /> Three years passed before the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), the charity I then ran, achieved full disclosure of the training manual which showed many other violent restraint methods. One of the reasons given by the Youth Justice Board against publication was that animal rights activists and political extremists could get hold of the manual, and develop restraint countermeasures. </p> <p>Really? </p> <p>The Information Commissioner’s Office ordered full disclosure, but the Youth Justice Board appealed. A few days before the tribunal hearing, we got a call to say the manual would be published, after all. It was uploaded onto the <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20101016193540/http://www.justice.gov.uk/">Ministry of Justice website in October 2010</a>. </p><p>Then, in July 2012, a new system of behaviour management in child prisons, called Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR), was launched. The manual containing the MMPR restraint techniques has 182 redactions. </p><p>By this time, I had left CRAE and was researching <em>Children behind bars</em>. I requested full disclosure of the techniques and, nearly four years later, I am presently seeking leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. </p><p>The same assertions made between 2007 and 2010 — that prisoners would use the information to subvert restraint and therefore prison security — have been recycled by the Ministry of Justice. This is despite former Labour ministers accepting <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/347262/Government_Response_to_Use_of_Restraint_in_Juvenile_Secure_Settings.pdf">the recommendation that children, parents and carers be informed of restraint methods (rec 43, page 15)</a>, made by the independent review it established after the restraint-related deaths of two children.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTIONSSERIOUSINJURY_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTIONSSERIOUSINJURY_1.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="186" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: serious injuries (2014/15 report)</span></span></span></p><p>My legal representation is pro bono to date and I pay all of my own travel and other expenses. The taxpayer fully funds the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. There has never been any answer to my argument that statutory safeguarding bodies and professionals cannot effectively monitor the use of restraint, or investigate children’s complaints, without knowledge of the official techniques.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3.A.*WARNING SIGNS 2014-2015 (16dec2015) copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3.A.*WARNING SIGNS 2014-2015 (16dec2015) copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="262" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: warning signs (2014/15 report)</span></span></span>Prisons are required to report to a national team restraints that cause children to lose consciousness, struggle to breathe, vomit and suffer other symptoms of asphyxiation, or be seriously injured. In May 2015, I requested the two annual reports that had been compiled to date. The&nbsp;Ministry of Justice&nbsp;released the first report but said the 2014/15 one would be finalised in July, so I made a second request in August. It was still not ready, so I asked again in November. </p><p>The following month, a heavily redacted report arrived in my inbox. Who, I wonder, was given the task of blanking out virtually every reference to child harm?&nbsp;The official excuse for this obfuscation was that the Youth Justice Board planned to publish the statistics at the end of January 2016.</p><p> But, to my frustration, when the annual youth justice statistics were released on 28 January they didn’t contain the anticipated data. Only a limited number of restraint injuries were included; statistics about children’s breathing being compromised were absent altogether. My request to the ministry for an internal review was met with silence, so I complained to the&nbsp;Information Commissioner’s Office.&nbsp;I received the report in April 2016, 11 months after the first request. The date on the front cover, June 2015, proved it had been finalised at the time of my second request. </p><p>A covering letter claimed the data had been incorporated into the routinely published annual statistics. This was simply untrue: these figures have never included warning signs, and restraint injuries only become candidates for routine publication if children were taken to hospital or received medical treatment within the prison. </p><p>When children are injured during restraint but receive no medical intervention, these incidents are kept from the official statistics. This is why the Observer newspaper was able to report <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/13/young-offenders-institution-restraint-injuries">in February</a> that the&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;had omitted 3,312 child restraint injuries from its published figures between 2010 and 2014. </p><p>The incident in G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre, <a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/secure-training-centre-reports/rainsbrook/Rainsbrook%20STC%20Ofsted%20report%20February%202015%20%28PDF%29.pdf">discovered by inspectors in February 2015</a>, when a child with a fractured wrist caused by restraint was left for 15 hours before being taken to hospital, comes to mind.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESCROP1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESCROP1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (2014/15)</span></span></span></div><p> The report eventually released to me shows there were 65 serious restraint incidents in 2014/15, with 71 warning signs and symptoms, a 31% increase on the previous year (with the same number of prisons). There were 37 incidents when a child had difficulty breathing or complained&nbsp; of being unable to breathe in 2014/15; 4 serious physical injuries; 6 incidents when a child vomited whilst kept under restraint; 8 incidents when restraint led to a petechial rash (haemorrhage); 11 incidents when a child lost consciousness or suffered reduced consciousness; and 5 incidents listed as ‘other’.</p><p>The Guardian newspaper published the data under the headline, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/05/restraint-injuries-youth-jails-rainsbrook-gareth-myatt">‘Restraint injuries persist at youth jail where boy died 12 years ago’</a>, referring to the restraint death of 15 year-old Gareth Myatt in G4S-run Rainsbrook. A week after this newspaper coverage, the prisons minister, Andrew Selous, said this in <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-01-18/22857/">answer to a parliamentary question</a> tabled four months before:<br /> <br /> <em>“Since the SIWS [serious incidents and warning signs] system has only been rolled out in a few institutions gradually, this is not currently routinely published but we are considering the routine publication of all SIWS data in the future.”</em></p><p>That the government is now “considering” regular release of the data shows the value of persistence. It also screams institutional inertia — still <em>thinking</em> about routine publication after 11 months of FOI to-ing and fro-ing, parliamentary prodding and a Panorama programme which shocked the nation? </p><p>Transparency is a critical child protection tool because it allows circuits of collusion (conscious and unconscious) to be broken. The greater the secrecy, the more children are at risk. </p><p>I felt tearful turning the pages of the Medway Improvement Board’s report. This is the first official document, out of the many hundreds I’ve read, where child prisoners are discussed as if they really are children, with the same fundamental rights as those enjoying life in the community. The report firmly rejects the received wisdom that punishment and subjugation bring about change; and it truthfully and skillfully lays bare the failures of adults. With not a single redacted word.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><h2>Note:</h2><li>The top image is a composite, comprising 3 redactions. All other images show text and redactions from:</li><li>Ministry of Justice National Offender Management Service documents: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR)</li><li>Annual Report on Serious Injuries and Warning Signs and Medical Exceptions Report.</li></ul><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/children-in-trouble-punishment-or-welfare">Children in trouble: punishment or welfare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/rotherham-s-sex-abuse-scandal-reveals-failure-at-heart-of-government">Rotherham’s sex abuse scandal reveals failure at the heart of government</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 09 Jun 2016 11:15:17 +0000 Carolyne Willow 102632 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Children tell inspectors of being verbally, physically and sexually abused. See also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo usedJUNE2006.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo usedJUNE2006.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="292" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Yesterday Kent police investigating alleged abuse at Medway child prison, run by G4S, <a href="http://www.maidstoneandmedwaynews.co.uk/G4s-arrests-detained-reports-abuse-youth-centre/story-29375708-detail/story.html">made five more arrests</a>. The same day a <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/hmyoi-parc-juvenile-unit-2/">report by prisons inspectors</a> revealed that a child at another G4S prison, Parc, in Bridgend, Wales, had been strip searched while held under restraint, one guard had been dismissed for using “excessive force”, and children reported being verbally, physically and sexually abused.</p> <p>G4S-run Medway secure training centre has been under close scrutiny since <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35287765">BBC Panorama broadcast undercover footage</a>, in January, of children there being subject to physical and emotional abuse. This latest inspection report concerns the juvenile unit of an adult prison run by the same company. Inspectors visited the prison on the day of the Panorama programme, and stayed for 11 days.&nbsp;</p> <p>Use of force by prison officers had tripled in Parc’s juvenile unit since the last inspection — there were 202 incidents in the previous six months, compared to 67 last time. In every incident, officers from the adjoining adult prison were called to carry out the restraint. Inspectors complain that the officers do not know the children. They would not have been recruited for their expertise in working with children either.</p><p> Inspectors found a case where a child had been strip-searched whilst held under restraint — again, this would have been by officers working in the adult parts of the prison. “Pain compliant locks” were used on children: the prisons inspectorate, alongside many other bodies, including the UN Committee Against Torture, has repeatedly said the deliberate infliction of pain should not be permitted in children’s prisons. One officer had been dismissed shortly before the announced inspection, for using “excessive force” on a child.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'All I asked you to do was clean this fucking door and you aint!' G4S Medway officer to boy, age 14 (BBC Panorama)</span></span></span></p><p>Some boys complained of officers restraining them away from CCTV, which has been reported by children across the secure estate for many years. After the G4S Medway child abuse scandal, the Youth Justice Board introduced body-worn cameras into all child prisons. Inspectors complain that there were not enough of them to ensure all incidents were captured. More evidence of the irrepressible penal culture. <br /> <br /> About half the boys in this juvenile prison were looked after children, underlining the revolving door between care and custody highlighted powerfully by the <a href="http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/ProjectsResearch/CareReview">Laming Review</a>. Inspectors report: “Many boys had low levels of education and presented with clear difficulties in expressing their anxieties and problems; this was often characterised by angry outbursts or self isolation.” Prison cannot provide these children with the skilled intervention they need. </p> <p>Three boys were refusing to come out of their cells because they were so frightened, and 7 boys (a quarter of those questioned) told inspectors they felt unsafe everywhere.&nbsp;</p><p> Eight children told inspectors they had been verbally insulted by officers, and there was one report each of physical abuse and sexual abuse by staff. Seven children said they had suffered physical abuse by other children.</p> <p>Where is that government intolerance of poorly performing children’s services, when you need it?</p><p>At the end of February, G4S announced it would be selling its children’s services, including its government contracts to run Oakhill and Medway secure training centres.</p> <p>Today’s inspection report is a reminder that the multinational has not completely surrendered looking after UK child prisoners. For it is not G4S Children’s Services that manages this contract, but G4S Central Government Services.&nbsp;</p><p> At the last inspection, in May 2014, the company was handed 31 recommendations and 7 of these had been achieved by the time inspectors visited again in January 2016. More than half (58%) had not been achieved at all. Only one of four recommendations in respect of children’s safety had been achieved.</p><p> As child prisons go, this inspection report delivers some positive news. Children are eating together in dining areas, they get some (limited) time in the fresh air each day, most are able to shower daily, they have telephones in their cells (though calls are expensive) and there are good quality educational resources. But this cannot detract from the prison environment and ethos, and the consequences for children’s safety and well-being.</p><p>Inspectors praised the “newly refurbished and restocked” prison library, which has “a good stock of easy readers, books based on popular films and games”. The report from Charlie Taylor’s <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-the-youth-justice-system">Youth Justice Review</a> is due to be published next month. A teacher by trade, Taylor is sure to see the absurdity of buying in easy reader books whilst holding children in locked cells for hours at a time, keeping them in permanent states of fear and delegating control and discipline to prison officers working with adults.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 09 Jun 2016 07:43:53 +0000 Carolyne Willow 102829 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘We apologise to anybody who feels let down’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/ally-rogers/we-apologise-to-anybody-who-feels-let-down <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A linguistics student looks at language used by the NHS Trust whose negligence contributed to the death of her cousin. (Ahead of Wednesday’s Parliamentary debate on Southern Health).&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/one falsehood.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/one falsehood.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Craftism by George Julian for #JusticeforLB</span></span></span></p><p>Last year, as a humble final year linguistics undergraduate, I wrote a 12,000-word dissertation on the apologies of Southern Health regarding the death of Connor Sparrowhawk. Connor was my cousin, and before he died I used to read his mum <a href="https://mydaftlife.com">Sara’s blog</a> as a way of ignoring university deadlines. She called him Laughing Boy, LB for short. On the 4th of July 2013, I saw the blog post that started with “LB died this morning.”, and that’s when Southern Health became a massive, unwanted part of my life.</p> <p>To summarise my dissertation very briefly, I found that Southern Health used language in an interesting way. The effect was a succession of non-apologies, blame pinned on staff for failings, and positive actions attributed to Southern Health.</p> <p>Rather than focus on the literal content of Southern Health’s statements, I looked at the positioning of the subject and the object in the sentence, and non-apologies, for example: “I’m sorry for what I did” versus “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by what I did”.</p> <p>Lately Southern Health has been the subject of damning Care Quality Commission reports following the release of the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35051845">Mazars report</a> in December revealing the extent to which Southern Health had failed to investigate unexpected deaths within its hospitals. The unexpected deaths of people with learning disabilities were the least likely to merit Southern Health’s attention.</p> <p>I’ve been looking at the language used in statements surrounding these events and I’ve spotted some features that pop up repeatedly, such as suggesting ongoing change, a focus on staff rather than patients, repetition of the curious phrase “not always good enough”, and the non-apology.</p> <p>Here is some of the language that suggests ongoing and pre-existing change: “improve further”, “further changes”, “continue to share”, “continue to lead”, “keep improving” etc. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/audre lorde.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/audre lorde.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Craftism by George Julian for #JusticeforLB</span></span></span></p> <p>Such phrases presuppose that these things have already been happening, and all Southern Health needs to do is simply carry on doing what it has been doing. And so these actions are presented, not as a response to a critical report, but as good work that was anyway in progress.&nbsp;</p><p>Unfortunately, these examples appear in the responses to both the Mazars and the CQC reports five months apart, so this apparent action may not be happening as quickly as Southern Health suggests.</p><p>Katrina Percy, the CEO of Southern Health, often makes reference to Southern Health’s staff. The most recent CQC report in April 2016 found that Southern Health was still failing properly to investigate incidents, and that inspectors were worried about the safety of patients within Southern Health units. So what did the CEO have to say about these results?</p> <p>She made <a href="http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2016-04-29/southern-health-chief-katrina-percy-cqcs-report-sends-a-clear-message-to-the-trusts-leadership/">a public statement</a> including this sentence: “I want to reassure our patients, their families and carers that I am absolutely focused on addressing the CQC’s concerns and supporting our staff to provide the best care possible.”</p> <p>Let’s take another look at that.&nbsp;</p> <p>You might think that patients, families and carers would be more concerned about the persistent and serious issues present in Southern Health hospitals rather than how well Southern Health supports its staff, but Katrina Percy’s concern seems focused on staff rather than the patients who rely on Southern Health. </p> <p>Percy’s statement goes on: “I am pleased the CQC recognises our staff’s caring attitude to patients” and “this progress reflects the ongoing dedication of our staff”. In a 183-word statement, there was only one reference to “patients” , and the emphasis seems to be placed squarely on the positive actions of staff.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor sparrowhawk_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor sparrowhawk_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor Sparrowhawk</span></span></span></p><p>In April 2016, the BBC reported that 12 patients in a Southern Health unit had escaped by <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36165307">jumping from the roof</a>. Southern Health <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36165307">made a statement</a> including this quote: “Our staff are the most important safety feature we have, and they assess any risks […] associated with individual patients.”</p> <p>In one sentence, Southern Health not only positioned the staff as being vital security elements, but also framed patients as being one of the threats to that security.&nbsp;</p> <p>The only other mention of “patients” comes here: “At all our units there is a balance to be struck between providing effective security and a therapeutic environment for our service users.”</p> <p>In the entire statement, patients are framed as needing a calm environment and posing a risk to the security of the unit. Together with the previous statement, these two statements suggest an emphasis on staff over patients, with patients either left out of the discourse or presented as something to be coped with.</p> <p>It is also worth pointing out that the phrase “service user”&nbsp;is used alongside&nbsp;“patients”. Southern Health is not alone in using this term. <a href="http://pb.rcpsych.org/content/27/8/305">Research has found</a> that <a href="http://pb.rcpsych.org/content/27/8/305">people prefer to be called&nbsp;</a>“patients”&nbsp;rather than&nbsp;“service users”. To me at least,&nbsp;“service user” seems more appropriate for someone buying a broadband contract or a gym membership, rather than people with learning disabilities or mental health problems who need medical care.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/duty of candour.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/duty of candour.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Craftism by George Julian highlighting Health & Social Care Act Regulation 20</span></span></span></p> <p>And what about this one?</p><p>Our processes, reporting, etc “has not always been good enough”.&nbsp;</p><p>In December, the Mazars report was leaked to the press before it was officially published. In response,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/dec/09/southern-health-nhs-trust-failed-investigate-patient-deaths-inquiry">Southern Health made a public statement</a>&nbsp;that used this phrase: “We fully accept that our reporting processes following a patient death have not always been good enough.”</p><p><a href="http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2015-12-10/statement-from-chief-exec-of-southern-health-nhs-foundation-trust/">Katrina Percy also made a statement</a>&nbsp;using this phrase: “We have accepted that our processes have not always been as good as they need to be.”</p><p>Mazars revealed that Southern Health had investigated just 4% of unexpected deaths. Yes, 4%.&nbsp;</p><p>How might you describe that? Appalling? Lamentable? Shameful? Reckless? Irresponsible?</p><p>Which words did Katrina Percy choose?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/CONNOR FRONT-PAGE APRIL2016_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/CONNOR FRONT-PAGE APRIL2016_0.png" alt="" title="" width="240" height="343" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>openDemocracyUK front page 14 April 2016</span></span></span></p><p>“We fully accept that our processes for reporting and investigating deaths […]&nbsp;<a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news/archive/2015/statement-from-southern-health-17-12-2015-independent-review/">were not always as good as they should have been</a>”.</p><p>And: “Our engagement with families and carers of people who have died in our care has&nbsp;<a href="Our%2520engagement%2520with%2520families%2520and%2520carers%2520of%2520people%2520who%2520have%2520died%2520in%2520our%2520care%2520has%2520not%2520always%2520been%2520good%2520enough">not always been good enough</a>”.</p><p>Was the phrase accidental? You’d expect public statements on matters so grave to be drafted and redrafted, words carefully chosen.</p><p>Linguistically, the phrase “not always good enough” contains what’s known as a scalar implicature, creating a scale of “not good enough” to “good enough”.</p><p>Framing scandalous failure as “not always good enough” understates the case and implies that most of the time Southern Health are good enough. After the damning nature of the Mazars and CQC reports it seems insensitive to frame the “not always good enough” actions against actions that are felt to be satisfactory, especially when these reporting processes fail to the point that patients are at risk, and the resulting lack of engagement with families increases the “pain and distress” felt (Katrina Percy’s words).</p> <p>Let’s look at apologies. On December 10, <a href="http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2015-12-10/statement-from-chief-exec-of-southern-health-nhs-foundation-trust/">in a statement made to ITV</a> regarding the Mazars report, Katrina Percy made a cracker of a non-apology: “We apologise to anybody who feels let down by any aspect of our service.”</p> <p>Let’s break this down: the use of “anybody” rather than “everybody” suggests doubt that anyone needs an apology at all, and the focus on ‘feels’ in “anybody who feels let down” suggests that an apology is necessary only if you felt let down. </p> <p>In one small sentence, Katrina Percy not only casts doubt on the idea that anyone does in fact have an issue with Southern Health but then puts the responsibility for this feeling on to the people themselves.</p> <p>Maybe Southern Health didn’t intend to produce these misleading effects. Perhaps the tendencies I’ve identified are just the result of shoddy work.</p> <p>Whatever the intention, non-apologies, implied change, misplaced focus and minimisations reflect badly on the speaker and can cause real hurt. If you’re sorry that your neglect has contributed to someone’s death, then say so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>Parliamentary debate</h2><p>Fareham MP Suella Fernandes has secured a debate in Parliament about the governance of Southern Health, scheduled for Wednesday 8 June at 2.30pm. Ahead of the debate, <a href="http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/14522330.Failing_health_trust_set_for_fierce_Commons_debate/">Fernandes told the Southern Daily Echo</a>: “I know many of my colleagues in Hampshire and beyond have expressed serious doubts about the governance of the Trust, and remain to be convinced that the necessary improvements are being made quickly enough.” More on the debate and supporting papers can be found <a href="http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CDP-2016-0111#fullreport">here</a>.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Since my brother’s preventable death . . .</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/human-rights-at-government-s-discretion">Human rights — at the government’s discretion </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Ally Rogers Tue, 07 Jun 2016 13:14:00 +0000 Ally Rogers 102788 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ghosted away: UK’s secret removal flights examined https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/lotte-lewis-smith/ghosted-away-uk-s-secret-removal-flights-examined <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On Home Office flights private sector guards apply restraints so extreme they are very rarely used in prisons. What happened on the 24/25 May flight to Nigeria and Ghana?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/plane bus.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/plane bus.