Apr 292016
 
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Keith Marley (right) finds a home for ‘Jock’ the marmoset.

By Keith Marley.

Well done Aberdeenshire Council! Today, what little assistance you give to local charities was withdrawn. Today you implemented the changes governing charity shops which gave them a ‘discretionary’ 20% relief on their rates. Dated 20/04/16, the letter we received today informed us that as from 01/04/16 charity shops will no longer receive the discretionary 20% discretionary ‘top up’.

For the 30 charity shops in the Aberdeenshire Council area this means the council will raise an additional £32,650.00 in revenue from these good causes.

This was agreed by the Councils Policy and Resources committee last year at a meeting which also approved the previous year’s totals for expenditure and financing of £147,876,000 and £66,648,000. The same meeting which gave the nod to approve the purchase of winter salt supplies for the next 3 years totalling some £8,000,000.00.

But obviously charity shops and the charities they support have been scrutinised and obviously found to be not paying their fair share.

With 3 shops and a store The New Arc represents almost 10% of this additional revenue….or as we see it, ‘penalty’. The fact that the charity gets calls from various council departments seeking advice and practical help with wildlife and domestic pets doesn’t cost the council anything. The work placements we provide for school leavers doesn’t cost the council anything.

The assistance we give with council funded projects, back to work schemes, mental health schemes, young (and old) offenders, disadvantaged kids, college placements, school talks etc. doesn’t cost the council anything.

The fact that these 30 charity shops mainly occupy what would otherwise be long term empty buildings DOES provide money to the regional council. The fact that these shops pay the full rate for their insurance, water rates, rubbish bins, electricity just the same as any other business DOES provide income to the local economy.

The fact that some of these shops also employ staff, full time and part time DOES mean we are contributing to the local economy. The fact that these shops are in many cases a necessity for low income and unemployed families DOES make a difference.

Many of these shops run at a very low profit margin and along with the new minimum wage, provision of pension schemes and these additional costs their future may well be in doubt.

The closure of any of these charity shops means a knock on effect which will have repercussions on the charity itself meaning withdrawal of services, reduced capacity, and ultimately it is the council itself that will have to find the funds to provide the services which charities currently do for free.

False economy?

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Apr 082016
 

No other European country has attempted to enact a programme of this level of mandatory state intrusion into family life than the Scottish Named Person scheme is attempting. Suzanne Kelly looks at recent developments, reaching conclusions and making recommendations.

No2NP picThe Named Person Scheme is a complete shambles, whatever anyone’s political views on the SNP.

It is rolling out in August – despite no one from the First Minister down to the front line Named Persons being able to say for certain whether or not it is mandatory. Local authorities seem bound to bear most of the costs.

It has already been rolled out in places under the clunky and completely misleading moniker ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’.

One of the first approved Named Persons has been struck off teaching. Government-funded quangos and other organisations are queueing up like obedient circus animals to say what a great thing this is for children.

Groups concerned with human rights, rights of the child and abuses of power by the State are condemning it. It’s an out-of-control catalogue of failures and misleading statements set to put the State above the family.

The proponents tell you that they simply want children to be protected from abusive families. There is absolutely nothing in this scheme that seems to seek to provide protection from abusive teachers and authorities, and nothing in it to tackle the long-running, highy-damaging problem of bullying in schools. No, the only ‘enemy’ of the child that the scheme’s fans want to protect children from is the child’s family.

Chilling accounts of the pilot scheme are attracting some (but perhaps not enough) press coverage.

A girl in Aberdeen was pulled from her classes, asked lots of questions by a ‘nurse’ she’d never met before and who had not identified the purpose of the questions, which included highly personal ones.

A father finds a whole ream of documentation has been built up about a child’s runny nose and nappy rash – and a child being declared by a Named Person to be ‘depressed’ (Depression of course being a serious mental health condition requiring a physician’s diagnosis. Nevertheless, the child’s observed ‘depression’ is now on a permanent record for them and their family).

Questions about the scheme and its precursors have been met with a few answers, a number of conflicting answers, and a good deal of evasion.

Here are some of the issues which every young person and family should be aware of, and also some recommendations for those who have decided they do not want any part of this scheme.

Cautionary Tales for Families:

1. The Fairy Tale – Don’t worry about any perverts or abusive individuals becoming Named Persons:

“Anyone undertaking the Named Person role, such as Health Visitors and Head Teachers, will have already undergone a process of checks and vetting through the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme which checks their suitability to work with children.” 

That was the official line from a Government spokesperson in July last year.

The Fact – Teacher appointed first Named Person State Guardian has been struck off. 

As the Scotsman reports, Elgin teacher Dayna Dickson-Boath was a named person; she was struck off for sharing fantasies of abusing children. In court it was found she:

“did send, by means of a public electronic communications network, messages to another person that were grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, in that you did converse regarding the sexual abuse of children.” 
http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/teacher-appointed-first-named-person-state-guardian-struck-off-1-4014998#ixzz44lJ8ideZ

How did someone get this far into the educational system without being found out? How did the ‘checks and vetting’ promised by the Named Person Scheme’s administrators fail so profoundly? The scheme’s spokespeople are refusing to comment on whether or not disgraced former Aberdeen music teacher John Forrester – currently secretary of the Parent Teacher Association in Auchenblae – would have been a named person or not.  Forrester was investigated over an alleged affair with another pupil previous to this, and was meant to be supervised – yet started this relationship.

He’d left his first wife for a schoolgirl (he was 44), took up with schoolgirl Claire Bennett, and has since left her.

