Friday, August 29, 2014

Shaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner

Shaun Wright
Will put up a fight 
for his job. 
Wouldn't you? 
It's worth a bob
Or two.

"So I screwed up.
Tough luck
I don't give a duck
's fert and that's a fact. 
 In my contract
There's nothing in black and white
Says I must go.
All right? 
Shaun Wright's the name. 

Guardian letter about Rotherham: one of 43 cases where truth suppressed

Wahey! Got a letter in today's Guardian.
They cut it down a bit. This is what I sent them:

In the Jay Inquiry report on Rotherham (Failures led to sexual abuse of 1400 children, p1, 27.08.14) we read that a 2002 report was "effectively suppressed" by senior police.

This raises the total number of cover-ups and obstructions to bringing child abusers to justice up to 43 (forty three).

The Jennings inquiry was all but boycotted by North Wales police. Detectives have been pulled from cases when they were getting close to VIPs. Both the Waterhouse and Kincora Inquies were given restricted remits. MP's concerns were ignored; the list goes on and on.

Even now, the Crown Prosecution Service is refusing even to discuss getting a second opinion on the claimed dementia of a Labour Peer currently accused of child abuse.

Now I am no conspiracy theorist, but for police, Crown Prosecution Service and assorted Civil Servants to trip over so many times stretches our credulity way past the limit.
There is an abscess in the tissues of the State, and our democracy cannot function transparently while so much energy is exerted by so many bureaucrats into concealing a pervasive and serious criminal culture.

It is up to us to press and lobby our MPs until the 20-odd powerful child abusers in Westminster are in the dock. They are not going to give up easily. But neither should we.


Dr Richard Lawson
Past Green Party Principal Speaker

I'm not complaining.Things always get edited. I edited the bit above to put in the link to the cover-up page of 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Were Rotherham Council Child Services cash-strapped?

One factor in the Rotherham Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) scandal is under-resourcing of the Councils Social Services Department. 

Dotted throughout the Jay Report  are references discreetly mentioning under-funding.

Section 12 of the Report says

...From the early 2000s, Rotherham started to experience problems in the recruitment of social workers, whilst facing budgetary pressures, high levels of demand, and increasing complexity of work, including CSE. 2008 the vacancy rate was at its worst at 43%.

...2009, it was in excess of 37% of the establishment posts and more than one in every two team manager posts was also vacant. Both social worker and manager unfilled posts were covered by agency staff, with the additional expense and other difficulties this created.

12.10 c) the Council had progressively increased its children's social care budget compared with the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) but the percentage expenditure was still below the England average, placing Rotherham third lowest in its comparator group; and
d) gross expenditure on looked after children was just above the national average but the numbers of LAC were some 26% above the national average.

12.13 The combined effect of changes to local authority funding in England has been a dramatic reduction in resources available to Rotherham and neighbouring Councils. By 2016, Rotherham will have lost 33% of its spending power in real terms compared to 2010/11. The comparison for the whole of England is a reduction of 20%, and for a Council like Buckinghamshire, only 4.5% reduction. These figures highlight the extreme pressure that reductions in public spending are placing on Councils such as Rotherham, which is faced with high demands for vulnerable children and families’ services, associated with significant levels of poverty and deprivation.

12.17 In the four years to 2013/4, [Rotherham] went from having the lowest spend (£406 per child) to being at the median of the group (£604 per child). 

13.2 [Chief Executives said] the Council rarely had enough resources to meet the needs of its population; 

Sect 6: there are currently insufficient resources in the team to meet all the demands made on it, and the team is unable to provide enough preventive input to sustain children after they have been exploited. 

Recommendation 7: The Council, together with the Police, should review the social 
care resources available to the CSE team, and make sure these are consistent with 
the need and demand for services.   

There is more, but these excerpts demonstrate that lack of financial resources contributed to the mismanagement of the CSE in Rotherham. It is the case that the Jay Report was looking at the period 19967-13, when the Labour Government was in power, but it is also the case that present Coalition policies are designed to make under-funding worse.  Councils in the 10 most deprived areas of England are facing cuts averaging 25.3% in the financial years 2010-11 to 2015-16, compared with 2.54% in the 10 least deprived areas.

These Coalition cuts can only make future child exploitation failures worse.

The stock answer of Tories will be "You want to solve the problem by just throwing money at it". It is just that - as stock answer. Money converts into adequate numbers of people working on a job. It is ridiculous that Tories argue that if we do not pay chief executives obscene salaries, they will take themselves elsewhere, yet in the next breath, they argue that social work departments do not need adequate resources.

Sure, there is always a need to look into better ways of working, and to reduce the social dis-ease that generates dysfunctional families and rapists by increasing equality, but the fact remains: under-resourcing of social services was a factor in Rotherham, and Tory policies are designed to make more Rotherhams happen in future.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What lies behind the Rotherham sex exploitation scandal?