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)</span></span></span></p><p class="western">Lately one Australian family’s immigration case and prospect of forced removal from the UK made front-page news across Scottish national newspapers, was discussed in the House of Commons, picked up by <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/30/australian-family-in-scotland-win-reprieve-from-deportation">The Guardian</a>, The Independent, the <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3618903/Hard-working-Australian-family-threatened-deportation-claim-set-fail-continue-battle-remain-UK.html">Daily Mail</a>, and BBC News — resulting in a job offer that might help keep the family here, and a crowdfunder page that has raised more than £4000. </p> <p class="western">In the same week, around 100 people were torn from their long-standing communities in the UK and forcibly removed to a country from which they fled, or hadn’t lived in for up to 20 years. Of these people, their family, their friends, their distress, the fate that awaits them, there is no public awareness, nor any media reporting. With the exception of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light at openDemocracy</a>, no journalists or media outlets picked up the multiple press releases widely issued by <a href="http://unitycentreglasgow.org/">The Unity Centre</a> in the lead up to the flight.</p> <p class="western">In the early hours of Wednesday 25 May —&nbsp;at 1am —&nbsp;a delayed private charter plane left Stansted airport, bound for Nigeria and Ghana. The UK government does not publicly reveal the location of departure (even to detainees who are set to be on the plane). The flight itself does not appear on airport flight schedules or online as a planned flight. However, we can reveal that the contracted airline is Titan Airways. </p> <p class="western">Who were the passengers? </p> <p class="western">During the previous weeks, hundreds of people with refused asylum and human rights claims were detained in preparation for the flight. We heard reports from inside the UK’s “detention estate” that around 300 people had been issued removal directions for this particular charter flight.</p><h2>Operation Majestic</h2> <p class="western">The overbooking of seats reflects the Home Office imperative to fill the flight, regardless of people’s individual cases. “Reserve” detainees go through the normal removal procedures, say their goodbyes, are kept on coaches — but don’t know whether or not they’ll be removed until after the flight has left. This practice has been condemned repeatedly by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, as <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/05/2013-Pakistan-escort-web.pdf">lacking in humanity and “unacceptable”.</a></p> <p class="western">The UK government’s policy of forcibly removing people en masse via private charter flights to Nigeria and Ghana (and sometimes Sierra Leone) goes by the code-name “Operation Majestic”.</p><p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/just plane big.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/just plane big.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="261" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)</span></span></span></p> <p class="western">Commonly, between 60 and 80 people are accompanied by commercially contracted security guards. On the charter flight of May 24/25 this company was <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/home-office-contractors-expected-to-lie-inspection-reveals/">Tascor</a>. Standard practice is <a href="http://www.no-deportations.org.uk/">2 security guards for every detainee</a>, with no independent witnesses or monitoring groups aboard.</p> <p class="western">Between January and March 2016, 438 men and and 23 women were forcibly removed from the UK on a total of 10 charter flights, according to a Home Office response to a Freedom of Information request by John O (FOI 39552, 2 June 2016). The number of private security guards totalled 875. The destinations: Pakistan, Albania, Nigeria and Ghana.</p> <p class="western">On fewer than three flights per year, prisons inspectors are aboard. Reporting on <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/escort-and-removals-to-jamaica-24-25-march-2011/">a removal to Jamaica in 2011</a>, when there were 104 guards from the security company G4S and 35 detainees, the inspectors wrote: “the sheer numbers of staff created an inevitably intimidating atmosphere, regardless of how they conducted themselves. This effect was significantly aggravated by the loud behaviour of a few staff.” Two of the people being removed told inspectors they had lived in the UK for 27 and 36 years respectively. One woman said she had lived in the UK for 12 years and was leaving her 18-year old daughter behind.</p> <p>On a <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/detainees-under-escort-inspection-of-escort-and-removals-to-sri-lanka-6-7-december-2012-by-hm-chief-inspector-of-prisons/">removal flight to Sri Lanka</a> in December 2012, 72 guards from the security company Reliance (now called Tascor) and 3 medics escorted 29 detainees on the 19 hour journey. Prisons inspectors reported: “There were too many escort staff with little or nothing to do.” The people being removed included a person in a wheelchair who was brain damaged, and a 67 year old woman who “had boarded the flight before receiving confirmation of an injunction preventing her removal”.</p><h2>Restraints too extreme for prison</h2> <p>Reporting on a removal to Nigeria and Ghana that took place in November 2013, when there were 82 guards for 42 detainees, <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/04/nigeria-ghana-escorts-2013-rps.pdf">inspectors wrote</a>: “some ways of working had become entrenched, for which there was little justification. These included keeping handcuffs on for much longer than necessary; holding detainees by the arm in secure areas; searching in locations without any privacy; denying privacy to detainees using the toilet; and withholding facilities such as pillows, blankets and hot drinks during an overnight flight without regard to evidence of risk in the individual case. There were deficiencies in the recording and communication of information about risk, which is essential when detainees are being passed from the care of one contractor to another during a very stressful series of events.” </p> <p>Inspectors didn’t join a flight to Nigeria and Ghana again until July 2015. What had changed? &nbsp;<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/Nigeria-Ghana-final-web-2015.pdf">The inspectors wrote</a>: “We repeat almost exactly the same points in this report.”&nbsp; </p> <p>They went on: “waist restraint belts had replaced handcuffs, and officers no longer routinely held detainees’ arms within secure detention centres. There was a risk that waist restraint belts, which were now embedded in practice, were being overused and applied whenever there was any ground for supposing that the person might not cooperate during the boarding of the coach or aircraft. They were used on eight detainees during this operation. When the wrists are in the close position (i.e. tight to the hips) they are almost equivalent to body belts, the most extreme and very rarely used, mechanical restraints available in prisons.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/just plane.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/just plane.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="215" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)</span></span></span></p> <p class="western">Detainees tell us that many are held in solitary confinement the night (or two) before a charter flight —perhaps an attempt by the Home Office to avoid collective resistance. Last month one person in detention awaiting forced removal on a charter flight to Pakistan told us: “Yesterday we moved to the short stay side of the centre and they closed our room door at 8pm and then didn’t open…I can’t stay one more night in that room, I am sure I will die because the room is so small and we are two boys in there.” </p> <p class="western">Detainees were packed into coaches the afternoon of Tuesday 24th May. By early evening their phones were switched off — making it difficult for detainees to contact their solicitor or support groups regarding any legal avenues still available that may stop them from being removed.</p><h2>Collective expulsion</h2> <p class="western">Those who were forcibly removed on the 24th/25th include a woman who was served with a refusal of her fresh asylum claim whilst she was waiting for the coach to arrive at Yarl’s Wood (the notorious Bedfordshire detention centre) — indicating the regular Home Office practice of preparing to remove people before their asylum claim has even been legally exhausted. She told us that she was subsequently denied access to the library by members of staff and thus was unable to pursue a judicial review to challenge the refusal of her fresh asylum claim. &nbsp;</p> <p class="western">We do not know whether a judicial review might have stopped her forced removal. The Home Office state that due to the “effort and expense” of a charter flight, a judicial review may not necessarily defer removal.</p> <p class="western">This case demonstrates how one’s nationality (identified by the Home Office) determines who is on a charter flight — regardless of the different stages that people are at within the asylum/immigration process. It challenges David Wood’s<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5374109/Asylum-airlines-your-one-way-flight-to-deportation.html"> claim</a>, asserted whilst acting as UK Border Agency Director of Enforcement, that charter flights are specifically for “difficult” individuals — raising questions about <a href="https://corporatewatch.org/sites/default/files/Collective-Expulsion-report.pdf">collective expulsion</a>.</p> <p class="western">Others removed on the charter flight included a man from the LGBT community, who was forced to leave behind his partner in the UK, and who told us he faces violence and imprisonment upon return to Ghana. </p> <p class="western">Unable to access the legal surgery inside detention before his removal date due to extremely <a href="https://detentioninquiry.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/bail-for-immigration-detainees-access-to-legal-advice-bid1.pdf">long waiting times</a>, he was forced to represent himself, not knowing the scale or depth of evidence needed to substantiate his claim. </p> <p class="western">Another man on the charter flight had come to the UK when he was 14 — but the Home Office failed to recognise him as a dependent of his mother (who now has British citizenship). And so 14 years later he has been forcibly removed from her, his siblings and long-term partner, to a country which he has no family in or memories of.</p> <p class="western">When asked for the number of passengers and reserves on the charter flight, the Home Office responded: “A removal flight to Nigeria and Ghana went ahead on 24 May as planned. We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”</p><p class="western">We do not know what forms of restraint were used on this flight, whether people were treated courteously, or, as has happened on previous flights, subjected to coarse language, excessive physical restraints and racist abuse. This is because there were no independent witnesses aboard and we have lost contact with the people being removed. It is particularly difficult to maintain contact after removal: upon arrival, many people are destitute or forced to go into hiding.</p> <p class="western">Detainees are calling for raised public awareness of the use of charter flights. One person who was deported from the UK last year told us: “It’s about 90 per cent of us that don't want to go, the other 10 per cent don't want to go either but they are tired of being humiliated so they say they are ready.”</p><hr /><p><strong>For more information on mass deportation charter flights, </strong><a href="http://unitycentreglasgow.org/mass-deportation-charter-flight-to-nigeria-and-ghana-set-for-may-24th/"><strong>see here</strong></a><strong>.</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p class="western"><strong>To get in touch,</strong> contact The Unity Centre at <a href="mailto:unitycentremedia@gmail.com">unitycentremedia@gmail.com</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/dozens-of-fathers-among-migrants-to-be-forcibly-deported-tonight">Dozens of fathers among migrants to be forcibly deported tonight</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/woman-stands-naked-on-airport-runway-takes-overdose">Woman stands naked on airport runway, takes overdose</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/jimmy-mubenga-and-shame-of-british-airways">Jimmy Mubenga and the shame of British Airways</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Lotte Lewis Mon, 06 Jun 2016 14:43:11 +0000 Lotte Lewis 102724 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Inquest jury finds failures in detainee healthcare https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/phil-miller/inquest-jury-finds-failures-in-detainee-healthcare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An MRI brain scan that was wrongly cancelled might have led to life-saving treatment for Bruno Dos Santos, who died aged 25 in the care of UK immigration authorities.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/VERDICT800.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/VERDICT800.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="153" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Bruno Dos Santos, a 25 year old Angolan man, died from unexpected natural causes at the Verne immigration removal centre in Dorset on 4 June 2014, an inquest jury found today.</p><p>His healthcare in the months leading up to his death was criticised today in a narrative verdict by the jury sitting at Dorchester County Court.</p><p>Dos Santos died from neurosarcoidosis, a rare brain disease. Although this condition showed no symptoms, he also suffered from epilepsy and was receiving treatment for that.</p><p>The jury found that during his time in custody, “Planned MRI scans did not take place due to a succession of failures within organisations involved.”</p><p>The ten jurors said in their verdict that neurosarcoidosis could have been detected before he died: “An MRI scan may have led to diagnosis and possible medical treatment, which may have prevented his death.”</p><p>Dos Santos was booked in for an MRI appointment as far back as January 2013 after he suffered a seizure at Belmarsh prison.</p><p>That scan “never happened”&nbsp;and the senior coroner said in his summing up that this was “not a very&nbsp;good state of affairs”.</p><p>Another opportunity was missed in February 2014, when a consultant neurologist Dr Cocco arranged a second MRI scan.</p><p>By this time, Dos Santos was being held at HMP Thameside, a private prison run by Serco.</p><p>It was there that healthcare staff, working for private provider Care UK, refused to let Dos Santos attend the appointment for “security reasons”.</p><p>The jury heard evidence that&nbsp;it was routine&nbsp;at Thameside&nbsp;to cancel all pre-booked external medical appointments that a prisoner&nbsp;was aware of, in case it provided a chance&nbsp;for them&nbsp;to plan an escape.</p><p>However, Dos Santos was being held under immigration powers at Thameside and was not a normal prisoner.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Record-of-inquest-sharp.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Record-of-inquest-sharp.JPG" alt="" title="" width="400" height="359" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>RECORD OF INQUEST 27 May 2016</span></span></span>As such, he was entitled to a more flexible regime.&nbsp;Home Office&nbsp;policy stipulated: “Every effort should be made to meet medical appointments for detainees.”</p><p>The coroner said&nbsp;that not following&nbsp;this policy was a&nbsp;“very unsatisfactory state of affairs”.</p><p>Dr Cocco&nbsp;said that the brain scan appointment could have led to life-saving treatment.</p><p>“It was probable that I would have seen abnormalities and definite that I would have made further investigations,” the neurologist said.&nbsp;</p><p>Although this takes time, Dr Cocco said tests could have been completed before Dos Santos died.</p><p>He would then have given Dos Santos potentially life-saving steroids at least ten days before he died.&nbsp;</p><p>Shortly before his death, Dos Santos was moved to the Verne immigration removal centre in Portland, Dorset.<br /><br />Officers found him dead, face down in his bed, at 7.44am on 4 June 2014.</p><p>Nick Brown, the family's barrister, said after the five day inquest: “This has been a very difficult experience for the family.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-man-25-at-remote-uk-i">Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/private-healthcare-company-care-uk-cancelled-immigr">Private healthcare company Care UK cancelled immigration detainee’s brain scan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/cancelled-brain-scan-could-have-saved-uk-immigration-detainee">Cancelled brain scan could have saved UK immigration detainee</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller-clare-sambrook/national-shame-that-is-healthcare-in-uk-immigration-detention">The national shame that is healthcare in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/satisfactory-uk-immigration-lock-up-that-samaritans-dare-not-vis">Satisfactory? The UK immigration lock-up that Samaritans dare not visit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/champagne-for-serco-shareholders-23-hour-lock-ins-for-serco-prisoners">Champagne for Serco shareholders, 23 hour lock-ins for Serco prisoners</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Phil Miller Fri, 27 May 2016 13:46:00 +0000 Phil Miller 102504 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Cancelled brain scan could have saved UK immigration detainee https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/phil-miller/cancelled-brain-scan-could-have-saved-uk-immigration-detainee <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Inquest, Day Four: Neurologist testifies that he might have saved 25 year old Bruno Dos Santos.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Dorchester-county-hall.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Dorchester-county-hall.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="281" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dorchester County Court (Phil Miller)</span></span></span></p><p>A missed brain scan could have led to potentially life saving treatment for a young man who died in immigration detention, an inquest jury heard yesterday.</p> <p>Bruno Dos Santos, a 25 year old Angolan, died suddenly at the Verne prison in Dorset on 4 June 2014, alone in his cell.</p> <p>Dr Mark Walker, a neuropathologist who examined brain tissue from the dead man, found swelling consistent with a rare disease called neurosarcoidosis.&nbsp;</p> <p>“The likely cause of death was that an inflammatory process in the brain cells resulted in sudden death,” he said. “Inflammation in this region may have resulted in sudden stoppage of heart or breathing.”</p> <p>Dos Santos, who also suffered from epileptic seizures, had been scheduled to attend an MRI scan months before he died.</p> <p>At the time of the appointment, 24 February 2014, Dos Santos was being held as an immigration detainee at HMP Thameside, a private prison run by Serco, with healthcare contracted to Care UK. Staff refused to let him attend the appointment due to “security reasons”, the senior coroner Mr Sheriff Payne said.</p> <p>Dr Cocco, a neurologist, said that a brain scan appointment could have led to life saving treatment.</p> <p>“It was probable that I would have seen abnormalities and definite that I would have made further investigations,” he told the inquest jury at Dorchester county hall.</p> <p>Doctors have to rule out multiple causes of brain swelling before arriving at a diagnosis of neurosarcoidosis.</p> <p>Although this takes time, Dr Cocco said tests could have been completed before Dos Santos died.</p> <p>“I could have obtained all the results within two to three months… Most probably a diagnosis would have been made between 24 April and 24 May,” he said.</p> <p>The neurologist would then have given Dos Santos potentially life saving steroids at least ten days before he died.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nick Brown, a barrister from Doughty Street Chambers who is representing the Dos Santos family, asked the neurologist: “Would he have responded enough to prevent the neurosarcoidosis causing him to go into respiratory or cardiac arrest?”</p> <p>Dr Cocco replied: “Probably in 60 to 70% of cases he would have responded to steroids within days.”&nbsp;</p> <p>A lawyer for the Ministry of Justice, Georgina Woolf, argued that it was unlikely the medical tests would have happened fast enough, telling Dr Cocco:</p> <p>“I wish it was an ideal world but in the real world, on the balance of probabilities, by 4 June it is unlikely that you would have been able to get a clear diagnosis, start treatment and that he would respond.”</p> <p>Dos Santos had swelling in a part of his brain which neuropathologist Dr Walker described as the “most complicated structure in the known universe”.</p> <p>The medulla, or brain stem, sits above the spine and subconsciously controls a persons breathing and heart beat. Dr Walker compared it to a plane’s autopilot.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is not certain whether Dos Santos had already developed this condition at the time of the missed brain scan. Academic literature on the evolution of neurosarcoidosis is scarce.</p> <p>The inquest continues. A verdict is expected today.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-man-25-at-remote-uk-i">Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/private-healthcare-company-care-uk-cancelled-immigr">Private healthcare company Care UK cancelled immigration detainee’s brain scan</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Phil Miller Thu, 26 May 2016 23:00:19 +0000 Phil Miller 102480 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Private healthcare company Care UK cancelled immigration detainee’s brain scan https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/private-healthcare-company-care-uk-cancelled-immigr <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jury hears that HMP Thameside staff didn’t know the rules concerning hospital appointments. Bruno Dos Santos Inquest, Day Three.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/after complaint.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/after complaint.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="186" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>HMP Thameside (Serco corporate image)</span></span></span></p><p>Healthcare staff at Thameside Prison in London were unaware that a young man in their care was detained for immigration purposes, which led to him missing a hospital appointment that might have saved his life, an inquest jury heard yesterday. </p> <p>Bruno Dos Santos, 25, was detained at HMP Thameside for several months from September 2013 until May 2014, a court sitting in Dorchester was told yesterday. In May he was transferred to the Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Dorset, where he died on 4 June.&nbsp; </p> <p>Dos Santos had a complex medical history and was taking medication for epilepsy, depression and shoulder pain. He suffered from severe epileptic fits and had dislocated both shoulders as a result of frequent seizures. In February 2014, while detained at Thameside, Dos Santos was assessed by Dr Giovanni Cocco, a consultant neurologist. </p> <p>Following the appointment Dr Cocco wrote to a GP working at the prison, whose healthcare provider at the time was private contractor Care UK, explaining that the young man’s fits were a result of trauma after being knocked down by car aged 10. After the car accident Dos Santos was in a coma for two or three days. He then spent several months in hospital re-learning how to walk, talk and carry out basic tasks. Dr Cocco recommended Dos Santos undergo an MRI, EEG and an ECG, and that his anti-epileptic medication be increased gradually. An MRI appointment was booked for 23 February. </p> <p>The court heard that Rida Kamsilla, a nurse working at Thameside, spoke to Dos Santos the day before his appointment on 23 February. When he told her about it, she told the wing officer that Dos Santos “is not going anywhere tomorrow”. She then passed the same message on to the senior nurse on duty asking for the appointment to be cancelled. Nurse Kamsilla told the court that she was following prison policy at the time, which was that patients should not be given dates regarding external appointments. This was for security reasons, she said. </p> <p>Nick Brown, the barrister representing the family, suggested that Nurse Kamsilla had been “over officious” in making this decision. “It was not your decision to make,” he said. Instead, he said, she should have passed it on to another member of staff to carry out a proper risk assessment. She replied that she was simply following the policy. Brown asked if the policy was written anywhere and nurse Kamsilla replied that it was not. Brown then questioned the nurse about Dos Santos’s immigration status.</p> <p>Brown: “Were you aware that he was an immigration detainee?”</p> <p>Kamsilla: “No, I was not aware.”</p> <p>Brown: “Were you aware of the policy on immigration detainees at that time?”</p> <p>Kamsilla: “No.”</p> <p>Brown then read from the Detention Services Order 2012 which states that: “Every effort must be made to keep and fulfil medical appointments of detainees, both those arranged prior to and during detention.” </p> <p>The rules also state that external appointments must be considered on a case by case basis, he said. This assessment would consider factors such as the seriousness of the condition of the detainee. </p> <p>“Bruno would have undergone an MRI if a proper risk assessment had been made?” Brown asked Nurse Kamsilla. “Yes,” she answered. </p> <p>Earlier, the jury heard that Dr Esther Okumo, a locum doctor working at Thameside, had also been unaware that Dos Santos was an immigration detainee and not a prisoner at the time. Dr Okumo said she was unaware that there are policies governing the treatment of immigration detainees. </p> <p>Once Dos Santos’s appointment was cancelled there was no follow up to reschedule, the jury heard. Several months after the missed appointment, Dr Cocco wrote to Dr Okumo to ask why he had missed the appointment, and whether another should be booked. Dr Okumo said she was shocked to discover this and immediately rebooked it. Several times during her evidence Dr Okumo mentioned the number of prisoners held at Thameside at the time (approximately 900), and said that errors were sometimes made and missed appointments were a common occurrences. </p> <p>However, when Brown asked if the prison was “under staffed” and unable to offer “proper continuity of care” for prisoners as a result, she said: “I am not going to admit that. It’s not my place … I’m just telling you what goes on.”</p> <p>The court also heard from staff at Belmarsh prison, where Dos Santos was held as prisoner between January and May 2013. He was charged and convicted of robbery and served a sentence of one year and four months. He became an immigration detainee in September 2013 when he moved to Thameside, a private prison run by the outsource company Serco. </p><p>It was revealed that a GP at Belmarsh, Dr Ekpo said he had referred Dos Santos for an MRI scan in January 2013, several months before his move to Thameside. However, there was no record of the referral on the prison’s internal record system and no appointment was made.