Tag Archives: prison

Education professionals rubbish Williamson’s claim Covid has worsened behaviour in English schools

Wearing the dunce’s cap yet again: Gavin Williamson was happy to deliberately endanger your children by reopening schools at the height of the Covid crisis (he was forced to close them again when the demand for him to do so became overwhelming. Now he’s happy to falsely criminalise them – in order to satisfy a new profit-making market he is creating?

The Tory Education Secretary’s unevidenced claim that discipline in English schools has “inevitably” worsened after a year of lockdowns has been dismissed as nonsense by people who actually work with school pupils.

Gavin Williamson intends to impose a national network of “behaviour hubs” to spread “best practice” among schools and teachers.

But it seems there is absolutely no need for them. Why is the Tory minister so keen to force them on our schools, and on our children?

Is it anything to do with his new network of “secure schools” – prisons for youngsters – to be run by private firms as “charitable” enterprises?

But Mark Russell, the chief executive of the Children’s Society, told The Guardian:

“We are not aware of any evidence that their behaviour is worse, and our practitioners report that on the whole young people have been relieved to get back inside the classroom.”

Mary Bousted, a joint leader of the National Education Union, said:

“With all the challenges currently facing schools, playing to the gallery by talking tough on behaviour is the least useful approach the education secretary can take.”

Wes Streeting, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, also said something – but we are already aware that he is an extremely suspect character himself so it is best to pass him by.

Stuart Lock is chief executive of the Advantage Schools trust, which includes one of the 22 schools named as hubs. Even he disagreed with Williamson’s claims:

“I don’t believe classroom behaviour has got worse than it was before the pandemic. It is probably a bit better.”

Even the man leading the new project – Tom Bennett, the DfE’s lead adviser on behaviour – has said there is no evidence of worsened behaviour:

“To be honest, the picture on behaviour we’re seeing is reasonably consistent with the behaviour we were seeing before the pandemic.”

So why has Williamson suddenly falsified a claim that our kids have all gone feral, and started wasting our money on a project to correct behaviour that hasn’t gone bad?

Well, there is this new “secure schools” aspect of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill:

Secure schools are essentially a re-branding of Young Offenders Institutions that allows private organisations to run them.

The government says it is building “schools with security, not prisons with education” but as Zahra Bei wrote in 2019, “the policy of rebranding youth jails as ‘secure schools’ provides a thinly-veiled disguise for what in essence marks the start of the biggest children’s prison expansion programme in Britain”.

Members of the British Association of Social Workers have called the plans “a penal approach rooted in the past”.

The contract for the first secure school was awarded to academy chain Oasis, which has one of the highest rates of personal exclusions in the UK.

It will be on the site of the former Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent, which was described as “a site of violence and abuse that prevented the young people who were held there from accessing learning and freedom”.

After a dispute arose over whether running a child prison could be considered a suitable activity for a charity, the government wrote clauses into its new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to ensure that running a child prison can be considered a charitable activity in law.

The change will encourage more academy chains to be providers, creating what the Tories no doubt hope will be a profitable market. And the use of charities will put distance between the Tory government and anything that happens there.

You can read further information on the “secure schools” project here.

With a new market opening up for the detention (and mistreatment?) of children, it seems clear that the organisations running it will want a supply of children.

And suddenly Gavin Williamson is talking about poor behaviour in schools. Convenient?

Source: Experts reject claim Covid has worsened behaviour in English schools | Pupil behaviour | The Guardian

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Tory idiocy means that on Mother’s Day, mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was back in Iranian court on new charge

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman has become a pawn in an international power struggle.

This is what happens when you appeal to Boris Johnson for help.

Johnson was asked to help arrange the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he was Foreign Secretary, way back in 2017 after she was first imprisoned in Iran on a false charge of sedition.

Idiot that he is, our current prime minister botched it to such an extent that she was told she may face new charges.

It seems his untrue statement that she had been training journalists is not the reason she has been brought back to court. This Writer wonders whether it induced the Iranians to search for other reasons to imprison her, though.

She appeared in court on March 14 on a new charge of propaganda against the regime – apparently based on allegations that she took part in a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in London 12 years ago and gave an interview to the BBC Persian service.

Nazanin’s husband Richard now believes that she is a pawn in negotiations over £400 million owed by the UK to Iran after a former ruler of that country, the Shah, paid for tanks that were never delivered because of the 1979 revolution in that country.

The current issue seems to be about interest payable on the debt. Johnson doesn’t want to pay the figure demanded by Iran, one expects.

So Nazanin stays in Iran – if not in prison (because of Covid-19) then under arrest.

Johnson doesn’t care. He’d rather have the cash.

