Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A Modern Tale

Here's a tale of modern-day Britain and with a brand new Tory government intent on returning to 'One Nation' politics, the triteness of David Cameron's words couldn't be better illustrated in my view. From the Daily Mirror:-

'How are they expected to live?' Judge slams theft charge for desperate dad who stole out-of-date food from Tesco

Paul Barker, 39, and Kerry Barker, 29, were spotted on CCTV sifting through groceries at the back of a store which were destined for the bin. The couple are down on their luck and say they have virtually no money to look after themselves or their kids. But they found themselves arrested and taken to court after police were called to the shop in Sunderland in January.

Mr Barker told officers the pair were hungry and they knew there would be unwanted food available. But they were both charged with theft and Paul admitted the offence at Sunderland Magistrates Court. Kerry is yet to enter a plea and will appear before magistrates later this month.

District Judge Roger Elsey handed Mr Barker a conditional discharge and refused to impose any financial penalty. He asked the court: "How are they expected to live? It seems to me the appropriate punishment for taking food which is of no value is an absolute discharge. "I clearly can't make any financial order."

Prosecutor, Jeanette Smith, said the pair were seen in the rear compound of the Hetton Road Tesco Express store, Sunderland, removing a pallet of food. She explained that although the items were to be thrown out, they were in a secure compound, adding that Tesco's policy is not to give away discarded food.

Angus Westgarth, defending, said that when the offence occurred the couple had not been given benefits and had no way to fund food. He said: "At the time, they hadn't had benefits or any money since December. It just seems that the state has failed them. They were told they would not get any benefits for a year from December. He is having to duck and dive to feed himself. 

"Without a crystal ball I can see that this will continue to happen. He is trying to survive however he can. I think they call this way of living 'freeganism'. They take waste food and consume it. They are managing to live as, I think, Social Services are paying some money for housing. Their children are living with grandparents because of the situation."

It's interesting that the solicitor quoted 'freeganism' which, according to our old friend Wikipedia, is a political movement spawned in West Coast America, whereas I suspect the British variety is rather more about a desperate act borne of being bloody hungry:-

Freeganism is the practice of reclaiming and eating food that has been discarded. Freegans and freeganism are often seen as part of a wider anti-consumerist ideology, and freegans often employ a range of alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.

The word "freegan" is a coinage derived from "free" and "vegan". Freeganism started in the mid-1990s, out of the antiglobalization and environmentalist movements. The movement also has elements of Diggers, an anarchist street theater group based in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the 1960s, that gave away rescued food.

24 comments:

  1. IDS and DC will simply claim that it is the fault of the couple in question that they have been reduced to doing this. If only they'd co-operated with the Job Centre, turned up to meetings and gotten themselves a zero hours exploitative contract they wouldn't need to be rummaging in Tesco's bins would they? Sanctions they claim are the result of those feckless scroungers not doing what they are told to do.

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  2. Tories are vermin. Time to say it long and loud

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    1. Aneurin Bevan said the same in 1948!

      'No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.'

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  3. Much as it did make me chuckle, I have to agree that the 'slapping Mr Gove' website link was not in good taste and I've removed it. This means that comments linked to it have been deleted as well, but I made a copy before pressing the button:-

    "I am someone with a sense of humour that gets me into some people's bad books, However having said that, my serious comment here is that I think that including this link on what is a serious blog demeans our position and undermines our claim to be credible critics of any of Mr Gove's future policies or pronouncements. It is playing to the argument that our position is open to be dismissed as a leftist caricature. I am very uncomfortable with this link."
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    "Anonymous 13 May 2015 at 12:27
    I have to agree annon 11:58, especially when there are very real and very serious issues such as these statistics show within our CJS."

    http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/altcourse-prison-most-dangerous-staff-9243348

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    1. Altcourse prison, where inmate Darren Ashcroft was stabbed to death in his cell last November, was the most dangerous in the country for staff last year according to official figures.

      There were 150 assaults on guards and other people working at the G4S-run facility in 2014 - more than any other prison in England and Wales.

      Two other prisons - Feltham prison and Pentonville in London - also had over 100 assaults last year, but neither had as many as Altcourse.

      The tally of 150 attacks is the highest recorded at the prison by the Ministry of Justice with figures going back to 2000.

      That means there is an attack around every two to three days on average at Altcourse.

      Violence against staff at the prison has been a more serious problem for the last three years.

      The 2012, 2013 and 2014 figures were the three highest in the prison’s 21st century history.

      Violence against staff also went up at Walton prison.

      The number of incidents recorded at HMP Liverpool rose from 13 to 35 from 2013 to last year.

      However, the 2013 total was the lowest since records began.

      The year 2011 was the last time there were as many attacks on prison workers at HMP Liverpool.

      However, HMP Kennet, in Maghull, recorded an entire year of no attacks on prison staff - the first time it has done so in its history.

      Nationally, violence against prison staff rose to its highest level since records began in 2000.

      There were 3,637 attacks on workers at prisons in England and Wales in 2014 - or 10 every day.

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    2. I'm sorry but not knowing what you were talking about, I googled 'slapping Mr Gove' out of curiosity and found a number of sites, all old, but I came across his cartoon caricature, where you can slap his face as much as you like - a bit like Angry Birds without the skill, with the score continually increasing, of the slaps and the slappers, so to speak. Currently over 8 mill. I couldn't help having a few slaps before deciding to hang fire for the mo, and see how he does as MoJ, but oh, how I wish there had been a 'slap mr Grayling' site - I think a few computers/laptops/phones would have been smashed to pieces!

