Council snoopers question five-year-olds on home life
By Sophie Borland
Last updated at 1:03 AM on 30th January 2010
They’re watching: The eating and television habits of children are being monitored by councils
Children as young as five are being told to fill in Big Brother-style forms which let councils snoop on intimate details about their home lives.
The questions – which have been attacked as exploitative – ask about junk food, television habits, family time and even whether the youngsters ‘like themselves’.
Results are stored on a database, allowing families deemed to be ‘at risk’ to be referred to social services or doctors.
Children are asked to colour in answers to questions such as how much fruit they eat each day compared to crisps and fizzy drinks.
Hundreds of the ‘lifestyle’ quizzes, which are backed by the Department of Health, have been handed out in an attempt to build a picture of the health and wellbeing of individual households.
But privacy campaigners last night condemned the forms. Alex Deane, of Big Brother Watch, described it as ‘an unbelievable intrusion into private life’.
He said: ‘The state doesn’t bring up children, parents do. There is an important distinction between teaching and nannying – or even bullying – and this steps way over the mark.’
The lifestyle quizzes were piloted in Erewash, Derbyshire, where children filled in the forms at ‘healthy living’ after-school clubs, to which parents are invited. Although the survey was not compulsory, pupils were strongly encouraged to fill it in.
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The forms will now be sent out to 200 schools across the county and other councils are monitoring the scheme closely.
Daniella Yeo, of Erewash council, said the after-school clubs were very popular and that the questions followed guidelines set by NICE, the NHS’s regulatory body.
She added: ‘They will help us target families at risk of obesity. We can then encourage parents to attend sessions with social services or GPs.’
Other questions for five-year-olds include whether they eat breakfast, how much water they drink and how they get to school.
They are also asked ‘how much to do like yourself?’ – and told to tick a thumbs-up or thumbs- down sign that matches how they feel.
Seven-year-olds are being given an even more detailed quiz in which they say exactly how many hours they spend with their family, watching television and playing computer games.
Civil liberties campaigner Josie Appleton, of the Manifesto Club, said: ‘Councils and schools should concentrate on providing everyone with a good education.
‘But they should keep their noses out of children’s lunchboxes and away from the family dinner table.’
comment section- not in use…wonder why…
THIS IS THE FREEDOM TROOPS DIE FOR? BULLSHIT!
Motorist fined for blowing nose
A motorist was fined by police for blowing his nose while at a standstill in traffic.
Published: 10:40AM GMT 28 Jan 2010
Michael Mancini, a father of two, said he put the handbrake on before wiping his nose but was asked to pull over by officers who were standing nearby.
He was told he was not in control of his vehicle and was handed a £60 fixed penalty and three points on his licence.
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Traffic light scam stuns Italian motoristsThe 39-year-old, who runs a furniture restoration business in Ayr, said: ”The traffic was nose to tail in the high street and the traffic stopped and I thought that was quite a good time. I stopped the van and put the handbrake on. I saw four police officers nearby.
”The traffic moved on and I was waved across by an officer.
”He said I was not in control of the vehicle.”
Mr Mancini went on: ”I was absolutely stunned.
”I said to the officer ‘You’re joking, you’re having a laugh’.
”I’ve never been in trouble with the police. I was just completely gobsmacked. I honestly thought someone was going to run out with a camera.”
Mr Mancini, who lives in Prestwick, Ayrshire, was fined on October 26 in the High Street in Ayr but has not paid the penalty.
His solicitor, Peter Lockhart, said he had written to the procurator fiscal on January 18 but a letter arrived on January 19 stating that if the fine was not paid the case would go to court.
Mr Lockhart said: ”In the letter I said ‘It should have been obvious to the officers what was going on and it beggars belief a ticket was issued’.”
”I also wrote ‘We cannot see, given the circumstances of this case, that it is in the public interest’.”
Mr Lockhart said he was waiting to hear if a court date has been set.
”We will be pleading on his (Mr Mancini’s) behalf not guilty,” he added.
A Strathclyde Police spokesman said: ”A 39-year-old man is the subject of a report to the procurator fiscal in connection with an alleged traffic offence on October 26.”
HOW ABOUT CATCHING CRIMINALS?
Police sent on hypnosis courses
Police officers are being sent on hypnosis courses, as part of the “new frontier in UK policing”.
Published: 8:21AM GMT 17 Dec 2009
Officers are being encouraged to sign up to a course by Tom Silver, who is better known as a ‘celebrity hypnotherapist’ on American chat shows, in an attempt to gain more information from suspects.
Mr Silver, who has appeared on the Montel Williams and Ricki Lake chat shows on US TV, where he gave a guest an “orgasmic handshake”, normally charges £1,000-a-day for courses in his home country.
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Policeman’s daughter denies false rape claim after sexBut after being contacted by PC Mark Hughes, of Cheshire police, Mr Silver – a master hypnotist – agreed a ‘free one day taster course’ for cops before they sign up to his six day course, costing £1,500.
The course will teach students ‘cutting edge techniques’, including an introduction into Electroencephalography (EEG) and will be paid for out of police coffers, according to respected industry magazine Police Review.
EEG is the recording of electrical activity in the brain gathered by placing sensors on the scalp which monitor ‘neuron activity’ – which cops believe can help ‘encourage’ suspects and witnesses to tell the truth.
PC Mark Hughes, an investigative skills trainer with Cheshire Constabulary, personally organised Mr Silver’s trip to the university in June next year.
