Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

Are there any sensible lessons being learned following the Baby P fiasco?

So much went wrong in this particular case that it’s hard to know where to even start.

The social services have an awful lot to answer for in this one. For a start, although they didn’t directly kill Peter clearly their inept actions contributed to his death, one wonders whether a number of those involved shouldn’t be residing in jail somewhere at the moment? No, it won’t bring Peter back but it would send the strongest message to the social services people everywhere that the key social service that they should be providing isn’t money, it’s the protection of life. Disciplinary action is all very well but some jail time meted out is a much stronger message and one that seems more appropriate in this instance.

Related to this seems to be their inbuilt bias in favour of the underpriviliged. I don’t dispute that the social services generally are needed to support those on hard times, but their “keep the mother with the child” regardless of circumstances approach obviously didn’t work too well in this case. I’d also question their bias in favour of mothers too. We’d not have heard anything about Peter had his father been able to keep him and that’s how I’m sure we’d all have wished it to be. It’s definitely better for a child to be with a parent rather than being in care but that parent shouldn’t always have to be the mother as seems to be the case now.

Crazy as it seems, this attitude is what probably led to the doctor giving the killers the benefit of the doubt and thereby missing the injuries. That benefit of the doubt isn’t given to normal families as I found out when accused by a midwife of abusing my own son and frankly we felt at some risk of having him taken into care despite 1) him having no injuries and 2) the supposed abuse being merely a side-effect of him being born breech.

Then there’s the Orwellian handling of the case or rather information about the case as it’s proceeded. The court required all information that would identify the killers to be removed from websites around the world. Frankly the only thing that succeeded in doing was to create a feeling of revisionist history reminiscent of Orwell’s novel and has merely driven public commentary about the case to places like this. Even now, the notorious boyfriend can only be referred to as “the boyfriend” because he’s appealing against his conviction. Well, you would if you were him, wouldn’t you? After all, with the strong feelings that this case has generated his life in jail seems likely to be rather short and with an extremely unpleasant end.

That concealing of information is a major failing of this case. For instance, the government report couldn’t be handed out because it would identify some of the social workers. Let’s not forget that some of these people should be in jail; protecting them in this merely serves to let the authorities off the hook in terms of bringing the appropriate people to court. Thus, we only have the head of the social services section named (Liz Santry who one suspects won’t be a councilor after the next election).

Lot’s of lessons to be learned for sure. Let’s hope that the same mistakes aren’t repeated anytime soon.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

In light of the Vanessa George affair, shouldn’t we just ban cameras from schools and make all photos of naked children illegal?

Sounds an easy solution to the pornography issue for sure although it obviously doesn’t solve the abuse angle in this case.

However, there’s a problem with this approach. For one thing it’s a child safety measure yet many parents give their children phones for child safety too and these days most phones come with cameras. Is eliminating the possibility of inappropriate photos more important than knowing that your kids can call you for help? Given the relative rarity of these cases I suspect that being able to call is probably more important.

OK, so let’s just make photos of naked children illegal then. That’s easy, isn’t it? Not really because for one thing you’d need to arrest all the paedeatric doctors as, of course, they have textbooks containing photos of children, some of whom are naked. OK, so we can make an exception for doctors then. Well, I’m currently doing a child development course and next year will be doing one on human biology. Are you going to arrest students for having photos of children? Then there are the parents who drag out the cute photos of their little girl or boy in the bath and I’m sure that most parents have such photos these days. Finally, there’s the relatively new phenomena of sexting to consider. Somehow it doesn’t seem right for it to be illegal to take a photo of yourself, regardless of what age you might be at the time.

How many more exceptions will you need to make?

What we need to remember in all this is that it’s not the photos per se that are the issue. It’s the people who “get off” on seeing inappropriate photos of children and for them the Mothercare catalogue is their equivalent of Playboy.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

OK, so everyone’s disgusted, but what if Vanessa George is found not guilty because of that disgust?

