False rape accuser who wasted 7,000 police hours and cost British taxpayers $600,000 is finally jailed
This doesn't happen, of course. Ask any feminist
A 'dangerous fantasist' who wasted 316,000 pounds of public money by falsely claiming to have been raped, kidnapped and blackmailed was jailed for four years yesterday. Police spent 7,000 hours investigating bizarre allegations made over six months in 2006 by Michaela Britton, a court heard. She tied herself up and slashed herself with a blade to make her stories seem more credible and arranged for her car to be shot at. Her 'whopping lies' included claiming she was being blackmailed for 10,000 pounds over a pornographic video stolen from her home which was made with an ex-boyfriend said to be a Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist officer.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard that police wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds investigating her complaints. Britton, a senior loss adjuster, also claimed her line manager at Churchill Insurance in Romford put a gun to her head after she spurned his advances. Eventually, detectives became suspicious of Britton and began tracking her movements by installing CCTV outside her partner, Mick Murray's, house in Chelmsford, Essex, where she often visited.
The 40-year-old mother of one, from Chelmsford, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Judge David Turner told her at Chelmsford Crown Court: 'You are a dangerous fantasist. 'Your conduct has been pathological and profoundly and protractedly wasteful of police resources.'
It is alleged that throughout the allegations, Britton had the help of a former partner, Paul Hendle. Ramiz Gursoy, prosecuting, said she was motivated by financial gain after falsely putting in an insurance claim for about 40,000 pounds following a burglary. The court heard how Britton had a previous conviction from 1990 for obtaining property by deception when 61 offences were taken into account.
British Police banned from climbing a 3ft ladder without training
Police officers have been forced to attend a health and safety seminar to learn how to climb a ladder. The officers had been installing roadside electronic speed indicators for months, using a 3ft ladder, without injury or incident. But when health and safety officials learnt of the scheme they ordered the special training. Officers were then banned from moving the signs between locations until they had completed the course. Around 45 officers and more than 80 civilian volunteers have now had the training, organised by the police, Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue.
Last night MPs reacted with disbelief, saying the scheme was a waste of taxpayer money and police time. Ben Wallace MP, for Lancaster and Wyre, said: 'It's another example of the tail wagging the dog, of bureaucracy gone mad. It beggars belief that bureaucracy stands in the way of common sense, even when it concerns our police force.' A senior police officer said: 'It is a preposterous waste of police time and taxpayers' money and it is time the health and safety Gestapo had their wings clipped so that people can go about their jobs using their own common sense.'
As part of the seminar, police officers and civilian workers were warned they must wear high-visibility jackets and leggings and cone off the area when installing signs in bad weather just in case pedestrians bump into their ladder. The signs, which are erected as part of a road safety initiative, flash a smiley face if the driver is within the speed limit, and a sad one if they are breaking it.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: 'It would appear that, although working at less than one metre above ground level, staff should have been on a ladder training course. 'It is fair to say that risks associated with deployment of a Spid (speed indicator) sign have not changed, but the risks associated with working at height were not fully appreciated initially.' Lancashire police said proper training courses had also been introduced because some of the signs had not been mounted correctly and could not detect all oncoming traffic. Local authorities say the course does not cost anything, apart from staff time. Nine seminars have been held so far.
Police called to 10,000 violent cases in British schools annually
Police officers have had to deal with 10,000 violent incidents at schools in a year. Teachers were forced to call them in to deal with attacks on staff and pupils - some involving knives or other weapons. Figures from 25 out of 39 English forces showed that officers were called to deal with school violence more than 7,000 times in a year. Extending the numbers across all forces gives almost 10,000.
The extent of police involvement in school incidents emerged as increasing numbers of heads ask for officers to be permanently stationed on the premises. Official figures suggest at least 450 schools have an officer on site. But increased liaison with police has prompted warnings by children's groups that pupils are being criminalised for playground spats. In one case, an 11-year-old boy spent three hours in a cell after he brandished a plastic toy gun at a schoolmate.
The Tories asked forces how many times they had been called to school premises to deal with an attempted or actual violent crime in the year from September 2007. There were 7,311 incidents tackled by the forces that responded. The Metropolitan Police reported the most call-outs, with 2,698. This was followed by Thames Valley with 697 calls and Kent with 425.
Violent incidents mainly involve offences against the person by pupils, parents or intruders, including threats, physical attacks, sex crimes and robbery. The figures emerged in the wake of a series of school attacks. Shaquille Clarke-Adams, 14, was stabbed three times in the chest and stomach in front of pupils at Allerton Grange High in Leeds. Carrington Mgbeanulu, 15, was knifed just inches from his heart at the gates of Cardinal Wiseman School in Greenford, West London. Meanwhile prefect Darcey Menezes, 16, was stabbed five times in the back while trying to protect younger children from a gang that was terrorising them with a pitbull terrier at Salesian College in Battersea, South London. These incidents follow the killing of Luke Walmsley, 14, in 2003. He was knifed through the heart by Alan Pennell, 16, at Birkbeck School, North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, in front of pupils.
Official figures show that 344 secondary school pupils are suspended from school every day for assaulting other children. Despite this, just 1,350 pupils were expelled in the school year from September 2006 for assaults on students, while 980 were thrown out for attacking teachers. Tory children's spokesman Michael Gove said: 'The number of violent incidents in schools that lead to police being called is very worrying. There will always be the odd occasion when teachers need to call on the police for support but at the moment they do not have sufficient powers to nip discipline problems in the bud.'