He said that ‘forensic hypnosis’ is a the ‘next logical step’ for investigators to use when other ‘more traditional methods’ fail and said officers interested in new techniques should sign up to the course – despite its cost.
PC Hughes told Police Review: “Putting people in a receptive brainwave state makes it likelier that the truth would come out.
“Forensic hypnosis is a scientific approach as helmets monitor brain activity and anyone who is lying would have wide-awake brainwave patterns.
“Forensic hypnosis does not prove guilt but it can give new lines of enquiry when traditional methods have failed.
“I have studied neuro-linguistic programming where you look at language patterns and eye movements to see if someone is lying.
“For me it is the next logical step for investigators to take.
“It is the next frontier.”
David Pickover, a former assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and Police Review’s legal editor, said: “It is difficult to imagine circumstances where hypnotism is sensible or necessary but there is nothing to prevent officers from suggesting it to witnesses.
“The notion of regressing a witness so that a more accurate record of events is stimulated sounds an attractive proposition but we must recognise that the boundaries of hypnosis and its worth are still vague, at the least viewed with suspicion and at the worst with total scepticism.
“Evidence obtained under hypnosis would unquestionably be intensively examined by courts and viewed with extreme caution.”
Silver has previously appeared on Ricki Lake, where he gave a woman an “orgasmic handshake”.
He hypnotised a woman called Jamaica to “sleep”, before he told the audience he would give her the “greatest orgasm” of her life when she woke up and shook a man’s hand. She then woke up and lunged on men getting more excited.
MPs STOLE THOUSANDS YEAR AFTER YEAR- ALL LET OFF!!
Mum of five screams at jury after being found guilty of benefit fraud
Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 19:34Comment on this story
A WOMAN convicted of benefit fraud burst into tears at Plymouth Crown Court and screamed at the jury: “You’re wrong! You made the wrong decision!”
Mother-of-five Sara Stirling was swiftly silenced by Judge Philip Wassall, who had already told the jury he did not intend to send her directly to jail.
The dramatic scenes came at the end of a three-day trial yesterday in which Stirling, aged 40 and from Plymstock Road, Tavistock, had denied dishonestly failng to notify a change in circumstances.
She claimed almost £10,000 in disability benefits while managing both a college course and a boat-building business, but said she had made “an ‘honest mistake”.
Arthritis sufferer Stirling applied for Severe Disablement Allowance in August 2000, despite being ‘the brains’ behind Working Sail, a small yacht-building firm she ran with her husband.
In 2003 she was headhunted by Falmouth Marine School to write and manage a new Level 3 boat-building course – but did not inform the Department for Work and Pensions until applying for a maternity benefit in 2007.
Stirling has since paid back the £9,939.65 she claimed and denied dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances.
During two hours of cross-examination at Plymouth Crown Court on Tuesday, she was evidently distressed as she described the whole benefits system as ‘confusing’ and ‘degrading’.
Her barrister Paul Bitmead told the court: “This is a case of human frailty. “Making a mistake does not make her dishonest – it makes her human.”
But DWP prosecutor Jo Martin described Stirling as “a determined and resourceful woman”, who knew what she was doing.
Stirling, wearing a floral blouse, light grey trousers and a blue jumper, collapsed in tears and cried loudly as the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty.
Judge Wassall told her and the jury that although it was a lot of money and deliberate dishonesty, she was a woman of previous good character, this was a first offence and he had a mind to impose a short suspended sentence with a curfew.
Thanking the jury, he said they had paid “conspicuous attention to detail” and kept their eye on the ball.
But as they filed out, Stirling screamed: “You’re wrong! You made the wrong decision!”
The judge told her sharply to be quiet, and said he agreed with the verdict.
An hour later, he passed sentence, with Mr Bitmead apologising for the outburst.
Judge Wassall said that was unnecessary, describing Stirling, who has a 10-week-old baby, as “a lady of previously impeccable character who has been under great pressure”.
He told Stirling her difficulties had been “unimaginable”, and she had struggled to bring up her children, adding: “Financial pressures caused you to turn a blind eye to the obvious.
“Pressure and strain caused you to act in an uncharacteristic way.”
Judge Wassall said the offence was serious but the money had been paid back.
He added: “Had you pleaded guilty at an early stage, I might have dealt with it differently.
“In the circumstances, you shouldn’t be going to custody for this.
“You should put this behind you, but you need to show the court it was a one-off.”
Judge Wassall imposed a six-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months, plus a two-month home curfew from 6pm-midnight monitored by electronic tagging.
He refused a request for £1,000 prosecution costs because she has no money.
BY GOD HE’S GOT IT!
A cracking candidate for member of parliament, she would fit in very well Kev, Plymouth
The real issue here is curfew by electronic tag.
In this case the sentence is unrealistic and will only deter the prisoner from making late night benefit claims … hardly realistic.
Electronic tagging. What a joke, there’s already one cctv camera per 14 of the population. Strikes me we are ALL electronically tagged. Michael Barber, IW Report abuse commented on 31-Jan-2010 20:17 Name *
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May I point out that the Uk and global economy has been stolen by a banking scam the likes of which has never been seen before.
Focus your minds on what is of greater importance please and stop witch hunting and behaving like a pack of wolves!
IW Michael Barber, IW
FIAT MONEY ACCEPTED BY EVERYONE- IN THEIR WAGE PACKET!!
MAY AS WELL BE CRISP BAGS…..SAME VALUE…