Could you imagine a person like that asking you or your child questions of any kind let alone about whether they were on the pill or had their period? The State wants this control over children, but when it came to this case of a student running away from home and then marrying her music teacher as soon as she was 16, the State decided it ‘was not in anyone’s interest’ to pursue a case against him. Well, it wasn’t in the state’s interest, anyway.

The authorities are happy that their vetting procedures are fine which saw a woman with sick child-related fantasies. They also didn’t find anything wrong with a 44 year old teacher having a clearly improper relationship with a 15 year old girl (maybe it’s OK because the couple swore they didn’t have sex until she was 16). So what kinds of things does the State actually object to so strenuously that they must be recorded?

2. The Fairytale – No new powers, child or young person will know what information is being shared:

Those in government determined to get the scheme approved have written:

“The legislation brings no new powers for teachers, or any other professionals.”

and,

“The Act does not introduce any powers over a child for the Named Person role,”

and,

“There are no powers in the Act plans to routinely gather and share information, or records. If there is a concern about wellbeing then relevant public bodies will share information proportionately and if relevant to addressing a concern. The child or young person will know what is being shared, for what reason and with whom and their views will be taken into account.”
– [email to S Kelly of July 2015]

The Fact – Thumbsucking, nappy rash, and a parent’s perceived refusal to take advice on thumbsucking:

So, perhaps you think that your child will just have a couple of pages about whether or not they’re happy, in serious trouble, have serious concerns to be addressed. Think again. By the time a toddler is sucking its thumb – now a reportable incident as is a parent’s lack of concern for it – expect dozens of pages of spying to have been amassed.

As the Scotsman reported, an education professional decided to try and obtain the records for their family The massive report, which was largely redacted, recorded that the father didn’t seem to take the Named Person’s advice about thumb sucking. Did he have to? Is that the type and level of detail that the State should get involved in? Is there an official position now on thumb-sucking?

The Scotsman’s article reads in part:

“Contained within a 60-page document that had been compiled about his family, the note referred to a blister which had appeared on the toddler’s thumb as a result of the childhood habit. It also suggested Smith contact his GP if the blister became “hot to touch or very red”.

“Smith, whose name has been withheld to protect the identities of his children, grew more alarmed as he leafed through the document, the vast majority of which had been redacted.

“The surviving extracts appeared to indicate that the minutiae of his family life had been recorded in painstaking detail for almost two years, under a Named Person scheme which has been introduced in his part of the country ahead of its final roll-out across all of Scotland in August. A separate note made by the Named Person charged with keeping an eye on the academic’s two little boys was concerned with nappy rash.” http://www.scotsman.com/news/revealed-what-can-happen-when-a-named-person-reports-on-your-children-1-4089077#ixzz44lR69DmU

Maybe this level of detail wouldn’t be so intrusive if the State showed as much interest in the children it has taken into care. Maybe this level of reporting doesn’t have any cost implications – even though it clearly has Human Rights implications (family life being a cornerstone of EU Human Rights legislation). Or maybe Mr Smith and others could simply exercised their rights to opt out of the Named Person Scheme?

Myths? Fairytales? The ambiguity of opting out and of the scheme’s costs:

So, do people need to comply with this programme? The government’s spokeswoman advised in July 2015 advised:

“No. As we have said before, there is no obligation for a parent, child or young person to engage with the Named Person. The legislation brings no new powers for teachers, or any other professionals.”
– [email to S Kelly July 2015]

Surely if the First Minister says it’s not mandatory, that is grounds for anyone to disregard a NP?

During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Ms Davidson asked:

“Are parents who don’t agree with this scheme able to stop their child from having a named person and withdraw their child from all named person provisions?”

Ms Sturgeon responded:

“The named person scheme is an entitlement, I think it is a good and sensible entitlement. It is not an obligation. It helps children and families get the support they need from services when they need it.

“It does not in any way, shape or form replace or change the role of the parent or carer or undermine families… It is not possible to predict in advance which children might become vulnerable.”
http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/14378517.Sturgeon__parents_are_not_legally_obliged_to_use_named_person_scheme/

Perhaps ‘Mr Smith,’ reading the 60 page report on his toddler and seeing himself criticised for not paying attention to the NP’s thumb-sucking advice might disagree with Sturgeon on the undermining of families.

If it is not possible to predict in advance which children might be vulnerable, then that would come as a surprise to paediatricicans, hospitals and social workers. Perhaps what I needed is not this Kafkaesque scheme, but far better training and funding for the professionals who are charged with finding children who are at risk. Of course in some tragic instance, it is the State that fails our children.

From the girls in care who were physically abused by police (who drove them to a secluded spot and made them walk without shoes in manure while threatening then), to the tragic girls in care who jumped to their deaths – the state does not always get it right for the very people they have deemed at risk.

Wouldn’t logic dictate spending more resources on the risks we know about and looking for potential risks based on hospital records and clear indicators rather than from spying on each and every child in Scotland? It doesn’t get easier finding a needle in a haystack by adding more hay to it. So is it mandatory – and as bad as this Daily Mail article makes it seem?

As the First Minister is at odds with some of the NP evangelists, who can say? Why they want this database which any NP can add to and almost anyone in government can access raises alarm bells.

The word is that Sturgeon wants out of this ludicrous scheme – probably before we all start realising that the costs are coming from our taxes – and that the cost could be extremely exorbitant. Money has already been spent on a ludicruous, patronising song and a play for children (although anyone over 4 years old will fee their intelligence is being insulted).

The less-than-catchy anagram ‘SHANARRI’ (something to do with children’s rights) is a song rolled out by the Hopscotch Theatre Company and bankrolled by the taxpayer. Schools pay £400 to have the theatrical troupe come to their school to teach the children this state-supporting dogmatic song.

