Today I’m reproducing an article I wrote for my family column in the weekly newspaper, The Gazette & Herald, which covers much of the county of Wiltshire. It was published on Thursday August 29 2013 and I’m reproducing it here at the request of one of my Twitter followers, an organisation which I much admire, Wiltshire Mind. To follow me on Twitter, you’d be most welcome at @mum3fi, and you can find the Gazette & Herald @wiltsgazette.
Some time ago, I wrote about an Ofsted report into the safeguarding of vulnerable children in Wiltshire and the fact that the county’s local authority had been found wanting.
I also reported on the fact that the 2012 report had prompted action to be taken and went through some of the measures to improve the situation for vulnerable and looked-after children in the county. I should point out that the report didn’t suggest any children had come to harm as a result of failings.
However, buried within that 2012 report was a comment which really stood out for me – and which I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of ever since.
It said ‘the established practice by police of using section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 to hold some children or young person in custody where they have committed an offence is inappropriate’.
It goes on to say ‘this practice is under review given that there is now a dedicated CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) out-of-hours service that can provide more timely and potentially more appropriate assessments’.
This prompted me to find out about Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. It’s headed ‘mentally disordered persons found in public places’. It allows that a constable can remove and detain someone for up to 72 hours until he, or she, is examined by a registered practitioner or mental health professional.
What does this mean? Have the police in Wiltshire – or anywhere else for that matter – been holding young people and children, in custody for up to 72 hours when it’s suspected they might have mental health issues?
Since raising questions around two months ago, I’ve been on a journey of epic proportions around the ‘system’. But the answer to my key question is – yes.
A number of children each year have been arrested and held, usually when they’ve committed an offence, and the police believe mental health issues have contributed in some way.
Several times the term ‘Freedom of Information’ was used by various voices but last week I finally got some figures from Wiltshire Constabulary. They are:
2009 – four children (under-18s) were held under Section 136.
2010 – six.
2011 – four.
2012 – three.
But to confuse matters even further these are not the definitive figures. The police have recorded ‘pure’ cases – those where a child clearly has, at first point of contact, mental health issues. However, there have also been a number of cases where an arrest has been made and police officers have subsequently sought help as they’ve suspected mental health issues.
Taking these cases into account as well, the total number of children between the end of 2010 and the end of 2012 who were held under Section 136 was 23.
So what has been done about it? The Wiltshire Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB – partnership between Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust) insists much has been done.
In December 2012, mental health services for under-18s was taken over by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, known as Oxford Health. It immediately introduced the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Protocol.
To cut through the jargon this means when police officers respond to a young person in ‘significant mental health distress or crisis’, the officer contacts CAMHS from the scene by phone. They can do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Emergency mental health assessments can then be offered or an appointment within 24 hours.
The officer provides information including:
* Presentation – how is the young person behaving?
* Need for medical attention – is the young person hurt?
* Circumstances of the incident
* Concerns regarding safeguarding or welfare
The CAMHS worker checks the electronic health record system to see if that young person is known. If so, the worker may speak directly with the young person and propose a safety plan or speak to parents or carers.
If distress can be reduced through a phone conversation, the young person is normally offered an urgent assessment on the morning of the next working day. If concerns remain, an emergency assessment can be offered in a safe location such as a CAMHS clinic or police station within two hours.
If the young person is not known, there may be unknown risks and an urgent mental health assessment can be offered.
The options are discussed with the officer at the scene who always reserves the right to use a 136 detention or other police powers.
In a statement WSCB said:
“It’s a system which enables officers to gain a mental health perspective to inform their decision-making and consider alternative options. It also ensures CAMHS are alerted to mental health concerns at an early stage stage and can offer an urgent assessment whether the young person is detained or not.
“The benefits of this collaboration between mental health services and the police, is that distressed young people who require urgent mental health support can receive this quickly, in the least restrictive manner which ensures their immediate needs and risks are reduced.”
The Board says that so far, the new system is working.
“We are pleased to report as result of this protocol there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of 136 detentions under the Mental Health Act of young people under 18 years.
“In the last two years, prior to the introduction of the protocol, there were 23 ‘136’ detentions – this has reduced to three since December 2012.”
Mental health issues in the under-18s – how do the police deal with this?
