Tuesday, November 13, 2012

THE CULTURE OF CONCEALMENT - JOHN HEMMING SPEAKS OUT




J

Before we take a very good look at David Rose and Mick Gradwell lets not forget David Warcup and Operation Rose..


I will be joining the dots  


Transcript from todays sitting of the UK Commons debate 


John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD):
I echo what has been said about listening to victims; whoever they are criticising, they must be listened to.
It is unfortunate that the statue of a naked 13-year-old boy on the front of Broadcasting House was carved by someone who abused children. However, this is not about the BBC; it is the children who matter the most. The BBC does not matter, dead celebrities do not matter, mistaken identities do not matter in the same way; what really matters is that children should be expected to be safe in the control of the state. These children are the most vulnerable because they do not have the protection of their parents and depend entirely on the state.
Only 20% to 30% of the children subject to child sexual exploitation on the narrow definition of the term are in care. Obviously, that means that 70% to 80% of those children are living in the family home. The cost of supporting a family can be as little as £3,000 per annum, whereas secure care can cost as much as £200,000 or even £500,000 per year. I accept that we need a child protection system and that not all parents are “good enough”, but I make no apology for concentrating on the failings of the state. Penny Mellor, who has campaigned against state-tolerated abuse for many years, was imprisoned because of her campaign, and was present for the north Wales inquiry, has said:
“The state as a parent is abominable, proven in Rochdale and proven in North Wales. If we are going to remove children into the care of the state then it is about time we ensured that the state is a better parent than the one we removed them from. The who is not relevant, sexual abuse perpetrated by anyone is devastating.”
It is important to recognise that the state system is still harming children. Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford are not the whole story. One problem is the lack of accountability. Individual practitioners are basically allowed to get on with things as they wish. There are good practitioners but also bad practitioners, and their bad practice is not picked up by the system. A good example of this is from New Zealand, where social workers encouraged a 14-year-old girl to have group sex with a number of St John Ambulance workers and “divorce” her parents, who wished to discourage this. St John Ambulance has still not finally dealt with this issue and some of the workers are scheduled to receive a Queen’s Award. Another example is from Birmingham, where a child was first sexually harassed in a foster placement and then got pregnant at the age of 15, while in the control of the state. Practitioners in Birmingham have argued in the past that children should be permitted to prostitute themselves while not being allowed to make toast for each other, for health and safety reasons.
As at 31 March 2011, 160 girls in care had had their first child before the age of 16 and 120 had had their first child at the age of 16. So what happens? We know that the girls at Duncroft school were punished for complaining about Jimmy Savile. If a child in the power of the local authority wishes to complain about their treatment, they have to complain to an employee of the local authority or someone funded by the local authority. Where is the independence in that? The lack of independence in the complaints system is why many cases of abuse are not picked up until the children subject to the abuse become adults—not necessarily at age 18 but when they get the required confidence aged 25, 30 or later. Very rarely, a Gillick-competent child in his or her mid-teens may make contact with one of the very rare solicitors who are willing to take on the local authority, but usually nothing happens at least until the children are adults.
One of the worst examples of a cover up comes from Jersey. Children in Jersey had the chief of police, Graham Power, and the health Minister, Stuart Syvret, to protect their interests. However, in 2008, as soon as action was taken to investigate historical abuse, the health Minister was sacked and the chief of police suspended. What hope did those children have? It is now roughly the fourth anniversary of the sacking of Jersey’s chief of police, Graham Power, and he has put out a statement to coincide with it. I will not read it all because time is limited, but this is part of what he says:
“I would however simply for the record, remind readers what has been established from a number of credible and independent sources and disclosures. Namely, that my suspension was based on falsified documents, fabricated evidence, misleading information provided to States Members and the public by Jersey Ministers, and the testimony of a number of senior individuals who have since been publicly discredited.
The events relating to Jimmy Saville and other revelations have heightened the general awareness of the issue of Historic Child Abuse, and the substantial difficulties which stand in the way of those who attempt to bring abusers to justice.”
This cover-up has been continued by the UK Border Agency, which assisted Jersey in avoiding scrutiny by banning a US journalist, Leah McGrath Goodman, from Jersey. She is now applying again for a visa, and I hope that the Minister will expedite it.
Teresa Cooper, who says that she was held down by six members of staff and injected with drugs while at Kendall House at the age of 14 and that she was also sexually assaulted in a drugged state, is continuing at the age of 45 to battle to get the evidence to find out why the Government did not act to stop that. We have a duty to provide her and other survivors with the records they ask for.