To call it a train wreck would be to do a huge disservice to train wrecks. Watch the video here, if you are able to stomach it:

“Let’s hold a vigil for every individual to play a part in the greatest team” the song suggests.

So, what is this one team we’re all meant to join and who’s in charge of it. This is the worst kind of brainwashing propaganda there is. Anyone associated with this should be ashamed. Alas, the comments are disabled on the video, no criticism will be brooked.

Just Say ‘NO’

There are more reasons to scotch this Scottish scheme. Here in the meantime are some tactics that might be useful.

School pupils – if you are old enough to understand the issues, and if you decide you don’t want to answer questions about whether you house is cozy, you like your siblings, or anything personal, tell your parents how you feel now. Get them and you to write a letter for you to both carry with you and for you to give a copy to your school head.

It should say:

‘I do not want to participate in any questions about my home life. The First Minister said that the Named Person scheme is not mandatory. I have told my parents how I feel and they support my decision not to answer personal questions or to have any notes kept about how I might be feeling.

‘If I have any problems, I will take them to an adult I feel comfortable discussing them with. I understand that one of the rights I have is to be respected. I am asking you to respect that right and leave me my privacy.’

Write to your elected representatives as an individual or as a family and say how you feel – here is an easy way to find them: www.writetothem.com/

If someone asks you questions at school that are personal – ask them politely to tell you why they are asking. Show them the letter. Tell them that you have chosen not to participate in the Named Person scheme and you don’t wish to discuss it further. If you don’t know who they are, ask for their name.

Ask them for a list of questions they intend to ask you. Be aware that they are possibly going to start asking you questions as if they are just having a friendly conversation – if questions start getting uncomfortable or personal, you are always allowed to say you don’t feel it’s an appropriate subject to talk about and that you will let them know if you do want to talk about anything.

Keep a list of every time you are asked questions, what the questions are, your answers, and who is asking them.

If you ever feel pressured or threatened by anyone be they a relative, peer or a teacher or person in authority, tell someone who you trust about it straight away.

For teenage girls – it seems as if you might be in for the worst excesses of this scheme. It seems like your doctor or clinic might now be supposed to tell your named person if you want anything to do with birth control. Girls are being asked questions about their periods, sex and other items which you probably don’t want written down in a record somewhere.

Stand your ground, politely say now. If you are worried about your doctor revealing any information, remember that you can get some forms of birth control at the chemist, which won’t go on any record. But be safe, whatever you choose to do.

For adults – if your child doesn’t want to participate, see advice above. Further, think about asking your school for information about who your child’s Named Person is: turn the tables on them.

Tell them that you don’t want to participate, especially as you first want to know: Named Person’s criminal records, length of time teaching, whether they or any of their relatives, acquaintances have ever been on the sex offenders’ register. Ask them what qualifications they have to be asking questions which are very personal and which could have psychological implications.

If you/your child wants to find out what information is already being held about you, do a Subject Access Request.

As parents you can to access information about your child by making a SAR if the child is unable to act on their own behalf or has given their consent. Further information can be found here: https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1065/subject-access-code-of-practice.pdf

Make sure your child knows what I going on, and when they decide whether or not they want anything to do with this scheme, support their decision.

There is a chance commonsense, human rights, and logic will yet put this scheme on the scrap heap where it belongs. This might be too optimistic. We have a scheme no one knows whether it is mandatory or not, no one is sure of the cost or the scope of it, and those at the heart of grilling you or your children have already been proven to be disturbed potentially violent people with unhealthy interests in children.

Best advice? Be careful (and/or consider home schooling).

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Feb 112016
 

Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly tackles timely topics in the Granite City. From Marischal College to the hallowed halls of the Town House, it’s all one big love-in this Valentine’s Day.

DictionaryTally Ho! It’s Valentine’s Day (almost). Love is in the air! It may be hard to sniff out over the smell of pyromaniacs burning the gramps down, or the smell of marine diesel at the harbour (you know, the thick black stuff that you can taste in your throat, which the Harbour Board says isn’t as bad for you as car exhaust or plutonium).

But love is all around. I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes… it must be love. Or it’s arthritis and the gout.

Before a few love-laden definitions, the Highlands & Islands Press Awards Ball took place on 5 February.

All of the best reporters and public relations press release writers (is there a difference?) were there in their finery.

It must have been a particularly glamorous, vibrant, dynamic evening, as according to the headline it was,

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL AND LUCID OCCASION AT HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS PRESS BALL AND MEDIA AWARDS” 

Successful AND Lucid occasion. And I didn’t even know occasions could be lucid, I thought that applied to people. I guess they meant the great and the good were lucid. I’m sure some of them were just as lucid as ever, and as lucid as their prose. It must have been great for the public relations professionals to be able to drink alongside the journalists who print their press releases; that won’t be something they do every day, will it?

Among the literati glitterati in attendance were Damian and Sarah Bates, Aberdeenshire’s own high-flying power couple; our own Kardashian and Kayne.

Alas! Old Susannah’s invitation to the ball didn’t manage to arrive on time. Lots of great journalistic achievements were rewarded. Rightly so the reportage on the increased frequency with which Highland police now carry guns on routine patrols and calls. This was in truth a great bit of work.

I guess no one else is bothered that public relations firms are now on even footing as reporters. These PR gurus slavishly work on the writing element of being a journalist, freeing up a writer’s time for more important pursuits. I did try, but somehow I couldn’t find any categories for campaigning journalist on the awards list; guess that kind of thing doesn’t rate as well as the ability to cut and paste a press release into an article.

The list of sponsors looked more like the collection of institutions on my ‘To Investigate’ list (with the exception of the National Union of Journalists). This night to remember was sponsored by Diageo; Highlands and Islands Enterprise; the National Union of Journalists; Lucid PR, Events and Marketing; Highland Opportunity and Bord na Gaidhlig.

