Tag Archives: sharing

‘Degrading and humiliating’ – why do police treat disabled people so badly?

Targeted: Is the Met police’s ill-treatment of disabled people part of an overarching policy of discrimination against them?

The Metropolitan Police has been accused of “degrading and humiliating” treatment of people with disabilities who took part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

In isolation, this would be bad enough – but it is just the latest in a series of incidents targeting disabled protesters, by forces across the UK.

Now the Met’s independent advisory group says the bullying that took place may have caused “irreparable damage” to relations with disabled people.

Stop and think about that. This isn’t just a public relations problem – it’s a disaster for the police: “irreparable damage.”

According to The Guardian, advisory group chair Anne Novis said everybody in that organisation – all of them – were on the point of resigning because of the stories they were hearing from disabled people.

This is entirely understandable. The claim is that people with disabilities were deliberately and aggressively targeted by police.

Here’s an example of what police were doing: When a disabled protester outside Scotland Yard needed a carer to adjust her supplemental oxygen and provide other medicine, police arrested both on the grounds that they were an illegal assembly.

They had been there to protest after police had confiscated independent living equipment including wheelchairs, disability ramps, noise-cancelling headphones, specially adapted toilets and other items intended to make protest sites accessible to disabled people.

Another incident saw a blind protester released without his cane. And left to get home without any help at all.

Legal observers for Extinction Rebellion said they had expected violence by police – but had not reckoned on it being almost exclusively directed at disabled people in what appeared to be a “deliberate intimidation tactic”.

The Met has claimed that it does not single out any minority group or community – but this is unpersuasive in the light of the mountain of evidence against it.

And it seems part of a nationwide policy to target the disabled. Remember when anti-fracking protesters in Lancashire were targeted by police?

Those people then faced a secondary attack from the Department for Work and Pensions, who claimed that they did not deserve sickness and/or disability benefits because they were well enough to take part in a protest. Remember that?

We discovered then that the police had an agreement to share information on protesters with the DWP, precisely to help that government department unfairly strip disabled people of their benefits.

Loss of state benefits – for a disabled person – has led to starvation, the worsening of their condition through lack of medication, and – in some cases – suicide.

It may be considered an attempt to pass a death sentence on them, simply for daring to protest against something that is wrong.

Has the Met passed the details of the disabled XR protesters to the DWP, in the hope of forcing them into that fate?

I don’t know. But I feel sure we will find out.

Let us hope that we do so before it is too late.

Source: Met police accused of ‘degrading’ treatment of disabled XR activists | UK news | The Guardian

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McKee murder prompts politicians to re-start NI power sharing talks

How welcome to see that Theresa May has finally got off her thumbs and made a start towards restoring the devolved government in Northern Ireland, after pressure from This Site and the general public.

I wrote after Lyra McKee’s murder last weekend: “It is now 21 years since the Good Friday Agreement heralded the end of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Such an anniversary is a time to reaffirm the commitment to friendship – not to open up opportunities for a return to hate.

“Northern Ireland needs the restoration of its government in Stormont – now, not after Theresa May has spent another few months or years stalling so she can extend her own tenure in Number 10.

“The best way to shut down the possibility of violence is to deny people any excuse for it.”

Well…

An agreement has been reached to establish a new round of talks involving all the main political parties in Northern Ireland the UK and Irish prime ministers, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar, have said in a joint statement.

The public clamour for political progress following the killing of the journalist Lyra McKee encouraged both governments to launch a fresh attempt to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland, they said in a statement released on Friday afternoon.

It seems this is one message that has managed to get through to the UK’s recalcitrant prime minister.

Source: Deal reached for Northern Ireland power-sharing talks | Politics | The Guardian


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Will the government really penalise GPs whose patients opt out of data sharing?

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It seems the government has found a way to dissuade GPs from letting patients opt out of having their medical records sold to private firms – the threat of penalties or even an investigation into the way they run their practice.

Vox Political revealed earlier this month that the government is planning to make a profit from selling the private records of NHS patients in England to healthcare and pharmaceutical firms.

The records are said to be ‘anonymised’, but in fact anyone buying your details will be able to identify you.

The system, originally called the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES), now the Health and Social Care Information Centre, may also be described as the care.data scheme. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants you to think the information will be used for medical research and screening for common diseases, but in fact it could be used by private health companies as evidence of failures by the National Health Service, and could help them undercut NHS bids to continue running those services – accelerating the privatisation that nobody wanted.

Patients have the right to withhold their data, but they must specifically inform their medical practice of their wishes. This is why medConfidential created a web page containing a special opt-out form, along with a form letter in various formats, allowing patients to opt out themselves, their children and any adults for whom they are responsible.

Now GPs are living in fear of reprisals if they don’t deliver enough details to the new system.

According to GPonline.com, Health minister Dr Daniel Poulter failed to rule out penalising GP practices with a higher-than-average proportion of patients opting out of new NHS data sharing arrangements.

In a written answer to Labour MP and health select committee member Rosie Cooper, Dr Poulter also refused to say what level of patient opt-out from the scheme would trigger an investigation.