</p> <p>On 6 May 2014, the court heard that Dos Santos told staff at Thameside that he had suffered another fit during the night. A staff nurse made a note on the prison’s electronic system for managing medical records for prisoners and included a comment from Dos Santos. Brown read it aloud to the court: “The last comment that we have from Bruno is ‘stated that his medication does not work’. He was transferred to the Verne the next day.”</p> <p>The inquest continues. &nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Note: At Serco’s request, on Tuesday 31 May at 15.11 the Serco logo was removed from the image above and the headline changed to make clear that it was Care UK staff who cancelled the brain scan. The original headline was: “Private prison run by Serco cancelled detainee’s brain scan”.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-man-25-at-remote-uk-i">Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Thu, 26 May 2016 21:15:53 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 102479 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-man-25-at-remote-uk-i <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Day Two of the inquest into the death of Bruno Dos Santos.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne--HMIP-Walkway-to-units.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne--HMIP-Walkway-to-units.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Walkway, Verne immigration removal centre (HMIP) </span></span></span></p><p>A young man who died in immigration detention may have suffered a rare disease leading to his death, an inquest heard today.</p> <p>Bruno Dos Santo, 25, was found dead in his cell at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Portland on 4 June 2014. The jury inquest, sitting at Dorchester County Court, heard evidence that following a serious road accident aged 10 in 1998, Dos Santos experienced a change in personality, becoming more aggressive and suffered severe epileptic fits. He was depressed and had tried to take his own life.</p> <p>Dr Simon Rasbridge, the consultant pathologist who carried out the post mortem examination, said the anatomical cause of death was neurosarcoidosis, a form of inflammation of within parts of the brain. The jury inquest, sitting at Dorchester County Court, heard evidence that neurosarcoidosis is a rare disease and that its cause is unknown.</p> <p>Dr Rasbridge said that lesions were present in Dos Santos’s mid-brain, home to important centres that “keep your heart beating and keep you breathing”. He added: “Any disease process that affects this will have a profound effect on breathing or the heart beating.” Dr Rasbridge sent the lesions on to expert neuropathologist Dr Mark Walker to examine. The jury was told that Dr &nbsp;Walker had written a report which diagnosed neurosarcoidosis.</p> <p>Nick Brown, the barrister representing Dos Santos’s relatives, questioned the reliability of this diagnosis. Brown argued that Dr Walker’s report was couched in probabilities and that the language used suggested that the diagnosis was “not quite 100%”. Georgina Woolf, the lawyer representing the Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service, interrupted Brown’s examination to ask whether the line of questioning had strayed beyond Dr Rasbridge’s expertise. &nbsp;</p> <p>Brown told the court that it was important to assess why neurosarcoidosis has been diagnosed, given the rarity of the disease and Dos Santos’s lack of symptoms of the disease before his death. In light of these facts, he said, Dr Walker’s report “does not provide confidence”. Brown added that this was especially important because there could be another cause of death: sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. </p> <p>Dr Rasbridge said there was no proof that epilepsy was the cause of death, but when questioned further said that in the absence of symptoms of neurosarcoidosis, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy could be a potential cause of Dos Santos’s death. </p> <p>At the time of his death, Dos Santos had been prescribed carbamazepine, an anti-epileptic drug, and anti-depressants. Police found two full packs of unused carbamazepine tablets, one half empty packet and a full pack of pain relief tablets. This suggests Dos Santos had missed several days of medication before he died, the court heard. </p> <p>Dr Mark Walker is due to give evidence on Thursday. </p> <p>The inquest continues.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Tue, 24 May 2016 23:00:05 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 102406 at https://www.opendemocracy.net G4S suspends 5 staff over alleged attempts to massage 999 response figures https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-suspends-5-staff-over-alleged-attempts-to-massage-999-res <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Commercial partners G4S and Lincolnshire Police are jointly investigating fake emergency calls that made outsourcing look good.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Three years ago the security company G4S boasted that it had radically improved emergency call handling times for Lincolnshire Police.&nbsp;</p><p>John Shaw, managing director for G4S policing support services, which took over the bulk of Lincolnshire’s operations in 2012,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-22338332">told the BBC</a>&nbsp;that with G4S involved: “Hopefully the service people get from the police is as good as it was, if not better.”</p><p>Today G4S admitted that it had suspended 5 members of staff working with Lincolnshire Police “following an investigation led by the force with support from G4S”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Screenshot 2016-05-23 16.15.01-.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Screenshot 2016-05-23 16.15.01-.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="239" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>2013: G4S boasts of improved performance on 999 calls</span></span></span></p> <p>G4S claimed it was cooperating with an investigation into “allegations that members of staff in the force control room made repeated 999 'test calls' at quiet times to improve perceived overall call handling performance.”</p> <p>Again John Shaw popped up, this time to <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2016/05/23/G4S%20disciplinary%20action%20against%20staff%20at%20Lincolnshire%20Police/">reassure the public</a>: “We have suspended 5 employees today and have taken swift action to begin our investigation process,” he said.</p> <p>Shaw claimed he was “dismayed that this group of staff sought to influence important performance measurements. We continue to work closely with the force and share any data and other information required.”</p> <p>Should the public trust G4S and Lincolnshire police to investigate? </p><p>Perhaps not. </p><p>The pair are commercial partners in a groundbreaking outsourcing contract, worth £200 million over ten years.</p><p>Just a few years ago G4S and its competitor Serco were caught <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ellie-butt/g4s-serco-fraud-oops-we-couldnt-tell-difference-between-right-and-wrong">cheating the public purse out of tens of millions of pounds</a> on electronic tagging contracts.</p> <p>And the&nbsp;“world’s largest security company”&nbsp;&nbsp;has a long history of blaming rogue employees for corporate wrongdoing.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S-Lincolnshire-Police-Epaulette.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S-Lincolnshire-Police-Epaulette.jpg" alt="" title="" width="200" height="208" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S Lincolnshire police epaulette</span></span></span></p><p>After G4S <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsourcer">cooked a prisoner to death</a> in the back of an overheated van in Western Australia in January 2008, the company tried to lay the blame on two detainee custody officers.</p> <p>When the Western Australia <a href="http://www.safecom.org.au/pdfs/ward-inquest2009-alastair_hope-findings.pdf">State Coroner</a> found in June 2009 that the State, the company and the workers had all contributed to the man’s death, Tim Hall, G4S’s mouthpiece in Australia, insisted on national television that the company’s procedures “<a href="http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2599566.htm">were not totally inadequate. Why this incident happened was because two officers disobeyed an instruction they were given to stop every two hours</a>.”</p> <p>G4S and other outsourcers use performance figures to push the case for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2013/06/24/UK%20Policing%20Support%20Services/">outsourced public services</a>. Today’s revelations suggest that every one of G4S’s performance-related claims should be subjected to renewed, strict and independent scrutiny.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/corporate-power-stamps-its-brand-on-british-policing">Corporate Power stamps its brand on British Policing </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/who-should-investigate-murder-%E2%80%94-police-or-private-security-company-0">Who should investigate murder — the police, or a private security company?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/olympic-bunglers-g4s-recruit-for-hillsborough-inquiry">Olympic bunglers G4S recruit for Hillsborough inquiry</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsource">Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by gigantic outsourcer G4S</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Mon, 23 May 2016 15:31:54 +0000 Clare Sambrook 102348 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Since my brother’s preventable death . . . https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Almost 3 years after Connor Sparrowhawk&nbsp;— who had autism&nbsp;—&nbsp;died at an NHS facility, his brother asks why the system still resists giving respect to people with learning disabilities.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/68257_10151094198400957_865874159_n_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/68257_10151094198400957_865874159_n_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="339" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>At Marble Arch, waiting to catch the bus home after birthday day out. Connor and Tom (by Sara Ryan)</span></span></span></p><p><em>On 4 July 2013, Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath at a facility run by Southern Health NHS Trust. Connor was 18 years old. He had learning disabilities and epilepsy and he had been left to bathe unsupervised behind a locked door. His family’s campaign for transparency provoked an inquiry that revealed Southern had failed to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths. Deaths of learning disabled people were least likely to be investigated. Connor’s brother Tom Ryan writes:</em></p> <p>It’s been nearly three years since Connor passed away, three years that have gone strangely quick and have had a huge amount of low points but also some amazing moments, my personal favourite being the <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140708/halltext/140708h0002.htm?dm_i=6N7,2M284,GPCQXA,9LHU3,1">mentions of Connor in parliament</a>, something I can imagine him being ecstatic about. Being so young at the time it happened, 13 years old, I was very naïve about a lot of things, the NHS, the British legal system and general parliamentary workings. I genuinely believed that as a country everyone important would come together to sort out the mess that is the mental health care system we have.&nbsp;</p> <p>That idea faded extremely quickly, but still I figured once the first damning report had come out then change would surely follow. Again I was wrong. The one thing I’ve learnt from this experience is that you can have all the evidence you need to prove wrongdoing but if enough people of importance are tangled up in it then you will never have enough to actually see change occur.</p> <p>The way that Southern Health has treated my family has shown how complacent they are with being rubbish. They <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don%E2%80%99t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">treat my family as a problem</a> that they need to be rid of, instead of engaging with us and actually making a better care system. Given the option I feel they would rather get rid of my parents and keep things rubbish than actually put any work in to change things and provide a good service.&nbsp;</p> <p>I can watch the chief executive Katrina Percy say she’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35070743">“really, really sorry”</a> like some five year old who broke a plate, countless times, but what I haven’t seen once in the last three years is actual evidence of change for the better, or even just an attempt to engage and listen to families.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ch6x2nsWwAEZjdZ.jpg-large.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ch6x2nsWwAEZjdZ.jpg-large.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Craftivism by George Julian #JusticeforLB</span></span></span>Listening to families should be such an obvious part of providing care for someone’s son, daughter, sister, brother. We are their family, we aren’t going to try to cause harm or be problematic. </p><p>When a mother tells you <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">she’s sure her son’s had a seizure</a>, he has. It isn’t just a case of putting some Bonjela on their tongue (that’s what happened to Connor) and saying you have it under control.</p> <p>And when a mother stands up in your board meeting and tells you she’s read the <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf">Mazars report</a> that revealed Southern had failed to investigate hundreds of deaths, and tells you this:</p> <p>“For a parent of a young person with learning disabilities and autism the report reads like an apocalyptic nightmare.”</p> <p>And tells you: “The current board really needs to stand down as a matter of urgency and allow competent, skilled, committed individuals . . . to take charge.”</p> <p>That’s not a time for your chair, Mike Petter, to say “already answered that, next”. That’s a time to think “We are a healthcare provider, yet this mum doesn’t feel like her son’s being cared for. How can we solve this?”</p> <p>If we go back to the start, when Connor passed away, we see Southern Health claiming that Connor died of “natural causes”. That wasn’t true. My brother’s death was fully preventable. Last October an inquest jury said neglect contributed to his death. Even then, more than two years after Connor passed away, Southern Health still hadn’t worked out how to keep epileptic patients safe. <a href="https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Sparrowhawk-2015-0445.pdf">The Coroner told them</a> to take action to prevent future deaths.&nbsp;</p> <p>Straight away we see the characteristics which over the last three years have become inseparable from Southern Health: childishness, deceitfulness and a lack of accountability.&nbsp;</p> <p>From the outset they refused to admit it was their fault and did all they could to bury Connor’s death along with so many others. </p><p>The ridiculous thing about all of this is that when I look at what families demand from Southern Health and the way that they just don’t change I sometimes worry that maybe we are asking a lot or being unreasonable. But then I list the demands of the families and they shouldn’t even be demands, they are such basic requests that if asked on behalf of any other group in society would’ve been dealt with straight away with no barriers. So why does it take so long when it’s for those with learning difficulties? </p> <p>I was speaking to a friend about all the events and he said something that really struck me. I’ve known him for as long as I can remember and he was round our house a lot growing up.&nbsp;He said that he didn’t really realise Connor was autistic till after he died. Which I think really shows flaws in the system we have in place, one which puts a huge emphasis on the difference of people and isolates many by doing so. </p> <p>My mum talked of her dream that an outcome of all this saying she would love a society where disability wasn’t even mentioned because it wasn’t at all important as everyone was treated equally and worked to help each other. I think that’s a great dream to have but the sad thing is, which my mum points out, is that with the way things are at the moment it’s unreachable.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">We can't stop thinking about this dream of <a href="https://twitter.com/sarasiobhan">@sarasiobhan</a> 's. Wouldn't it just be incredible? <a href="https://t.co/g4ugkT9Zl5">https://t.co/g4ugkT9Zl5</a> <a href="https://t.co/WexHTdOa6W">pic.twitter.com/WexHTdOa6W</a></p>— My Life My Choice (@mylifemychoice1) <a href="https://twitter.com/mylifemychoice1/status/723161111189659648">April 21, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>The way that the government and NHS do absolutely nothing to improve on the issues just adds to the way in which these people are isolated from everyone else in society. If you look at the findings in Mazars, the hundreds of unexpected and uninvestigated deaths, and imagine it wasn’t people with disabilities, and it was a different group, we wouldn’t have it. The government would be all over it to make sure it wasn’t something that ever happened again. Yet since Mazars the only action we have really seen from the likes of Jeremy Hunt is that he wants more reports. More reports? How many reports does it take to see someone actually take responsibility for their actions? How many will it take to see something actually happen?</p> <p>We have reached a point where it’s the government’s duty to take charge and to make change happen. At the moment all we have learnt is that even if you are in the right you can campaign for three years tirelessly for positive change that will benefit so many in society, bearing in mind the actual change won’t help my family as sadly it’s too late for Connor. And still nothing can happen. It’s the duty of those in any position of power to make change, be it NHS, parliament or the police, to show all the families that are campaigning that change does happen and that they are being listened to. Isn’t that what democracy is for?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li><span>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a><span>&nbsp;at openDemocracy.</span></li><li>@CLARESAMBROOK</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><h2>Notes</h2> <ul><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;• Tom’s and Connor’s mother Sara Ryan blogged throughout Connor’s time at Slade House and has continued to do so since his death.&nbsp;<a href="http://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/">Here is her blog</a>.</li><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;• Connor’s family is supported by the charity <a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/">INQUEST</a>, and represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Charlotte Haworth of Bindmans solicitors.</li><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;• Details of the Care Quality Commission inspection report of December 2013 can be found&nbsp;<a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/media/news/care-quality-commission-damning-report-on-unit-where-connor-sparrowhawk">here</a>.</li><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;• The Verita report, commissioned by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which confirms&nbsp;that the Connor’s death could have been prevented,&nbsp;can be found&nbsp;<a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news/report-into-death-sparrowhawk/">here</a>, along with a statement of regret from Southern Health’s chief executive Katrina Percy. (February 2014)</li><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;• The Mazars review: Independent review of deaths of people with a Learning Disability or Mental Health problem in contact with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust April 2011 to March 2015 <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf">PDF here</a>. (December 2016)</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/human-rights-at-government-s-discretion">Human rights — at the government’s discretion </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Tom Ryan Sun, 08 May 2016 23:00:05 +0000 Tom Ryan 101921 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Body">A leaked document reveals that an NHS England Trust knew of failings 10 months before a young man died in its care.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connorsparrowhawk_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connorsparrowhawk_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Body">Tuesday morning brought fresh shock to the family of Connor Sparrowhawk, a quirky, funny young man who drowned following a seizure in a bath at an NHS facility nearly three years ago.</p> <p class="Body">On Tuesday Connor’s mother, Sara Ryan, received a copy of a leaked NHS document, dated August 2012, that noted failings at the facility, failings that might have set alarm bells ringing a full 10 months before Connor’s death.</p> <p class="Body">Late last year an inquest jury at Oxford Coroner’s court determined that Connor, who had learning disabilities and epilepsy, had drowned following a seizure in the bath at the Southern Health NHS Trust unit knows as STATT (short-term assessment and treatment team) in Slade House, at Headington, near Oxford. He was 18 years old.</p> <p class="Body">The jury said that Connor’s death, on 4 July 2013, had been “contributed to by neglect”, that there was a lack of training and leadership at the unit and poor communication between staff and the family.</p> <p class="Body">Connor was known to be epileptic, and his mother had warned staff —&nbsp;in writing — that he had an injury to his tongue that suggested a recent seizure. Yet Connor was allowed to bathe unsupervised and behind a closed door. (A support worker at Connor’s inquest said she used a key to open the door which suggests it was locked.)</p> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Justicequilt-6.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Justicequilt-6.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor with his stepdad, Rich, and brothers Owen and Tom 2 weeks before his death (Sara Ryan)</span></span></span></p><p class="Body">The document leaked this week, dated 22nd August 2012 and headed “Quality and Safety Review Update”, suggests that Southern Health NHS Foundation was aware of failings at the unit 10 months before Connor died and three months before they officially took over the provision in November 2012.</p> <p class="Body">Among detailed criticisms of the short term assessment unit, the document notes a “lack of clarity” in patient care plans. It was “difficult to track care for patients, identify the reason for admission”.</p> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3southernhealthconnorcollage.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3southernhealthconnorcollage.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Extracts from document dated 22 August 2012</span></span></span>The move of information onto an electronic record system (known as RiO) was “limited”. The document identified “a gap between what is up to date in paper form and what is now being recorded on the RiO.”</p> <p class="Body">(Or rather, it noted: there “seems to be a gap”. Either there was or there wasn’t a gap. The lack of clarity and rigour in the document itself is revealing).</p> <p class="Body">Clinical team meetings, held each week, lacked information. Staff were aware that there had been an audit of care plans on the RiO system, but “they were not aware of any results or action plans to make improvements”.</p> <p class="Body">There were concerns about cleanliness, maintenance and repairs, particularly in the bathrooms “where floors, tiles and units are worn or damaged.” And: “Some items such as broken floor tiles would represent a risk, particularly if a patient might self harm.” </p> <p class="Body">Connor’s brother Tom, now 16 years old, read the leaked document on Tuesday. He said: “This latest news is really sad. It’s not like they were crap because they didn’t check what they were doing. They checked and they didn’t care.”</p><p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/68257_10151094198400957_865874159_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/68257_10151094198400957_865874159_n.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="339" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor and his brother Tom (Sara Ryan)</span></span></span></p> <p class="Body">This is only the latest in a series of shocking discoveries for Connor’s family, who were initially informed by Southern Health that he had died of “natural causes”.</p> <p class="Body">Connor’s mother Sara Ryan has recorded <a href="https://mydaftlife.com/category/laughing-boy-tales/">on her blog</a> that during the inquest “the big shocker (and there were several)” was the revelation on Day 4 that a patient had died in 2006 in the same bath in which Connor drowned.</p> <p class="Body">Ryan wrote: “The Responsible Clinician let it be known, through her counsel, that she had been actively discouraged by members of . .&nbsp; senior management from raising the issue of this earlier death. In the same bath . . . Ground spinning stuff.”</p> <p>In the aftermath of Connor’s death, and in response to his family’s relentless campaigning, NHS England commissioned an audit of deaths at Southern Health from the audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars. </p> <p>Their report, published in December last year (there’s a PDF <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf">here</a>), found that Southern had failed to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths, and that the likelihood of a death being investigated depended heavily on the patient’s profile. Deaths of learning disabled people were least likely to be investigated. When investigations <em>were</em> carried out, said Mazars: “There was a very poor quality of written investigations at all stages.”</p> <p>Mazars wrote: “A culture across the Trust has developed that means there was an absence of mortality review in Mental Health and Learning Disability which results in lost learning, a lack of transparency when care and delivery problems occur as well as a lack of assurance to families and commissioners that a death was not avoidable and has been properly investigated.”</p> <p>The morning after Connor’s death, according to an internal document dated 5 July 2013, Southern Health took the trouble to note “potential media interest” in the incident. That document holds yet another disturbing revelation. The Trust that so thoroughly failed to safeguard Connor Sparrowhawk had, for months, devoted time and resources to monitoring his mother’s blog.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Cf7zRVyWwAA6J0o.jpg-large blue.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Cf7zRVyWwAA6J0o.jpg-large blue.