When not trying to turn the Highlands into launching pads for satellites, Highlands and Islands Enterprise wants to make sure area businesses are respecting the environment and adhering to some kind of moral code. Highlands & Islands scrape by on somewhere above £61 million a year to come up with schemes like that; I can well see what they were doing trying to enforce principles at this gathering. H&I might do well to start on its moral crusade by having a word with fellow sponsor, Diageo.

It must have been nice to see Diageo handing out awards to people who won them, instead of trying to doctor the results. BrewDog fans will remember well when Diageo tried to fix the results of a competition so BrewDog would have lost when it actually had won. Alas! Diageo were rumbled. (BrewDog’s revenge is at hand btw).

Having Diageo drinks flow at the Ball must have been a nice touch. Highlands & Islands must be very proud of the big fish in attendance, Aberdeen Journals Ltd. Their unflaggingly independent investigative journalism has turned out very well indeed for Donald Trump, advertiser, and employer of P&J’s editor in chief’s wife, Sarah ‘Face of Aberdeen’ Malone Bates. She too graced the awards I’m told.

Clearly a press awards ceremony is the right place for unelected quangos, publicity firms, and others who are similarly reproach. I guess that falls outside of the H&I accountability; corporate responsibility, corporate sponsorship, and forelock tugging is the new journalism.

You might enviously think this is the award ceremony and the in crowd to be in with; you’d of course be right. But for those that didn’t make the shortlist for a Highlands & Islands Press Award, there are lesser awards out there. The Paul Foot Awards are Private Eye’s celebration of those who actually get their hands dirty and investigate news, not regurgitate press releases. Winners have looked into all forms of bribery and corruption from Fifa to Saudi Arms sales.

Aberdeen Voice editor Fred Wilkinson didn’t take any of my calls on the night of the Highlands and Islands Press Award gala. I can’t help but wonder whether he went there on his own.

Oh well, there’s always next year. Who knows? Old Susannah might stumble on something worthy of notice by her journalistic betters before the next award ceremony.

And now for some lovely definitions.

May to December Romance: (Compound English noun) when a couple have a large age gap but are still in love.

I’m sure some of the high profile May to December couples have wonderful marriages, I guess not all of them can be as romantic as Jerry Hall marrying the Dirty Digger, or Damian and Sarah – or even Donald and Melania. Here’s a cautionary tale of broken hearts and dreams. And no one could possibly have predicted the outcome of this sad tale.

Little Claire met the Mr Darcy of her dreams in Mr Forrester, her teacher. This was ages ago in Torry. And the happy couple (minus the blessings of the girl’s parents who were being real mean, and treating their child like a child) sailed away into the sunset to begin married life. Mind,that was after the police investigated, charities condemned him, and she proved her maturity by running away from home.

A children’s charity called the wedding an ‘aberration’ and said it went against ‘moral codes of not only his profession, but of society’ I guess they just didn’t recognise real true love when they saw it. I’m sure that he always had her best interests at the forefront of his words and deeds. Ah, young love.

Alas! Perhaps Claire’s endearing young charms faded from view. Anyway, they split up, after having a few children. Apparently, she’s not crazy about him any more. No wild weekends with mates in Ibiza for Claire; no fun road trips; no partying. But she was a grown up – so the couple claimed – knowing exactly what she was doing. Sure she did.

If only there had been a Named Person scheme running then! She could have told her appointed teacher that a teacher was her husband to be, and that she was a grown up. Then the school could have thrown them a bash, and hopefully got her parents into trouble for being mean and objecting.

While not-so-little-now Claire puts her life back together, what of the father of her children? Mr Forrester is now happily ensconced at Auchenblae Primary School on the Parent Teacher Association. Will he teach again?  Will he be a Named Person? Why ever not? Wouldn’t you want him questioning your daughter about how happy or otherwise she is? PS – he apparently cheated on his first wife with – a school girl.  He was being supervised after that while teaching in Kincorth – that worked out well.

I’m just as pleased the authorities decided a prosecution wasn’t in anyone’s interest, otherwise Forrester wouldn’t have been free to be a Named Person – and we need as many people experienced with young people in the NP role as we can get. Perhaps soon he will find love again. My guess is she’ll be 16.

As to the school who hired him and the prosecution which decided there was nothing going on in the public interest? Let’s hope that just because history repeated his cheating on his first wife with a young girl, and then marrying and leaving a young girl, there is nothing in the prurient suspicion he has a thing for young girls. Heaven forfend.

Sometimes an unhappy ending is unforeseeable, just like it was for Claire. Such is this next case.

Hippocratic Oath: (from Ancient Greek) A code of ethics governing how ethical medical practitioners interact with patients.

Poor George Osborne; he had it all – beloved Cabinet member, part of the most popular British Government ever, and all-round nice guy. Alas! A patient has tarnished the Osborne silver. A woman mistook his brother Dr Adam Osborne’s professional interest in her for a two-year affair. I’m sure the good doctor was just displaying good bedside manner.

Of his breaking off the affair by text, well, a busy man sometimes has to be a bit firm, even with vulnerable people in their care.

Old Susannah just wonders how long it will take for the poor doctor’s broken heart to mend, and for him to get appointed to a nice cushy government post. This could take days; even weeks. I am sure you are as upset for Adam as I am.

There is a valuable lesson here for those pesky junior doctors who are threatening to strike for decent pay and wages. Don’t go into medicine unless you have a wealthy family and a trust fund to fall back on, just in case you are the victim of an injustice like Adam was. As to dating patients, consider that just one of the perks.

