Archive for June, 2008

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0901.htm

Back in the 70s, when the police found it almost impossible to get convictions in the growing number of armed robbery cases in London, the prosecuting authorities hit on the idea of the supergrass. In exchange for a short sentence and a new identity, former armed robbers could give evidence against their colleagues. Initially, the idea was a spectacular success, the number of armed robberies declined sharply and many career criminals were jailed for long sentences. In recent years, London has faced a wave of a different form of armed crime and one of a more deadly nature: gang murders. While the average murder clear-up rate is an admirably high 80% to 90%, in such crimes convictions were running at about half that level. How would it be possible to halt the killings and jail the gunmen? In many of the cases, for very understandable reasons, witnesses were reluctant to come forward. The offer of a new identity was not enough. Why should someone risk their and their family’s lives in this way? For this reason, total anonymity was offered by the Crown Prosecution Service in some trials. The witnesses would not be named, even in court, or seen by the accused. Their voices would be disguised. This has led to successful prosecutions and the jailing of violent men. However, the law lords have now ruled that defendants are entitled to know the identity of their accusers so they can challenge their evidence and their motives for giving it. Yesterday a trial at the Old Bailey was abandoned because of that law lords ruling. Other cases may now be under threat. The Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, John Yates, has made a persuasive case for continuing this practice of anonymity. He points to the successes achieved in London by Operation Trident, and acknowledges that such total anonymity should be confined to only the most serious cases. His frustration that all this work could now be at risk is completely understandable. If this is the only way to halt the casual killings that deface our cities, should we not welcome it with open arms? But there lies a danger here. Back in the 70s, the supergrass system ¬©eventually fell into disrepute. Former criminals used it as a way of settling old scores. Corners were cut by the police handling the informers who saw it as a handy short-cut to conviction. Miscarriages of justices occurred as supergrasses helpfully told courts of “confessions” by cell mates. Innocent men went to prison. The damage to the criminal justice system was great. Guilty men walked free, and the laws had to be changed and tightened.

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0900.htm

FAMILIES of murder victims joined forces at the weekend to launch a charter calling for tougher sentencing. The National Victims’ Association (NVA), formerly the North East Victims’ Association (NEVA), held its 10th annual conference at the Little Haven Hotel, in South Shields, which also saw ministers from the top three political parties in the hot seat. The conference, which the charity’s organisers say may be their last due to a lack of funding, brought together more than 80 families from across UK including the parents of Sarah Payne and James Bulger all demanding changes to the criminal justice system. The event was used as a launch pad for NVA’s new 16 point victims’ charter which, among other things, calls for mandatory full-life sentences for murderers, the removal of convicted murderers’right to pursue human rights legal action, and a mandatory eight-year minimum sentence for carrying guns or knives. Family members also spoke of the need for investment in medical care for victims’ families, counselling, funding for appeals, transparency in police investigations and independent inquiries, and for justice after acquittals. Home Office under secretary of state Vernon Coaker, shadow justice minister David Burrowes and Liberal Democrat spokesman Alan Beith all attended the event and pledged to do more for victims’ families, Mr Coaker promised to do everything he could to help with funding for the NVA. He said: “There is no doubt the victim’s voice has not been heard as loudly as it should be, that the victim’s voice sometimes gets lost in the system and we do have to try to do more in respect to that.” Later, he added: “It cannot be right that the people related to victims of some of the worst crimes we have seen in our country feel that the system lets them down.”

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0900.htm

FAMILIES of murder victims joined forces at the weekend to launch a charter calling for tougher sentencing. The National Victims’ Association (NVA), formerly the North East Victims’ Association (NEVA), held its 10th annual conference at the Little Haven Hotel, in South Shields, which also saw ministers from the top three political parties in the hot seat. The conference, which the charity’s organisers say may be their last due to a lack of funding, brought together more than 80 families from across UK including the parents of Sarah Payne and James Bulger all demanding changes to the criminal justice system. The event was used as a launch pad for NVA’s new 16 point victims’ charter which, among other things, calls for mandatory full-life sentences for murderers, the removal of convicted murderers’right to pursue human rights legal action, and a mandatory eight-year minimum sentence for carrying guns or knives. Family members also spoke of the need for investment in medical care for victims’ families, counselling, funding for appeals, transparency in police investigations and independent inquiries, and for justice after acquittals. Home Office under secretary of state Vernon Coaker, shadow justice minister David Burrowes and Liberal Democrat spokesman Alan Beith all attended the event and pledged to do more for victims’ families, Mr Coaker promised to do everything he could to help with funding for the NVA. He said: “There is no doubt the victim’s voice has not been heard as loudly as it should be, that the victim’s voice sometimes gets lost in the system and we do have to try to do more in respect to that.” Later, he added: “It cannot be right that the people related to victims of some of the worst crimes we have seen in our country feel that the system lets them down.”