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;</p> <h2>Notes</h2> <ul><li>• Sara Ryan blogged throughout Connor’s time at Slade House and has continued to do so since Connor’s death.&nbsp;<a href="http://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/">Here is her blog</a>.</li><li>• Connor Sparrowhawk’s family is supported by the charity <a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/">INQUEST</a>, and represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Charlotte Haworth of Bindmans solicitors.</li><li>• Details of the Care Quality Commission inspection report of November 2013 can be found&nbsp;<a href="https://mydaftlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/cqc-slade-house-final-report-1.pdf">here</a>.</li><li>• The Verita report, commissioned by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which confirms&nbsp;that Connor’s death could have been prevented,&nbsp;can be found&nbsp;<a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news/report-into-death-sparrowhawk/">here</a>, along with a statement of regret from Southern Health’s chief executive Katrina Percy. (February 2014)</li><li>• The Mazars review: Independent review of deaths of people with a Learning Disability or Mental Health problem in contact with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust April 2011 to March 2015 <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf">PDF here</a>. (December 2016)</li></ul> <p class="Body">&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/human-rights-at-government-s-discretion">Human rights — at the government’s discretion </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Wed, 13 Apr 2016 23:00:26 +0000 Clare Sambrook 101354 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The UK government’s inversion of accountability https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What to make of a government that increasingly excuses its actions from legal accountability while demanding more and more accountability from citizens?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Conservative party website.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Conservative party website.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="202" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservative Party website)</span></span></span></p><p>What does democratic accountability entail? At a minimum, we expect our government to comply with fundamental human rights norms and with the rule of law, to take responsibility for its actions and offer redress to those adversely affected, through the courts. But David Cameron’s government is changing the meaning of accountability. It is increasingly treating compliance with international legal norms and human rights as optional. It is systematically attacking the mechanisms of legal accountability, through legal aid cuts, removal of appeals, hiking court fees and even by vilifying human rights lawyers. While seeking to loosen, dilute or remove mechanisms of redress for violations, it is demanding more and more accountability from citizens – not just in terms of our own actions being policed more intensively, but also forcing us to become involved in the policing and monitoring of others.</p> <h2><strong>Human rights norms optional</strong></h2> <p>In October 2015, the ministerial code was amended to remove references to ministers’ obligations to comply with international law when carrying out their duties. This quiet change, which the government insists will make no difference in practice, seems to come from the same approach to government which underlay the justice ministry’s 2014 proposal to make the European Convention on Human Rights ‘advisory only’: the idea that government compliance with international human rights norms it has signed up to is optional.</p> <p>So we should not be surprised at the announcement on 7 March that UK troops are to help <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/07/uk-military-to-join-nato-refugee-patrols-in-aegean">intercept and return</a> refugees trying to reach Europe from Turkey – actions denounced a few years ago by the <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/commission-refugee-push-backs-are-illegal/">EU Commission</a> and by the <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2012/02/italy-historic-european-court-judgment-upholds-migrants-rights/">European Court of Human Rights</a> as ‘collective expulsions’ violating EU and international human rights law. The week before, home secretary Theresa May <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/feb/27/theresa-may-criticised-for-compassion-quota-in-asylum-strategy">announced</a> a ‘compassion quota’ which would limit numbers of refugees accepted outside official resettlement programmes and possibly deny access to refugee determination procedures to overstaying students and foreign national offenders – measures which would breach the Refugee Convention. It appears that the government, having realised that repealing human rights laws would be too fraught with political and legal difficulties, has decided simply to ignore them when they interfere with policy objectives. Whether in the field of foreign policy, arms sales, business operations abroad or refugee reception, the government has sought to avoid international legal obligations, or dilute them by re-interpretation.<a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Credit-Dasa-Raimanova-Docs-not-Cops.jpg"></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Credit-Dasa-Raimanova-Docs-not-Cops.jpg"></a></p> <p>The UK is of course not the only European state seeking to evade international obligations towards refugees, nor the only EU state to treat rescue, decent reception and treatment of refugees as a ‘pull factor’. But the UK’s island status has left it largely unaffected by the surge in refugee numbers across Europe over the past year. This renders more shameful the Home Office’s refusal to participate in the EU’s inadequate reallocation scheme, or to contemplate a change in the Dublin regulation which would require the UK to take a fairer share of asylum seekers, or even to take responsibility for the hundreds of children stuck in the Calais camps or risking their lives to join family members in the UK. Since being ordered to by a court in a <a href="http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/IAC/2016/61.html">test case</a>, the Home Office has brought just a dozen or so children and one vulnerable adult from northern France to the UK.</p> <p>British foreign policies have, according to many commentators, helped to create the refugee crisis. But far from taking responsibility, the Foreign Office is actively downgrading the role of human rights in foreign policy, systematically subordinating them to trade and security concerns according to the UK director of Human Rights Watch, David Mepham in evidence to the <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/foreign-affairs-committee/the-foreign-and-commonwealth-offices-administration-and-funding-of-its-human-rights-work-overseas/oral/29524.pdf">Foreign Affairs Committee</a>. </p> <p>And while the European Parliament voted for an EU-wide arms embargo on Saudi Arabia because of its bombing of Yemen, the prime minister was celebrating Britain’s <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/25/david-cameron-brilliant-uk-arms-exports-saudi-arabia-bae">‘brilliant’ arms sales</a> to Saudi Arabia — a breach of the Arms Trade Treaty signed by the UK in 2014, according to Amnesty International’s <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/foreign-affairs-committee/the-foreign-and-commonwealth-offices-administration-and-funding-of-its-human-rights-work-overseas/oral/29524.pdf">Kate Allen</a>. Some of the world’s most authoritarian regimes are&nbsp;welcomed to the <a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/issues/arms-fairs/security-and-policing">Security and Policing</a> arms fair, organised by the Home Office together with the arms industry’s trade body ADS. Meanwhile, Amnesty International <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/sites/default/files/uk_ncp_complaints_handling_full_report_lores_0.pdf">reports</a> that the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ National Contact Point, which monitors compliance with OECD guidelines on (<em>inter alia</em>) human rights by multinational corporations operating abroad, is systematically letting multinationals including G4S and mining corporations off the hook.</p> <h2><strong>Legal redress curtailed</strong></h2> <p>Amnesty’s <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/united-kingdom/report-united-kingdom/">annual report</a> on the UK for 2015-16 documents concerns raised by the UN Human Rights Committee on the independence and impartiality of the Intelligence and Security Committee, which was tasked with investigating UK complicity in torture, after its failure to pursue the hobbled <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/06/gibson-inquiry-rendition-david-cameron-uk-torture">Gibson inquiry’s</a> interim conclusions on British involvement in rendition and support for torture. </p> <p>Meanwhile, the government continues its fight to prevent claims about British complicity in unlawful rendition from being heard in court at all. In November the Supreme Court heard the government’s appeal against a ruling that Libyan dissidents kidnapped and returned to Gaddafi’s dungeons had a right to a hearing in a UK court. But even if the case does get heard, the plaintiffs are likely to be shut out from much of the evidence, under the secret evidence provisions of the 2013 Justice and Security Act, condemned in a <a href="https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/01/19/european-parliament-criticises-uk-courts-secret-evidence/">report</a> for the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee as a threat to the rule of law.</p> <p>The government’s attempts to curtail legal redress for victims of human rights abuses by British soldiers in Iraq have taken a different form. </p> <p>Although the Ministry of Defence has so far paid out <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3372879/Payouts-Afghans-Iraqis-total-25m-5-800-claims-countries-result-military-action.html">around £20 million in compensation</a> to Iraqi civilians in settlement of 323 claims of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and unlawful detention (leaving over 600 civil claims and 1,400 related cases of judicial review pending), the MoD and the prime minister have <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-camerons-attack-on-war-crimes-industry-rejected-by-lawyers-a6828476.html">publicly vilified</a> the lawyers involved in the cases. Another tactic to stop the cases reaching court has been to cut off payment for them, through curtailing ‘No win no fee’ agreements and imposing a residence test for legal aid, which denies legal aid to anyone without one year’s lawful residence in the UK. The High Court ruled that, since access to justice is a fundamental right, and ‘he who is subject to English law is entitled to its protection’, the residence test unlawfully discriminated against foreigners. The Court of Appeal <a href="http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/legal-aid-residence-test-ruled-lawful/5052468.fullarticle">reversed</a> the ruling, and the issue is currently before the Supreme Court.</p> <p>Apart from cutting legal aid, other ways in which the government has sought to restrict access to the courts for those without ample means include pushing up court fees, in some cases <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/576/article/2/made">up to £10,000</a>, tightening rules for judicial review and abolishing immigration appeals except those raising asylum or human rights claims.</p> <p>In the fields of asylum support and immigration detention, the lack of accountability is particularly striking, as even successful legal challenges result in no change to policy. A successful judicial review in 2014 of the home secretary’s freezing of asylum support for three years at an unliveable amount resulted in a new decision, but <a href="http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/about/media_centre/our_news/1248_home_office_announces_asylum_support_rates_will_remain_unchanged_following_review_despite_legal_challenge">no increase</a> – and since then, the rate for children has been slashed, and the Immigration Bill proposes to remove support from most refused asylum seeking families, and to abolish the right of appeal against refusal or withdrawal of support (which had a success rate of over 60 percent). Similarly, despite <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/a-crisis-of-harm">six judicial rulings since 2011</a> that detention has amounted to inhuman treatment for particularly vulnerable immigration detainees, millions of pounds paid out to hundreds of detainees for unlawful detention, a strongly worded all-party parliamentary group <a href="http://detentioninquiry.com/report/">report</a>,&nbsp;a Westminster Hall <a href="http://detentioninquiry.com/">vote by MPs</a>&nbsp;and a House of Lords vote,&nbsp;the government sets its face against curtailing the use of immigration detention or imposing a statutory time limit. </p> <p>And despite the&nbsp;<a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/further-defeat-for-government-over-fast-track-asylum-process">suspension</a> of the ‘detained fast track’ for asylum seekers following court rulings that the speed of decisions and appeals made it so unfair as to be unlawful, and the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf">Shaw review</a> which called for a complete ban on the detention of pregnant asylum seekers and a much-reduced use of detention for others, survivors of torture, trafficking and other ill-treatment continue to be detained.</p> <h2><strong>Dissent stifled</strong></h2> <p>Political accountability too has been attacked, as charities and voluntary sector organisations have seen their freedom to criticise government policy limited by restrictions brought in through the 2014 <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/4/resources">Lobbying Act</a>. This was followed up in February 2016 by a Cabinet Office fiat that all organisations receiving government funding are to be <a href="http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/leading-charities-join-to-oppose-government-gagging-order">forbidden</a> from criticising the government. The critical voice of the Third Sector, vital for revealing and correcting abuses and excesses, is being muffled, if not silenced.</p> <h2><strong>More and more policing</strong></h2> <p>At the same time as the government seeks to reduce its own accountability, it makes more and more demands on its citizens, in a trend that has been growing for decades but is now accelerating to an extraordinary extent. Citizens must submit passively to more and more policing: of their bodies, through scans and searches, biometric controls and CCTV; their vehicles, through automated number-plate recognition (ANPR); their communications, through ‘bulk interception’, data retention and mining; their opinions and associations, to ensure they are not ‘extremist’. Proof of identity and of lawful status is required to receive hospital treatment; to get a job or enrol in higher education; to get married; to claim any welfare benefit, or social or emergency housing; to rent a room or a flat from a private landlord; and under the Immigration Bill going through parliament, to get a driving licence or to open and retain a bank account. Under the Bill, designed to embed a ‘hostile environment’ for the undocumented, drivers must submit to being stopped not for alcohol consumption but to prove lawful status in the UK, to avoid arrest, and confiscation of their vehicle.</p> <p>And it is not just police and immigration officers who police migrants. Staff in hospitals, in local authorities, universities and colleges, prospective employers in the private, voluntary and public sectors, bank staff and landlords, as well as road haulage contractors, train, airline and shipping operators have all been conscripted into immigration control, with varying degrees of coercion, in a process which is now more or less taken for granted.</p> <p>The penalisation of carriers who unwittingly bring ‘inadequately documented’ migrants into the UK is decades old. Now, the government seeks to increase penalties from £2,000 to £7,000 per passenger. But why should truck drivers, train operators, shipping companies and airlines be regulated and penalised for something which, unlike say passenger safety, is extraneous to their business? Not to mention that the treatment of people as contraband offers disturbing echoes of the treatment of slaves as cargo in earlier centuries.</p> <p>Employer sanctions have been used for twenty years to enforce policies restricting rights to work for asylum seekers and migrants. Now, fines are set to double and prison sentences to increase from two to five years for employers hiring undocumented workers. The Immigration Bill contains powers to revoke licenses, to close temporarily businesses employing unauthorised workers, or put them under ‘special measures’ with periodic Home Office inspections. But why should employers be responsible for the immigration status of their employees? And why should this be a higher priority than paying the minimum wage or providing decent and safe conditions? Enforcement of minimum wage and health and safety protections is inadequate and underfunded, and the power of unions to protect workers’ rights is undermined by legislation to restrict trades union activity and rights to take industrial action which violates ILO Conventions as well as human rights law.</p> <p>These penalties for carriers and employers of undocumented people are enshrined in EU law. But the UK has gone further down the road of co-opting its citizens into immigration policing than most European countries.</p> <p><a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Home-Office2.jpeg"></a></p> <p>Universities and colleges have for several years been required to police their international students’ enrolment, attendance and performance for the Home Office, on pain of losing the right to enrol them. Marriage registrars have since 2002 been under a duty to notify the Home Office of any suspicious proposed marriages (where one party is a non-EU national who may be entering the marriage for immigration purposes). Now, private landlords, who are free to charge what they like and whose freedom to evict tenants is only lightly regulated, can be fined up to £3,000 per occupant for renting property to those without a right to stay in the country. The Immigration Bill proposes even harsher penalties, including sentences of up to five years’ imprisonment for knowingly renting to undocumented migrants.</p> <p>Hospitals, local authority housing and social service departments, banks – all must check immigration status before providing their services. In all these ways, citizens, in their capacity as employers, higher education providers, landlords, health professionals, bank or financial service workers, marriage registrars, transport workers, are expected to be accountable to the state for policing migrants, and are required to be so on pain of penalty. Since rights to work, to housing and health care are all enshrined in international human rights law, these provisions in fact coerce citizens’ compliance with violations of human rights, sometimes (in the case of employers and landlords) on pain of criminal penalties. </p> <p>The duties of health professionals, employers and landlords, unlike marriage registrars and colleges, are to deny jobs and services to the undocumented, and do not extend to denunciation. But many workers in these fields may not appreciate the distinction, and it may be that they account for the bulk of the <a href="http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/An-inspection-of-the-Intelligence-Management-System-FINAL-WEB.pdf">75,000 allegations</a> added to the Home Office’s online Intelligence Management System in 2013. If not, the volume of denunciations suggests that the poisonous climate engendered by the unremitting scapegoating of migrants, and undocumented migrants in particular, has fed a public appetite. An official government website encourages citizens to inform on undocumented migrants, and supplies various ways of doing so anonymously, by phone or online. It advises “in an emergency, dial 999 and ask for the police” — suggesting that being undocumented may be as inherently threatening as waving a gun.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/report an immigration crime.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/report an immigration crime.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="235" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Migration is not the only field where citizens are encouraged to inform on each other. In the field of welfare benefits, similar vilification of claimants has led to an even greater volume of benefit fraud allegations, with more than 1.6 million denunciations by members of the public between 2010 and 2015, of which, according to the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/27/false-benefit-fraud-allegations"><em>Observe</em></a><em>r</em>, 85% were unfounded. (The proportion of unfounded ‘illegal immigrant’ allegations is unknown.)</p> <h2><strong>Policing ‘pre-crime’</strong></h2> <p>That statistic of 85% is fairly close to the <a href="https://yahyabirt1.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/channel-referrals-are-shrouded-in-too-much-secrecy-we-need-better-figures-and-more-transparency-and-accountability/">80</a>%&nbsp;of referrals to the counter-terrorism programme, Channel, rejected as unfounded between 2006 and 2013. But since July 2015, such referrals form part of a new policing duty to which citizens are subject. Teachers and university lecturers, health and social workers, local authority workers, even early years and childcare providers, must under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn in to terrorism.” Statutory guidance makes it clear that this means (amongst other things) spotting those who might be potential terrorists (according to extremely broad criteria) and reporting them to a police-dominated panel, <em>Channel</em>, which is entitled to demand information on them from partner agencies in order to decide on ‘pre-crime interventions’. Those professionals who fail to comply with the Prevent duty can be made subject to mandatory orders compelling compliance, and in the final analysis could be sent to prison for contempt. But the government is unlikely to want or need to resort to such draconian enforcement, given that for most of those under the new duty will comply – in fact over-comply – for fear of losing their job. Since most professionals have no idea what they’re looking for, and the guidance is so vague as to be almost totally subjective and indicates that if in doubt, refer on a ‘precautionary basis’, it is no surprise that those referred to the Channel panel are disproportionately Muslim, or that such a high proportion of referrals are unfounded.</p><p>Now that monitoring obligations have been imposed on education, welfare and health professionals among others, extreme concern has been voiced by <a href="https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/prevent-strategy-%E2%80%98teachers-aren%E2%80%99t-counter-terrorism-experts-and-don">teachers</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/feb/07/anti-terror-laws-academic-debate-oxford-college-ken-macdonald-prevent-strategy-university">university</a> and <a href="http://feweek.co.uk/2015/09/21/damned-if-you-report-damned-if-you-dont-prevent">college</a> heads, <a href="http://simonhooper.com/2015/09/20/toddlers-targeted-by-uk-1984-style-anti-terror-laws/">child care</a> and <a href="http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2015/08/25/idea-social-workers-can-predict-will-become-terrorists-science-fiction/">social workers</a>, <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/NHS%20prevent%20extremism">health professionals</a> – in fact representatives of all those tasked with the new duty, as well as by lawyers concerned with counter-terrorism including the UK’s own “counter-terrorism watchdog”&nbsp;<a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-watchdog-calls-review-government-counter-extremism-policy-970029054">David Anderson QC</a>. The scope of the duty, how it is being interpreted, its impact on the way professionals comply with their own codes of conduct, on the rights of those affected, and on the relationship of trust between the professionals and the children, young persons and families with whom they work, have all been <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/an-open-discussion-about-counter-radicalisation-measures-in-schools-should-be-welcomed/">questioned</a>.&nbsp;As Mayssoun Sukarieh and Stuart Tannock point out, it goes further: the whole purpose of education in particular is subverted by the ‘inversion’ whereby “instead of working with students to train their critical and analytical lens on the state and societies that shape their lives – to foster the ‘healthy doubt … which is the best safeguard against dogmatism and acceptance of authoritarianism …’ the anti-radicalisation movement asks educators to work hand in glove with the state security apparatus to train their analytical lens on students themselves”.*</p><p>Although, in relation to children, the duty is described in terms of ‘safeguarding’, it is apparent that no thought has been given and no responsibility taken for the impact of intervention on children, young people and their parents, nor to the impact on the professionals responsible for delivering the duties.</p> <p>As educationalist Bill Bolloten has noted, “It is a new and dangerous step for schools to include children’s radical political views and expressions of dissent as part of their safeguarding provisions.”&nbsp;</p><p>Perhaps it is time we asked what kind of society we are morphing into, which demands that citizens rigorously police our own and others’ speech, conduct and associations. It is not intuitively obvious that democratic states should require citizens and civil society to participate in policing, whether of national security or of immigration. How have we allowed it to happen, that so many of civil society’s institutions have been co-opted and conscripted in a war against ‘extremism’ and/ or irregular migration? And what can we do to reverse it?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>* See Sukarieh and Tannock, ‘The deradicalisation of education: terror, youth and the assault on learning’, in <em>Race &amp; Class</em> 57:4, Apr-Jun 2016, p29.