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Jan 212016
 

Sea Shepherd Operation Icefish2With thanks to Michelle Mossfield, Media Director, Sea Shepherd Global

Sea Shepherd’s Flagship, the Steve Irwin, has departed Fremantle, Western Australia for the Southern Ocean. The ship’s departure marks the official commencement of the organization’s 12th Southern Ocean Defense Campaign, Operation Icefish 2015-16.

Led by returning Captain, Siddharth Chakravarty, Sea Shepherd will once again defend the pristine waters of Antarctica from poachers, with the aim to shutdown illegal activities in what is the world’s last great wilderness.

Sea Shepherd will employ direct-action techniques to fill a law enforcement void that continues to be exploited by the Japanese whale poaching fleet and the two remaining illegal toothfish vessels, Viking and Kunlun (Taishan), which continue to threaten the survival of the fragile and wild Antarctic ecosystem.

Captain Chakravarty commented:

“The Steve Irwin will be the only proactive enforcement presence in Antarctica once again this year. The shadowlands of Antarctica are under threat and we are the only form of protection to the marine wildlife in these unregulated regions. Other than offering direct and immediate protection to the oceans, we intend to investigate and document the illegalities and work with law-enforcement agencies, once again, to aid and close out existing investigations worldwide,”

As Captain Chakravarty and the crew of the Steve Irwin depart for the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd has called on the governments who are responsible for upholding the laws that protect the Southern Ocean to intervene against these poaching operations.

“Sea Shepherd should not be left to defend Antarctica alone,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global.

“For the last 13 years our ships and crews have shone an international spotlight on both the illegal whaling and more recently on the illegal toothfish operations. Now it’s time for governments to step-up and take serious action to address the issue of poaching in the Southern Ocean.”

Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, said,

“Sea Shepherd needs reinforcements. 76.9% of Australians want the Australian government to send a vessel to oppose the Japanese whale poaching fleet. Australia has been commended for taking Japan to the ICJ, but now the government needs to take responsibility for enforcement by sending a ship to oppose the whale poachers.”

Sea Shepherd Global:

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. For more information, visit: http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/

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Sep 042015
 

With thanks to Michelle Mossfield, Media Director, Sea Shepherd Global.

Sea Shepherd Slepped-GrindiniAuthorities in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, have seized a small boat of the Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon. The seizure was enacted at the request of Denmark, in response to a Letter of Request issued by the Chief Of Police of the Faroe Islands on August 22.

The warrant for the seizure was presented to the Captain and Ship Manager of the Sam Simon, which was in the Shetland Islands to refuel.

In the warrant, authorities claim that there are “reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed under the law of Denmark.”

It is understood that the confiscation relates to the small boat’s involvement in the defense of 61 pilot whales at a grindadráp at the killing beach of Sandavágur in the Faroe Islands on August 12.

The small boat is now in police custody in the Shetland Islands. Sea Shepherd is seeking further legal advice on the matter.

CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, Captain Alex Cornelissen, stated,

“On the one hand, the government of Denmark refuses to abide by EU laws that protect cetaceans. On the other, Denmark is abusing its EU position and resources to try to silence Sea Shepherd’s opposition to the grindadráp. Denmark’s ongoing support of the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands is a national shame.

The seizure of the small boat comes in the wake of a legal challenge against the Faroe Islands Pilot Whaling Act (grind law/grindalógin).

Faroese legal consultant, former police officer and adviser in issues regarding safety, security, defense and emergency preparedness, Henrik Weihe Joensen, has filed charges against the Faroe Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, challenging the legality of the grind law.

In a statement made on August 20, Joensen says that the grind law is “invalid” because Faroese Parliament does not have the legislative authority to implement new laws in relation to police activity “which concerns action against persons and objects.”

Joensen believes that, if the Pilot Whaling Act is declared invalid, it may have a great impact on the cases already brought against Sea Shepherd and may also have implications for the political relationship between the Faroe Islands and Denmark.

The Pilot Whaling Act has been used as the basis for the arrests of 14 Sea Shepherd volunteers in the Faroe Islands this year, five of who have already been deported.

Today, the verdict in the case against another five Sea Shepherd volunteers who have been charged with violating the grind law will be handed down in a Danish court in the Faroe Islands.

The volunteers; Rudy de Kieviet of the Netherlands, Lawrie Thomson of the United Kingdom, Tobias Boehm of Germany, Alice Bodin of Italy, and Frances Holtman of the United States, are charged with disrupting the same slaughter at Sandavágur on August 12.

The slaughter of cetaceans is outlawed throughout the European Union, including Denmark, in accordance with Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention).

However, in the Faroe Islands, the slaughter of pilot whales and other small cetaceans continues with the assistance of the Danish police and navy, and with the blessing of the Danish government.

This year alone 490 pilot whales have been slaughtered in the Faroe Islands with Denmark’s backing.

“Sea Shepherd has both the legal right and the moral obligation to protect the pilot whales that pass through the Faroe Islands, and that is exactly what we will continue to do,” said Captain Cornelissen.

Sea Shepherd has been leading opposition to the grindadráp since the early 1980s, and is currently in the Faroe Islands for the organization’s sixth Pilot Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Sleppid Grindini.

Sea Shepherd Global:

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. For more information, visit: http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/

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Jul 242015
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTally ho! Or not as the case may be. The SNP decided not to vote with the Conservatives on the proposed fox hunting amendment. This would have allowed people to resume the sporting life of chasing foxes to exhaustion to be ripped apart live by dogs. Some say this was set up as a test to see who would align with who on votes, and the Conservatives were outfoxed. Either way, it’s a sad day for good old-fashioned healthy tradition.