Meanwhile his propaganda machine is trying to pretend that his government is still doing everything it can – and failing:

How sad that this Tory government’s failure to protect a woman should happen alongside the backlash over police oppression of women at the Sarah Everard vigil – on an annual day set aside to celebrate women.

Nitpickers can grip that it was Mother’s Day and not all women are mothers. Nazanin is, though – and she is separated from her child because of the wrong decisions of the UK’s prime minister.

Many of the people at Clapham Common were mothers – some were there with their daughters. No doubt all were there because they want their children to live in safer communities than we have now, due to Tory misrule.

So a day of celebration has turned – for many – into a day of anger and bitterness.

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Tehran court on new charge – BBC News

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Tories had five years to free Nazanin; now they can only hope she’ll be released on schedule

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: did Boris Johnson ever give a damn about this UK citizen, wrongly imprisoned in Iran?

What a pathetic defeat for the Conservatives – and for Boris Johnson in particular.

You’ll remember that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned by the Iranian authorities on trumped-up charges in 2016 – for five years.

The case was brought to the UK’s Foreign Secretary – at the time, Boris Johnson – in November 2017. And the first thing he did was make the situation worse.

He said Nazanin had been arrested because she had been “teaching journalism”. In fact, that was the reason for her arrest – a reason that she denies (the Iranian authorities related it to activism against the state).

He later tried to claim that his words had not been clear and he had meant even if she had been teaching journalism, that would not have justified her arrest. But this was not true – one of many lies he has spoken on his way to the top.

The Iranian authorities said they would use Johnson’s words against Nazanin, but he refused to apologise for worsening the situation.

Next it was rumoured that Johnson was going to pay Iran £450 million owed to that country but unpaid due to international sanctions, in return for Nazanin’s freedom…

Then it was said that he had put the brakes on that scheme for fear of upsetting US President Trump.

Nazanin went on hunger strike. While she starved, Johnson (now prime minister) was working on his suntan, on the billionaires’ playground island of Mustique.

Now, her prison sentence is due to end on March 7. And what is the UK government saying?

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that he would leave “no stone unturned” in his quest to have Zaghari-Ratcliffe released on time.

How pathetic. How humiliating. And what a let-down for Nazanin’s family, including husband Richard Ratcliffe who placed his hopes in the Tories and had them dashed on the rocks of international diplomacy.

There’s no guarantee that she will be released. The authorities in Iran have threatened to lengthen her sentence, or sentence her on new charges, on several occasions.

That will be an even greater humiliation for the Tories. Or it would be, if they cared.

Nazanin’s family do care. But the politicians probably think their agony of waiting is nobody’s business but their own.

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hopes to be freed ‘within weeks’ as the end of her prison sentence nears

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Nazanin to go back before Iranian court to face new charges – linked to Johnson’s blunder

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman has become a pawn in an international power struggle.


Just when it seemed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Iranian prison ordeal was coming to an end, she’s being dragged back into court.

And that country’s officials have taken great pleasure in letting us know that her plight is due to blundering Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime muppet.

Johnson was the idiot who blurted out in Parliament – in 2017, when he was Foreign Secretary – that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been “training journalists”.

She had been doing nothing of the kind.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, she had been doing nothing more sinister than visiting her family for the Persian New Year celebration when she was arrested in 2016.

But the Iranian authorities seized on Johnson’s idiotic remark and threatened to use it to add five more years to her five-year prison sentence.

Now – three years after Johnson misspoke, it seems they have decided to follow through on the threat:

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife will appear in court on Sunday accused of “spreading propaganda against the regime” in Iran.

Apparently that’s how they describe the teaching of journalism – which she wasn’t doing in any event.

Of course we all know that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment has more to do with the £400 million that the UK government owes to Iran.

It could not be paid before because of international sanctions – but when Boris Johnson’s career was in danger, it seems such concerns evaporated.

How contrary, then, for us to find that the money has not been paid, apparently because Johnson doesn’t want to upset Donald Trump.

Johnson, it seems, wanted to wait until after the US presidential election on November 3 because he wanted to know whether Trump would still be US president before taking action.

So the Iranian decision to go back to court now has put him in a particularly sticky situation.

Will he pay up and get Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe back?

Or will he delay, to stay on the right side of Donald Trump?

I think we all know the answer to that. Johnson is the runt of international politics.

When powerful people squabble, it is always the innocents who suffer.

Source: New Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe charges linked to Boris Johnson’s infamous gaffe – Mirror Online

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Extended jail term plan will lead to disaster

Behind bars: Boris Johnson’s plan for extended jail terms – stretching overstrained prisons beyond their limits – is criminal. But Johnson seems immune to punishment.

