Tag Archives: trauma

Police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’. What about the Tories – and Murdoch?

The disgrace – no, the word ‘disgrace’ isn’t strong enough: this is the Sun story that mentally scarred survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and the families of those who died. It wasn’t ‘The Truth’ at all; it was a pack of lies.

More than five years after a jury ruled that 96 people were killed unlawfully in the Hillsborough disaster – and that their behaviour did not contribute to the situation – police forces have agreed to pay compensation to more than 600 people for mental distress caused by the attempted cover-up.

I have two questions.

Firstly: why did it take so long for South Yorkshire and West Midlands police to agree to pay up?

Secondly: Why aren’t the Conservative Party and Rupert Murdoch’s News International paying compensation, too?

Let’s go into the circumstances:

We all know that the Hillsborough Disaster was a fatal human crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, hosted at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.

It happened due to gross negligence by match commander David Duckenfield of South Yorkshire Police.

The police service then attempted to hide the fact that its failures caused 96 deaths and 766 injuries – the worst disaster in UK sporting history – by trying to blame it on the fans who were injured and died, saying those people caused the tragedy by being drunk and misbehaving.

West Midlands was the force appointed to investigate the disaster, but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Not only that, though: the prime minister of the day, the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, refused to release information that made the police look bad.

And The Sun, a newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, published a story headlined The Truth that was nothing but a pack of lies, supporting the fantasy created by the police.

This Writer believes a strong argument could be made that the newspaper story – which led to The Sun being boycotted in Liverpool ever since – caused more distress, more anguish, to survivors, and to relatives and friends of the deceased, than the police cover-up on which it was based (although I know it could not have been written if the police and the Tory prime minister had not lied in the first place).

Civil claims for compensation due to malfeasance in public office by the two police forces were submitted in 2015, during inquests into the reasons the 96 died.

The claimants said the lies had caused them to suffer trauma and psychiatric damage, and the compensation is to cover not only those injuries but also the cost of treatment and counselling.

Those claims were made nearly six years ago and the payments haven’t been made yet (at the time of writing). So I repeat: why not?

And how much are these people getting, to make one of the claimants describe the payout as “insulting” in The Guardian‘s news article about it?

The behaviour of the police was shocking, and undermines public faith in the reliability of our law enforcement officers across the UK – not just in the forces concerned.

But – as mentioned above – they weren’t the only organisations caught lying; they weren’t the only people who deliberately caused further distress over Hillsborough.

Margaret Thatcher withheld information – which was as bad as lying because it presented a false impression that the police were blameless.

She was able to do so because she was prime minister at the time – and she was prime minister because she was leader of the Conservative Party that had formed the then-current government.

She died in 2013 but it seems perfectly reasonable to hold the Tories responsible for putting her in a position where she could distort the facts.  Why has the Conservative Party avoided compensating these people?

And that Sun headline has gone down in the history of journalistic infamy. The disgust of the city of Liverpool – in perpetuity – is not enough. Why has News International not offered compensation as well?

All three of these organisations should have offered payouts voluntarily, considering the enormity of the harm they have done, but they didn’t.

The police are only paying up because they were forced to.

Perhaps that aspect of this tragedy is the most damning of all.

Source: South Yorkshire and West Midlands police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’ | Hillsborough disaster | The Guardian

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Did ‘activist lawyers’ tell Home Office its Windrush compensation scheme was a disaster, too?

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

How unfortunate for the Home Office that it should fall foul of the lawyers twice in one day.

Or is it perhaps a sign of the Johnson government’s disregard for the law?

The Tory government’s much-maligned Windrush Compensation Scheme has been trashed by – one would expect – activist lawyers from no fewer than nine separate firms.

They say it is failing to provide access to justice – a claim that can only have gained validity after it was revealed that the HO tried to rush-deport 23 people illegally, because it had not allowed them their right to appeal.

The – activist – lawyers also said that while the Windrush scandal traumatised its victims, the compensation scheme is only worsening the trauma.

The HO has already confirmed that at least five people who applied for compensation died before receiving it.

Lawyers say they have experienced significant delays and difficulties filing claims for clients who were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants and lost their jobs, housing or pensions as a result.

The letter says many applications appear to be “appear to be lost in a kind of bureaucratic limbo”, with some people forced to wait more than a year for decisions.

Look at this:

The decision to put the Home Office in charge of processing of claims was particularly problematic, they write, given the criticisms of the department made in Wendy Williams’ official inquiry into the scandal. Williams’ report identified a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” within the Home Office and “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”.

And now let’s all remember that the Home Office is carrying out its own inquiry into the death of refugee Mercy Baguma. What chance does justice have in a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” with “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”?

Coincidentally (or is it?) yesterday HO permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft announced:

Perhaps inevitably, this was one of the responses:

Source: Windrush payout scheme not fit for purpose, say lawyers | Windrush scandal | The Guardian

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Poverty is the enemy of good mental health. Why do Tories increase it?

Epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson. He ‘found that poverty and social inequality have direct and indirect effects on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of an individual,’ writes Maureen Tilford [Image: Linda Nylind for the Guardian].

It’s a classic example of failed Tory thinking.

They say they want the NHS to work properly, within the budgets set out for it – but then they worse conditions in society, forcing more people to seek medical help.

In this case, more people are seeking help with mental illnesses because of poverty that has been forced on them by stupid Tory austerity policies.

Only yesterday, This Site published an article on medical experts’ plans to record social issues including poverty as contributing factors to mental illness.

Now, people have been writing in to The Guardian to support political action against poverty – precisely to stop it affecting mental health.

Here’s Dr Maureen Tilford:

As far back as 1963, research by Langer and Michael found that psychiatric conditions not only occur at higher rates in the poorest areas, but also cluster together, usually in disintegrating inner-city communities. Money is not a guarantor of mental health, nor does its absence necessarily lead to mental illness. However, it is generally conceded that poverty can be both a determinant and a consequence of poor mental health.

More recently, the epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson found that poverty and social inequality have direct and indirect effects on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of an individual. It is clear that poverty and inequality are closely linked and that income inequality produces psychosocial stress.

The wealth gap in the UK is greater than at any time since the first world war and continues to grow. Unless this is addressed at a most senior level in government, the demand on the police will continue, not to mention the suffering of all those callers. This cannot be viewed as a purely health service issue. Allowing the wealth gap to spiral out of control is having serious adverse effects on the UK population on many levels.

And Reverend Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty has this to say:

Prevention of mental illness, and hunger created by low income and debt, requires an increase in taxation and unemployment benefits which many of us would be willing to accept. Central government is making households destitute by shredding unemployment incomes and then stopping them with the benefit sanction, allowing zero-hours contracts and by rolling out the universal credit. Local government then taxes the benefits and sends in the bailiffs to collect the inevitable arrears, adding court costs and huge bailiffs’ fees.

It takes a very rare degree of resilience for mental health to withstand three powerful government departments shelling out threats of bailiffs, prison, eviction and homelessness against a single debtor, who is often struggling to put food on the table for dependent relatives. As Psychologists Against Austerity have reported, such abuses of power are creating humiliation, shame, fear, distrust, instability, insecurity, isolation and loneliness in trapped and powerless citizens.

Source: Poverty is at the heart of mental health crisis | Letters | Society | The Guardian


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Links between benefits and mental ill-health could be recorded by doctors in new plan

[Image: Getty/iStock].

The link between disability benefit assessments, mental health problems and increases in suicide rates could be made explicit in a new plan announced in medical journal The Lancet.

Kate Allsopp and Peter Kinderman have called for mental health professionals to record psychosocial codes in official NHS records, to show whether a patient is suffering from the effects of social inequality, poverty or trauma.

Links between the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and an increase in suicides, mental health problems, and prescription of antidepressants are specifically mentioned, following on from a study covered by This Site here.

The proposal in The Lancet states [boldings mine]:

It is well known that poverty and social inequity are major determinants of our mental health, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur characterises mental health care not as a crisis of individual conditions, but as a crisis of social obstacles, which hinders individual rights.

It is important, therefore, that the circumstances that have given rise to distress should be formally recorded alongside the distress itself. Psychosocial codes… incorporate descriptive information regarding adverse life experiences and living environments, but are almost never used or reported in clinical practice or academic publications.

These quasi-diagnostic codes document neglect, abandonment, and other maltreatment… homelessness, poverty, discrimination, and negative life events in childhood, including trauma… problems related to family upbringing, and housing and economic problems.

Broadening routine data capture within UK National Health Service records could establish more inclusive, social, systemic, and psychologically comprehensive patterns of difficulties, which could target information regarding established social determinants of mental health problems, such as inequality, poverty, and trauma.

Imagine if it were as serious to fail to document extreme poverty as it would be for a clinician to fail to identify severe depression.

We do not expect that clinicians should resolve such difficulties; it is not the job of mental health professionals to end poverty.

Nevertheless, proper recording of psychosocial… codes in the context of psychiatric diagnoses is imperative because of the close relationship between the two.

The UK government programme of reassessing disability benefits… using the Work Capability Assessment has been associated with an increase in suicides, mental health problems, and prescription of antidepressants.

Transitions into poverty (relevant to codes [on] inadequate housing… lack of adequate food… extreme poverty; and… low income) have been associated with increased odds of children developing socioemotional behavioural difficulties, and individuals who have had an institutional upbringing… are approximately 11 times more likely to experience paranoia compared with those with a less disrupted early history.

As clinicians, we might be better able to serve our clients if we can use such data capture to apply more effective pressure on the political system and drive wider system reform.

Source: A proposal to introduce formal recording of psychosocial adversities associated with mental health using ICD-10 codes – The Lancet Psychiatry


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