Wednesday, January 21, 2009

British kids wearing stab-proof vests to school

BRITISH children are wearing stab-proof vests to protect themselves from becoming victims of violence, according to a report on the impact of gangs on schools. The report, given to London's The Independent newspaper, said teachers at one school where pupils are said to be "seriously involved in gangs" were "aware of young people wearing bullet-proof/stab-proof vests in school".

It cites one estimate that the number of pupils under 16 involved in gangs had doubled in the past five years.

The report, commissioned by the NASUWT teachers' union and prepared by consultancy firm Perpetuity, is the first in-depth look at how youth gang culture is influencing schools, The Independent reports. It comes to the conclusion that children as young as nine at primary school are becoming involved with gangs used as "runners" and "couriers" to ferry messages by older members.

"Some of the case study schools felt the problem had increased over the last few years with gangs becoming more dangerous involving children at a younger age," the research says. "Some schools have problems with pupils carrying weapons in school. This can include young people who carry weapons and/or those who hide weapons in and around school grounds." The most common weapons teachers reported seeing were BB air pistols and batons. In one incident a teacher saw a meat cleaver.

One pupil told researchers he was wearing body armour because of "needing to", although attacks were more likely to take place on the way to and from school. The report suggests several measures to lessen the impact of gang involvement, such as sending children on prison visits to see the effect of loss of liberty


Unbelievable Britain: Coastguards can't start a rescue until they fill out a health and safety form

Can socialist bureaucracy get any more deranged? No mystery where the obsessive bureaucracy came from, however. Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

Coastguards have been ordered to fill in a health and safety questionnaire before they can respond to calls for help. All 400 of Britain's rescue units have been told that before they travel to an accident scene they must complete a 'vehicle pre-journey risk assessment'. It is feared lives may be lost as vital minutes could be taken up with the assessments just as rescuers are preparing their response to emergency callouts. Under the new rules, the teams have to take the time to answer four questions on the type of rescue and journey they are about to undertake.

After first filling out the date and time, the lead rescuer must outline the 'reason for journey' and detail any risks the team may encounter during the rescue, including both current and forecast weather conditions. The form then demands an account of any 'actions taken to mitigate risk' before the leader can fill in a 'yes' or 'no' as to whether the risk is 'acceptable'.

The forms have caused outrage among Britain's 3,200 coastguard rescuers, who are furious after a string of health and safety rulings recently issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Yesterday, one coastguard said: 'When we were first told about this, we simply couldn't believe it. 'When we get a call asking us to go out and rescue someone, we need to go there without delay. 'But they are asking us to waste time in the office filling out this stupid form. 'Also, none of us really knows what we are realistically meant to fill in.

'I mean, how are we meant to know what risks there might be before we get there? 'And do they expect us to get a full weather forecast before we go out? Do they really want us to find out what the traffic conditions will be? 'It's ridiculous. All we want to do is save lives. 'The impression we get is that the bosses are doing everything they can to make sure their hands are legally clean if there is any kind of problem.'

The pre-journey risk assessment form is designed for when coastguards use their specially-equipped Land Rovers for land rescues. Rescues by boat are not affected. It is just the latest in a series of bizarre health and safety rulings to affect the agency, which is a branch of the Department for Transport.

In November last year, coastguards were told that they can no longer use flares during night-time rescue missions as they could 'cause considerable injury'. Even though the flares light up a large area and are considered essential for finding people at night, the Agency told its teams that they should use torches instead.

In August, a three-man coastguard crew from Devon were disciplined because they rescued a 13-year-old girl using a boat that had not been passed by health and safety officials. The girl had been only 150 yards out at sea.

Coastguards patrol the entire length of the UK's 10,200 miles of coastline in conjunction with the lifeboatmen from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Most coastguards work full time in other jobs but carry pagers to alert them when they are needed. They are paid for the time they spend undertaking rescue missions.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the MCA insisted that filling in the questionnaire does not cause any delay as it 'can be done at the same time as the rest of the team prepare equipment.' The spokesman said the pre-journey risk assessment had been introduced to protect the coastguards' safety.


Getting up the noses of the (Leftist) 'guilt-tripping white folks'

When I asked Trevor Phillips why he'd turned his back on a successful career in television and taken his last job as head of the race relations commission, he replied: 'Because I can say things you can't.' Not that it's ever stopped me, but I took his point. As a black man on the inside track, he could tell the truth without being accused of 'racism'. And he's been as good as his word. In one of his first pronouncements, he attacked the 'gold chains and no brains' culture which leads to young black men in Britain apeing nihilistic American rappers and ensures they become trapped in a ghetto of their own creation. That kind of statement of the obvious from a white man would have been howled down.

Now, as chairman of the new all-singing, all-dancing Equalities Commission, he has gone further, endorsing what this column has been arguing for years and shattering one of the Left's great articles of faith. In a thoughtful, courageous article for the Daily Mail, timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the official inquiry report into the genuinely racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, he declares that Britain is the least racist country in Europe. He also says that the label of 'institutional racism' which has hung over the police like a 'badge of shame' ever since is no longer valid and we need a new vocabulary. Those of us who argued at the time that it was ludicrous to accuse the entire police force of racism, over what was a bungled murder inquiry, were ourselves slandered as 'racists'.