We’re not talking about many children, of course, but we are talking about children. Children suspected of having some kind of mental health issue. Children who could, quite legally, be held for up to three days. Let’s hope this new support system keeps on working.
Have you ever considered having a film made about you and your business? Showcasing your ability as a guest speaker, as a workshop leader, describing your service or product?
Have you thought about what you’ll say, how you’ll say it, what you’ll wear, the tone, the feel, the look?
Forget the idea of corporate videos – films should tell a story, and there are many ways they can do that.
For some businesses, this should be part of your marketing. If you are your business – if you want to be a thought-leader, an expert, a public speaker, a teacher – then position yourself through video. Be out there to be found, locally and globally.
Showcase what you do – especially if YOU are your business….
I’m passionate about film and programme making because it’s been a large part of what I do – I can make a little money go a long way. Enough! No hard sell here! Consider this….
I suspect I can think of three reasons why you haven’t gone down this route:
1. I don’t need it.
2. I don’t want it.
3. It’s too expensive.
Here are five reasons why you should:
1. YouTube has 610 million views EVERY DAY and it’s still growing.
2. There are more high quality, HD videos on this site than on any other website in the world.
3. It’s a great way to be very visible, very quickly.
4. Netflix is has something like 33 million subscribers in the US.
5. Video, films, series – the moving image – is coming at you more than ever before and it’s going to get bigger and bigger – think Cheaters, think Dog The Bounty Hunter…
I predict that in the future,this medium will become even more important. It will become essential to be out there. Doing it now, in the UK, puts you in the position of a pioneer.
We are only just getting this in business. But you only have to think of singers like Jessie J, Gabrielle Aplin and others for whom video has been the defining factor.
I want to give you three examples of videos on YouTube which have really worked, all unexpectedly:
Anyone know Simon’s Cat? – fantastic little animations about a man and his cat, based around his experiences. Gained a gradual following which grew and grew (pets always pull in viewers). Now the brand is owned by Disney, you can buy Simon’s Cat merchandise such as coasters, mugs etc. All from a man animating the funny things his cat did at home.
Have you heard of Convos With My 2-Year-Old? – a similar and even funnier idea than above. A man records those bizarre talks we all have with our toddlers. He then recreates them with another man playing his daughter. It’s hilarious. They’ve produced five videos so far, the fifth came out in the UK today. Already they’ve been bought by Virgin to play on their planes to passengers. Who would have predicted that?
What about Steve’s CCTV film? Never heard of it. Didn’t think so. This is much closer to home but shows the same thing. My hubby made a film about a CCTV camera he ordered from the internet. As a details kinda of man, he made a film about how to set it up from opening the box to turning it on. It was over 10 mins which is a longish film and put it on You Tube. It was of reasonable quality as we do have gadgetry at home. No one would find it unless they bought that particular product with that particular name. They would have to have searched under that name or under CCTV. It was there but not highly visible.
Last week I checked it out and he had 20,000 views. If I said to you, I can get 20,000 people in a room focussing on this aspect of you and your business for ten minutes – would you say yes?
In our case, this was nothing like the millions of views of my other two examples. Just 20,000. Yesterday an American company contacted him to ask if he’d do the same for their new product. He’s talking terms now.
Video is the future for many businesses – be ready. Put the cash aside. You never know when Disney, Virgin et al will come calling.
I don’t know if any of you watched the amazing programmes on Channel 4 over the last couple of days about D Day.
When hubby said he wanted to watch it, I visibly groaned. How dull. How wrong was I. Using the lovely Peter Snow, they did a documentary as if the key 24-hour period for D Day was happening now and they followed seven people through their D Day journey.
For my own children who think of WW2 in the same way I might think of the Tudors, this was a clever way of bringing the human stories to life and reminding us that these were ordinary people, doing extraordinary things in order that we could be sitting in our living rooms tonight watching that footage.
Indeed they even showed a rare voice-over from a war journalist talking to people 100 years on – 2044 – about the things he was witnessing. What was incredible is that this recording was scratched on to a vinyl disc actually in the field. It’s amazing that in those hours where there was death and fear all around, people still took photographs, filmed and recorded some of what happened.
