ig girls defend smaller girls.
Child sexual abuse has never been a higher police priority. But too many rapists avoid justice, argues former detective Margaret Oliver....
It wasn't long before I was working on rapes, domestic abuse and child protection jobs - the kind of cases that other officers working in Moss Side generally didn't want to do. And I was good at them. But if you won the trust of vulnerable girls who'd been through hell, you had to deliver - and that was heavily dependent on the appetite of people at the top to investigate these crimes.
Years before I worked on a scoping exercise - a full-blown major incident team investigation which had identified considerable numbers of child abusers in south Manchester. I'd listened to girls who had been drugged so they couldn't move before they were violently raped - but the investigation was closed down. A few people were warned under the Child Abduction Act but no-one was charged.
I was sickened then and still feel angry now when I think back to that case. Vulnerable people were reaching out, desperate to secure justice, and we were letting them down. I'd sworn an oath to uphold the law and ensure "equal respect to all people" when I joined the police. Those words seemed meaningless now.
Unless we started showing respect to young girls from poorer areas, we were never going to win their trust. When Greater Manchester Police's failings in dealing with child abuse were later laid bare in a series of damning reports, one police officer gave a radio interview in which he admitted that officers referred to the girls as "scrubbers" and child prostitutes.
That was putting it lightly. I'd heard worse from other officers. There was no real effort to win their trust and a staggering lack of empathy
Thus one female voice of sanity and civilization in a sea of semen. What does this indicate? That the male coppers were as contemptuous of the non-virginal teenage female as the Muslim groomers. It may also indicate that the line 'we don't want to be accused of Islamophobia' showed not that people are anxious not to be accused of Islamophobia but that the possibility is a perfect excuse for doing little or nothing about something you don't really think matters.
Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride, Edward Evans, Pauline Reade, Keith Bennett
Perhaps there are only two sorts of Brits, those to whom these names have meant something for most of our lives, and those to whom they meant nothing until today.
You don’t hope a piece of shit like Brady rests in peace, well, unless you are a particular kind of religious person. Did Jesus not say: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Of course they knew what they did and so did Brady.
You might think the planet is well rid. He is extinct. He has ceased to be. Donne wrote: ‘Any man’s death diminishes me.’ Not this one. If there’s anything or anyone to thank, thank him/her/it. The expression ‘thank goodness’ you might use in place of ‘thank God’ is actually equally strange: if goodness were a force to be thanked, there’d be no Bradys. Not of course that goodness doesn’t exist. Goodness lies in small places, such as the Manchester police who reject closing the case. So many years ago, the perpetrators both dead, how can it matter any more? It matters to the families and particularly to Keith Bennett’s family who were tortured by the refusal of Brady and Hindley to reveal where they buried him.
You might also think that for nearly fifty years we paid to maintain Brady’s continued existence. How many nurses would that have paid for? One of the arguments against capital punishment is the possibility of error. Not this time.
You might even rather wistfully hope Satan is busy lining up his minions ready to receive, sharpening the pitchforks and adding fuel to the fires. Examining human monsters can make you quite enthusiastic about the idea of hell, begin to feel it is basically a good idea that has unfortunately had a bad press due to those the more moronic of the religious maintain are destined to go there, people of independent views, gays, ‘bad women’. It’s not a nice place, hell. Read Dante. Not sure off the top of my head in which Circle a torturer and murderer of children would land.
All the same, eternity. Uh, that’s kind of a long time, man. Does anyone deserve to suffer until the end of time? One argument against orthodox Christianity is revulsion at the notion a supposedly loving and forgiving God will torment you for eternity, unless you are truly sorry. Why would he bother, hell simply a terror-tactic to keep the proles in line on earth, a con for which most of us proles have ceased to fall.
There are and have long been more sophisticated views. ‘The fires of hell are the Light of God as perceived by those who reject it.’ (St Catherine of Genoa) ‘I sent my Soul through the Invisible/Some letter of that After-life to spell:/And by and by my Soul return'd to me,/And answer'd "I Myself am Heav'n and Hell:" (Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam). The supremacy of free will is here writ large. It’s not God’s choice, it’s yours. Should you be burning in the eternal fire, you are not being done to but doing. Humans can be awfully fond of being done to, of being the helpless tools or victims of some greater power, whether Divine Will or capitalist society. If you are a racist, for instance, that which others regard as great, cool, such as a mixed-race couple cooing to each other, ‘makes’ your skin crawl. Nobody is doing a thing to you. Like that.