The Report by Alexis Jay (video here) on the horrendous abuse of more than 1400 children in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 raises huge questions about accountability, although the main concern of popular media has been the perception that the cases were not investigated because of concerns about it being politically incorrect to accuse Pakistani men of doing wrong.

It was indeed the case that "Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so." 

It is simply not believable, though, that a fear of appearing racist could be the sole reason for authorities to have suppressed and held back investigation of serious crimes, with allegations repeated over a period of 16 years. It is not as if the police hang back from stopping and searching black and minority ethnic (BME) youth for fear of appearing racist.

There may be more going on here than meets the eye.

This reluctance of police to investigate child abuse is part of a nationwide pattern, and is irrespective of the ethnicity of the perpetrators. I have collected no less than 43 (forty three) instances of similar cover ups on the VIPCSA site here.

The leader of Rotherham Council has resigned. Big deal. He is still a councillor, just on slightly smaller wages and with slightly more time on his hands. The media are rightly gunning for the Police and Crime Commissioner to stand down. He is resisting as I write, but will undoubtedly fall on his toy sword in a bit.

What we really need is an outside police force investigation into the upper levels of South Yorkshire  police force to find the source of the pressure to stop investigations of abuse.

The two Chief Constables of South Yorkshire in the relevant time were Mike Hedges 1998-2004, and Meredydd Hughes 2004-11. They have questions to answer.

On the one hand, there is no evidence that South Yorkshire Police were corrupted by the criminal gangs on their patch, but on the other hand it would be naive to suppose that corruption never happens in England. Police were routinely paid for information by Murdoch hacks. A Met Commander was jailed for corrupt dealings. Operation Countryman investigated corrupt dealings in the Met in the 1970s, when policement were receiving bribes from criminals in return for warnings of imminent police raids or arrests. No charges were made, and the £4million report was never made public. Significantly, the murder of Daniel Morgan clearly indicates corruption in the police force that is going on right now. See here:

Eventually, maybe when all those involved have popped their clogs, we may learn that the Rotherham Scandal was down to more than mere political correctness.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Are droughts on a decreasing trend?

This post has been [updated].
Yesterday I noticed a tweet by Matt "Northern Rock" Ridley, brother-in-law of Owen Paterson.
He said "Global decline in droughts since 1982" and linked this Nature article by Zengchao Hao et al. (pub online March 20140.

Ridley is dedicated to the proposition that all is well in the world and global warming is not a problem.

The paper does indeed carry this figure which shows a decline in the incidence of drought from 1982-2012. [I have been told by one of the authors that the trend shown here is not significant]*

(click on the figures to make them bigger)

Now the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which is the climatic correlate of the El Nino/La Nina oceanic cycle, has also been in decline since the 1980s. Here it is, from the excellent Wood for Trees website, declining away.

So I use the MSPaint facility on my computer to combine the Hao's drought index with the PDO index. This involves pasting in, and a bit of pulling around to get the time frames to fit, so it is perfectly possible that distortions have crept in. 

This is what we get:

The red line is the PDO index. The brown dots represent volcanoes - El Chichon in 82, and Pinatubo in 1991. Big volcanoes have a cooling effect on global surface temperatures.

There is a modest agreement and correlation between the two curves in 1986-90, 1993-2000, and weak agreement from 2005-2012. Pinatubo seems to have broken the relationship in 91-92, and they are out of phase in 2002-4.

Just for comparison, here are global Sea surface temperatures overlaid on Hao's drought Index. The correlation is far less clear, and I have had to remove the trend, since global sea surface temperatures are on a rising trend.

Now I make no claims about the significance of the apparent correlations between droughts and PDO. Ocular comparisons are fallible. We need a proper climatologist to compare the two datasets and apply mathematical tools to judge whether the correlation is significant. [The authors have kindly given me their dataset, and I will try to find an Excel-competent person to compare the dataset with the PDO dataset].

If the correlation is significant, it confirms at very least that when the PDO goes into positive phase, global droughts will increase. Indeed, the correlation between positive PDO and droughts in the Northern USA is already known.

Now here is the long term pattern for the PDO since 1900, smoothed out:

This figure suggests that we are in a PDO downswing (which explains the predominant La Nina episodes over the last decade or so, which have contributed to the pause in surface temperature warming). It also suggests that an upswing is due in 10-15 years' time, with the next peak due around 2030.
We have to expect more droughts worldwide about that in 2030. 

So do not be misled by the ex-chairman of Northern Rock into thinking that increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere will mean that droughts will become ever more infrequent. When the PDO does turn positive, it will collaborate with the duvet that our fossil CO2 is throwing around the planet to create an unwanted set of circumstances that will make Ridley's crash of  Northern Rock look like a minor bump.

*But one of  the authors, Prof Amir AghaKouchak, PhD, PE, gives this paper, which shows a significant drying trend in the Southern Hemisphere, and this paper which shows some significant regional trends.