What the old films also showed was that the power of the broadcast media was evident. For example, on Omaha beach thousands of British soldiers were killed. Written evidence shows that was the case but there is barely any footage of dead soldiers. There was clearly a strategy of minimising shots of death to keep up morale back home.
Indeed they even mentioned Operation Tiger – which was kept secret. Look it up and you’ll see what I mean. It would be very hard to do such a thing today.
And we must remember that it was the Nazis who were masters at propaganda and selection of news. Is it any surprise that in cases of war, the media are always vulnerable. It’s about control of information too.
Be careful what you say and see during a war!
Today I really thought about D Day, thanks to Channel 4, and I thought of those soldiers and others who faced terror to fight for our way of life. Of the seven individuals who were followed, six survived and went on to have a life in peacetime.
Thanks to them we too can enjoy that privilege.
It’s 2013 and welcome to my Christmas and New Year top ten pet hates about the festive and holiday season.
Everyone has to have a rant now and then – me more than most. So this week it’s the things which irritate me about Christmas and the New Year. Do let me know if you agree or, even better, what your additional gripes might be….
1. Reduced rubbish collection – the one time of the year when you are bound to collect more rubbish is Christmas, especially when you have children. So why are collections reduced or erratic at this time? I don’t buy the argument that people have time off – I’ve often worked over Christmas and New Year, and the only time I ever got paid extra money was for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day – and I wouldn’t expect a collection on any of those days. Recycling in Swindon is great – but not great when the bins aren’t collected. So I predict that for the next few weeks, the local authority will see an increase in its general waste and landfill costs because of the distruption over this period.
The tree must come down, along with all of the decorations….
2. Too many repeats on television – I love television, I work on television programmes and I know when goes into making programming. But is it just me or was the majority of programming over the Christmas period repeats? While some are accepted eg. The Christmas Carol, Mary Poppins – I felt there was little to look forward to in terms of new material. Also programmes were repeated loads of times. It’s the one time to draw people in but there were few highlights. Maybe, Miranda, Downton Abbey special (which was horribly predictable) and the soaps (none of which I watch). Africa was one highlight too. The rest was pretty dull.
3. Turkey – I don’t mind a small turkey on Christmas Day but however hard I try I always end up with far more than needed. It’s the one time of the year when I try to buy an organic bird. I ordered one (I won’t say from where as that wouldn’t be fair) and asked for the smallest. I saw the tick on the list for a 4kg turkey – or around that weight. When it came it was more than 5.5kg – when I queried it I was told that they didn’t have many smaller ones so were having to move them around – without actually informing the customer. I was given no warning and it cost me almost £20 more than I was expecting to pay. I did comment that if I’d budgeted for the amount originally quoted and hadn’t been able to pay that extra money – what would they have done then? Next year, if we go for turkey again, I’ll buy frozen.
4. Crackers – why are crackers so c**p these days? One of the joys of crackers is the bang when they go off, so many now don’t bang at all – and their contents are awful. And there’s not much choice around. It’s either totally rubbish or slightly better contents for twice the price. Why bother?
5. Round-robin letters in Christmas cards – I didn’t have any of these this year but I usually get a couple each year. It’s like a newsletter to a friend about your family’s achievements. I can’t put my finger on why this irritates me, it may not be logical, because I get them all the time in my business life and I don’t mind. Maybe it’s because it takes the personality out of a Christmas card. If you want to tell me something, just write a couple of lines. It makes all the difference.
6. The length of school holidays – as a working parent, this is something which bugs me often. Many people went back to work on Jan 2 including me – but children don’t go back to school until Jan 7 or 8. Why? Believe me, most children want to go back to school earlier, they get bored at home, no matter what they’ve got to entertain them and they miss their friends. When you are self-employed, or in certain professions, it’s difficult to take yet more days off so inevitably child care is needed. Which means an expensive time of year becomes even more expensive.
7. Awful present dilemma – what to do with those presents you dislike but, as they’ve come from someone reasonably close, you have to keep at least for a while. We have had several of these within our household this year – can’t give too much detail. Some we’ve changed for other things, some we’ve put up with, some have gone immediately to charity and some we’ve put into the ‘spare present drawer’ for those times when you’ve forgotten someone’s birthday. But for the latter just be careful you don’t give them back to the same person. I’ve burned my fingers with this more than once.