&nbsp;</p><p>This piece was first published <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-inversion-of-accountability/">here</a> by the Institute of Race Relations. Links to related IRR articles follow below. A shorter version of this article was published in the London Review of Books (Vol 38, No. 7, 2016). View <a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n07/frances-webber/short-cuts">here</a>. </p> <p>IRR report:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/deaths-of-europes-unwanted-and-unnoticed-migrants-exposed/"><em>Unwanted, unnoticed: an audit of 160 asylum and immigration related deaths in Europe</em></a></p> <p>IRR briefing paper:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/publications/issues/driven-to-desperate-measures-2006-2010/"><em>Driven to Desperate Measures: 2006-2010</em></a></p> <p>IRR discussion paper: <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/entitlement-and-belonging-social-restructuring-and-multicultural-britain/"><em>Entitlement and belonging</em>:&nbsp;<em>social restructuring and multicultural Britain</em></a></p> <p>IRR briefing paper:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/accelerated-removals/"><em>Accelerated removals: a study of the human cost of EU deportation policies, 2009-2010</em></a></p> <p>IRR report:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/publications/issues/the-deportation-machine-europe-asylum-and-human-rights/"><em>The deportation machine: Europe, asylum and human rights</em></a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/human-rights-at-government-s-discretion">Human rights — at the government’s discretion </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/frances-webber/farewell-magna-carta-counterterrorism-and-security-bill">Farewell Magna Carta: the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/chapter-two-dodgy-daves-referendum-deal">Dodgy Dave&#039;s referendum deal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/connor-johnston/absurdity-of-mr-grayling-s-residence-test">The absurdity of Mr Grayling’s residence test</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/bed-bugs-and-freight-sheds-britain-s-welcome-to-asylum-seekers">Bed bugs and freight sheds: Britain’s welcome to asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/go-home-texts-expose-anti-migrant-british-policy-to-world">&#039;Go Home&#039; texts expose anti-migrant British policy to the world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight openJustice Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Frances Webber Tue, 12 Apr 2016 18:32:08 +0000 Frances Webber 101318 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How to decolonise mental health services https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/penny-wangari-jones/how-to-decolonise-mental-health-services <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="p1">UK mental health service providers are still failing to deal with race and ethnicity.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="p1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541222/penny wangari-jones.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541222/penny wangari-jones.jpg" alt="Mental health services are failing people from minority communities in the UK. Credit: Shutterstock." title="" width="460" height="321" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mental health services are failing people from minority communities in the UK. Credit: Shutterstock.</span></span></span></p><p class="p1"><span>Before </span><a href="http://www.schizophreniainquiry.org/news/black-and-mad">David 'Rocky' Bennett’s death</a><span> in a psychiatric unit 18 years ago, he sent a letter to the nurse director, pointing out there were no black staff members. He wrote: “There are over half a dozen black boys in this clinic. I don’t know if you have realised that there are no Africans on your staff at the moment”. Bennett died while being held down by four staff members at a psychiatric unit after a violent altercation with another patient and a nurse. Looking at the circumstances around his untimely death, it’s clear his blackness was threatening to staff members. He had been using the mental health for at least a decade, yet his needs as a black Rastafarian were not being met.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1">Bennett’s death was a catalyst for what became ‘delivering race equality’ in health, however the cuts since 2010 mean little is currently being done.&nbsp;He is just one example of the mental health system failing people of colour - Sarah Reed, who died in a prison cell earlier this year after having been sexually assaulted, is a more recent case, but the list is far, far longer.</p> <p class="p1">61% of refugees are likely to experience a <a href="http://www.touchstonesupport.org.uk/2015/10/mental-health-framework-newsletter/">mental health crisis</a> or breakdown. Most will have experienced trauma before their arrival in UK, forced to deal with a complicated, bureaucratic immigration system. Refugees face the challenges of restarting a new life in a new country, often without family members, dealing with culture shock and language issues. Understanding the culturally specific, underlying reasons for their mental ill health could lead to far better treatment.</p> <p class="p1">Minority communities who have been in the UK for several generations are also known to&nbsp;feel <a href="http://gu.com/p/3mee3/sbl">alienated from the health system</a>.&nbsp;This means that often they do not feel comfortable in environments that are supposed to improve their mental health well being.&nbsp;Support is not always timely: reports show that black people are 40 times more likely than white Britons to come into contact with mental health services through the criminal justice system, rather than the general practice referral system.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">There is also evidence that ethnic minority communities are less likely to seek help at an early stage of illness, due to a combination of lack of knowledge and stigma around mental health. But this is not helped by inappropriate or <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/media/273467/the-end-of-delivering-race-equality.pdf">racist models of diagnosis</a> which often lead to poor experiences of mental health services, for example being medicated, restrained and going off radar upon release.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">It currently costs&nbsp;the NHS about £105 billion a year to deliver work on mental&nbsp;health. The NHS also has a specific plan for ‘equality and diversity’, following a catalogue of failures. But the continuing cut backs mean this plan is no longer being regarded as a priority. When it comes to mental health, providers still have little understanding of the nuances in the different cultures of minority ethnic groups. This means treatment that is offered by&nbsp;practitioners&nbsp;is ineffective and at a cost to the&nbsp;taxpayers.</p> <p class="p1">The methods used to diagnose mental health illnesses are western-centric, often rooted in a tradition of Freudianism. This means they do not work universally. Globalisation means we no longer have monocultures in British towns, but mental health systems don’t reflect this.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">Our mental health system needs decolonising, to fit with the communities that live here. For example, witchdoctors and prophets have been known to claim having powers to heal, transmit messages from gods or the dead to family or congregation. In some communities such people are held in high regard, but in others they are seen as delusional and therefore in need of medical intervention.</p> <p class="p1">The Race Equality Foundation found that <a href="http://www.raceequalityfoundation.org.uk/resources/downloads/mental-health-crisis-review-%E2%80%93-experiences-black-and-minority-ethnic-communities">black people are three times more likely</a> to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for schizophrenia. This, in turn, has been attributed to institutional racism or to a racialized definition of traits associated with schizophrenia. Gesticulating or talking&nbsp;loudly is often seen as threatening in western cultures but might be seen as normal, acceptable behaviour in non-western cultures. People have lost lives because of such misconceptions.</p><p class="p1"> Decolonising mental health would allow practitioners to have a better understanding of different communities. This can be achieved through cultural diversity awareness, as well as having a more diverse staff team as people learn about others informally. This would make the services more accessible because a lot of service users are put off by going into places where no one looks like them. It would also place less expectation on the NHS to be the only solution for mental health problems. Communities can look after their own and each other allowing them to practice, for example, the African concept of ‘ubuntu’.</p> <p class="p1">Ubuntu holds that humans feel human through affirmation from other humans and that is achieved through belonging, participating and sharing with others. The concept of lack of belonging and being ‘othered’&nbsp; is one that most minorities say they struggle with. It has been argued for example that individualism in western societies can adversely affect someone who has migrated. Reinstating their qualities of Ubuntu instead of prescribing medication can improve someone’s mental health. An individual’s ability to have a choice of treatments that suit their cultural need would empower someone to feel like an agent and not a problem or victim.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">Looking into the underlying reasons for poor mental health within certain communities and working with the communities to address it would be far better and more cost effective than sectioning someone under the Mental Health Act for a period or several times. Medication should not be the only solution.&nbsp;Instead, working with individuals and families will allow for better understanding of conditions to allow people to make their own choices on what works best.</p> <p class="p1">Intersectionality has in recent years highlighted how multiple barriers can make certain individuals or communities more vulnerable than others. W.E.B Dubois spoke about double consciousness and the effect of internal conflict on an individual living as a minority in an alienating environment. To improve mental health treatment for ethnic minorities would require&nbsp;understanding racial disparities in treatment. This is an example of ‘equity’.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">Assuming everyone has similar health status and health care needs is a false starting point. People experiencing disadvantages mean equality in service is not enough. Equity in this case means patients not getting the same thing, but treating people differently having taken into account their different circumstances. Equity would mean that all sectors would work together to ensure individuals are not slipping through the net.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/anni-liu/say-yes-to-decolonial-love-five-ways-to-resist-oppression-in-your-relationsh">Decolonial love: five ways to resist oppression in your relationships</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/how-to-decolonize-your-yoga-practice">How to decolonize your yoga practice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/aisha-mirza/to-survive-bipolar-disorder-i-needed-people-who-didnt-love-me">To survive bipolar disorder, I needed people who didn&#039;t love me</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/huma/i-wrote-to-recover-from-honour-based-violence">Feminism helped me survive a forced marriage</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/wasi-daniju-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/remembering-sarah-reed">Remembering Sarah Reed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/black-and-dangerous-listening-to-patients-experiences-of-mental">Black and dangerous? Listening to patients’ experiences of mental health services in London</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Transformation uk ShineALight Transformation Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Penny Wangari-Jones Liberation The politics of mental health Activism Care Intersectionality Tue, 05 Apr 2016 09:31:04 +0000 Penny Wangari-Jones 101130 at https://www.opendemocracy.net When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New research adds to weight of evidence in the UK that looked after children are being criminalised.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE: REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p> <p>One late summer afternoon I received a telephone call from a residential worker in a children’s home. They had a problem. A child had climbed onto the roof of the large Victorian house and was refusing to come down. He told staff he wanted to talk to me, his children’s rights officer. I agreed to come straightaway. It was a 10 minute drive. </p><p>As I approached the home, I could see several staff members with heads tilted backwards, looking up at the child and pleading with him to come down. He wouldn’t budge. What got him down from the roof was my offer to talk in private, away from the growing crowd below.</p> <p>Not all situations will be resolved so smoothly, of course, but this example highlights the strength of de-escalation which puts the child at the centre. </p> <p>The staff at this home could have very easily ignored the boy’s request. Or called the police (or the fire brigade). They could have threatened to punish him if he didn’t come down. </p> <p>They did none of these things. I cannot remember exactly why he was so angry but an injustice had occurred, for sure. Talking it through with someone ‘on his side’ helped this vulnerable boy get back on track. The ‘crisis’ was averted with his dignity intact.</p> <p>This happened more than 20 years ago.</p><p>Last week’s report from the Howard League for Penal Reform, called <a href="http://www.howardleague.org/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Publications/Criminal_Care.pdf">‘Criminal Care’</a>, reveals that police attended children’s homes in 17 areas in England and Wales more than 29,000 times in the past three years. That’s an astonishing figure since there are fewer than 6,000 children living in such accommodation. Yearly increases were noted by 9 of the 17 police forces. Unable to identify individual children’s homes (these are not published by inspectorates, to protect children’s privacy), the Howard League was able to research private providers who, in any case, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/388701/Childrens_Homes_data_pack_Dec_2014.pdf">run two-thirds of children’s homes</a>.</p> <p class="Default">Police forces told the Howard League that private companies use police cells as “respite to cover staff shortages” and to deal with situations that their own staff have neither the training nor the expertise to manage.</p> <p class="Default">The charity found that five companies running 84 children’s homes called the police 812 times in 2015. </p> <p class="Default">Children living in these homes were more likely to see a police officer standing at their front door, than an inspector: on average, the police were called to each home 10 times across a 12 month period, whereas inspections are conducted twice a year.</p><p class="Default"> The Howard League found that for-profit children’s homes often refuse to take children back into their care, so children are effectively being abandoned by the care system. Intolerably, the charity reports “a perception by police that vulnerable children would be better cared for in cells”. </p> <p class="Default">Local authorities, too, are failing to give support to vulnerable children, in breach of their statutory duties.</p> <p>For many years, there has been convincing evidence of the ‘criminogenic’ effects of children’s homes. There’s the influence of peer groups, and institutional responses to the kind of behaviour that within families would be challenging and difficult but rarely a matter for the police.</p> <p>One <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471984566.html">study of 48 children’s homes</a> found that 40% of children staying in a home for six months got a criminal record. More than a decade ago, an initiative in Wiltshire involved social services and police working together to achieve a remarkable reduction in looked after children’s contact with the criminal justice system. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmchilsch/111/111ii.pdf">In 2001, 184 offences by children in care were recorded in that area; by 2004, this had reduced to 22</a>. </p> <p>The Crown Prosecution Service <a href="http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/v_to_z/youth_offenders/#a21">urges prosecutors to be cautious</a> when dealing with children in care, observing, “the police are more likely to be called to a children's home than a domestic setting to deal with an incident of offending behaviour by an adolescent”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*sunlight_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*sunlight_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="443" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE: REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p> <p>The message may be getting through: <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/outcomes-for-children-looked-after-by-local-authorities">official data</a> shows a decrease in the proportion of children in care (those living in children’s homes and other types of placement) being convicted or subject to a final warning or reprimand. In 2012, 6.9% of looked after children were punished by the criminal justice system; this had decreased to 5.6% in 2014.</p> <p>But this was still more than 2,000 children, and most would have endured abuse, neglect, profound loss, poverty and stigma before ever setting foot in a children’s home or foster care. </p> <p>Moreover, the figures relate only to children in care for 12 months or more; other government data shows a much higher offending rate for children living in children’s homes for six months or less. </p> <p>The statistics do not indicate a straightforward causation between care and offending, though, as many children will have committed crimes prior to becoming ‘looked after’ (the official term for children in care).</p> <p>Arrests, court hearings and state sanctions set children who feel different already even further away from their peers; they heighten anxiety and diminish opportunities, now and in the future. They are polar opposites to ‘care’, in other words. <br /> <br /> The Laming Review, established by the Prison Reform Trust, has been investigating the links between the care and criminal justice systems since last summer, and is due to report its findings soon. Its <a href="http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/2%20Care%20review%20public%20briefing.pdf">background briefing</a> rightly asks how come 1% of children in England and Wales are looked after by the state, but a third of boys and 61% of girls in custody have been in care. Even more devastating is the fact that at least <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/362715/deaths-children-in-custody.pdf">69% of the children who died in prison between 2000 and 2012 had been subject to care orders</a>.<br /> <br /> Since the residential care abuse inquiries of the 1990s, local authorities have largely stopped running their own children’s homes. Sir Martin Narey was given the task of <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/childrens-residential-care-review-to-transform-lives">reviewing residential care</a> last autumn, “to help put an end to a life of disadvantage for some of the most vulnerable children in care”. After a long career in the prison service, Narey was Barnardo’s chief executive for several years, and has since undertaken a variety of government roles concerned with children’s social care. He attracted controversy last year after publishing a favourable review of G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre, contradicting the findings and conclusions of three inspectorates. On becoming a &nbsp;Board member of the Ministry of Justice, Narey <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/education-committee/narey-review-of-childrens-residential-care/oral/27911.html">“severed [his] relationship with G4S”</a>. </p> <p>It will be interesting to hear whether he has found any deficits in the private sector model in respect of children’s homes, such as staff and managers not being able to draw upon the expertise and experience of colleagues in a larger organisation, lack of accountability and shareholder profits diminishing resources available for children. Any lessons from his review will be pertinent to government plans to close child prisons and establish <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/review-of-the-youth-justice-system">secure free schools</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Much of the media reporting of the Howard League’s work has cited the incident of the police being called out to a children’s home after a child broke a cup. This was first <a href="http://www.thelancasterandmorecambecitizen.co.uk/news/9451477.Lancashire_runaway_children_costing_police_and_taxpayers___5m/">reported four years ago</a>, following a review by Lancashire County Council; it was then picked up by the House of Commons <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmjust/339/339.pdf">Justice Committee’s inquiry into youth justice in 2013</a>. It’s an enduring example, because we can all agree staff in the home must have overreacted. The ‘if this was my child’ rule can be applied easily. In many respects, however, children living in children’s homes are extraordinary – in how they cope with the challenges in their own lives as well as the demands of group living, and in the compassion and understanding they offer to others.<br /> <br /> Many years ago I had the pleasure of supporting a group of young people living in children’s homes to perform to a national conference of social services directors. The majority of the children were boys who regularly offended. They were lively, funny and kind. One boy couldn’t read so the others recorded the play, which they had created together, onto a cassette tape which he could then play over and over on his Walkman whilst working his shifts on a market stall. The home’s manager had unsuccessfully tried to block the trip, on account of the boys’ criminal behaviour. He didn’t bear a grudge, however, and made sure they all had smart clothes to wear. </p><p>When we returned to the home, the boys were able to tell the manager, and the other staff eagerly awaiting their news, that the conference had been a great success. Most pleasing of all for them to recount was the hotel manager’s request on the morning of our departure to speak with the boys. He wanted to personally thank them for tidying their rooms before they handed back their keys. In all of his career, never before had he witnessed such respect for hotel property. </p><p>Frances Crook, the Howard League’s chief executive, says in the <a href="http://www.howardleague.org/criminalcare/">press release</a> accompanying the charity’s report that children in children’s homes are “wonderful young people who have had a really bad start in life. They deserve every chance to flourish”. Yes they do and, what’s more, children living away from their families have a comprehensive set of rights in domestic and international law to enjoy the best of care and protection. Doing away with punishment&nbsp;would help.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Carolyne Willow’s book&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>&nbsp;can be purchased from Policy Press&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">here</a>&nbsp;(£12.99&nbsp;plus £2.75 postage and packing).</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/concealment-and-trickery-thats-g4s-childrens-homes">Concealment and trickery - that&#039;s G4S children&#039;s homes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Mon, 04 Apr 2016 23:00:30 +0000 Carolyne Willow 101106 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Underpaid in the UK? The state probably isn’t going to help you https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/richard-whittell/underpaid-in-uk-state-probably-isn-t-going-to-help-you <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The government spends nine times more investigating benefits claimants than it spends probing employers who pay below the minimum wage.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/5509120865_9d6abfa6e5_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/5509120865_9d6abfa6e5_b.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Chancellor George Osborne meets workers, Toyota car plant, Derby, 2011 (HM Treasury)</span></span></span></p><p>From today —&nbsp;1 April 2016 —&nbsp;workers in the UK aged over 25 earning the minimum rate of £6.70 per hour will get a 50p increase. The government boasts that this proves it is on the side of workers: “Britain deserves a pay rise,” the chancellor George Osborne has claimed. “And this one-nation government is making sure it gets one, helping more people have the security of a higher wage to provide for themselves and their families.”</p> <p>No doubt <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35920359">many will be paid more</a> but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. </p> <p>The new £7.20 rate is still well below the <a href="http://www.livingwage.org.uk/">real living wage</a> — based on the cost of living — of £8.25 an hour. It’s only for over-25s, with younger people <a href="https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates">stuck on the old rate</a>. Shareholders, CEOs and senior management of the corporations that dominate the economy will continue to accrue bumper payouts. Companies including Tesco, Wilko and B+Q have <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ebcc79e6-f50f-11e5-96db-fc683b5e52db.html#axzz44TQBDryW">already cut other benefits</a> to mitigate the impact of the new rate, while others are planning lay-offs. </p> <p>For the hundreds of thousands of workers currently paid below the minimum wage, its increase will mean little. Recent governments have shown little inclination to crack down on employers who are illegally underpaying their staff. The present one, for all its rhetoric, doesn’t seem set to change. &nbsp;</p> <p>Last year, the government, through HM Revenue &amp; Customs, spent £9m on enforcing payment of the minimum wage, according to a Freedom of Information request by <a href="http://www.corporatewatch.org/">Corporate Watch</a>. To give this number some context, we also asked the Department for Work and Pensions how much they spent on investigating benefit fraud in the same year. </p><p>The answer was over nine times as much: £83m. The disparity was similar throughout the Coalition years, and under the last Labour government. Last September, business minister Sajid Javid promised to increase HMRC’s budget for this but the difference will remain stark. According to the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/507455/10493-TSO-Low_Pay-ACCESSIBLE_05.pdf">Low Pay Commission</a> spending on minimum wage enforcement increased to just £13.2m in 2015/16.&nbsp; </p> <p>There has been no comprehensive survey on how many people are paid less than the minimum wage but the estimates that have been made show underpayment is widespread. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/507455/10493-TSO-Low_Pay-ACCESSIBLE_05.pdf">Figures</a> from the Office for National Statistics estimate 188,500 of workers over the age of 21 — almost 1% — were underpaid in 2015. Figures collected for specific sectors suggest this is on the low side. </p><p>The National Audit Office has said as many as 220,000 people working in social care may be getting less than minimum wage, for example. The Low Pay Commission also notes migrant workers hold a sixth of the UK’s two million “low-skilled” workers and are often paid in cash, and so unlikely to be included in the ONS statistics. </p> <p>And yet, last year <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/measures-to-ensure-people-receive-fair-pay-announced">HMRC’s investigations identified</a> just 26,318 workers being paid less than the minimum, with 735 firms identified as having underpaid £3.3m. Whatever the exact amount of people not being paid minimum wage, this seems like a drop in the ocean.