Asked whether practices would be penalised, who would investigate practices with a high opt-out rate, and at what threshold this would apply, Mr Poulter said: “NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre will work with the BMA, the RCGP, the Information Commissioner’s Office and with the Care Quality Commission to review and work with GP practices that have a high proportion of objections on a case-by-case basis.”

Ms Cooper took this as an admission that GPs were “being threatened and bullied into ensuring patients don’t choose to opt-out”.

Reacting on Twitter, NHS national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey ruled out fines for practices where large numbers of patients opt not to share data. He wrote: “Nobody is going to get fined if patients opt out.”

None of this offers a good reason for you to leave your medical records unprotected – in fact, it gives you more reasons to opt out than before, and might provide GPs with the excuse they need to retaliate.

Doctors have been pushed further and further by the Conservative-led government’s changes to the NHS. For example, they were told they would have a greater say in where the money went, as members of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), but that was not true – they don’t have the time to take part in such decisions so they have been handed over to firms that are often part of the private companies now offering services to the NHS (for a price).

Now they are being told they may face reprisals if they do not betray the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality.

But you can only push a person a certain distance before they push back.

How will NHS doctors in England respond?

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Iain Duncan Smith has committed contempt of Parliament and should be expelled

It's a whopper: How big do you think Iain Duncan Smith's next Parliamentary exaggeration of the truth will be?

It’s a whopper: How big do you think Iain Duncan Smith’s next Parliamentary exaggeration of the truth will be?

Why is Iain Duncan Smith still a member of Parliament?

Apparently there is an offence, here in the UK, known as Contempt of Parliament. An MP is guilty of this if he or she deliberately misleads Parliament, and any MP accused of the offence may be suspended or expelled.

Our odious Work and Pensions secretary is a repeat offender. It is one thing to be “economical with the truth”, as the euphemism goes; it is entirely different to present known falsehoods to the House of Commons as though they were accurate.

Smith’s latest wheeze involves a press release released by his Department of Work and Pensions last month, in which he is quoted as follows: “Already we’ve seen 8,000 people who would have been affected by the [benefits] cap move into jobs. This clearly demonstrates that the cap is having the desired impact.”

There is no evidence to support the claim. This has been made clear by Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, who said in an open letter yesterday (Thursday) that it was “unsupported by the official statistics published by the department”.

He added that an explicit caution had made it clear that the statistics used by Smith to support his claim were “not intended to show the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of the contact”.

In addition, figures released alongside the statement do not comply with the UK’s codes and practices on statistical releases, and concerns have been raised about the methodology and sourcing, along with possible advance sharing of the data with some – sympathetic? – media outlets.

As an aside, it seems unlikely that Mr Dilnot realised, when he accepted his role at the statistics authority, that it would be such a high-profile role. How many people had even heard of it before the Tory-led Coalition government came into power? Precious few, one suspects.

Yet it has now become a household name, due to the Tories’ continued and persistent use of faked statistics.

They claimed the NHS budget was rising when it had fallen – and only yesterday we saw one consequence of this; the critical strain facing accident and emergency units. Remember, many hospitals are having their A&E units closed, adding to the strain on those that are left. Why is this happening, if not to save money?

They also claimed – in a party political broadcast, no less – that the national debt was falling when in fact it has risen massively over the course of this Parliament.

And now this.

Smith is, as mentioned above, a repeat offender: He also stated recently that around a million people have been stuck on benefits for at least three of the last four years, “despite being judged capable of preparing or looking for work”. These figures were, of course, inaccurate – they included single mothers, the seriously ill, and people awaiting testing.

Oxfam’s Katherine Trebeck, policy and advocacy manager for its UK poverty programme, said in The Mirror that this was “beyond the pale”.

She said: “The vast majority of people who are out of work would jump at the chance to take a job that paid them a wage they can afford to live on.”

And the TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said in The Guardian: “Only people with weak arguments need to make up statistics.

“The secretary of state needs to apologise – not just to Parliament, but to the many who cannot find jobs, for misusing his department’s statistics in this way.”

The DWP has issued a statement supporting Smith, but its argument is extremely weak. It said anecdotal responses of staff and claimants supported what he had said: “DWP staff and claimants are telling us the cap is impacting behaviour and leading to those affected finally entering the world of work.”

Anecdotal evidence is not fact and cannot be presented as such. Our good friend Wikipedia describes it in these terms: “Because of the small sample, there is a larger chance that it may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases.Anecdotal evidence is considered dubious support of a claim; it is accepted only in lieu of more solid evidence. This is true regardless of the veracity of individual claims.

Manipulation of statistics by the DWP and its secretary of state prompted Debbie Sayers and fellow blogger Jayne Linney – who has supported Vox Political articles many times – to launch a petition on the change.org website, calling on Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee to hold Smith to account for his habitual offences against government statistics.

The petition is here, and at the time of writing has more than 76,500 signatures. Please sign it if you haven’t already done so.

It’s time for Iain Duncan Smith – who remains, let’s all remember, Vox Political‘s Monster of the Year for 2012 – to put up or shut up. He must either admit that he lied to Parliament and to the people in order to justify his despicable treatment of the most vulnerable people in the country…

… or he must be expelled from Parliament like the disgrace that he is.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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