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0900.htm

FAMILIES of murder victims joined forces at the weekend to launch a charter calling for tougher sentencing. The National Victims’ Association (NVA), formerly the North East Victims’ Association (NEVA), held its 10th annual conference at the Little Haven Hotel, in South Shields, which also saw ministers from the top three political parties in the hot seat. The conference, which the charity’s organisers say may be their last due to a lack of funding, brought together more than 80 families from across UK including the parents of Sarah Payne and James Bulger all demanding changes to the criminal justice system. The event was used as a launch pad for NVA’s new 16 point victims’ charter which, among other things, calls for mandatory full-life sentences for murderers, the removal of convicted murderers’right to pursue human rights legal action, and a mandatory eight-year minimum sentence for carrying guns or knives. Family members also spoke of the need for investment in medical care for victims’ families, counselling, funding for appeals, transparency in police investigations and independent inquiries, and for justice after acquittals. Home Office under secretary of state Vernon Coaker, shadow justice minister David Burrowes and Liberal Democrat spokesman Alan Beith all attended the event and pledged to do more for victims’ families, Mr Coaker promised to do everything he could to help with funding for the NVA. He said: “There is no doubt the victim’s voice has not been heard as loudly as it should be, that the victim’s voice sometimes gets lost in the system and we do have to try to do more in respect to that.” Later, he added: “It cannot be right that the people related to victims of some of the worst crimes we have seen in our country feel that the system lets them down.”

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0899.htm

Many local authorities are not following guidance; only one third of children in need have been identified. Anna Bawden reports Jamie Thomas, nine, from Huddersfield, has been deaf and blind since birth. When he was born, he was very weak and had feeding and breathing difficulties. One ear was completely different from the other and he had a facial palsy. After one week, his parents were told the devastating news that Jamie had a significant vision impairment. Despite all these symptoms, it was only when he was a year old that he was diagnosed with Charge syndrome – a serious congenital condition that affects about one in every 10,000 people. And it took over 15 months to diagnose his profound deafness. Lack of help It has been a struggle to get Jamie the help he needs. “Although we had a superb health visitor, there were no joined-up services,” says Carol Thomas, his mother. “Jamie was seven months old before he even saw anyone from social services. And when the deafblind guidance was issued by the Department of Health, our local social services knew nothing about it. We had enormous difficulties getting them to carry out a deafblind assessment.” Carol is not alone. A survey of 91 top-tier local authorities published today by Sense, the deafblind charity, has found a worrying lack of services for deafblind children. Since 2001, councils in England and Wales have been obliged to provide “effective services” to deafblind children and adults. This compels them to be proactive in identifying deafblind people in their area, provide a specialist assessment of their needs and adequate support in and outside the home. They must also appoint a senior manager with responsibilities for deafblind services. But seven years on, many local authorities are not implementing the guidance properly. According to official estimates, there are 2,100 deafblind children in England and Wales. But Sense says local authorities have identified only a third of them. Over 10% of authorities have not identified a single deafblind child. And less than half the councils surveyed said they had a named manager of deafblind services.

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0898.htm

A London nurse who was instrumental in improving child protection after the murder of Victoria Climbie has been made a Dame of the British Empire.
Donna Kinnair, director of nursing at Southwark primary care trust, was an adviser to Lord Laming throughout his inquiry into the eight-year-old’s death.
The child was neglected, tortured and abused in Tottenham at the hands of her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Karl Manning. The inquiry heard how social workers and medics failed to react to the danger she was in and missed a series of chances to intervene.
Since then, Dame Donna, a mother of three from Hackney, has fought for better communication between health and social services.
She was made a dame in the Queen’s annual birthday honours list. “My daughter was the same age as Victoria had been when I was working on the Laming inquiry,” she said. “It had a huge impact on my life and I struggled with the fact that I was part of a profession which could have done better.
“It is very difficult to judge your peers but if the Climbie case taught us anything it is that we must work together in partnership to make sure no other child slips through the net.”
Dame Donna, 47, has been a nurse for 25 years. Her career began in 1983 when she trained at the Princess Alexandra School of Nursing at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Her first job was in east London, working with HIV and intensive care patients.
She became a health visitor in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets, then completed a masters degree in medical law and ethics, which led her to specialise in child protection in south London.

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0897.htm

Council leaders are calling crisis talks after local government workers voted to strike over pay. Emergency plans are being put in place to deal with the threatened mass walkout of up to 5,000 key workers across Hampshire. Members of trade union Unison across the country voted by 55 per cent to strike yesterday after rejecting a 2.45 per cent offer. The action could see communities brought to their knees as staff ranging from classroom assistants and refuse collectors to architects and social workers walk out. Portsmouth Tory leader Steve Wemyss said: ‘The city council needs to have contingency plans in place to minimise the impact on people’s lives.’ The union’s negotiating team will decide today what action to recommend to the national strike committee that meets on June 27. Unison head of local government Heather Wakefield said members had voted for ‘sustained and escalating strike action’. Mike Wilson, Unison’s regional organiser for Hampshire, said: ‘It’s regrettable no-one looks forward to it but to get the message it has to have an impact.’ Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said members were ‘angry they are expected to accept pay cut after pay cut while bread and butter prices go through the roof’. Hampshire County Council said it would wait until after today’s talks to put plans in place. Havant, Fareham and Gosport councils said they would be calling meetings to work out how to keep services running.