</p> <p>In marked contrast to the attitude taken to benefit claimants, the punishments meted out to employers has been lenient. HMRC has criminally prosecuted just two employers in the last five years, with minor fines against the companies the result. </p> <p>Javid said the government is <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/measures-to-ensure-people-receive-fair-pay-announced">setting up a new team</a> in HMRC to take up criminal prosecutions but, again, it looks unlikely to pursue dodgy employers with the same vigour it goes after claimants. In the past five years 57,453 people were prosecuted for benefit fraud, with almost 8,000 being sent to prison or given suspended sentences, according to another FOI disclosure. HMRC did issue 3,905 civil penalties. But that’s not much over five years. The DWP took action against 136,465 people for benefit fraud in 2015 alone. </p> <p>Even the employers they do take action against do not suffer significantly. The government has made much of its new “naming and shaming” regime and has pledged to double the financial penalties meted out to employers. </p> <p>So far <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/national-minimum-wage-offenders-named-and-shamed">mainly smaller companies</a> have been targeted and the emphasis has been more on self-regulation than punishment. If an individual employee complains about a company and is found to be underpaid, HMRC does not automatically investigate the rest of the company’s workforce, instead relying on the company to do its own checks to see if it owes money to other workers. </p><p>Minister Nick Boles <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-03-04/29823/?_cdosy1_=TQ1e_QA89GCimA4MOKcYFeZz_mvZc04NJL1Lj_I2SooOGEcduEoczeZbGhOWU-cqr__sdZZUBmyuX20gpbHvFfM1VI3ObRXNabKOwyAMZT-08uYjlyBu46dXtTLIDhay">told parliament</a>&nbsp;that HMRC will investigate further only if the employer does not submit a “self-correction” report. The minister would not say how prevalent this way of dealing with the problem is but it appears to be a common way for HMRC to operate: of 13 social care companies that have been named as underpaying workers, eight were identified as owing money to just one carer. </p> <p>For all the talk of higher penalties, the National Minimum Wage campaign launched last summer included the condition that no action would be taken against employers who came forward to say they had been underpaying workers, and that HMRC would not investigate them further. </p> <p>But the government’s approach to enforcing regulations that should protect workers undermines the fanfare around the new £7.20 rate and seems especially half-hearted when compared with the zeal shown in pursuing the unemployed. If you’re underpaid, the state probably isn’t going to help you. But if you’re on benefits, it may well get you.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/human-beings-that-uk-government-forgot">The human beings that UK government ‘forgot’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/why-are-so-many-people-being-evicted-in-coalition-britain">Why are so many people being evicted in Coalition Britain?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/down-rabbit-hole-single-parenthood-in-austerity-britain">Down the rabbit hole: Single parenthood in austerity Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/deborah-padfield/no-right-to-despair">No right to despair</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Richard Whittell Thu, 31 Mar 2016 23:00:15 +0000 Richard Whittell 101036 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Punish the weak: one woman’s experience of UK health and welfare https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/punish-weak-one-woman-s-experience-of-uk-health-and <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What does the extraordinary story of Emma Golledge tell us about the British state’s values and competence?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="362" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Emma Golledge, aged 3</span></span></span></p><p><strong>Late in November last year Emma Golledge, aged 30, received a letter from the Department for Work &amp; Pensions, the section of the British government that deals with welfare benefits. She opened the brown envelope and read that if she didn’t respond within a few days “any existing entitlement may be disallowed”. The letter was signed “Office Manager”. Emma reacted physically: the blood to her brain slowed, her speech slurred, all feeling in her right arm drained away. She was having a mini-stroke.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p><strong>Why did a letter from the DWP cause such a reaction?</strong></p> <p>Fast-forward several months to February 2016. Emma’s mother Penny is awake at 4am one cold morning. She switches on her computer and begins to write me an email: </p> <p>“Before Emma’s stroke she was a very tenacious girl, full of ambition and life. I thought you would like to see Emma’s qualifications.” Penny made a list:</p> <blockquote><p>10 GCSEs<br /> Travel and Tourism AVCE <br /> 2 A levels Advanced Diploma Animal Management<br /> Advanced Certificate in Applied Biology<br /> Madagascar BTEC in Conservation Management<br /> Shamwari game reserve<br /> Several Nutrition Courses + 6-7 years working in the Pet Shop industry<br /> Southampton Uni 2005-2008<br /> BSc Zoology <br /> 7 months working as a Vet Night Nurse</p></blockquote> <p>Penny went on: “Emma was about to embark on a PhD in conservation + Biodiversity and get her own place with animals, and a dog.”</p><p>Across several pages Penny makes the case for her daughter’s life. She cannot understand why the DWP, the council and their local NHS commissioning group are blind to the fragility of Emma’s health. “If Emma continues to live beyond expectations …” she writes. And this is the crux of the problem. Emma survived.</p> <h2>A happy family</h2> <p>Penny gave birth to Emma when she was 23 in 1985. Her son Mark was born two years later. Before the children came along she’d worked as a secretary and then, after Emma was born, as a carer at an elderly people’s home. Penny was an artist too, but hadn’t yet made a go of making it a career. Her husband Richard worked first as a farmer, then got a job in Agricultural Chemicals. The family managed financially. They couldn’t afford a car and Penny would cycle her delighted children about on a Pashley Tricycle. Emma was a lively child with a mop of thick brown curls. She loved horses. </p> <p>Then, when Emma was 4 years old she seemed pale, lost her usual energy. One day her lips turned white and her stomach became slightly distended. Penny remembers the night the doctors confirmed that their little girl had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. “Part of me died.” </p> <p>Penny watched with dread as Emma, kept in a small sterilised room in the hospital, was wired up to machines and tubes, injected over and over, her tiny body racked with pain.</p> <p>A speck of dust might kill her. Emma ate from plastic disposable tableware. Before every hug or kiss Penny would wash her hands. The first chemo session left Emma shaking violently. Penny noted in her diary:</p> <p>“She cried out that she was cold, so I wrapped her up in a blanket, but she continued to shake and after a few seconds I realised this was not the cold. I jumped on the bed beside her and held her close, was she dying?”</p> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/B.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/B.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Day of diagnosis, Southampton Hospital (aged 4)</span></span></span><br /></strong></p><p>For two years Emma hovered between life and death. She had intense radiotherapy. Her hair fell out twice. Penny’s inability to protect her child grieved her. She hated consenting to treatment she knew would hurt. Unable to leave Emma’s side, Penny missed much of Mark’s early years, another loss.</p><p> For a brief spell Emma was well. Then, in September 1991, when Emma was six, the cancer came back.</p><p> Mark, then aged 4, donated his bone marrow and saved his big sister’s life. There was a cost: Emma endured whole body radiation, including treatment to her brain. She was sick all the time. </p> <p>The doctors didn’t expect her to survive more than a few years after the transplant. Penny learned to administer Emma’s drugs and became a full time carer. “We felt we were living on a knife’s edge, borrowed time,” says Penny. “We ate at the hospital, trying to create ‘happy times’ for the kids and continuity of care, all on a shoe string.” </p> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="463" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>New Milton Advertiser, 1992</span></span></span><br /></strong></p><p>Emma lived to age 7, then 8, and eventually she went back to school. There were still intrusive treatments and age 11 Emma was told that she was infertile and that her IQ might be affected by all the chemo she’d had. </p> <p>Still, she thrived in school, then at college and university. She travelled the world, worked with big cats in Madagascar, swam with dolphins and sharks, spent time on a conservation park in South Africa, jumped from a plane at 10,000 feet, became a veterinary nurse.</p> <p>Tentatively, the family began to relax. Henry was born in 1997 and they moved house — it helped financially: Penny made miniscule amounts on her art, here and there, and they had huge loans to repay. </p> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/F.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/F.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="328" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Emma, Mark and younger brother Henry. Milford-on-Sea, 1999</span></span></span><br /></strong></p><p>Late in 2009 Penny was diagnosed with breast cancer. There were extra costs, reconstructive surgery, wigs and treatments for infections. Richard took months off work to care for Penny and Henry. Their mortgage repayments, credit card bills and loan payments stacked up.&nbsp; </p> <p>Besides the emotional turmoil of her mum’s cancer, Emma seemed fine. They were a close family, always joking and teasing one another. </p> <p>By the time Emma reached her early twenties she knew she would spend her life working with animals in some way and was looking at getting her own place. And she had nearly come to terms with the dark memories of doctors and hospitals from her childhood.</p> <h2><strong>Complications</strong></h2> <p>One day in early December 2011, Emma was sitting at her desk —&nbsp;looking for pet rabbits online. Without warning she blacked out, fell forward and smashed her head on the desk, knocking out her two front teeth. Blood covered her mouth. Her breath came in laboured gasps. She had suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage or a stroke. Doctors removed a three-inch blood clot from her brain. She was 26.</p><p> For 14 days at Southampton General hospital Emma lay in a coma. On the day she came-to, the doctors told her family that she would be moved to another hospital, and treated on an elderly stroke ward. </p> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="321" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Emma in a coma. Southampton, 2011</span></span></span></strong></p><p>The stroke had disabled Emma; she couldn’t walk, talk, eat or do anything for herself. Her left side was paralysed.<strong> </strong>Her body was already weakened from the intense chemo she’d gone through in childhood. There were all sorts of problems aside from the stroke: type 1 diabetes, cataracts, cognitive issues. After the operation she contracted pneumonia. Her eardrum was perforated. </p> <p>Penny and Richard wanted Emma to stay at Southampton General – it was where she’d been treated as a child and a centre of excellence for neurosurgery. Why should Emma leave?</p><p> Penny suspects now that it was to do with cost; the hospital didn’t want to pay for what would be expensive treatment for Emma and so they were sending her elsewhere. Penny began to read up on the new clinical commissioning groups, part of the reorganisation of the NHS started by the Coalition Government in 2010. “This brought me to conclude that patient health decisions were being made by the CCGs and not the doctors,” she said. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Penny and Richard heard about a specialist rehab centre for brain injured patients in Salisbury. It was privately run and more expensive, but offered physio and sports-related facilities that might aid Emma’s recovery. It was a place with a lot of young patients who’d been badly injured in some way, but were still expected to recover and live long, physically active lives. And the Primary Care Trust sometimes recommended other patients be sent there. Penny and Richard asked if Emma might be sent there.</p> <p>Now the hospital said that Emma was too ill to be moved. </p> <p>When Penny and Richard met the referral team and suggested the Salisbury rehab unit, they were told that Emma didn’t meet the “clinical need”.<strong> </strong></p> <p>Throughout this period — a couple of months — Emma was held on the adult neurology ward, full of acute cases, elderly patients confined to their beds. Penny felt that Emma wasn’t getting the care and rehab she needed to get up and moving again.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Penny says: “After the stroke, Emma became very childlike. She held me, with the only strength she had in her right hand. She held onto my hand and I knew that there was no way she would want me to leave her. She was clinging to me.”</p> <h2><strong>Home again</strong></h2> <p>Emma was miserable. She’d started to talk again and the feeling was returning to her left side, but she wasn’t getting much physio at hospital. In January, her mum decided to take her home and care for her there. She lasted a week. Emma needed round the clock care: washing, dressing, getting up and down stairs, bathing, using the toilet. </p> <p>Eventually the family went to the press hoping to “shame the PCT for lack of care”. Instead, an anonymous benefactor gave money, enabling Emma to go to the private clinic in Salisbury.</p> <p>Emma stayed until March 2012. Still, it was tough. Emma’s experiences had shaken her trust in health care specialists. She just wanted to go home. She cried a lot. Shortly afterwards, she wrote: “It has taken me years to come to terms with my childhood experiences. I have to deal with the nightmares and confront doctors and nurses all over again.”</p> <p>In the months following her release from hospital Emma focused on regaining the use of her broken body, while battling depression. What helped was support from her family, horse riding which cost £20 for a half an hour lesson at the weekends. This and assisted swimming lessons helped strengthen her core muscles, though her left arm was still limp. Her body was slowly healing. </p> <p>Then in May she discovered a lump on the side of her head. It was painful, but worse was the idea of spending time in hospital or going for a check-up. So she left it. And it grew. </p> <p>Penny insisted that Emma get the lump checked out. Doctors said it was a screw left over from the operation and they’d need to operate to on her head again. Emma was crushed. “At this point she’d had enough and just wanted to be left alone, she didn’t trust anyone and her resolve left her,” says Penny. She refused treatment and didn’t believe the surgeon’s diagnosis. They went home. </p> <p>Emma took to her bed for long periods and sank deeper into despair, the previous months of progress on hold. She wrote a will and requested that her parents be given power of attorney should anything happen to her. By August Emma’s face was swollen and purple. The screw had caused an infection that had spread across her face. Penny took charge and Emma was taken to hospital. Because she was still so fearful of being back in hospital Emma asked to be kept awake, while under local anaesthetic, during the operation to remove the screw. </p> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Hmed.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Hmed.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Marwell Zoo, Winchester, 2008</span></span></span><br /></strong></p> <h2><strong>The safety net</strong></h2> <p>By 2013 Penny and Richard were running out of money. They had funded much of Emma’s care to that point including a £2,000 for a stair lift and £300 for a bath seat. The Primary Care Trust refused to contribute because Emma had been discharged from hospital after her stroke and been treated at the rehab unit in Salisbury. This meant she was a private patient. </p> <p>Penny had applied for Disability Living Allowance while Emma was in her coma at the start of 2012 and that had been processed by the time she was back home. Emma was also entitled to a care plan funded by adult services. </p> <p>So why were her parents broke? Emma got the elderly care package (she’s 26 at this stage), which covered 14 hours a week for a carer. There was no money left to cover the things Emma felt would actually get her better, like physio and therapy. So mum and dad paid for these until they couldn’t. A year after her stroke and the operation on her head, Emma was starting to recover. </p> <p>Around this time, towards the end of 2012 and at the start of 2013 Penny began her campaign to secure a <a href="http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2014/04/09/10-ways-councils-targeting-savings-adult-social-care-2014-15/">better care plan</a> for her daughter. Penny wrote letters, met with the head of the Clinical Commissioning Group, and got a solicitor to challenge the local authority’s decision not to give Emma a more comprehensive care plan. </p> <p>Each organisation said they couldn’t help, their “hands were tied”. Social services didn’t have the budget and passed her on to health. But health said that Emma wasn’t eligible. There were meetings to decide action plans and assessments. The family was stuck in the bureaucratic fog of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/10/nhs-records-worst-ever-performance-in-january">poorly funded</a>&nbsp;NHS and dwindling social care budget.</p> <p>Spending on long-term social care by local authorities <a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Personalised-commissioning-in-adult-social-care.pdf">fell by 7% between 2010–11 and 2014–15</a>&nbsp;to £6.3 billion.&nbsp;The <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2014/jun/05/care-act-most-important-amendments">Care Act 2014</a> was partly supposed to give people with care needs or disabilities a greater say in their care package and control over their budgets. Despite this, Emma’s case seemed too personal for services, she didn’t tick the right boxes and services were at a loss. </p> <p><a href="http://www.mikemarqusee.com/">Mike Marqusee</a>, the late journalist and political activist, wrote in his book on the politics of the NHS: “Even in the best hospitals, the loss of freedom and the dependence on anonymous forces can be oppressive. Many cancer patients find themselves involved in a long and taxing struggle for autonomy — a rarely acknowledged reality of the war on cancer, in which the generals call shots from afar.” Emma would sit in the meetings and cry. </p> <h2><strong>Losing faith</strong></h2> <p>In the Summer of 2013 Richard was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. Within six months he was dead. Penny remembers his nails turning black and the final horror of his death-bed, the tubes, the blood. “Richard’s death was sudden, extremely clinical, frightening and unexpected.” She was alone.</p> <p>It was now two years since Emma’s stroke and her physical health had improved, but her mental health suffered. She had panic attacks and found social situations difficult. Uncertainty settled over the family. </p> <p>Penny told me: “From Emma’s point of view, I am her only safety net. She has no housing of her own, she lives under my roof, I am here for her 24/7. If something happened, to me what would happen to Emma?” </p> <p>By now Penny couldn’t trust the NHS. “Her health and care has been compromised and jeopardised through incompetence. Despite all the evidence I presented and constantly bombarded them with over four years, they ignored this crucial element to her care. I know I have been labelled a neurotic mother and Emma has been conveniently parked by the CCG and those holding the purse strings. It’s because they don’t want to pay for such complex care.”</p> <p>All the care Emma had received up to that point had been what would have been afforded to an elderly stroke victim. Most of their battles had been about getting the NHS and local authority to treat Emma as a young person who’d had a stroke and survived childhood cancer. They’d failed. </p> <p>“It’s taken me a while to understand what’s gone wrong,” says Penny. “You tend to think of the National Health Service, it’s all going to fold into place and this service is going to take care of me. It is amazing to realise that it is actually falling apart at the seams.”</p><h2>A letter from ‘Office Manager’</h2><p>In the months leading up to Emma receiving that letter from the Department for Work &amp; Pensions, her mother had been in contact with them and with her local MP. Emma was in the last batch of Disability Living Allowance recipients who would need to be reassessed in order to receive the replacement benefit, the Personal Independence Payment, or PIP.</p> <p>Given Emma’s history, Penny wanted to ensure the transition went as smoothly as possible, with little intrusion. Two doctors wrote to the DWP explaining that Emma was not fit to undergo an assessment, and that Penny was her power of attorney and so all correspondence should be sent to her. Moira Swayne, wife and assistant of Penny’s MP, managed to get a stay of execution for 15 days. She contacted them twice on 16 and 23 November. The letter addressed to Emma arrived on 25 November. It was short and impersonal, but enough to distress Emma. </p> <p>Since her first stroke in 2011 Emma’s recovery was patchy, interrupted by her father’s death and the difficulties in getting a decent care plan. She was vulnerable and needed care. And yet, just five years ago she had been an independent, young woman discovering that she had a vocation and after a difficult childhood was keen to start afresh. Emma wanted this independence back and didn’t want to rely on her mother indefinitely. That’s why she was so keen for a care package to include not just basic care — someone to bathe her, clothe her — but physical activities that would help heal her body so she could be independent again. The letter from DWP threatened to take away some of the income that she had, delaying her recovery even further. </p> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/I.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/I.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Emma completes charity tandem skydive over Salisbury, June 2010</span></span></span><br /></strong></p><p>Emma suffered a transient ischemic attack, or a mini stroke, and was taken to hospital. It was less severe than the first stroke, and while her speech and feeling in her right arm and leg were affected, she was able to return home the same day. In the days that followed another letter arrived, this from adult services requesting that she be assessed for her care package. Penny was frantic, what if Emma read it and got herself into a state again? Her mind buzzed and she began to wonder about the radiotherapy treatment Emma had had as a child, what had it done to her? Should they have refused it? Would Emma have been taken away? She couldn’t find an answer to what was happening to her daughter.</p> <p>Penny contacted her MP again and asked for help in getting through to the DWP to ask them to stop sending letters to Emma. She wrote to Jeremy Hunt and made an official complaint to the DWP. </p> <p>On 29 December the DWP sent Emma a text message. It read: <em>Thanks for sending us your ‘how your disability affects you’ form.&nbsp; We may need you to attend a consultation with a health professional before we make out decision. We’ll contact you again if we do. Please call us if any of the details you gave us have changed.</em></p> <p>Over Christmas it seems Emma’s case was sent to ATOS healthcare, part of a French multinational services company which gained <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/27/atos-contract-end-relief-campaigners">notoriety</a> for its poor handling of work capability assessments. </p> <p>Atos sent Emma a letter in January requesting evidence from one or more persons involved with her care and that she might be required to come in for a “consultation” with a “qualified health professional”. On the face of it plain, simple process-speak. The language of government buildings and customer service. But for Emma, who had spent the last four years of her life recovering from her encounter with health professionals who repeatedly assessed her, yet still didn’t help her, the letter was terrifying.</p> <p>All Penny could think about was the stories she’d read about Atos and the DWP’s record with disabled claimants. There was <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;ved=0ahUKEwj3mZjTjbbLAhVHVhoKHd_QA-kQFggcMAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fsociety%2F2011%2Fjul%2F24%2Fatos-case-study-larry-newman&amp;usg=AFQjCNHKu4Rna3ci14LgNDir7nnWvA8yWA&amp;bvm=bv.116573086,d.d2s&amp;cad=rja">Larry Newman</a>, who had a degenerative lung condition and was declared fit to work by Atos. He died within three months of that decision. And <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/12/amy-jones-cerebral-palsy-_n_3912949.html">Amy Jones</a>, a young woman told by Atos that her cerebral palsy would improve, so she would need to be reassessed every six months to receive support. Between December 2011 and February 2014 <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures">2,380 people died</a> after being declared fit to work by the DWP. Penny had seen Emma close to death more than once, lost her husband, come close to death herself and expected her daughter to die soon: it wouldn’t take much, why couldn’t anyone empathise? </p> <p>Penny’s biggest worry was that Emma would be declared fit to work and lose all her entitlements in one go. “It’s daunting,” she says. </p><p>The whole process has taken a toll on Penny’s own health. She is suffering exhaustion and close to burn out, she says. But she continues to fight because no one else will. “Emma has multiple conditions; she is unable to fight for herself. If I hadn’t looked after Emma’s interests, she would have been bullied into submission and her mental and physical wellbeing would have been jeopardised more than it has been already."</p> <p>There are likely thousands of Emmas without such support, and in telling Emma’s story we can have only a glimpse of the difficulties they face.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Official response</strong></h2> <p>On 13 January the DWP responded to Penny’s complaint and said that after seeing the evidence from Emma’s doctor they agreed that she did not need to attend an interview in person. </p> <p>Shortly after I contacted the DWP for comment about Emma’s case, she was awarded an enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment with some support for her mobility problems. No further assessment was required.