Was the prick ever sorry? A journalist reports the one time he expressed remorse. There could perhaps be only one true test of his remorse as of that of any murderer. It cannot be constructed by priest or psychiatrist though it could by any deity with half a brain. Once again meeting Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride, Edward Evans, Pauline Reade, Keith Bennett. It is curiosity of what we might call ‘top-down’ religious thinking that it has focused on being punished by the boss. If Himmler believed in life after death, would being surrounded by his victims and devoid of any control, any capacity to terrorize them, standing among them as an ordinary fellow-human-being, not be more terrifying than any divine wrath.
I think on the whole I like to think of Brady having landed in a field of flowers where Lesley Ann, John, Edward, Pauline and Keith are playing. They stop playing and just look at him, just go on looking at him. For eternity. Or until he starts trembling and sobbing, whichever is sooner. Perhaps no-one is forgiven unless his or her victims forgive.
The idea of reunion in the after-life is a commonplace. On how many gravestones is inscribed, 'until we meet again' or similar sentiment. It really is very strange that the implications of everyone who has ever lived being united are not more considered.
Admin and clerical staff exist in the NHS. Little-known fact. You can read a thousand articles about the NHS and never come across a mention of us. We haven’t had more than a 1% pay-rise since I can’t remember when, either.
Without us hospitals would fall apart instantly, as instantly as if doctors and nurses were removed.
Instantly because there would be no -one to make appointments, no-one to book patients in for diagnostic tests, no-one to book them into out-patient clinics, no-one to send out appointment- letters, no-one to telephone the patients and explain to them where they need to be and when, no-one to answer the telephone and deal with patients’ queries or escalate to clinical staff as required, no-one indeed to chase over-worked clinicians for responses on behalf of the patients, no-one to process queries from GPS or other hospitals, no-one to type the clinic-letters and discharge summaries that convey to patients’ GPs and other doctors engaged in their care the findings and opinions of a particular specialty, no-one to scan or photocopy letters and reports and fax or email them to other hospitals, no-one to get medical records to clinics, no-one indeed to sort out the patients’ diaries and make it all work: when people are very ill, they have multiple appointments and these may be at more than one hospital and in many departments: Neurology, MRI, Oncology, Nuclear Medicine, Thoracic Medicine; when people are very ill, they may be anxious and flustered and not as good at organization as when at their best. When people are very ill, if they are lucky and in my experience most are, most have someone, they have the true unsung unpaid heroes of the NHS to support them, partners and children battling for them. The non-emergency ambulance service may have problems but these are nothing to the problems it would have if all over the country husbands, wives, daughters, nephews, aunts, cousins or just good neighbours weren’t taking the trouble to bring patients to hospital appointments and attend the appointments with them and equally social care problems are nothing to the problems that would exist if all over the country husbands, wives, daughters, nephews, aunts, cousins or just good neighbours weren’t taking the trouble to make sure the patient takes his or her medications at the right time, make sure Pharmacy has handed them the right medications, traipse back up to the hospital to get the right medications in case of error, ring if they’re worried, to wash, dress, launder, deal with the finances and the electricity board.. Then there are the employers of the carers. Employers rarely get a good press, or perhaps it’s just the only press they get is when they’re heartlessly grinding the faces of the workers into dust, but are on the whole human and do understand that your husband is dying, and grant time off work and again of course the cost to the economy in hours lost is minuscule in comparison to the cost to the NHS of providing 24/7 care. The NHS is the people’s NHS not as some trite socialist mantra but because at its best it is the combination of the efforts of all involved, patients and their carers and staff alike; indeed the patients being patients may not be in any fit state to make any efforts.
Thus the view from the top of tree, Cancer Services at UCH, and we have all of us, secretaries, receptionists, nurses, Consultants, heard that it’s not necessarily like that in the lower branches, GPs who are unreachable or roundly described to us as useless, doctors at local hospitals who refuse to talk to you, who sure referred you to us but didn’t even tell you you might have cancer, so you go into a flat spin when you receive an appointment-letter from Cancer Services, doctors who don’t bother to even try to find out what is wrong. Occasionally, usually when a child has died, totally useless doctors hit the headlines, but assuredly there are many more who are merely fairly useless.