8. What to do with Christmas cards? – we’ve got loads of this year, it comes with having three children at home. I usually recycle but as our bins are overflowing through non-collection and we don’t have cardboard recycling nearby – I guess they’ll live with us longer than usual. And for those of you who want to suggest that I make my own cards next year – it’ s not my thing but you can have then if you want them.
9. The way prices rise the minute the new year comes in – it’s “Happy New Year and here’s what it will cost you” . On New Year’s Day it’s rail fares, the Second Severn Crossing toll – it’s as if certain companies can’t wait to announce that you will be paying more money. This is on top of the fact that many families will face the inevitable credit card bill, rising energy prices as announced by my provider (I’ve now switched) and some of us are losing our child benefit this month. So in January 2013, I am considerably less well off than January 2012. Thanks a lot.
10. Taking down the decorations and the tree – has to be done of course and it’s not really a rant, just an observation. It’s a joy to put them up and a chore to take them down. And where to put all of those new baubles that you sneakily popped on the overloaded tree and that you are now going to have to own up to….and for me this year, an extra sadness. When we put up our tree in early December we took loads of photographs of our lovely cat Chloe covered in tinsel. Sadly a week later, she died following a seizure. And now I have to take them down and look at that tinsel and….well, you get the picture….
Our family cat Chloe who was part of my life for 16 years….
I love the cinema – really, really love it. But I don’t always get time to see all the films I’d like so recently I had a cinema day – yes I went twice in a day. It’s a quite surreal thing to do, especially at this time of year. It can feel like you’ve had a day in darkness….with the added benefit of popcorn!
The first film was Twilight – Breaking Dawn Part Two. This was a necessity as I’d read the books, watched all the other films (more than once) and had two daughters nagging endlessly. I have to say on a scale of one to ten – I’d give it a seven. Plus points were that it rounded off the saga really well, in many ways better than the books where everything seems to end so weakly. Also Bella actually took on a bit of colour and energy – as there were many times in the previous films when I wanted to almost punch her for being so insipid. And of course there was plenty of Edward and Jacob, which always helps. Though frankly Carlo and Jaspar weren’t too shabby either, though almost inconsequential. I was mulling over my favourite character in all the films and decided that Alice probably came out near the top.
After lunch it was Skyfall. Friends had raved about the film to me so I was really, really excited to see it. There was much talk of a big secret. Also it included Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench, so who couldn’t be bowled over by them? But I’m afraid this film didn’t match my expectations. It just didn’t have the action sequences that I have come to expect from recent Bond films. and it seemed to have a bit of a copycat theme – I got a strong feel of the Bourne series here, but just not handled as well. Like the recent follow-up of the Bourne trilogy – tried hard but just lacked that raw drama.
The storyline was reasonable, bit too personal for me, and it featured Scotland which helped. But overall I felt a bit let down. So much emphasis on everyone being too old – and a baddie who was personal but less ‘big picture’ and having a very, bad hair day.
Overall a film which lacked the creativity factor of other films, Casino Royale was much, much better in my view. I probably will buy the DVD just to see if I’ve been a bit too harsh but both me and my better half felt the same. Seven out of ten is a generous score I think.
But I’ve still got the film of the year to go – The Hobbit. One of my favourite childhood books, alongside Lord of the Rings. I’m expecting a nine or ten to take me into Christmas and to prepare me for the annual local pantomime. We’ll see…….
Waiting for the next big film to come out – The Hobbit…
Today, I decided to talk about a week where social media has really started to show its power.
I’ve been taking social media seriously now for the last two years, sometimes feeling as if I’m too embedded in a virtual environment – a bit like that scene from the Stargate movie where they put their heads through the ‘watery’ porthole which sucks them in….
But I think it’s paying off in so many ways. First and foremost it’s the friends I’m making all over the world – I can’t believe that someone from Singapore, or San Francisco finds anything I say remotely of interest. This week, I’ve connected with Jason in America (no I’ve never met him) and we’ve decided to mutually appreciate each other for a month. So choosing positive key words to describe someone you’ve never met – and probably never will – across Twitter. Might seem a bit pointless but it’s strangely fun and all in the best possible taste.