The problem with really high profile cases such as Vanessa George’s seems likely to be is that the very high level of publically expressed opinions can mean that the court case can be thrown out.

To avoid that what usually happens is that a reporting restriction is invoked whereby it’s deemed to be in contempt of court to publish specific information about the case in advance of a verdict being announced. That system worked really well in pre-internet days but is increasingly unworkable in the Internet age as I’ve said before. As it stands right now there don’t appear to be any reporting restrictions in place for this particular case which has had the effect that it’s been talked about on TV, radio, newspapers and, of course, blogs and 99% of what’s been said is very much along the lines of “let’s lynch her now” as you’d probably expect.

However, there’s also the not so small matter that she hasn’t been convicted yet so is rechnically innocent of the charges at the moment. That’s as it should be, of course, since the whole British legal system is built on the premise that people are considered until a case is proven against them. You might think that with all the public outrage that she couldn’t possibly be truly innocent of all those things that she’s been charged with but it does happen. After all, people have been arrested for taking photos of their own children before now and they’re generally laughed at when they reach the courtroom.

The vast majority of people have only heard, at best, second hand reports of the charges. They haven’t even heard second hand accounts of the evidence. Don’t forget that the grandmother I referred to above was charged with producing pornography yet it turned out she was doing nothing of the sort when the evidence was examined.

Are you still prepared to say that Vanessa George is guilty having merely heard an account of the charges against her?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

When Vanessa George can get away with child pornography, what’s the point of the Criminal Records Bureau check?

When we got back from France it wasn’t long before James was set to go on a school outing and the school were asking for parents to volunteer to come along to help with looking after the children. So, we volunteered or rather we tried to because we were told that we’d first need to get a CRB check done and found that we couldn’t get one as we didn’t have the necessary documents at the time which seemed a little silly at the time but the school had a policy of requiring a CRB check for parents helping out with school trips.

However, documentation aside, the real problem with the CRB check is that it only looks at previous convictions and, of course, Vanessa George didn’t have any. In fact, she still doesn’t so would pass a CRB check right now which is obviously somewhat ridiculous given what she’s been getting up to.

In some ways the CRB check has made it a lot easier for undesireable people of one sort or another to get into positions that they shouldn’t be in. That’s because in place of what would previously have been effectively an assessment by the principal of whether or not someone was a suitable person to be working with young children, now the school child protection policy says that she must instead rely on a CRB check as indeed do a great many schools and nurseries around the country.

However, clearly there still needs to be an assessment of the type of person that gets each job. Whilst Vanessa presumably won’t be getting any more jobs dealing with children she’s managed to harm quite a lot of children before she was caught and that doesn’t seem right. The other thing that this case highlights is that women are just as likely to interfere with children as men.

Hopefully this case will highlight the need to reduce the complete dependence on the CRB check that has built up since it was introduced.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Where did our personal privacy go?

Oh, you thought that you had some personal privacy? Sorry, it seems that you’re wrong and that you ARE being watched.

For example, if you’ve found this post by searching with google then they’ll have recorded that search against your name if you were logged in with your google account. If you’ve found it via StumbleUpon then they’ll have recorded that too. Both are “to enhance your browsing experience” or words to that effect but they certainly remove any privacy that you thought you might have in your Internet browsing.

If you’ve you’ve been using the Internet for a while no doubt you’ve commented on some forums or blogs by now. All those comments are available to everyone. Oh, you used a false name, did you? No good because the software will have recorded the IP address from which you made the comment and that can be linked to you. Ah, but your ISP allocates random IP addresses every time you login so you’re OK. Well, no, because the ISP records who gets what IP address so, yes, that comment could be linked to you.

Still, at least your e-mails are private. Not really. The Internet is structured as a network of linked computers so every e-mail you send will have gone through a series of computers to reach its destination and every one of those computers could easily record the contents and who sent it.

It seems like we’ve finally got the surveillance of 1984 and all we’re missing (in most of the world) is the totalitarian regime. Still, perhaps if we wait a few years we’ll have the complete set.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.