There are also of course people who are just not that ill. It’s not just that they don’t have a life-threatening disease, they don’t even have a chronic one. They may waste hours of medical time going from doctor to doctor. Then there are people who have something simple cured not by packing themselves into desperately over-crowded over-worked A+E departments but by a few days in bed. A+E units frantically try to thin the numbers with posters pointing out they are for EMERGENCIES, got that, EMERGENCIES. But when is a non-emergency an emergency, at least from the patient’s point of view, if you are frightened by what is happening to you and know you can’t get a GP appointment for two weeks, by which time you might be dead.
If Labour is to champion the people’s NHS it needs a clear-eyed view of human beings. Not all doctors are saints, not all nurses are angels, not all would-be patients require doctors. And of course that which is in some quarters unsayable: we are each of us responsible for our own health. I do not think the grossly obese, the chain-smoker, the semi-alcoholic should be denied NHS care when it becomes needed. I do think it needs to be said, loudly and often, that there are at base only two kinds of ill-health: that the sufferer can rectify himself or herself and that which requires medical intervention. If you are fat, breathless and running headfirst into heart problems, you may be able to turn yourself around before it’s too late. The reviews of GP practices on NHS Choices are fascinating. They tell you which practices to avoid like the plague. They also indicate there are people whose response to being told by a GP to take more exercise and reform diet is to complain loudly about the GP. Dear Labour, if a person can afford to routinely drink and/or smoke, that person can afford to eat properly and is not desperately poor. I know you hate any suggesting there may be ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’, but that is just a particularly tough and possibly even slightly mouldy piece of Cheddar.
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At some point in a varied life I signed up to Alertes from Le Figaro. Consequently as M. Macron is inaugurated - and possibly I knew he had been elected before the BBC told me – Figaro enjons me to follow it live. I think not all the fulminations of the Académie can stop France borrowing
And possibly even improving. Does suivez notre live not have a terse precision lacking in English equivalents?
A quick squirt of polish, a flick of the duster, throw a few things in the bin, wipe down the surfaces, how easy is that? My flat nonetheless fails to be a candidate for Homes and Gardens, particularly my bedroom, which will just never make the ‘lady’s tranquil boudoir’ class. It’s not the books; from my perspective books enhance not detract, the more the better, though admittedly it would be a little easier to move around. It’s flex, wires, the detritus of my techy world. You can get flex-tidies. I have got flex-tidies. Pretty, they aren’t. Perhaps I should learn to crochet or sew a fine seam and make covers for them. It’s not as though I had a muso’s kit in there. To play me music while I fall asleep, my phone needs to be on charge or it’ll be dead when I wake up in the morning. I take it I’m allowed a bedside-lamp. The humidifier is less useful in the summer with the window flung wide open; ah, but is it sufficiently moist air. With the sea ten minutes away it seems reasonable to assume the air outside my windows is not the driest.
Manufacturers cannot of course win with lead-length. Short enough just to sit on the shelf next to the extension-lead and everyone screams the lead doesn’t reach the other side of the room. Long enough to reach the other side of the room and everyone screams about spaghetti junction. In particular I have screamed (politely of course) in Amazon Reviews about an excellent Microsoft keyboard and mouse, the only problem with which are 6 ft leads. Whatever they’re meant for, it’s not sitting on the same desk as the monitor. The leads trail, they curl, they offend the eye. They have to be looped around the back of the desk or I trip when standing up. It’s probably not too much to say they are an Elf and Safety issue. Let it never be said Hermione could do with a house-elf.
Ah me, an Iron Curtain is about to fall across the Channel, there will be thousands, nay millions of Displaced Persons struggling to get on the right side of it, people who find themselves on the wrong side will probably have to sign in weekly with the KGB and a great deal of similar crap.
Possible crap, but not, based on my experience, likely crap.
My father went to work in The Netherlands in 1967 and we joined the EEC as it then was in 1973. What I know is that my mum and I first went back and forth freely, then went to live in The Hague. What I know is that I attended The English School of The Hague, where there were children of about 40 different nationalities and a small surplus of Brits and we all went to and fro, both back and forth to the UK and all over Europe. What I know is that my father retired in 1971 and duly got a pro-rata Dutch pension and of course his UK pension also.
I was in my mid-teens. If my parents had had constant dealings with officialdom, I think I'd have noticed. Presumably they had to register residency but I suspect that was about as much hassle as registering for Council Tax when you move to another part of England. For that matter, when about 10 years later I, a citizen of the European Union, was a student in Switzerland, a non-EU country, I had to register myself as resident in the canton, that was a non-event.
