Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Somethings Rotten

Shakespeare said, in Hamlet "Somethings rotten in the State of Denmark. I wonder what he would have had to say about modern Britain. I'm going to post links to some articles to illustrate my reasons for raising these concerns.

This tells the tale of a woman who reported being narrowly missed by a speeding car. A policewoman turned up and stayed for all of 5 minutes, during which time she learned, in passing, that the lady was 12 weeks pregnant. So she went back to the police station and wrote to Social Services, reporting the fact that a pregnant woman was living in a house that was in a poor condition.  

The couple were redecorating before their baby arrived. They have since seen a bigger house and will be moving into it, but they wanted to complete the redecoration work for the new tenants. The policewoman had said not one word about the state of the house while she was there; instead she slunk off to write her meddling report to the SS from the safety of her police station. Why did she not have the good manners to ask, tactfully, about the state of the house before firing up her computer? Wouldn't this have prevented a lot of aggro all round? All this has been very stressful for the expectant mother. Why do it? Why not choose the courteous and efficient alternative by saying something along the lines of 'Oh, I see you have your work cut out for you.  Are you decorating?'  Mrs Cooke then could have explained that they were redecorating and yes, it was a lot of work and the subject need have been pursued no further.  I must say, it smacks to me of sneaky tattle telling by someone too cowardly to have the courage of her convictions.  If she is that apprehensive in dealing with one lone woman, how on earth does she hope to confront yobs and criminals?  She should become a librarian.  

This One
This gentleman is 94 years old and has been refused a Winter Fuel Allowance because he moved house one day too late. He has served his country as a soldier in WW2 and paid taxes all his life. I don't care whether his application or house move was on time or not. As I see it, he is an old age pensioner who should be awarded the Winter Fuel Allowance by right. It is something all over 60s are entitled to, and its especially important now because gas and electricity prices have skyrocketed astronomically. He shouldn't be humiliated by having to beg like this. He's a good citizen who is 94, for pity's sake, and he shouldn't be cold in winter because he is too scared to put the heating on in fear of the hefty bills. 

This one

This one tells of a mother who reprimanded her children for misbehaviour at the supermarket checkout. She was followed home by an off duty policeman so that he could get her address. He then reported her to Social Services as a potential abuser, and she has been put on a most sinister list, and her name will stay on it for at least 14 years.

HERE "A grandfather was arrested in a dawn raid and held in a police cell for six hours - for using a single swear word in front of a council official.

Stunned Thomas Catcheside, 67, was woken at 5.35am when officers knocked on his door in connection with the comment which he made six days earlier.

He was marched back to his bedroom in his dressing gown - where his wife Deborah, 62, was still asleep - and ordered to get changed before being driven away in a police van.

Thomas was then held in a windowless cell for six hours, had his fingerprints and a DNA swab taken, before being issued with an £80 fixed penalty notice and released.

His arrest followed a dispute with a council official about 'dangerously slippery' stairs in his communal block of flats."

English people are bombarded with phone numbers to call to tell tales or act as 'informers' against their neighbours. There is a number to call if you suspect Benefit Fraud. There is a Tax reporting number, a Customs and Excise one, Crimestoppers, a number for flytipping or for putting out the rubbish on the wrong day or for graffiti. These may seem like serious issues that should be brought to the attention of the Authorities, and therein lies the danger. We will be accustomed to anonymous sneak reporting on matters such as these, and before you know it, there will be yet more numbers to call with ever more trifling matters. How did the "informer" movement in Iron Curtain countries start?  

We are spied on at every opportunity, and we are on all sorts of databases. Each child is on a Children's Register, which thousands of people have access to. There will be 'flags' for a child doing poorly at school or for not getting their 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, or for being overweight or if their parents don't show the 'right' attitudes. Teachers, nursery workers, medical staff, social workers etc all have access so they can add notes or raise flags. Three flags automatically trigger an investigation. HERE is a bit more about it, and I'll paste one paragraph of the article next "Regulations governing the system, which is costing £224 million to build and a further £41 million a year to run, were rushed through parliament without publicity last month, despite the warning of a House of Lords committee. “The enormous size of the database and the huge number of probable users inevitably increase the risks of accidental or inadvertent breaches of security, and of deliberate misuse of the data (eg, disclosure of an address with malign intent), which would be likely to bring the whole scheme into disrepute”, the Lords’ Select Committee on Merits of Statutory Instruments concluded."

And THIS tells us, not very reassuringly, that records of our text messages and internet searches will not be held until "after the election".

In my opinion, the biggest threat to democracy we currently face in the UK comes from the Police and Social Services.  We can no longer afford apathy, and as many people as possible should vote in the next Election. 

Well? Something Rotten? I certainly think so.  And not in Denmark either. Somewhere a lot closer to home.

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