Elsewhere Denmark fights to uphold the Faroe Islands tradition of butchering far more whales and dolphins than can possibly be safely eaten (by those who’d want to eat them in the first place; I prefer puffin and swan).

Some find Denmark’s position a bit at odds with their EU obligation to protect marine mammals. But first things first, how’s a Faroese boy to become a man without a good hearty bloodbath on the shores?

Sadly, a collection of protestors showed up in London the other week to protest against Denmark, which seems to think arresting Sea Shepherd personnel and impounding their vessels indefinitely also fits in well with EU law. I joined them as I was there; it’s almost as if they all believed that culture was less important than animal welfare and EU laws. Funny lot.

I also visited one or two London BrewDog spots to try the local beer cocktails which vary from bar to bar. The finest cocktail remains the Aberdeen flagship bar’s Jackhammer Margarita. Perfect for these nearly warm Scottish summer nights.

Old Susannah escaped from the vibrancy and dynamism of Aberdeen for a bit and went to London and the south. At times I needed to use this cream called sunblock; apparently there are parts of the world where you might get too much sun on you. Who’d have guessed. I dropped in on Rock n Roll Rescue in Camden; the proprietor is my old friend Knox from The Vibrators.

If you have any old clothes, music or memorabilia, Knox would be delighted to hear from you. Contact him here: (The original Vibrators line up plays in London on the 31st July; am hoping for a tour).

Alas! Another culture/heritage icon is in a spot of bother. After postponement upon postponement, it looks as if the Pullar clan are in hot water over their convenient failure to remove leader nets from our waters, thus catching more wild salmon than they should have. They claimed that supposed bad weather made them break the laws 9 times in their favour, for health and safety reasons.

Oddly, there don’t seem to have been any days when it was too rough to go to sea to put the leader nets out; it’s only been too rough to take the nets back in.

While they claim the heritable, traditional right to net wild salmon, it’s funny though- they don’t use traditional nets. Where a small scale traditional operation once caught small numbers of salmon, the modern, non-traditional system of catching the poor creatures uses vast complicated systems the Pullar ancestors never dreamed of. Innovation is good, as long as it doesn’t make you give up your traditions.

what’s wrong with a little good-natured racist banter Trump might wonder?

“It’s our right/tradition/culture/heritage” seems to be the cry of the fox-hunters, Pullars and butchering Faroese.

When I was travelling, Donald Trump’s presidential nomination got off to a bang-up start.

He’s going to keep all those drug-dealing, raping Mexicans out of the US. He’ll even build a wall between the two countries. Some cynics think he wants to keep them in Mexico where they work making his luxurious clothing line. Businesses are dropping links with the hirsuit typhoon with alacrity. But not Aberdeen Sports Village.

Trump Golf International Links Scotland’s logo is proudly displayed on their page. I’d love to know how much money Trump gives them, and I’d love to know how much money we taxpayers give the Sports Village as well. Doubtless my request to them to end their sponsorship will be dealt with swiftly. In other words, a petition might be launched shortly. Watch this space.

So, what’s wrong with a little good-natured racist banter Trump might wonder? Unfortunately, the trouble with a little racist teasing is that people here are doing it to families travelling on trains. Men beat up women who speak with English accents and visiting sports stars get beaten up by yobs. So if Aberdeen Sports Village don’t see the problem with aligning with racists, they would seem to be in good company with some of our fine citizens.

Of course, this kind of light-hearted racism is no obstacle to keeping an honorary degree from Robert Gordon University, especially as it was handed over in person to the Donald by Sir Ian Wood.

It would be nice to think the Village will re-think its position. A sincere apology from Trump would also be nice, but there is as much chance of that as Sarah Malone inviting me for a round of golf .

Apologies, as long as carefully worded and checked with legal departments are wonderful things. They can help you keep your job. They can make for good press releases. The only thing they can’t do is undo what is done. And with that, herewith some definitions.

Apology: (English Noun) An expression of sorry or regret

Pity Sir Stephen House, head of our ever-changing Police Scotland force. He had the sad job of issuing an apology on the force’s failure to investigate a reported car crash. This had fatal consequences for a woman who lay injured for three days next to her dead partner. But Sir is sorry:

“Firstly I want to apologise to the families of John Yuill and Lamara Bell and to the people of Scotland for this individual failure in our service. Everyone in Police Scotland feels this most profoundly.

“Our duty is to keep people safe and we’ve not done that effectively on this occasion, with tragic consequences, and I want to apologise to everyone for that. 

I completely understand the level of concern being raised about the circumstances surrounding the handling of the incident of the crash near the M9 slip road at Bannockburn and, in particular, Police Scotland’s response to information received. That we failed both families involved is without doubt.”

So, it’s an individual failure, but everyone in PS feels badly about it. That’s nice to know. Just for the record though, the duty of PS is to uphold the law, do so equally and fairly. Not everyone is happy with Sir’s fanatical devotion to stop and search targets, his unilateral arming of police on patrols, or how data protection is getting just a bit lost in the sauce as spying on people routinely is on the up.

Must be hard to have to read out a statement. If only there were something Police Scotland and its head could have done to make sure its resources were robust and officers were employed where needed. If there had only been some warning signs that the new all-encompassing force and its local call centre closures were problematic, I’m sure the kindly, understanding man who issued that statement would have done something with his powers.

I’m sure the apology that Sir Stephen issued to the press is good enough

Of course it slightly weakens his apology that he says the new system and his leadership are not at fault; enjoy a lovely video clip of Sir Stephen here. He’s got a job to do, he provides leadership.

Just because the call centre system is failing, centralisation’s value is questionable or the leadership has failed it’s no cause for his resignation. He’s sorry – but not that sorry.