Some of the fathers of my British school-mates were working for ESTEC, the European Space and Technology Research Centre at Noordwijk. I’m sure they were brilliant scientists but in terms of for instance employment quotas the question arises of whether they were conspicuously more brilliant than any member of an EEC country working in the same field: whether they could be employed only because no suitable ‘EEC national’ could be found.
There are or were other intangible elements. Language is one. French does not get you very far north of Brussels. You can survive with German or speak English. The Dutch don’t really expect you to learn Dutch, at any rate for complex conversation, though of course they appreciate it if you do or try to. I am talking about nearly 50 years ago. Fifty years ago Germans still distinctly failed to be flavour of the month; too many Nederlanders still alive who remembered having been left eating tulip-bulbs in 1945, not to mention events prior to that. Once a surly elderly newsagent broke into beaming smiles when I gave up on my school-German and starting talking English, couldn't do enough to help me.
The Dutch were pro-British for reasons both past and present: to be British in 1968 was to come from Beatle-land, Carnaby-Street-land, Quant-land, Stones-land. The past reasons were naturally more those of the older, the present ones more those of the younger. Young or old, forgetting was not on the agenda. In 1970, 25th anniversary of the end of the war, film of the liberation of the camps was screened in every cinema and The Battle of Britain, Is Paris burning? The Guns of Navarone and other war-films were regularly screened. Those this side of the water who (weirdly) dismiss such movies as jingoism, nationalism, might just switch on their brains and ask themselves what the Battle of Britain meant to those on the other side of the water.
EU countries are not, what d’you call them, rogue-states, unpredictable. We are not talking about for instance North Korea. It does not seem to me likely that people who pay or have paid the various equivalents of National Insurance will not duly get such pensions and other benefits as are due to them.
Reason tells me that those who may face a problem are those who have retired to EU countries and therefore made no contributions, that the elderly with increasing need for health-care may be deemed an economic burden. However, reciprocal arrangements exist and, since reciprocal arrangements are purely a matter of moving money around, there would seem to be no huge barrier to their continued existence. If you have paid into the NHS for 50 years, it doesn't seem overly complicated that the NHS should refund the costs of Spanish doctors treating your chronic condition. I of course am not a bureaucrat.
So here I am in glorious Sussex and make no mistake I love it but bonds of steel attach me to my Common where for 40 years I laughed, I cried, I ran, I walked, I ruminated, I basked in the sun on the cricket-pitch and watched the bowling: there my heart lies.
Will it cease to do so? Shall I find another special place? I am an optimist. I might do. I haven’t yet.
There too, in the adjacent East Sheen Cemetery, my parents are buried. Visiting their graves is problematic but for that at least I have found a place, the Memorial Garden attached to St Margaret’s, Rottingdean. I somewhat take the view that if they are anywhere they are everywhere, not limited to a couple of square miles of SW14.
The special place has to be woodland. I spent part of my childhood in Walberton and Slindon Common then was my haunt. Someone recently referred to the ‘bald Downs’ and indeed much of them are. I have somewhat concluded I’m in the wrong part of the county to find my true spiritual home!
A towpath should be wooded, should be akin to the towpath from Richmond to Kew, where it’s hard to believe you are anywhere near London, wood on one side and a small stream, beyond which lies first a golf course and then the glory of Kew, and on the other high grasses and the River You cannot live by the Thames for 40 years without needing a river in your life; about this I am prone to getting like Ratty in the Wind in the Willows. I have discovered the Cuckmere and the Adur. They too seem pretty ‘bald’ but my mobility is limited so perhaps I have yet to discover the wooded upper reaches.
Paradoxically, I love the Arun. When more agile, I would get the train to Amberley and walk across the Downs into Arundel, but that was a day out, not home. The bluebells are out on the Common now. If you get up at dawn, the rabbits are scuttering busily around. No need to leave the house to see foxes which would patter busily up and down my street, or indeed to hear the supposedly quintessentially rural sounds of predation, and Ratty is readily seen scurrying across the towpath. Thee hedgehogs vanished from the garden and once there was a small toad. I have seen more wildlife in Greater London than I have so far in Sussex.
I want to see an otter in the wild and I want to see an owl. Otters have returned to the Thames, though not my bit, I think, and the Sussex Willdlife Trust reports the sighting of one.