Monday, August 03, 2009

Meldrew moments

I have been trying really hard to resist the temptation to become a Grumpy Old Woman but there have been so many "I don't believe it" stories in the papers recently that I give up.

Today's papers report that in the past 12 months the Criminal Records Bureau has wrongly classified 1,500 as having criminal records. This is just a statistic to the government but 1,500 real people have had career, reputation and possibly whole life ruined by Big Brother State incompetence.

The Criminal Records Bureau doesn't just make clerical errors, mixing up people with similar names, ticking a Yes box when they meant No and all those other little glitches they like to describe as computer errors, they also make their own judgement about criminal intent or activity when the party concerned has not been convicted, or even accused, of a crime. I read about a woman who took her children to the local park and left the older ones to play for a few minutes while she and the youngest child went into the shop to buy ice-cream. When she came back, there were two policemen waiting with the other children and she was told that she should not have left them unsupervised. That is outrageous in itself - I'm not aware of any law that says children must be supervised at all times - but the story gets worse. Some time later this mother offered to help in her local church and had to apply for a background check by the CRB. It came back showing she had committed an offence against children - those policemen had, without her knowledge, recorded the incident in the park and that will prevent her from taking a job or a voluntary position involving children or vulnerable adults.

A refuge for battered women is to close because local council officials think it is politically incorrect to deny men access. You don't believe it either? Read it here.

I rest my case. The world really is as bad as Victor said.


  1. I'm right there ranting with you on all 3 counts, especially the last one. How else can such places be funded? By their nature they must remain as anonymous as possible. If a woman has taken the step to remove herself, and possibly children, from the home, how is family counselling going to persuade her to remain there? It's scandalous.

  2. Nothing surprises me about the Criminal Records Bureau, nor about those shady organisations that - allegedly - keep details of individual financial records. All of sudden some hapless soul learns that they have been financially blackballed because, at some point, someone who may have lived at the same address in the past, has left a bill unpaid . . . I had this problem when I moved to Devon. A previous owner of the house (about three previous owners back, as it happened), who sold insurance policies for a living, was running up debts everywhere. I had to deal with debt collection agencies, banks and solicitors and it took almost two years to convince them, once and for all, that I was not a 50-something, male financial adviser with a dodgy credit record.

    As for the Weymouth refuge, one of my closest friends was one of the founders. Prior to the refuge being set up, there was nowhere in the town and surrounding areas for women and children trapped in their homes, in violent relationships, to go. It was a uphill struggle to open the refuge but it has made an enormous difference to the lives of countless women and their families, enabling them to go on to build new lives free from fear. In some cases, it has saved lives. My friend no longer lives in the area but will, I know, be appalled at what this idiot council is proposing.

  3. The age old conundrum: if one is going to have a Big Brother police state, is it better that it be efficient or inefficient?

  4. David,
    60 and I are of similar age and Rattling On is the generation after us but I think we all feel the same sense of helpless rage at the number of ill-considered laws that have been passed in recent years. I see that Brit has written about ill-judged tampering today on TofE. Do you think that politicians seek the advice of lawyers before making new laws?

  5. Good night. Although I think things are worse here. I'm thinking of moving to some remote island somehwre. ;)

  6. Karin and Nan
    I hoped things were better on your side of the Pond. Please don't tell me that common sense has gone out of your window too!

  7. Common sense has been thrown out the window, everyone wants something for nothing and our government is out of control. No, it's not better here. As they say, "The fish stinks from the head down."
    But, yet, I can find something good in each and every day. :)

  8. Outrage, you bet.

    We are being asked by the White House to inform on our friends and neighbors and to add insult to injury, they are using a quote from one of our most upstanding founding fathers, John Adams to justify it.

    Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
    John Adams, 'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,' December 1770

  9. Unbelievable, and rather scary. Surely battered women homes are not illegal? Politicians must learn to think things through. Sometimes they just rush in laws to placate the public - it's difficult to get a temp job with children now all because of the Soham murders. No one seems to take the time to work out the long-term implications of legislation. (rant over)

  10. With you on all three counts. Had a few tussles with the CRB (and me without even so much as a parking ticket or a single point on my driving licence) re residence/post-divorce surname, etc. The last one was so prolonged and - yes - invasive that I gave up, thereby losing a local charity a much-needed volunteer.
    Glad I don't live in UK anymore ...

  11. minniebeaniste, I see you have settled in a place with many advantages such as decent weather and probably far less bureaucracy. I'm trying not to be toooooooo envious.


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