</p> <p>But Emma’s care package is still uncertain. A National Audit Report <a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Personalised-commissioning-in-adult-social-care.pdf">published</a> in February found that across the country local authorities are struggling to manage complex personalised care packages, incorporate savings and provide quality social care. Meanwhile, according to the <a href="http://www.localgov.co.uk/Additional-funding-for-social-care-too-little-too-late-warn-experts/40364">Local Government Association</a>, the extra promised to councils for social care in the last spending review won’t cover rising demand. </p> <p>I asked West Hampshire<strong> </strong>CCG why Emma wasn’t able to choose her post-stroke care and what criteria the commission used to make such decisions. I asked for their policy on long term cancer survivors and on providing support to young stroke victims. </p> <p>A spokesperson replied: “We cannot comment on individual patients due to our commitment to patient confidentiality. However, whenever someone experiences problems with one of the services we commission, we recommend that they contact our Patient Experience team, who can investigate complaints, comments and concerns from our patients, and we will commit to investigating the circumstances and responding as quickly as possible.”&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/human-beings-that-uk-government-forgot">The human beings that UK government ‘forgot’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/how-mental-health-services-fail-young-people-and-wh">How mental health services fail young people and what can be done about it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lone-parent-trap">The lone parent trap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tamasin-cave/why-are-gps-being-told-to-hand-decisions-to-private-health-firms-and-their-lobbyists">Why are GPs being told to hand billions-worth of NHS decisions to private health firms and their lobbyists?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/why-%C2%A38bn-is-zombie-figure-that-won%27t-save-nhs">Why £8bn is a zombie figure that won&#039;t save the NHS </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/ramona/room-to-breathe-in-defence-of-nhs">Room to breathe in defence of the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/dr-lynne-friedli-robert-stern/why-we-re-opposed-to-jobs-on-prescription">Why we are opposed to “Jobs on prescription”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Wed, 23 Mar 2016 00:00:42 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 100756 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The human beings that UK government ‘forgot’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/human-beings-that-uk-government-forgot <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As David Cameron’s panicked government puts on a compassionate face, we meet people harmed by punitive policies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Lone Parent Trap Illustration no3_4.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Lone Parent Trap Illustration no3_4.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="648" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE: PATRICK KODUAH</span></span></span></p><p>Today we publish <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/punish-weak-one-woman-s-experience-of-uk-health-and-welfare-">the story of Emma</a>, who suffered a mini-stroke after being harassed by the UK’s Department for Work &amp; Pensions. Her mother Penny complained to all the right people but there was no clear line of accountability, no identifiable person to take responsibility for easing the stress of Emma’s move to the Personal Independence Payment, a long-term disability benefit. </p> <p>So, when on Friday the work &amp; pensions minister <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35848891">Iain Duncan Smith resigned</a>, saying that disability benefit cuts were indefensible within a Budget that rewards higher rate taxpayers,&nbsp;there was a brief moment of relief for Penny. </p> <p>After a weekend’s turmoil in the Conservative party leadership and rising public awareness that budget cuts would take £3,500 a year from 370,000 disabled people, Duncan Smith’s replacement Stephen Crabb announced a U-Turn. “Behind every statistic is a human being and perhaps sometimes in government we forget that,” Crabb told MPs.</p> <p>Benefits claimants, essentially people like you or me who may have fallen on hard times or have been struck with illness, have for years been treated with mistrust. To receive a small sum each fortnight, which barely covers living costs, they must meet unbending conditions. </p> <p>Under Duncan Smith the system became even more punitive, so that when a person couldn’t meet arbitrary conditions because they were too ill or happened to be raising children as well, they would be punished. </p> <p>This meant that their money was taken away, reducing them to poverty and putting some at risk of homelessness. </p> <p>In 2013 we <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lone-parent-trap">wrote</a> about Jen, a single mum and former graphic designer who lost her job and couldn’t pay her mortgage. Going to the jobcentre was hell for Jen, she was mocked because of her bipolar disorder and made to feel “less than human”.&nbsp; </p> <p>One interview was so stressful that she had a psychotic episode at the jobcentre and was hospitalised. Jen was put on the Work Programme, one of Duncan Smith’s first welfare initiatives designed for people who have been unemployed for more than one year, to “support” them back into work. </p> <p>Jen experienced it as a punishment. “I felt like I’d been picked on … bullied. I knew I was trying hard to find a job. So it just felt completely unfair and unjustified. This person had decided that I was a slacker. It makes you feel like you have got no options. It makes you feel like a cornered animal.”</p> <p>Under Duncan Smith’s tenure single parents, 92% of whom are women, have <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/benefits-cap-reduction-housing-universal-6206204">lost the most</a>; they’re more likely to face <a href="http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/news/274/single-parents-sanctions">sanctions</a>, which is where a claimant’s benefits are stopped for a week or more as a form of punishment for not meeting certain conditions set out by the jobcentre.<strong></strong></p> <p>Women make up the biggest group hit by changes to housing benefit and they struggle to meet the shortfall created by the under-occupancy fee – widely known as the bedroom tax – another of Duncan Smith’s policies, introduced in 2013 for working age claimants living in social housing deemed too large for their needs.<strong> </strong><strong></strong></p> <p>Last year <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/how-to-lose-your-home-one-day-at-coventry-county-court">we wrote</a> about Gemma, a depressed mother who couldn’t afford the under-occupancy fee imposed upon her after three of her four children were taken from her. Gemma fell behind in payments, accrued a debt of nearly £2,000, and was facing eviction. </p><p>Social housing evictions continue to rise, mostly as a result of rent arrears. Lydia Nash, Gemma’s solicitor, told us that sanctions and the bedroom tax were the major reasons for her clients getting into arrears.</p> <p>Angela, a single parent <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lone-parent-trap#comment-1003388569">who contacted us</a> after we wrote about Jen, said Duncan Smith’s policies – a punitive back to work programme and sanctions – made it harder to escape poverty. She added: “Once you become poor, once you become their problem, then you stop being yourself. You stop having the right to determine your own future.” </p> <p>Sialou is another single <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/down-rabbit-hole-single-parenthood-in-austerity-britain">mother we interviewed</a> caught up in Duncan Smith’s regime, but facing double the problems because of her migration status. In his resignation letter Duncan Smith talks of his commitment to improving the “life chances of the most disadvantaged people in this country”. </p> <p>Sialou was studying for GCSEs in maths and English to improve her life chances, but the jobcentre told her to quit so she’d have more time to look for work. “I cried. I couldn’t do it,” she said. “I hated the system. I never saw what they were doing for me. Every time I went to the jobcentre, it was always threats. No help to move up. I think the jobcentre people are not really thinking for themselves. Or they want to help you, but they can’t because of the rules.” </p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lone-parent-trap">first look</a> at the impact of Duncan Smith’s policy on women’s lives was written three years ago. We still receive comments from people struggling to cope. The people he says he wants to help. Here are some of the comments from our readers:</p> <p><em>‘</em><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lone-parent-trap#comment-1285732784"><em>Single parent’ says:</em></a><strong><em> </em></strong><em>The most frustrating thing about the job centre is that they are not there to help you they are there to make sure you have ticked all the right boxes and jumped through the right hoops to get your money that week. If there was a more positive approach, if they assessed each single parent based on their circumstances then they might have more success reducing the number of lone parents out of work.</em><em></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lone-parent-trap#comment-1390906896"><em>‘SM2b’ says:</em></a><em> I am a single parent of a 4 year old and have been bullied and threatened with losing my benefit every single time I have attended the Job centre.</em></p> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lone-parent-trap#comment-1594311535"><em>‘Gaz TI’ says:</em></a><em> Single dad to a 7 year old just facing my first jc sanction for being unable to attend one of 3 per week hour long sessions sitting on a computer searching for work in the job centre itself, (despite having home Internet) 4 weeks without funds due to my daughter having a tummy bug.</em></p> <p><a href="//C:\Users\Rebecca\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Outlook\T0LD538W\I%20have%20just%20been%20sanctioned%20for%204%20weeks.%20Long%20story%20but%20when%20I%20first%20signed%20up,%20I%20made%20it%20clear%20that%20childcare%20was%20a%20massive%20problem%20in%20my%20area,%20it%20states%20in%20my%20claimant%20agreement%20that%20I%20have%20childcare%20issues%20too.%20my%20girls%20are%205%20and%208,%20so%20too%20old%20for%20nurserys.%20We%20agreed%20that%20it%20would%20be%20ok%20for%20me%20to%20look%20for%20term%20time%20only%20positions.%20I%20had%20to%20move%20offices%20after%20that%20because%20it%20was%20a%20central%20office%20which%20cost%20a%20fortune%20and%20a%20lot%20of%20time%20to%20get%20there.%20At%20the%20other%20office,%20the%20advisor%20is%20not%20listening%20to%20my%20childcare%20issues%20at%20all!%20I%20have%20agreed%20I%20will%20use%20the%20schools%20breakfast%20club%20but%20they%20do%20not%20offer%20wrap%20around%20care%20after%20school.%20But%20shes%20sanctioned%20me%20for%20not%20applying%20for%20work.%20I%20have%20not%20applied%20for%20things%20because%20they%20are%20not%20term%20time."><em>‘mum1’ says:</em></a><em> I have just been sanctioned for 4 weeks. Long story but when I first signed up, I made it clear that childcare was a massive problem in my area, it states in my claimant agreement that I have childcare issues too. We agreed that it would be ok for me to look for term time only positions … But she’s [new jobcentre advisor] sanctioned me for not applying for work. I have not applied for things because they are not term time. I feel I'm being penalised for having children and the stress I’ve been under the last few weeks has left me crying and just shaking all the time! </em><em></em></p> <p>Last week the Women’s Budget Group <a href="http://wbg.org.uk/latest-policies-of-the-conservative-government-to-be-more-regressive-than-those-of-the-coalition/">revealed</a> that the poorest households, in particular lone parents and single female pensioners, will lose even more of their incomes once universal credit, Duncan Smith’s flagship policy which would amalgamate the main working age benefits into one payment, is finally rolled out by 2020. </p><p>The brutality of the fitness to work assessments carried out as part of the former work &amp; pensions minister’s reform of disability benefits is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures">well documented.</a> The Centre for Welfare Reform <a href="http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/uploads/attachment/354/a-fair-society.pdf">discovered that disabled people</a> bear the burden of 29% of all welfare and local authority spending cuts, according to a report they published in 2013. Their research showed that people with the severest disabilities will pay 19 times more than the rest of the population for the cuts.</p> <p>Under Duncan Smith the brown envelope landing on the doormat from his department is a source of terror for claimants across the country. Most will have stacks of these letters: quiet threats to remove all support, numbers that don’t match the rent or heating bills, and bureaucratic errors with devastating consequences (it is common, for example, for housing benefit mistakes to create rent arrears leading to eviction). </p><p>Sometimes it becomes too much. There was no one to help Libia Montaya, 57, understand all these letters. And no one took responsibility when her employer cut her hours and she fell behind in her rent and had no money for food. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/rats-in-lunchbox-mould-in-mattress-living-in-squalor-in-london">We wrote about</a> her eviction in 2014, after which she tried to swallow bleach. “I couldn’t think about where to go or what to do. Committing suicide was the only way to leave behind all of these problems.” </p> <p><em>In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/punish-weak-one-woman-s-experience-of-uk-health-and">Punish the weak: one woman’s experience of UK health and welfare</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/losing-your-home-simon-s-story">Losing your home: Simon’s story</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/losing-your-home-one-day-at-coventry-county-court">Losing your home: one day at Coventry County Court</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/down-rabbit-hole-single-parenthood-in-austerity-britain">Down the rabbit hole: Single parenthood in austerity Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rats-in-lunchbox-mould-in-mattress-living-in-squalor-in-london">Rats in the lunchbox, mould in the mattress: living in squalor in London</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lone-parent-trap">The lone parent trap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/deborah-padfield/who-benefits-from-benefit">Who benefits from benefit?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/deborah-padfield/basic-income-basic-respect">Basic Income - basic respect</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/deborah-padfield/work-programme-people-and-economy-what%27s-happening">The Work Programme, people and economy: what&#039;s happening?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Wed, 23 Mar 2016 00:00:20 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 100812 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jeremy Hunt's apologies for the failures at Southern Health ring hollow, given that he believes markets and not ministers should be accountable for our healthcare.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/duty of candour.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/duty of candour.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: George Julian. Rights reserved.</em></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><em>“For me, it’s not a question of saying the NHS is ‘safe in my hands’. Of course it will be. My family is so often in the hands of the NHS. And I want them to be safe there. Tony Blair once explained his priority in three words: education, education, education. I can do it in three letters: NHS.” (Cameron, 2006).</em></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em><span>Loving a disabled child</span></em></strong><span><br /> Put yourself for a moment into a mother’s shoes. You have a baby, you call him Connor, he is a beautiful, much loved and much wanted addition to your family. He has learning disabilities, and will later be diagnosed as autistic and epileptic. As he grows up you find the services provided for children like him are patchy, unconnected and difficult to access:</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>“It’s a tough gig bringing up a disabled child. Yep. It shouldn’t be, I know. Appropriate, timely and sufficient support would make a huge difference. And a seismic shift in public attitudes.” (Sara Ryan,&nbsp;</span><span><a href="https://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/boundaries/" target="_blank"><span>Boundaries, February 11 2013</span></a></span><span>).</span></em></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>You are unrelenting in seeking support for your child, finding ways to navigate agencies and services making sure he can attend a caring school. You begin to write a blog - <a href="https://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/" target="_blank"><span>Mydaftlife</span></a>- about your life, random happenings, images and observations; it soon becomes focused on life with your son as he ‘comes to the end of his school life and stands, unaware, on the edge of a huge gap in adult services’. As Connor becomes an adolescent, some of his behaviours become difficult to manage. You reflect on what his adult life holds in store, about the kinds of support he will need to continue to live a good life, a happy life, a decent and dignified live. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Leading up to his 18th&nbsp;birthday, Connor gets increasingly anxious and agitated; he is laughing less, then not at all. Things aren’t working, Connor is depressed, unhappy, needs help, you all need help. He has some violent outbursts, and “the crunch” comes when he hits a teaching assistant at school. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Connor is referred to a small specialist short-term acute assessment unit where his needs can be evaluated and a future care plan put in place. This NHS unit, Slade House, is only 5 minutes from your home and you will be able to visit him every day. It feels like a good temporary solution, one which will allow your family to work with medical professionals to figure out best options and a future plan for your son.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em><span>107 days later</span></em></strong><span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><em>“Our beautiful, hilarious, exceptional dude was found unconscious in the bath in the unit before a planned trip to the Oxford Bus Company.&nbsp;The psychiatrist from the unit who called me at work around 10am to say that LB had been taken to hospital, gave no steer he was pretty much dead. I asked her (as an anxiety induced after thought) if he was conscious when he left the unit in the ambulance. She said they’d cleared his airway but he hadn’t regained consciousness. She made no suggestion I should urgently go to the hospital or that I should go with someone. It was a care less call. Much like the ‘care’ he’d always experienced outside home and school.</em></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><em>I arrived at the hospital twenty or so minutes later, with a work colleague who (so, so kindly) insisted on coming with me. I was immediately faced with a LB has a ‘dead heart only kept alive by a ventilator’ story. This news generated my, to that point, unknown sounds.</em></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><em>I hugged him while he died. </em></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><em>Unspeakable horror. </em></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><em>Agonising pain.”</em></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>We are now in a space I can’t describe (Sara Ryan,&nbsp;</span><span><a href="https://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/the-day-after/" target="_blank"><span>The Day After, July 5 2013</span></a></span><span>).</span></em></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em><span>#JusticeforLB</span></em></strong><span><br /> Connor Sparrowhawk (known as Laughing Boy, or LB) drowned in the bath in an NHS Assessment and Treatment Unit (Slade House) for adults with disabilities, on the 4th of July, 2013. Connor was 18 years old and had been in ‘the care’ of the unit for 107 days. The NHS Foundation Trust (Southern Health) initially attributed his death to natural causes. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Connor’s mother, Sara Ryan, a disability researcher, had already been writing a (then anonymous) blog – <a href="https://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/" target="_blank"><span>Mydaftlife</span></a>– about family life with Connor. After he died she began a campaign to seek justice for him. An inquest into Connor’s death began on Monday 5 October 2015, and for the first time in British history a Coroners hearing, was live tweeted </span><span><a href="https://twitter.com/lbinquest" target="_blank"><span>@LBInquest</span></a></span><span>. The Coroner’s Jury found that </span><span><a href="http://justiceforlb.org/full-jury-findings-connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforlb/" target="_blank"><span>Connor’s death was preventable</span></a></span><span>, and that neglect had played a part:&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>A two year fight to be told that an epileptic teenager with learning disabilities shouldn’t have been left unsupervised in a bath in ‘a secure and safe’ specialist unit.</span></em><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>As a consequence of Connor’s death, and under considerable pressure from the #JusticeforLB campaign, NHS England commissioned Mazars, an auditing firm, to review ‘all deaths of people in receipt of care from Mental Health and Learning Disability services in Southern Health Trust between April 2011 and March 2015’. The findings of this report reveal that this particular trust had failed to investigate the deaths of more than 1,000 patients with learning disabilities or mental health problems.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Focusing on the deaths of learning disability uncovered by Mazars, and drawing on </span><span><a href="http://chrishatton.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/heart-of-darkness.html"><span>Chris Hatton’s</span></a></span><span> careful analysis, from April 2011 to March 2015, there were in total 365 deaths of people with learning disabilities under the care of Southern Health learning disability services. That’s over 90 deaths of people with learning disabilities being cared for by Southern Health every year and 158 of these deaths were recorded as <em>unexpected.</em> However, Mazars also asks us not to trust this figure, as the recording systems used by Southern Health were “not working”, confused and in effect useless:</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>“The deaths of people with a Learning Disability are not made visible in the recorded data presented to the Trust Board and to regulators and commissioners whether expected or not; natural or unnatural... It is not therefore possible to rely on published information as an accurate measure of risk or death related incidents in the Trust...The overall level of unexpected deaths has not been reported anywhere so there has not been an accurate reflection of the levels of deaths occurring amongst patients.” (Mazars,</span><span><a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf" target="_blank"><span>Independent review of deaths of people with a Learning Disability or Mental Health problem in contact with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, April 2011 to March 2015</span></a></span><span>, December 2015).</span></em></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The Mazars report couldn’t, in the absence of accurate data, <em>account</em> for the number of learning disabled people who had died in their care: <em>It did reveal that nobody was accounting for them.</em></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Notably, of the 158 deaths of people with learning disabilities which were recorded as unexpected, Southern Health only reviewed 68 of them and only 1 of these got as far as what is called a Serious Critical Incident Review. As Hatton notes “In total, 99% of unexpected deaths of people with learning disabilities were not recorded on a national system that would have brought them to the attention of commissioners or the national level Care Quality Commission [the independent regulator of Health and Social Care in England]”. In short:</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>“the Mazars review brings into the open what feels like a fundamental disregard for the lives of people with learning disabilities, even within organisations that are supposed to be supporting people.” (Chris Hatton, </span><span><a href="http://chrishatton.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/heart-of-darkness.html" target="_blank"><span>Heart of Darkness, 2015</span></a></span><span>).</span></em></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The #JusticeforLB movement has succeeded in exposing the most disturbing and penurious facts about the British states treatment of learning disabled people since the Winterbourne Inquiry (which detailed the criminal abuse by staff of patients at a privately owned care facility called Winterbourne View Hospital, near Bristol, but was only exposed by the work of </span><span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJMRlvsSEBtS1iYccbOQ6wXDNeYUS_CVO"><span>undercover journalism supported by the BBC’s <em>Panorama</em> team</span></a></span><span>). </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Since Connor’s death, many have come forward to speak about ongoing failures in care for learning disabled people, about neglect, about their struggles to get answers about the deaths of loved ones, and about their fears for the future in the face of seemingly permanent reductions in funding for adult social care. In the context of permanent austerity, Connor’s death raises fundamental questions about <em>the future of welfare itself</em>. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Indeed, it is imperative that we understand #JusticeforLB’s struggle for accountability within the context of what Youssef El-Gingihy calls the the “virtually impenetrable” Health &amp; Social Care Act 2012, which came into law three months before Connor’s death. One of the first casualties of the Health and Social Care Act was accountability itself - as Jacky Davies, John Lister and David Wrigley note in their important account of the systematic demolition of the NHS,&nbsp;<em>NHS for Sale: Myths, Lies and Deception</em>. Questions about the impact of NHS reforms on accountability were raised by many before the Act came into law; see for example&nbsp;</span><span><a href="http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/accountability-nhs"><span>Accountability in the NHS: Implications of the government’s health reform programme</span></a></span><span> and&nbsp;</span><span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/dec/20/lords-warning-minister-role-nhs?newsfeed=true"><span>Lords warn on ministerial accountability in NHS reforms</span></a></span><span>.