There have also been numerous police operations, including Operation Rose in Northumbria, Operation Care in Liverpool, Operation Aldgate and Operation Gullane in Yorkshire, Operation Goldfinch and Operation Flight in south Wales, and Operation Camassia in Birmingham. Frequently, such operations do not get to the bottom of the issues. A few, such as that in Kincora, managed to make the link between the abuse and people external to the institution. We need to empower the survivors by providing them with the information to argue their cases. Perhaps we can then also consider the question of who turned a blind eye.
It is often easier to see that there is a cover-up than to get to the truth. For example, if people listen to last Friday’s interview with Stuart Syvret on BBC Radio Jersey—it will be available on iPlayer for a few days—they will hear how the BBC is acting as a tool of the establishment by trying to prevent him from arguing his case. Mike Stein, in his excellent article in Child and Family Social Work in February 2006, explains how widespread this problem was, with a possible one in seven of children in care being subject to abuse. Australia has implemented an all-embracing inquiry, which is a good idea, although the details are complex. I believe, however, that the priority should be to empower the survivors.
We also need to act urgently to find out what is happening to children in the care system today. In the year to 31 March 2011—I do not have the later figures—according to the SSDA903 return, 430 children aged one to four, 350 children aged five to nine and 630 children aged 10 to 15 left care for “other reasons”. These are the children who have left care and we do not know what has happened to them. Have they been trafficked, have they been abducted or have they run away to live on the streets because they were unhappy in the control of the state?
The statistical system used in the USA is called AFCARS—the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System— and records when children run away, but our Government do not bother. Clearly, they do not care sufficiently to ask local authorities to tell them. When I asked the erstwhile Minister, the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), to record such instances and change the statistical basis, his response was that to find out nationally how many children are trafficked from care, abducted or run away would lead to
“an unnecessary increase in reporting requirements.”—[Official Report, 13 December 2011; Vol. 537, c. 642W.]
We need to go further. We clearly cannot trust all local authorities to tell the whole truth about everything. We already have a system for auditing what happens to the money. We really ought to have a system for checking whether we are told the truth about what happens to the children, or do the Government only care about the money and not about the children?
The secrecy, lack of transparency and consequent failures in accountability clearly failed children in the past, but they are also failing children today. We need to protect the rights of children and adults to complain and bring in greater scrutiny of family court proceedings. It is the secrecy that arises from the family courts that allows the system to avoid scrutiny and local authorities to simply say, “We are acting in the best interests of the child,” when clearly they are not.
Finally, Parliament needs to be more willing to look at individual issues before they hit the top of the news agenda. There needs to be a threshold at which collective action occurs.
There is disagreement between two particular positions that have been debated today. I have a little time, so it is worth going into this in detail. There is an argument that all we need is a bit more information sharing, but the evidence from Rochdale is that that does not work and that people are not acting. We need to ensure that people are motivated. That is the problem with the independent reviewing officer—they are not independent. The independent reviewing officer is employed by the local authority. I want to address the Lancashire county council case.
Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab):
I am interested in what the hon. Gentleman is saying and do not want to take issue with it, but I would caution against suggesting that the evidence from Rochdale shows that information sharing does not work. The evidence from Rochdale so far shows that people failed to fulfil their responsibilities and that, had they done so and connected the threads of information and believed the victims, there would have been a much earlier and different outcome.
John Hemming:
That is the point. If an employee of the local authority is presented with a challenge—namely that the care system is not working and is not looking after children—they are more inclined to ignore it. If someone is not employed by the local authority, is independent of it and can take the system through the courts if needs be, without the children having to be Gillick-competent, people will act. The problem has not been a lack of information, but a lack of action.
Parliament has to stand on the side of the powerless. Whitehall mandarins, judges, BBC managers, council bureaucrats and professionals all have their own interests and a desire to hide mistakes. Parliament needs to balance the scales on the side of the weak—those without wealth who are crying out and not being heard.
4.50 pm

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

quite a statement! Now we wait to see if other members of Parliament have the courage to back him up while this subject is well in the public mind and before the media lose interest.
ex JHB

Ex-Senator Stuart Syvret said...