Conservatives can’t run prisons.

We all know this – right?

They tried privatising prisons and the cuts imposed by the privateers (in order to make a profit) meant wardens could not keep control.

Consider the failure to control drug use or even to stop drugs being passed into prisons.

Overcrowding led to unrest and even the occasional riot.

Now Boris Johnson has announced an intention to extend jail terms, meaning even more people will be packed into our limited prison space.

Or is he going to build more (like he promised to build more hospitals)?

Even if he achieved this – and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting – would he not simply turn them over to private companies that would cock it all up again?

Yes, of course he would.

The UK’s prime minister is deliberately plotting a disaster for the justice system.

Or is there evidence that I am mistaken?

Source: Watchdog warns of prison overcrowding as Boris Johnson vows to extend jail terms | The Independent

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Did the DWP’s cruel trick force a man into crime?

Faceless: The DWP has developed an attitude in which its employees don’t care what happens to the people relying on them. They just process the numbers.

I don’t think Carl Poynton’s story is unique. The DWP is supposed to help people survive but since the Tories took over this has become a cruel pretence.

Released from prison on Christmas Eve, he applied for benefits – but the length of time it takes the Department to process an application meant he was sure to run out of money long before any payment arrived.

So he applied for the short-term benefit advance loan that is offered to claimants in dire need, even though it meant he would have to pay the money back from any benefit award he received.

The DWP said he was eligible for such a loan…

… and then offered him eight pence.

He was left with no alternative – as far as he could tell – other than shoplifting.

A man who needed money until his benefits were sorted was offered a loan of 8p by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). This is Lancashire reported that Carl Poynton ended up in court for shoplifting after the DWP’s decision.

The Canary story quotes a report by the Prison Reform Trust that says nearly half of adults are convicted of another offence within a year of release.

With government help like this, is it any wonder?

Source: The DWP agreed a man needed money until his benefits were sorted and then offered him 8p | The Canary

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Did disablist bullying lead to the death of this prisoner?

Dead: Liridan Saliuka was pronounced dead after being found on the floor of his prison cell. Was it the result of disablist bullying?

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman is to investigate after a disabled man was found dead in a cell – possibly after being bullied.

Liridon Saliuka was found in his cell in Belmarsh Prison on January 2. The Prison service confirmed he had died.

He had been imprisoned on remand, charged with murder – although he had protested his innocence and intention to clear his name.

He underwent extensive reconstructive surgery after a car crash two years ago, and was given metal plates that made it difficult for him to walk or stand still for long periods.

A surgeon’s report had concluded that he should be considered as “permanently disabled”.

But this seems to have been ignored by the minions of Her Majesty’s Government, who moved him from a special cell – with an orthopaedic mattress – to a standard cell.

His sister Dita reported that he had said this was so uncomfortable for him that he was sleeping on the floor.

She also said the claim by the authorities that his death was self-inflicted is unlikely to be true, as he had always said people who committed suicide were weak and selfish.

Isn’t this just further evidence of disablist discrimination by the Tory government and its minions?

Source: Investigation after prisoner found dead in cell at Belmarsh | UK news | The Guardian

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Remember Nazanin? Johnson doesn’t – so other Brits on hunger strike in Iran will be ignored

Imprisoned: British-Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert is one of many UK (or part-UK) citizens languishing in an Iranian prison because Boris Johnson is too busy sunning himself to do anything about it.

Richard Ratcliffe wrote about this back in November, when we had a chance to bring in a government that would help UK citizens wrongly convicted in foreign lands.

He referred to the fact that, after his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed on a false charge of spying, others have also been arrested, accused and imprisoned.

In an open letter to Boris Johnson, he wrote: “Other British Iranians have been arrested and sentenced, particularly in Spring 2018 and again this summer.

“The UK now has more prisoners held in Evin prison than any of its allies.”

Mr Johnson had worsened Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation when he made a false statement about her in Parliament, which the Iranian government had seized, intending to use it to double her five-year sentence.

The Iranian government has linked her plight with its demand for the payment of an arms debt said to be owed by the UK to Iran (from a government company called IMS).

As Mr Ratcliffe stated, the Iranian government has also arrested other British, or part-British, citizens.

Among these are Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, held in Evin prison since 2018 on a 10-year sentence for spying.

She has now begun a hunger strike, alongside French-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah.

It won’t do her any good. Nazanin went on hunger strike, along with her husband, last year. It attracted no interest – from either the Iranian government or the British.

We may hope that the Australian government has more concern for the welfare of its joint citizens than the British under Boris Johnson. He couldn’t care less.