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>While we know why Connor died (he died of neglect),&nbsp;<em>to have his death accounted for</em>&nbsp;has proven more challenging. This is due in no small part to the baffling complexity of what we used to call ‘the National Health Service’ (NHS). In effect, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/how-the-nhs-is-being-dismantled-in-10-easy-steps-10474075.html">the NHS no longer exists</a>, or at least not in a form those who created it would recognize.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The Kings Fund&nbsp;has produced an animated <a href="http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-65/alternative-guide-new-nhs-england">film</a> which attempts to explain the structure of commissioners, boards, trusts and service providers who constitute the contemporary NHS since the most recent round of ‘reforms’ instituted by the coalition Government in 2012.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Today, the closest thing we have to central governance, and national level accountability, within the NHS is “a body” called NHS England, which receives the bulk of tax-payers funding to pay for the services we receive. NHS England is primarily a commissioning body, however, the bulk of actual commissioning work is devolved to local ‘Clinical Commissioning Groups’ (made up of a select few doctors and nurses, ‘health managers’ and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/over-a-quarter-of-board-members-on-new-bodies-commissioning-nhs-care-have-links-to-the-private-10109809.html">a significant number of private health company representatives and shareholders</a>) who commission services from a range of public and private ‘service providers’.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>These changes in the government of the National Health Service were made, the public was told, in order to “<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/liberating-the-nhs-white-paper">liberate</a>” hospitals, GPs and local authorities. <strong>As of 2012, this tangle of ‘NHS bodies’</strong> would decide what kinds and levels of provision to make to the public. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Much of the groundwork had been laid by pro-market ministers under Tony Blair’s government, who started encouraging NHS hospitals to become business-like ‘Foundation Trusts’ – but Cameron’s 2012 Act seriously ramped up the shift from central, state accountability, to ‘market’ accountability, leaving local NHS managers no other choices.</span></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In the case of Connor Sparrowhawk, the ‘liberated services’ which had been ‘commissioned’ to care for him were provided by an NHS Foundation Trust called&nbsp;</span><span><a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/" target="_blank"><span>Southern Health</span></a></span><span>, who are one of England’s largest providers of ‘community health, specialist mental health and learning disability services’. Mazars concluded that those in charge of overseeing the delivery of Southern Health services had catastrophically failed. In particular they noted that a ‘failure to bring about sustained improvement in the identification of unexpected death and in the quality and timeliness of reports into those deaths is “<em>a failure of leadership and of governance”</em>.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>What are the consequences of this failure? Who can be held to account in a context where the government has devolved its “constitutional responsibility” to provide NHS services? Where does legal and political responsibility lie? With those whose neglect contributed to Connor’s death? With Southern Health? With the CCG who commissioned their services? With NHS England? With the Secretary of State for Health? If all of these ‘bodies’ are in some part accountable, who can hold them to account, what are the systems for accounting?</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em><span>The hollow rituals of apology without accountability&nbsp;</span></em></strong><span><br /> On December 10th 2015, the leaked Mazars findings provoked the tabling of an ‘urgent question’ to the Health Sectary Jeremy Hunt in the House of Commons. Hunt made a public apology to Sara Ryan and her family. Hunt thanked the #JusticeforLB campaign, and suggested he was grateful for their exposure of the failures at Southern Health.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>However, in his co-authored 2005 book,&nbsp;<em><a href="https://whatwouldvirchowdo.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/direct_democracy___an_agenda_for_a_new_model_party.pdf">DIRECT DEMOCRACY: An Agenda for a New Model Party</a>,&nbsp;</em>Hunt not only put forward a case for the privatisation of the NHS, but specifically argued for an end to government accountability for the welfare state. The introduction stated,&nbsp;<strong>“what is needed is not the accountability of services to central government –</strong>&nbsp;<strong>precisely the error of the Attlee settlement whose failed systems we still inhabit.”</strong> </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Attlee was the Labour Prime-Minister (1945 to 1951) who oversaw the development of the post-war welfare state. His Health Minister, Aneurin Bevan, created the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948. Hunt’s political ambition, to rid the government, and specially the Department of Health, for accountability for failures in care, is precisely what has come to pass, though the establishment of NHS England, and chaotic and ill-prepared local Clinical Commissioning Groups. Decentralised ‘accountability’, said Hunt's book, ‘must be direct, democratic and local’. In actuality Hunt’s ‘devolved’ accountability equates to <em>market-based</em> accountability, which exercises authority through obfuscation - strategies which seems to centre on tiring out those who attempt to question and challenge.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>To put it more plainly, permanent reductions in public services necessitates the erosion of structures of accountability. </span></p><p><span><strong><em>The bones of hope</em></strong></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span> The #JusticeforLB campaign has exposed the extent to which NHS ‘reforms’ have undermined systems of public accountability for publically funded services. This has been no small undertaking, but has involved the harnessing of an arsenal of digital and off-line activist strategies: twitter, blogging, vimeo, the #<a href="https://lbbill.wordpress.com/draft-lb-bill-v-2/" target="_blank"><span>LBBill</span></a>, the Justice Quilt, the Justice Shed, films, art exhibitions, picnics and flags. This is a movement grounded in grief and love, but moved, agitated, kept alive, by the promise of justice for people with learning disabilities, and the possibility of a different welfare future.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Imogen Tyler Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:14:43 +0000 Imogen Tyler 99589 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Children in trouble: punishment or welfare? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/children-in-trouble-punishment-or-welfare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://bbc.in/1PNMV68">BBC Panorama</a> exposed abuse at Medway Secure Training Centre — and a government policy that has gone off the rails.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking door G4Spages.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking door G4Spages.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em>Malcolm Stevens was the government’s youth justice professional advisor responsible for the original design and operating specifications for Secure Training Centres, and&nbsp;G4S’s first director of children’s services, responsible for Medway and Rainsbrook and, later, Oakhill secure training centres.&nbsp;</em><em>He was the first UK Commissioner to the International Juvenile Justice Observatory in Brussels until 2013 and has wide experience of custodial approaches in Europe, America and Africa, as well as the UK.</em></p> <p><span><em>He believes the BBC’s Panorama programme about Medway STC exposes the child jail that was never intended.</em></span></p><p>Last week’s <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Lords/2016-01-26/HLWS483/">written statement</a> from the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, shows just how seriously the government views <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">recent events at Medway Secure Training Centre</a> (STC), in Kent.&nbsp; We are informed that he has commissioned an Independent Improvement Board with the “broadest possible expertise” — that is with the exception of relevant experience in children’s social care services, safeguarding management, STCs or secure accommodation!</p> <p>Previously, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160111/debtext/160111-0001.htm#16011114000003">on 11 January 2016, he assured Parliament</a> that the safety and welfare of children is vital and that his department (the Ministry of Justice — MOJ) would be supporting the Kent Police and the Medway Council with their criminal child protection inquiries.&nbsp; He also confirmed that there would be no new admissions to Medway and that the certification of certain G4S staff had been suspended; a course of action which will presumably activate significant contractual penalties and possibly liquidated damages — a small fortune.</p> <p>This article is not about money. Nor is it about poor outcomes achieved by successive governments in respect of the young offenders it places in various secure institutions.&nbsp; And there is enough huff and puff in and around Parliament about…..</p> <ul><li>-&nbsp; the costs of keeping children in custody</li><li>-&nbsp; high reoffending rates</li><li>- &nbsp;unlawful use of restraint</li><li>-&nbsp; pain compliant control and restraint techniques</li><li>-&nbsp; transportation in prison cellular vehicles</li><li>- &nbsp;strip searching</li><li>-&nbsp; the over-use of segregation and isolation</li><li>-&nbsp; prison adjudication processes</li><li>-&nbsp; inadequate assessments of vulnerability and capacity for self-harm and suicide</li><li>-&nbsp; closure of 17 local authority secure children’s homes (SCHs)</li><li>-&nbsp; indifferent community social work practices and lack of vigorous viable alternatives to custody</li></ul> <p>&nbsp;...however compelling those matters really are.</p> <p>No consideration of the Youth Justice System, however, can possibly ignore the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">35 or so children who have so tragically died in custody</a> during the last two decades, mostly through suicide, and the crystal clear messages from successive HM Coroners, serious case reviews and Prison Ombudsmen. Their findings have important implications on how and where the government places such children.</p> <p>The investigation report by the Prison Ombudsman into one such suicide by a 15 year old boy who hanged himself in a Young Offender Institution (YOI) described “the lamentable standard of care for such a vulnerable boy in the charge of the state” (reference: paragraph 428, <a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/ReddotImportContent/138.07-Death-of-a-boy-in-a-Young-Offender-Institution.pdf#view=FitH">‘Investigation into the death of a boy at HM Lancaster Farms in November 2007’</a>. The report is dated August 2009 and published in December, 2010)</p> <p>What is so poignant about all of those cases and so many of the children accommodated in STCs, is the paucity of suitable alternative accommodation and the seemingly indifferent interventions by local authorities.</p> <p>A decade of safeguarding reports from the government’s joint inspectorates, which repeatedly submitted serious child protection criticisms about children in custody, have largely been ignored.</p> <p>The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ, 2011) commented similarly about the failure of successive governments to deliver on national commitments to children in care, in favour of the perverse financial incentives which pushed children towards custody simply because it was and still is cheaper for a local authority if a child is in custody and cheaper for the government if a child is in a young offender institution (rather than a secure children’s home) regardless of whether that placement means unsafe and unsuitable prison cells with ligature points, and regardless of the child’s vulnerability or welfare needs.</p> <p>The Secretary of State’s actions arise following the BBC Panorama programme screened on the 11 January 2016 about Medway STC which is run by the international security company G4S.&nbsp; Since then, <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/medway-secure-training-centre-4/">Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP),</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35281097">Ofsted</a>, the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/action-taken-by-the-yjb-to-safeguard-young-people-at-secure-training-centres">Youth Justice Board</a> (YJB) and the local agencies have been busy proclaiming wisely about the malpractices which they themselves all failed to detect or ignored. G4S has <a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2016/01/26/Management%20changes%20at%20Medway%20Secure%20Training%20Centre/">implemented its own action plan</a>, some staff have been dismissed, others remain suspended and the director has been replaced.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A*bigman.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A*bigman.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="491" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE BY REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p><p>For this reason, we should be grateful to the vigour of Panorama’s investigation; we would not otherwise have known about what is by any standards, an abuse of children and an abuse of power. Sadly, the potential for such malpractices are well known. They are not unique, not confined just to STCs; and not just to the UK either.&nbsp; And the Ministry of Justice, the Youth Justice Board, G4S and the inspectorates all know that; arguably better than anyone else. They have experienced them all before; at Medway STC (on previous occasions), at Oakhill STC and at <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-%E2%80%98degrading-treatment%E2%80%99-by-guards-high-on-">Rainsbrook STC, as Ofsted found</a>, less than 12 months ago.</p> <p>Yet they have still been happening at Medway, subversively and disgracefully, as Panorama showed, despite all that antecedent knowledge and experience, and despite there being in place:-</p><ul><li>• an on-site government (Youth Justice Board) monitor at all times</li><li>• an active and comprehensive independent advocacy service provided by the children’s charity Barnardo’s</li><li>• twice a year detailed inspections by Ofsted’s (HM) Inspectors of Education and Children’s Services</li><li>• all sorts of commended schemes for the involvement and participation of children</li><li>• active and well used systems for making complaints, representations and ‘grumbles’</li><li>• a well promoted whistleblowing system</li><li>• comprehensive and commended quality monitoring systems</li><li>• close scrutiny by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)</li></ul> <p>In total, this is a degree of external scrutiny, independent monitoring and safeguarding assurance which far exceeds any other comparable service for children in England and Wales or indeed anywhere else that I have ever seen in Europe, USA or Africa.&nbsp; Nevertheless, this is without doubt a most serious child protection matter and indicates crystal clear systemic and governance failings within G4S, within the MOJ and the YJB, and quite possibly within the Medway LSCB as well.</p> <p>In my opinion, a formal Serious Case Review (by the Medway LSCB) is required, not simply for this reason but because the aggressive staff behaviours and (mis)use of control and restraint methods (as shown by Panorama) were not just unlawful but entirely similar to the antecedent circumstances which led to the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">tragic death of Gareth Myatt</a> at Rainsbrook STC in 2004!&nbsp; It is that serious.</p><p>The Secretary of State’s carefully selected Independent Improvement Panel and its equally circumspect terms of reference are inadequate for the purpose of reviewing safeguarding arrangements. That is a matter for the Medway LSCB to oversee; it's what LSCBs are for!</p><p>The hand-picked panel members are&nbsp;unlikely to be able to provide anything other than a retrospective management review of the MoJ’s own performance and some additional monitoring of whatever formal contractual rectification plans have been agreed with G4S.&nbsp;</p> <p>The legal responsibility for ensuring that safeguarding arrangements are effective in respect of all children living in that area, including those living in the secure training centre, rests entirely with the Local Safeguarding Children Board&nbsp;under children’s legislation i.e legislation within the government responsibility of the Department for Education not the Ministry of Justice!</p> <p>The Secretary of State for children (Department for Education) should remind her Ministry of Justice colleagues that neither it (the MoJ) nor its Youth Justice Board, Barnardo’s, Ofsted and HMIP partners can reasonably be seen to investigate themselves and their own child protection failings — any more than G4S can.</p> <p>There is a precedent: the case of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre run by Serco after the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/uk-border-agencys-long-punitive-campaign-against-children-helped-by-g4s-an">sexual abuse of children</a> was discovered by the then Children’s Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green.&nbsp;</p> <p>This rightly fell to the local Local Safeguarding Children Board to conduct an independent review under the appropriate children’s regulatory framework for Serious Case Reviews. Its full report has never been published but even the sanitised Overview Report was widely critical of the government itself (Home Office, UK Border Agency and its prison inspectors) as well as Serco and all the local safeguarding agencies including the police and the LSCB itself. (‘Bedfordshire LSCB, Independent Review, Child A and Child B, placed at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention and Removal Centre, June 2010’).</p> <p>Moreover, it criticised the government’s policy for establishing a service for children outside the regulatory framework and governance of the otherwise comprehensive Children Act 1989 – as are secure training centres! The government closed Yarl’s Wood’s doors to children shortly afterwards.</p> <p>Aside from the specific malpractices themselves at Medway, what shocked me more than anything in the BBC Panorama was the lack of care and understanding for children whose health and welfare needs were as profound as they were blindingly obvious. There was no sense of professional duty to look after them properly, either as individual children or as vulnerable children with special needs and/or who have suffered significant early life traumas (as most of them have).</p><p> I have always been irritated by the ‘Child Prison’ label so often used to describe secure training centres. Historically that’s been incorrect and unfair. They were set up to be large secure children’s homes… not juvenile prisons. The government’s original commitment to Parliament in March 1993 (about STCs) was to provide “high standards of care, health and education” and to ensure that happened as specified, they were to be inspected only by the government’s own HM Inspectorate of Children’s Services (duties which are now carried out by Ofsted).</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/kids angry_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/kids angry_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE BY REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p><p>HM Prison Service was never allowed to commission secure training centres, bid for them, run them or draft any of the design and operating specifications. Prison officers and prison governors were not permitted unless they were qualified social workers as well; and HMIP was not permitted to inspect them. Operating and design specifications, inspection and contractual care standards were all derived from The Children Act 1989 and its various regulations.</p> <p>I myself was involved in much of that from the outset, as a civil servant and inspector and as a director of G4S. I have learned many hard lessons, from successes as much as failures. But two stand out more than anything else:-</p> <ul><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;(i) STCs are incredibly difficult to run and</li><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;(ii) the children and young people themselves can be very difficult to look after, arguably more so than any other group.</li></ul> <p>Hereto, every provider has underestimated that difficulty — G4S at Medway, Rainsbrook and Oakhill STCs, Premier Prisons and Serco at Hassockfield STC – all suffering the same significant operating and contractual compliance difficulties.</p> <p>Moreover, no one is in a position to crow about these sorts of failures either, least of all the government which is not only the common denominator in the history of all four secure training centres, but which itself experienced equally high profile ‘difficulties’ at its secure St Charles and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/care-centre-for-young-criminals-out-of-control-stressed-staff-use-excessive-restraint-1434123.html">Glenthorne Youth Treatment</a> Centres in Essex and Birmingham. Likewise, local authorities and the leading children’s charities have all but disengaged from providing secure residential children’s services. They are simply that difficult!</p> <p>Hence the reason some 17 secure children’s homes have closed in the last decade and why secure training centre contracts were awarded to the private sector in the first place; in much the same way and for the same reasons that large, private equity-backed residential and fostering companies are now replacing the conventions of public and charitable sector-provided children’s services.</p> <p>There is, therefore, a wider debate to be had about the strengths and weaknesses, and viability of STCs; arguably one which could and should have preceded the MOJ’s contract renewal process in 2015, which resulted in Medway STC being awarded to G4S and Rainsbrook STC to a new provider called <a href="http://www.mtcnovo.co.uk">MTCnovo</a> (from 2016).</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rough boy_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rough boy_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE BY REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p> <p>The following considerations are just some of the developments which have changed the nature of secure training centres, mostly for the government’s own administrative and financial reasons:-</p><ul><li>•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the doubling of occupancy from 40 to 80+ children and consequent lack of space and recreational facilities</li><li>•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the introduction of certain pain-compliant restraint methods</li><li>•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the addition of long term detainees, children convicted of grave crimes</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;the addition of unconvicted children on remand (contrary to UN’s Havana Rules, 1990)</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;the addition of children younger and older than the original 12-14 age group for whom the centres were designed</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;the mix of children with profoundly different and conflicting needs.&nbsp;</li><li><span> </span>&nbsp;For example:-</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>....boys and girls</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….victims and perpetrators (of sex offending)</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….older 16 and 17 year old children with younger 12 and 13 year olds</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….remanded and sentenced children</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….short term and long term detainees</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….children convicted of dangerous, grave crimes with persistent but less serious offenders</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….children with significant mental health needs</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….children with antecedent, multi placement local authority care histories</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….children with significant records of self-harm and suicide attempts</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;risk-averse, central government managed case decision-making</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;lack of external opportunities and supervised exeats</li></ul> <p>Upon reflection, these, and the secure training centres’ contractual obligation to admit every child referred by the MoJ (regardless of whether that is in the best interests of the children concerned), have all had a significant and probably detrimental bearing on the day-to-day management of STCs. They have undoubtedly added to the complexity of an already difficult task and certainly merit discussion and debate at a policy level.</p> <p>Having been involved in designing, operating and inspecting secure units for many years, I am not easily shocked by the behaviour of stroppy kids. They are not like that all the time and the important thing is to concentrate upon their achievements and positive behaviours. I’m not shocked by the behaviours and attitudes of big-headed staff and bullying managers either.</p> <p>Nevertheless, I am bound to say that after seeing Panorama’s portrayal of Medway STC, 18 years after it first opened in April 1998, with internal security fences, pain-compliant methods of physical control and aggressive, uniform-wearing staff, I was hugely disappointed. It is nowhere near what the originating Home Security, Kenneth Clarke, intended back in 1992. </p> <p>I thought it looked like a prison and the staff looked and sounded like prison officers — everything that the original concept set out to avoid and about which Parliament was assured would not happen.</p> <p>The prospect of adding body cameras to the staff’s already extensive armoury (key-belts, key-pouches, key bunches, personal security radios, handcuffs and anti-ligature knives) is about as far removed from a therapeutic child care setting as it is possible to get.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. 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Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Malcolm Stevens Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:00:21 +0000 Malcolm Stevens 99562 at https://www.opendemocracy.net