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers says nearly a third of state school teachers are punched, kicked or bitten by a pupil and one in ten is injured by students. The Department for Children, Schools and Families said: 'The overwhelming majority of schools are safe and behaviour is very good. Head teachers have more powers than ever to deal with discipline problems.'
Smart kids are more likely to be heavy drinkers
There's a link between a high IQ and developing alcohol problems. Being highly intelligent in a world built around average people can be frustrating and alcohol is one solvent for frustration
The Colony Club in Soho has been a watering hole for hard-drinking creative types since it was founded by Muriel Belcher in the late 1940s. It is a reasonable bet that her confidants - Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Jeffrey and Bruce Bernard, Michael Andrews, Eduardo Paolozzi and other regulars from the art and entertainment world - would have had high IQs. Some members may have been nightmare clients for their bank managers, exasperating husbands, wives or lovers, but no one would doubt their talents, originality and intellectual ability. Research has now shown a link between high childhood IQ and an adult enthusiasm for alcohol that leads in some cases to problem drinking.
Parents may be aware that the easiest children to have around the house, and those who are also the most likely to have a predictable, comfortable lifestyle when adults, are those with a slightly aboveaverage intelligence, neither too clever, nor stupid. Most parents would be proud to be told by a teacher that their child has a higher IQ than his or her peers. It would not occur to anybody that there might be an association between that high IQ at the age of 10 and an enthusiasm for the drinking culture, leading occasionally to a problematic excessive alcohol intake.
This association is even stronger among women than among men. Research by Dr G. David Batty and colleagues at the University of Glasgow, published in the American Journal of Public Health, compared the mental ability scores of 8,170 British boys and girls at the age of 10 with their alcohol intake and any alcohol problems when they were 30.
Whereas most of the clever children grew up to drink as most people do, reasonably and moderately, the likelihood of developing a drinking problem if one were unusually bright increased 1.38 times in women and 1.17 times in men. Could this account for the importance of Oxford wine cellars in college life and, possibly, the tendency of intelligent heavy drinkers to start the habit while at university?
As most of us begin to look forward to and prepare for a convivial Christmas, it is as well to review thinking on alcohol. Nobody denies that excessive or binge drinking presents a danger to the drinker and those around them, but modest drinking is still life-preserving rather than life-limiting.
More women than ever are drinking to excess, and it is hard to know who will suffer liver damage and what level of alcohol consumption is liable to cause it. Nor can anyone condone Friday or Saturday night binge drinking. This represents a hazard to a young drinker's liver, even if most get away with it. It is also true that problem drinking by clubbers causes a considerable nuisance in the neighbourhood and contributes to petty crime.
The evidence that alcohol is a possible cause of breast cancer in women is now accepted, as alcohol increases the level of oestrogen and this is known to be carcinogenic. However, women can comfort themselves as they enjoy a glass of wine at Christmas that, statistically, those who drink in moderation are likely to live rather longer than their teetotal contemporaries.
Only 6 per cent of women and 8 per cent of men drink at what even the strict Department of Health considers a hazardous level. For the other 90 per cent-plus of the population, moderate drinkers as well as teetotallers, alcohol doesn't represent a health problem. Moderate drinkers even have a small but significant advantage over the teetotallers in the longevity stakes.
A surprising statistic is that, in the majority of the population, damaging patterns of drinking are falling. However, alcohol-related hospital admissions still show an increase. This may be because more medical conditions are now included under this category, and because more women are now drinking more than 20 years ago.
Although many common forms of heart disease are less likely in moderate drinkers, there is one adverse effect of alcohol on the heart. Up to 10 per cent of patients over 75 suffer from atrial fibrillation, an irregularity of the heart's rhythm. In 45 per cent of the cases in which a patient has suffered the most common form of stroke, it has been preceded by atrial fibrillation. Recent research, reviewed this month in the British Journal of Cardiology, suggests a strong association between atrial fibrillation and alcohol intake.
One in 20 British midwife positions unfilled
One in 20 midwife positions in NHS hospitals are unfilled despite a Government promise to would recruit 1,000 more midwives
Figures show that 583 midwife posts in NHS hospitals are vacant and 276 maternity support worker jobs are unfilled. Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust has the higest vacancy rate, 39 per cent. If its 76 full time midwife positions, 29 posts need to be filled. One in five maternity units (22 per cent) across the country have cut midwife numbers in the past year and some have reported that their maternity unit has been cut in half. Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust has 101 full time midwives last year but this year has 47 which is a 54 per cent drop. The figures were obtained using the Freedom of Information Act by the Conservatives.
This week, Professor Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said tens of millions of pounds that were meant to increase the number of midwives have not been received by hospitals. "On the very busy labour wards that are struggling to cope with the rising birth rate, midwives are having to look after sometimes two or three women in labour and that's when the woman ends up being left alone. That's not only unacceptable, that's not safe," she said.
The failure to pass on the money, part of a drive to improve maternity services, means the NHS will not be able to honour promises by ministers to give women a single dedicated midwife during pregnancy and labour. Alan Johnson, the health secretary, in February pledged 330m pounds of extra funding over the next three years to implement the Maternity Matters strategy whose guarantees include giving women the choice of whether to give birth at home instead of at hospital. He also promised that he would recruit 1,000 more midwives to the NHS by 2009.
Health Minister Ann Keen said: "Claims that midwife numbers are falling are complete and utter nonsense. "Validated figures from the latest NHS workforce census show the number of midwives has surpassed 25,000 for the first time and we know there is continuing growth towards recruiting an additional 1,000 midwives by September 2009, rising to 4,000 in 2012. There has also been a 25 % increase in the number of students entering midwifery training since 1997."