The phrase was seized upon by those Trevor identifies as ' guilt-tripping white folks' as a potent stick to batter every public institution in the country. They have used the catch-all cliche; of 'racism' to advance their own agenda, silence dissent and bully the paying public into submission. Until recently, anyone who questioned whether mass immigration was either desirable or sustainable was vilified. The blameless, courteous chairman of Migrationwatch - who exposed the reality behind the Government's fiction over immigration - was subjected to a vicious campaign of character assassination. Fear of being accused of 'racism' has paralysed the police force. It has been exploited by cynical chancers such as Ali Desai and Tarique Ghaffur to enhance their promotion chances and shake the money tree.

We've reached an absurd impasse in which police are prevented from objecting to the siting of a gypsy camp on the grounds that to do so would be 'racist' - despite compelling evidence that it would lead to a rise in crime, which is what the Old Bill are supposed to be in business to prevent. In local government, it has led directly to the tragic murder of Victoria Climbie, who was tortured to death while Haringey social services stood back because 'chastisement' was considered to be part of her African 'culture'. Fear of being accused of 'racism' stalks the corridors of our Town Halls and government departments, creating a generation of box-ticking, brain-dead bureaucrats. Zey are only obeying orderz.

Where I'd take issue with Trevor is over the description ' guilt-tripping white folks'. While it is true most of the phoney allegations of 'racism' come from humourless, middle-class, white Guardianistas, they're not on a guilt-trip. As far as they are concerned, they are good people. And the way in which they reinforce their own self-righteousness is via a constant crusade to make the rest of us feel guilty. They've pulled the same trick with 'homophobia', hysterically accusing of hating gays anyone who has reservations about same-sex couples adopting children, or who objects to men having sex with each other in public parks and toilets.

In truth, most of the hatred comes from the Left, who enforce the cult of 'diversity' with Stalinist zeal, deliberately destroying the careers and reputations of decent people who dare to disagree with them. Being wrongly accused of racism is as hateful as racism itself. They always deny it, but it is the Left who drive people in desperation into the arms of the BNP. And as Trevor Phillips rightly acknowledges, inequality today is more economic than racial, with poor whites as much victims as those from ethnic minorities. Yet disadvantaged whites feel there is no one to speak up for them. That's why some turn to extremists.

I first realised Trevor was riling the Guardianistas when the odious Ken Livingstone accused him of sucking up to the BNP. It's difficult to think of a more vile slur to level at a black man. But that is the level to which these hate-mongers are prepared to descend.

Of course, racism hasn't gone away. I doubt it ever will. But things have improved immensely. I've described before walking through London Weekend Television with Trevor in the mid-1990s, when it dawned on me that his was the only black face which wasn't pushing a broom or working in the canteen. We shouldn't be complacent, but things have progressed.

It's easy to understand why older folk, who grew up in a monochrome Britain, have trouble coming to terms with a multi-racial society. But to my children's generation, race isn't an issue. The growing number of mixed-race children, the Lewis Hamiltons and Leona Lewises, are evidence of that. Beige is the new black and white. I've long argued that left to their own devices, people rub along quite well together. The indigenous British have been far more accepting of incomers than any other nation in Europe - and far more scandalously traduced by their own political leaders.

Trevor and I would probably part company on this, but I've always considered the race relations industry to be as much part of the problem as the solution. I look forward to the day he announces that his own commission is being wound up. Until then, Trev, keep telling it like it is.


Court challenge to NICE over osteoporosis treatment

Typical NHS short-sightedness. They pennypinch on drugs and as a result spend thousands dealing with avoidable fractures

The medicine regulator faces a legal challenge this week over its ruling that thousands of women with thinning bones should be denied effective treatment on the NHS. Draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) states that doctors should prescribe the cheapest drug available to women with the early signs of osteoporosis, even though up to one in five patients cannot take it. The National Osteoporosis Society and the drug manufacturer Servier say that this is unethical and will do nothing to prevent fragility fractures that contribute to 13,000 premature deaths a year, as well as causing widespread disability and pain.

They will contest the NICE guidance in the High Court, as part of a full judicial review, claiming that the watchdog has not been transparent about its processes and is infringing the human rights of patients by denying them alternative medication on the ground of disability. NICE denies that it has acted illegally. But in a letter to The Times last September, 40 experts called on the watchdog to reconsider its decision, calling it "unethical and short-sighted".

Half of women and one in five men over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis, in which the spine, wrist and hips become thin and fracture easily. While bone-strengthening drugs are available, the side-effects of alendronate, which costs 50 pounds a year, include crippling stomach pains and indigestion, while the medication is difficult to take - requiring patients to stand or sit for 30 minutes while it is absorbed. The guidelines mean that a woman in her early seventies who cannot tolerate alendronate would have to get up to 60 per cent worse - using a clinical scoring system - to qualify for strontium ranelate, an alternative medication that costs 17 pounds a month.

Nick Rijke, a spokesman for the National Osteoporosis Society, said: "Already there are more than 70,000 hip fractures a year which result in 13,000 deaths and cost the public purse 2.3 billion. "Yet with effective treatment, many of these fractures could be prevented, not only saving lives, but saving the taxpayer money at the same time."

Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of NICE, said that the recommendations on osteoporosis had been "a complex set of guidance to produce", but added that he was confident that NICE had acted lawfully and that the claim would be dismissed.


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