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  4. Jim, I am the author of the original comment drawing attention to the ill-judged "game" . Thank you for your action. This sort of 'fun' game does raise interesting questions about a good many things. I am no fan of Mr Gove but he is clearly an intelligent, articulate intellectual who thinks about views, rather than the evidenced habits of his predecessor whose predilection for backs of fag packets, beer mats and scribbled ideas seems very well evidenced. I would see debate with Gove as being rather like some of the discussions I had as a PO with hawkish sentencers, whereas Grayling, sadly, seemed to be utterly impervious to argument, logic-or even factual information. One of the reasons I became a PO in the 70's was that I was able to speak my mind to those with power regardless of partisan interests. let's keep that tradition alive.

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  5. Well good luck with your debate and discussion with Mr Gove. My view is you'll find him in place to finish the job off that his predecessor started. His "management" of education should already show you that he is not one to listen to reasoned debate from the masses or even those in the know. His hands may be tied, but I see no evidence in the man that he will fight to reverse the damage already done.

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  6. 8pm tonight on C4 is a programme about the expensive food that the rich eat.
    Seems inappropriate really when others are being prosecuted for feeding themselves on unwanted and discarded food.

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  7. Many of the clients I worked with in Probation were forced into the same/similar situations, through no fault of their own.
    Words like 'recovery' and 'rehabilitation' are thrown around and staff do their best to support people to change but it can feel like a loosing battle when so many of the systems in society, like the benefit system are failing people.

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  8. In Goves we trust. Give him time. He will come good. Stop bullying him!!!!!

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    1. Hear, hear. Well said, Chris.

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  9. Furthermore, how would we feel if we were told or had it implied that we needed to change our behaviour because we were forced to break the law to survive, through no fault of their own ? I know that might seem naive and/or as if it's a way of allowing our clients avoid responsibility but sometimes it feels like people are put through the CJS with no thought. Sometimes this might be where people who have been desperate can finally get help but other times it can be negative and having the label of 'offender' can be a barrier. It's a real disappointment that it can take being rock bottom for people to get any support.

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  10. No date for the offence but presumably recent. How did the Judge avoid the court charge then??

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    1. A very good question - anyone like to speculate, or better still, does anyone actually know?

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  11. Let's be absolutely clear, we will never, ever have a fair society in this Country again. There are less than a handful of trustworthy politicians, majority are out purely for their own gain. All but the Super rich suffer as a consequence but those of us who are disabled, ill, unemployed, offenders or whatever other label placed upon us, we will pay the price. Workhouse mentality, slavery mentality is returning and its being condoned

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  12. Does it matter Jim ? A judge with backbone shout and cheer hoorah justice telling them F- Off

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  13. Re the Court Charge. Have just read the criminal law blog link re this case where it says that apparently an absolute discharge does not automatically trigger the Court Charge which would make sense if he was given an A.D. as stated inn that blog and not a C.D. as stated above.

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  14. Off topic but should the north of england become the south of scotland!

    http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/merseysiders-among-thousands-sign-petition-9251170

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    1. At least six areas of england have already been annexed (at invitation of the uk government) by the french - which is more than Napoleon managed.

      And if you believe cameron, flame-haired hordes of unwashed, feral scots are about to invade london.

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  15. Rob Allen's Blog: -

    "Unlocking Potential:

    Tough and Unpleasant:

    New Minister's Views on Prisons

    http://reformingprisons.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/tough-and-unpleasant-new-ministers.html … "

    We can just guess his attitude to probation!

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    1. Jim, beware comments about Raab - he's litigious & has a razor sharp tongue. He appears to be further right of Grayling on the spectrum! Wikipedia morsels include:

      "In a 24 January 2011 article on the Politics Home website, Raab argued in favour of transferable paternity leave and against "the equality bandwagon" "pitting men and women against each other". He also argued in favour of a consistent approach to sexism against men and women commenting that some feminists were "now amongst the most obnoxious bigots" and it was sexist to blame men for the recession. Raab highlighted the wide range of sex discrimination faced by males including "anti-male discrimination in rights of maternity/paternity leave" young boys being "educationally disadvantaged compared to girls", and how "divorced or separated fathers are systematically ignored by the courts." Raab stated "from the cradle to the grave, men are getting a raw deal. Men work longer hours, die earlier, but retire later than women", noting that the pensions inequalities were still not going to be rectified for another seven years.
      He was subsequently interviewed on the piece by the Evening Standard and BBC Radio 4. Theresa May the Minister for Women and Equalities criticised Raab's "obnoxious bigots" comment but agreed with his suggestions on paternity leaving and ending gender warfare Raab's remarks were condemned by Labour MPs such as Harriet Harman and Nia Griffith, who said Raab should "stop being so self-pitying. The reality is that women with very good qualifications time and time again do not get the top jobs and opportunities." However, Raab stood by his comments in a comment piece for The Telegraph, highlighting the various sexist statements Harman had made about men, contrasting them with similar comments about women by the likes of Andy Gray. Raab also noted he had received an "overwhelmingly positive" reaction to his comments "from both men and women"."

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    2. "On 30 January 2011, The Mail on Sunday published an article alleging Raab was a workplace bully in his previous role as Chief of Staff to David Davis. Raab responded by saying 'This is a smear and any insinuation that I have behaved improperly is false and malicious'. He subsequently sued the Mail on Sunday for libel. The Mail on Sunday paid substantial compensation to settle the claim out of court, and on 18 March 2012 issued an apology stating: ‘We accept that our allegations were unfounded and we apologise to Mr Raab for the damage, embarrassment and offence caused’."

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    3. Ooooh, what a sweetheart, I think I'm in love!!

      With this new Justice team so far, I wonder can we look forward to the return of hanging? Chaingangs? Slopping out? Children up chimneys? Poorhouses?

      In amongst the various operating models for the justice system (what works, choreography, prison works et al) I haven't heard anyone vocalise Progressive Dickensian for some considerable time.

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