Denial: (Eng Noun) Negation of any culpability, responsibility or involvement.

Two young people are dead; one could have been saved. Two children are orphaned who didn’t have to be. Things happen.

It’s not the fault of Police Scotland, or its head Sir Stephen. They were told that a car had come off the motorway which they didn’t bother to follow it up –or even record. Three days later, a second call came in, and when they did bother themselves to stop spying on people and searching juveniles long enough to investigate, they found a dead man next to his dehydrated, dying partner.

I’m sure the apology that Sir Stephen issued to the press is good enough for all the people concerned and that should be the end of the matter. As he also explained, while they’re all very, very sorry, it wasn’t really his fault:

He said:

“We’re in the middle of massive change in our call-handling. It’s been going on virtually since day one of Police Scotland and it’s still going on and it has some way to go.

“I remain confident and convinced the reform we’re pushing through is the right way to go and provides a more efficient and more professional service. The tragedy is that I’m saying this against the background of two people who have died and that’s been our error which we’ve acknowledged.

“We do work within a budget. Our budget has reduced for the past two years and we’re working to an ambitious savings target for this year.” 

Ah, if not for the changes in the call handling and for the need to work within a budget. He’d love to help; but it was outwith his abilities to make the force he’s in charge of do its job.

I digress, but I wonder what the Tayside branch of Police Scotland were doing over those three days. It would be wrong to wonder how many children were stopped and searched as easy targets while that car spent three days off the road. An experienced police officer who will soon resign puts the huge increase in stop and search at Sir Stephen’s doorstep. This officer said:

This guy [Sir Stephen] is a complete control freak. In the 20 years I have been doing the job I have never wanted to do another job until Police Scotland came into force… I am being honest, in all my time on the force I had never heard the words ‘stop and search’ in Scotland before Mr House arrived. 

“Up here we had policing by consent, this stop and search was an English phenomenon that he brought up from London. Mr House has brought a few of his cronies from down the road up to Scotland and they are ordering cops that they want ten searches every day. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that all these searches are coming up negative because the officers are just searching anyone they see to get the figures up.”

We continue to allow police to do this to children, despite the psychological expertise advising against it, and despite the presumption of innocence. In fact, the vast majority of people stopped (and a huge percentage are non white you’ll be surprised to hear) have broken no laws at all. Herald Scotland reported:

“Frontline officers have contacted The Herald to complain about new practices within divisions and among officers who feel compelled to “massage the figures”. In some instances, officers have been forced to search innocent people as they leave pharmacies and off-licences to meet targets, according to those who have aired concerns…. In the first six months of Police Scotland, officers conducted a record 310,784 stop-searches and recorded a 20% increase in motoring offences….” 

I guess stopping innocent people to get those target figures up to Sir Stephen’s desired levels beats actually following up on calls. (Emergency callers are reporting unacceptable delays as well).

It would be wrong to wonder how many man hours were given over to snooping on our private emails and phonecalls while that woman’s kidneys started to fail. Sir Stephen is going to provide ‘a more efficient and professional service’.

Hard to see how he can improve on his stellar record – but we will be watching him. Am half tempted to write to Sir Stephen to offer commiserations over his budget woes. Must be awful. And he’s got to get by on a salary that’s under £208,000 per year. If only he’d had some previous indication that the new call centre wasn’t working out.

I’m sure that the imposed searches, the routine arming of police, the target setting is all greatly enjoyed by the whole force, despite the fact they’ve taken 53,000 days off with stress.

By the way, Aberdeen will lose its regional call centre in September. Old Susannah had to call emergency services for an ambulance some months ago; even with regional knowledge and detailed instructions of where the injured person was, the ambulance nearly drove right past. I’m sure someone sitting in a call centre in Glasgow will know all about Aberdeen’s back streets, pathways and parks.

So – we can expect more of the same then. Get ready to accept more armed cops, more unnecessary stop and searches, more red tape, increased centralisation – and less legal and human rights. At least we’re all going to be safe. Result!

We’ve had the apology over this latest fatality, which wasn’t really anyone’s fault anyway, because they have to work within a budget. What more do we want? Let’s see what they need to apologise for next, as they continue to eradicate ‘policing by consent’ from our vocabulary. Tally ho!

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May 292015
 

There are thousands of animal welfare charities that compete for donations; but scratch the surface of some of them, and you might not like what you find. Are animals well treated? Are animals being bred to fund such ‘charities’, rather than encouraging animal sterilization and adoption? Are some so-called shelters asking for donations to ‘save’ animals with one hand sending animals to market and slaughter with the other hand? Some local charities have banded together to help would-be donors know what kind of organisations are out there. With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

willowsgeese

Geese at Willows Animal Sanctuary – Credit: Rob Scott for Aberdeen Voice.

In light of recent events, four well-known animal welfare charities have formed a new organisation known as RE.A.CH to represent ‘Reputable animal charities’.

The aim of RE.A.CH. is to set a ‘baseline’ standard of excellence that all members are required to meet. All members of RE.A.CH  are registered animal charities that conform to the following declaration:

  • They are No Kill
  • They will never deliberately breed from their animals.
  • They will not fund their rescues from the sale of animals.
  • Members will strive to provide the best environment for their rescues, the best veterinary care and when rehoming animals or releasing wildlife, to do this in the best interests of the animals involved.

A spokesperson for the group said:

The group has been set up to help assure the public that the support they give is being treated in a responsible and ethical manner. The public can be assured that animals that come into the care of any RE.A.CH member will be well looked after by knowledgeable, experienced people who have the ability to provide long term care for them.”