Also I’ve been flagging up a DIY PR event we’re holding in the south west next month for women in business. I had four inquiries on the first day I started tweeting about it. I wasn’t expecting that!
With my even more business-like hat on I’ve got two lots of paid work in the last two weeks purely through messages put across on social media. How did that happen? I think it’s a question of engagement and being there – that simple, replying at the right time. And, of course, we are good at what we do…
None of that covers the countless RTs we’ve enjoyed and I’ve enjoyed from people all over the place – as you can tell Twitter is my favourite site though I’m also active on Linked In and Facebook.
On the downside I did have one nasty attack as well. Someone thought it would be funny to call me names – I didn’t know this person so I just blocked them. After saying ‘sad little man’ – if, of course it was a man at all.
Get tweeting – don’t be afraid to show off a little….
All in all, I’m enjoying my time online and it’s paying off in unexpected ways. Long may it continue….
Last week I saw the Olympic Torch come through Swindon and it was a proud moment – and it has made me reflect on our county’s involvement in the greatest show on earth.
We have many Olympic hopefuls based in Wiltshire – runners, swimmers, fencers, event riders, tennis players etc. Did you know that? And that doesn’t include others who’ve got more technical roles around the event, those who’ve volunteered and those who’ve been selected to carry the Torch.
First Olympic Torch bearer in Swindon
There are many individual stories around the Olympics and Paralympics which will come up every day in the local media over the coming weeks and months. But something’s missing…
Over the last few months, I’ve felt that Swindon has largely failed to become part of this great event – when it’s so close to London and easily within travelling distance of the Games. When Olympic teams are going to be based as far away as Bath, I have just felt that we aren’t getting any part of that action.
Have we been lazy when it comes to the Olympics?
I may be wrong in this assumption. I stand to be corrected. Maybe those who are responsible for economic development, tourism etc in the town have had a grand plan which is quietly, successfully working behind the scenes.
However, I don’t think so. Why is this? We have had as much passion for this event as any other town up and down the country. Have we had a strategic, proactive business plan to attract tourists or visitors as this show rolls into our country? There seems to have been no will to harness this energy, this buzz, this opportunity.
Swindon is a great town. It’s got heritage, it’s got convenience, it’s part of one of the prettiest counties in the country, it’s got fantastic transport links – what’s not to like?
I suppose it’s too late now but I’d like to say to anyone out there who is travelling to the UK for this event – don’t dismiss Swindon, it might surprise you.
An article about an auction of Titanic memorabilia and the man behind the auction – is the subject of a piece I’ve had published in May’s local lifestyle magazine Wiltshire Life.
Two articles from Fiona in May's Wiltshire Life
I’m proud to be a contributor to this publication where care is always taken to ensure that my work is showcased with style. This article is based on an interview with Andrew Aldridge, of Henry Aldridge & Sons, of Devizes – an auction house which specialises in Titanic stuff.
This year, the auction house is holding a number of sales of Titanic memorabilia, and one took place on March 31, with another in July. Andrew, who’s 38, has become an authority on Titanic after years of travelling the world valuing items from descendants of those who died, and those who lived.
I didn’t really know what an appetite there is for Titanic-related items. When I attended the auction, it was packed and items ranged from posters (some very beautiful and decorative) to pamphlets, leaflets, anything you can imagine that related to Titanic in any possible way. Even objects related to James Cameron‘s film are relevant.
Being the nosey person I am, I made a bee-line for the star lots, a first class luncheon menu which someone put into their handbag as a memento just hours before disaster struck. When we looked at it, we were surprised about how small it was – making the ‘putting it into their handbag as a memento’ really credible. The dishes on it made me smile – if only to demonstrate my ignorance of high cuisine. (I can never understand why there are so many words for ‘sauce’! )
Did you know about this auction house in Devizes?
So first course was consommé fermier, cockie leekie, fillets of brill, egg a l’argenteuil, chicken a la maryland, corned beef, vegetables, dumplings and many, many more. However, even though such an item interests me – would I pay £76,000 for it? Ummm – no.