An excellent and well-observed speech by John.

Stuart

Ian Evans said...

The case we DISCUSSED EARLIER

Anonymous said...

Definately !!! @stuart... its a shame it took current events to get this action ....

Ian Evans said...

Thanks for the posting Rico, a very sobering read. If you need any info on your forthcoming Operation Rose posting, I have friends up that way who will help you all they can :)

Anonymous said...

There may be no logical counterargument to this excellent speech by John Hemming, but you can expect to see him rubbished by the Jersey State Media as never before.

voiceforchildren said...

Rico.

The statement of Former Police, Chief Graham Power QPM, referred to in Mr. Hemming's speech can be read HERE

Zoompad said...

Some people may not want to hear what I am saying (whats new?) but I have written to every one of those in Parliament at least 10 times, and some have had more letters off me, and for ball my pains I have been falsely labelled a troublemaker, fantasist and nutjob.

Someone has left a comment on my blog which pretty much sums up how I feel about Parliament nowadays. I didn't used to think this way, before all the letter writing and the massive struggle in the used to be secret family courts, (they have no bloody rights to keep torturing vulnerable people Top Secret, but they got away with it for ages until brave victims on sites like Mothers for Justice started talking about how they were being tortured) but now that I have been totally dissed by the people in Parliament who let such things happen and dont raise Cain about it, I agree with the person who posted this comment

http://zoompad.blogspot.com/2012/11/prayer-for-victims-of-pindown-and.html?showComment=1352849665599#c7637306693150582747

Anonymous said...

Excellent speech by John Hemming. We are pleased he mentioned the dreadful case in New Zealand.
http://bit.ly/ourNZexperience

Anonymous said...

Rico.

Have you written your "more polite" questions to ILM yet?

And if so, can you share them with us?

Anonymous said...

John Hemming MP, is to be commended for bringing Parliamentary attention to the failures of bringing justice for abuse survivors in Jersey, North Wales, and far beyond. It is an international issue.

Tom Watson MP, has also spoken powerfully on the topic of child abuse inquiries stating, “A narrow-down investigation is the basic building block of a cover-up.” He was speaking with experience about investigations outside of Jersey, but the similarities are glaring. His are words worth considering as the States debates the upcoming COI terms of reference and how much they can get away with concealing this time. The same techniques of evidence suppression can be seen in the other jurisdictions.

The ease of travel and electronic interconnectedness of high level paedophiles make their crimes increasingly borderless, but empowerment of those who seek justice for abuse survivors is now equally international through the internet - until it is further restricted. This tool must be used to connect all who wish to speak out and contribute to the "Great Unraveling" of institutionalized child abuse.

Anonymous said...

John Hemming wastes his time.

Ian Evans said...

Update from LEAH

Anonymous said...

Tony Robinson says that the then Director of Public Prosecutions decided that prosecution of Smith was "not in the public interest".

Tony Robinson says "The police now say the file is lost. It seems like there was a complete cover up to me."

All sounds so familiar,not in interest,lost files !!!!

Zoompad said...

http://zoompad.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-british-academy-and-giles-frazer.html

Ian Evans said...

The JEP try CONNING THE PUBLIC again!

voiceforchildren said...

Rico.

The BBC, Children In Need and 99 RED BALLOONS

Jay said...

John Hemming MP is the only politician that is willing to stick to his beliefs and raise the matter of child abuse within the state apparatus. cover ups and corruption are the norm, not the exception.

Ian Evans said...

The dissection of a criminal system PART 5 THE PERJURY

Anonymous said...

Rico,

Have you heard the latest from David Rose?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2234615

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, that old lying hack David Rose, the one who cruelly attacked abuse victim Steven Messham in the Mail on Sunday, wants us all to think he's going to sue. After writing vicious and misleading things about a survivor who never intended to wrong anyone, Rose seems to want a widdle pitty from the public.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2234615/MoS-reporter-secret-paedophile-pay-MI5-Not-really-ludicrous-claims-web-eloquent-argument-state-control-newspapers.html

Elle