And Nazanin?

She celebrated (if you can call it that) her birthday on December 26:

Neither Boris Johnson nor Dominic Raab have any interest in helping Nazanin, let alone Ms Moore-Gilbert.

Boris Johnson is working harder on his suntan, over in the billionaires’ playground island of Mustique.

The UK had a chance to elect a government that takes the welfare of its citizens more seriously – but we blew it.

Let us hope, for Ms Moore-Gilbert’s sake, that the Australian government takes its duties more seriously.

Source: Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert on hunger strike in Iranian jail | Australia news | The Guardian

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Will Gove’s scaremongering put Boris Johnson in prison?

Behind bars: Considering all of the evidence, including his own behaviour in the weeks leading up to the vote on October 19, and Michael Gove’s decision to trigger Operation Yellowhammer, will a Scottish judge put Boris Johnson in prison?

Michael Gove has triggered Operation Yellowhammer – the Tory government’s contingency plan for a “no deal” Brexit, saying we cannot be sure the European Council will grant the Brexit delay that Boris Johnson has requested.

Why would he scaremonger like that? There’s no reason for the European Council to turn down the request.

Or is Mr Gove suggesting that the EU should pay more attention to Mr Johnson’s second letter, which states that he would prefer that a delay should be refused?

Won’t that put Mr Johnson in contempt of court?

He promised the Court of Session in Scotland that he would adhere to the provisions of the so-called Benn Act, meaning he would send a letter requesting a delay if Parliament did not pass his deal on October 19.

He has indeed sent such a letter – although unsigned. He also sent another missive asking the European Council to ignore the first – signed.

Today (October 21), Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, will rule on whether these actions constitute contempt of court.

Potential punishments could include a fine or even imprisonment.

It is possible that sanctions may be suspended to allow the prime minister to comply with the court’s ruling. But this might be a little difficult as the time for compliance was October 19.

And the fact that Mr Gove has triggered “no deal” preparations in the belief that the EU will not grant an extension, and his boss won’t get Parliament to pass his deal, suggests a belief in an intention to sabotage the Benn Act conditions at the very least.

Source: Michael Gove triggers no-deal Brexit contingency plans | Politics | The Guardian

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Johnson and Patel’s police state takes shape

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: They’re telling us they want to restore law and order – but are they simply planning for the effects of a ‘no deal’ Brexit or positioning for a general election?

Boris Johnson has announced a tightening of security in prisons, to go with yesterday’s increase in funding for lawyers to deal with violent crime cases, and a review – and toughening – of  prison sentences.

This Writer cannot help but notice that these announcements, along with a plan to build more prisons, are arriving alongside news that the UK’s economy has hit a downturn.

Economic activity fell in the second quarter of 2019 – for the first time since 2012. And unemployment has risen by 31,000.

Is Boris Johnson planning for unrest after a ‘no deal’ Brexit that harms jobs and our way of life?

Well, no. The worst part of this is that he probably isn’t.

The one-off payment of £100 million might help in the short term, but Labour’s shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon has described it as “tinkering at the edges”.

And the Howard League for Penal Reform said prisons have become centres of crime and violence and drugs, and the Tory government need to “pour good money after bad” (provide continuous funding) to solve a problem it has created.

The Crown Prosecution Service will receive £85 million to help it prosecute violent offenders – but the Criminal Bar Association has said that this will not seriously improve a system that has been “severely underfunded” by Conservative governments of the last nine years.

It has led to a situation in which “those who commit crime walk free and the innocent risk being convicted”, the organisation has said.

These claims follow assertions that the promise of 10,000 new prison places will not be enough; courts will order criminals to serve tougher sentences before those places become available, meaning that there will still be too few.

We can only conclude that these announcements do not indicate a serious commitment to tackle crime.

So why make them?

One theory is that the prime minister we call BoJob is trying to discourage people from participating in civil unrest if a ‘no deal’ Brexit takes place on October 31.

The thinking would be that a show of sabre-rattling now might reduce violence later.

But we’re being told that, even with the new funding, the authorities would not be equipped to deal with such unrest. So that plan has backfired.

The alternative – and far more likely – is that these announcements are simply attempts to position the Conservatives as the “Party of Law and Order” once more in the run-up to an autumn election.

The government has denied any intention of calling an election – which of course makes it more likely in the mind of a general public that is used to Tories who say one thing and then do another.

And of course there is a possibility that Mr Johnson will be forced into an election after an early vote of no confidence in his government.

September 9 is the date this is most likely to happen, we’re told – less than a month away.

Make a note in your diary.

Source: Prisons: Boris Johnson pledges £100m to boost security – BBC News

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