It’s the letters which really struck me as interesting and, if I’d had the money, I’d have been tempted by some of posters as they are so decorative. Also you feel a pull at an auction, it’s almost like a game or a race, where you feel the need to participate. I didn’t though because feeling the need is not the same as being able to afford it!
I also found a little snobbery around the room – my family were the only ones present with children and there was a certain sniffiness about turning up to such an event with little people. I ignored those looks and tuts (not from any of the staff I hasten to add). An auction is a wonderful place for children to see old things, and in this case, history for real. In some auction houses, things can be touched. Children quickly sense the connection between the past and the present. I’ve always found taking a child to an auction is fascinating as they see things so differently from a parent. Their likes and dislikes are wonderful and illuminating.
Don’t worry if you missed this article or the sale, there’s another in July. Andrew didn’t give much away to me but did say that there would be some rare posters and a ‘unique Titanic archive’ whatever that might mean. So watch this space – I think a Titanic II is in the making…….
This is a different sort of blog for me – it’s my journalist head trying to get at the truth of the matter, so this will be particularly relevant to you if you are disabled, in receipt of benefits or in need of social care.
Two important pieces of legislation are happening as we speak – The Health & Social Care Act and also the Welfare Reform Act 2012. These two laws have the potential to make significant change to how we provide health and social care and how we provide financial support to many groups in the country.
I’ve not got any particular political axe to grind – but I’m interested to know what people’s thoughts, feelings, hopes, worries or concerns are around these laws. I’m not at all sure that people know what is proposed in clear detail. For example, single parents will be encouraged strongly to work once their youngest child reaches five – at the moment it’s 16. Is that good or is that bad? It’s felt that too many people are claiming Disabled Living Allowance and there is an aim to cut that cost. So the DLA is to be replaced by the Personal Independence Payment. What does that mean in terms of assessment of need? Who will carry out the assessments and when?
Will changes to social and health care affect vulnerable groups – for good or ill? eg. dementia sufferers and/or their carers or families?
Another thing which interests me is the idea of an organisation called Monitor overseeing or looking at the health service – what’s that all about? Is this a private company scrutinising a public service? Is that a good or bad thing?
Are there any thorny questions around these laws?
Are there any groups out there who are actively campaigning? Or is the public feeling that there are too many scroungers getting an easy life by not working and claiming everything under the sun? I’m skeptical that that is the case but I could be wrong?
Please let me know your thoughts and feelings? Do comment. Or send personal message which I can keep private (though please clearly state if you want that to be the case).
You all know the case in America to which I am referring.
A hotel maid claims that she is sexually assaulted by a high ranking person in the world of international finance.
He denies forcing himself on her, she claims a crime was committed against her. Her word against his. His word against hers – just who to believe?
The case has been dropped by the prosecution based upon the victim’s credibility – she changed her story about her movements after the alleged assault. She lied on an asylum form. The case is likely to be dropped. Probably unable to prove a crime happened, beyond any reasonable doubt.
Clearly we don’t know the details, but are these two things so great that this woman’s account doesn’t deserve to be examined in court?
What about this man’s past would make him completely reliable or otherwise?
Hardly a case which encourages women, or men, to come forward with claims of rape or sexual assault.
Doesn’t it feel like the victim’s past has been rifled through to see what can be found to discredit her and we don’t know exactly what those things are!
Is this a woman who has dollar signs in her eyes? Did she realise who this man was and think – this is my opportunity for a cash windfall? Possibly.
Our record of dealing with sexual assault and rapes in the courts is not great in the UK – a tiny percentage actually make it to the end of the road. Guilty or not guilty.
This is one case where you can see why a woman might think twice? Don’t you think?
Some stranger assaults me in the street and I have to hand over my medical records, reveal my sexual history, lay out my private life for all the world to see. Tell the world things I would rather forget or which happened years ago.
And if the case is deemed to be unsuitable, people can find out why ie. my dubious past – but the alleged defendant walks away with no stain on their character.
Rape and sexual assault should not be a question of what’s the chance of success? – evidence should be examined in an open and transparent fashion. The end result might be a conviction or not, the end result might be that a woman or victim is found to be lying.
- Reporting a rape or sexual assault can be a ‘pig’ of an ordeal….
Victims of assault often just want one thing – they want their day in court, they want the best chance of justice.