As the law stands anyone can set themselves up and call themselves a ‘sanctuary’. It is important to point out that these so called ‘animal rescues’ are not official charities, they are under no obligation to account for the funds they raise, how they are used, what they do with them or how they provide for the animals in their care.

It is disturbing  to see groups or individuals asking the public to fund their animals under the banner of ‘not for profit’ or for ‘a charitable cause’ when they may have questionable knowledge, no accountability and no set standards of care and in some cases little or no actual experience.

Often many of these rescues start off with good intentions, but soon run into problems through overcrowding, lack of experience and of course, lack of funding leading them on a very rapid descent where they are suddenly faced with outstanding vet and feed bills which soon becomes an animal welfare issue resulting in either the animals being put down, panic re-homing to unsuitable homes or other sanctuaries having to pick up the pieces.

We felt it necessary to form a charter outlining our responsibilities. All of us need the support of the general public to continue our existence, but we are constituted to do so in a responsible manner.”

The four founding members of RE.A.CH are:

  1. Blaikiewell Animal Sanctuary
  2. Halfpenny – Farm Animal Sanctuary
  3. The New Arc
  4. Willows Animal Sanctuary

Between them they currently care for over 1000 animals. The plan is to extend membership of the group to encompass other reputable animal welfare organisations who are prepared to meet the necessary criteria.

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Nov 142014
 

“They didn’t value my mum’s life and they certainly didn’t value my sister’s life. Ultimately, they’re dead. I will never, ever heal. Ever.”
– Stacey Banner to the BBC, on murders committed by John Lowe. Police returned guns to him despite his threat to ‘blow off’ Stacey Banner’s head.

The police certainly have problems. Previous articles in this series have looked at the issues of institutionalised racism, guns and how our rights are being chipped away, little by little. With all the powers of surveillance at their disposal, police surely are able to determine when people are in potential danger. How are the 21st century UK police treating women? Suzanne Kelly reports.

Police line pic2Christine Lee and her daughter Lucy are dead. Like so many murdered women, they knew their killer. It was 82-year-old puppy farmer John Lowe, who was husband and stepfather to them.

Surrey Police had confiscated guns from 82-year-old John Lowe when he threatened to kill his stepdaughter and his wife.

The guns were returned some eight weeks later. The women are dead. The police are sorry.

There will be the usual inquiry; the usual wrists have been slapped. The women could still be alive, like so many other women who turn to the police, only to be let down again and again.

Domestic Violence:

Women who come forward to report abuse, or the threat of violence, are still being dismissed by the police. The old, outdated notion of dismissing marital violence as ‘just a domestic’ seems to be alive and well, as the murders committed by John Lowe attest.

The police launched a visible offensive against domestic abusers in February this year. One has to hope that the partners were warned in advance; but if so, surely that would have caused anxiety. If the victims of abuse were not warned in advance of their partner’s arrests, the consequences could be very serious: in domestic abuse the pattern is to blame the wife/partner for everything that goes wrong.

One can only hope the women were and are being given all the help and support they need. Otherwise, this particular exercise seems like a headline grabber with potentially lethal consequences.

Sexual Assault and Rape:

One in five women aged 16-59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 according to Rape Crisis.

This is a statistic which should shock the government and police into action. Victims of rape and other violence are often afraid to come forward, and the way they are sometimes treated when they do leaves much to be desired.

In a famous interview Ken Clark in 2011 spoke with an extremely brave woman who reported an attempted rape, endured examinations, court battles, hours spent with police and legal teams. Her attacker, a repeat offender, spent about a year and a half in custody.

More recently, UKIP member and donor Demetri Marchessini said women cannot be raped by their husbands.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that it’s 2014 when we look at how rape victims are treated. The news last week carried the story of Eleanor de Frietas. This vulnerable woman went to the police with a tale of being drug raped. What happened subsequently led to her suicide.

The police had no grounds for thinking she was lying, but when the alleged rapist took her to court in a private action for £200,000, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to go after her as well. Unable to stand the ordeal, she took her own life.

When the Police are the Perpetrators:

Women are being abused by serving officers. An online resource lists various police officers in the UK and the vast array of charges levelled against them, which include rape, sex with a vulnerable woman, and child abuse.

Then there is the case of Ryan Reid, 27, a special constable who used his position to illegally search police files for information about women he was veritably stalking; he sent naked photos and sexual messages to half a dozen women. According to the Daily Mail:

“Reid, of Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, who was stationed at Carluke Police Office, pleaded guilty to seven charges involving five women … one of his victims was just 15 when he began contacting her…. He admitted two charges of stalking women, three under the Communications Act and one under the Sexual Offenses Act…he also pleaded guilty to an offence under the Data Protection Act that he did ‘knowingly or recklessly and without the consent of the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland obtain and disclose personal data by repeatedly accessing various police systems with no operational reason for doing so.’”

Reid apparently made a social media comment that when men in the forces drop their trousers they are in trouble, when women do so, it is promotion. Is sexism as rife as racism is within the forces? Is this case the tip of the iceberg, indicating institutionalised misogyny? You could be forgiven for thinking so.

This may well explain the number of women who, despite making numerous pleas to the police, are attacked, sometimes fatally, by persistent stalkers. Three years ago a Guardian article pointed out the dismal failure of the police and courts to protect vulnerable women:

“Two-thirds of victims said the police and Crown Prosecution Service did not take their complaints seriously enough, with offenders not being charged in nearly nine out of ten alleged cases.

“The survey of 140 victims was conducted by the charity Protection Against Stalking (PAS), which found “low level” stalking offences were dealt with too leniently and could escalate into more serious offences, including murder.

“The majority of victims are women. One told how the criminal justice system had failed her:

“The police told me to switch my phone off and ignore him. They said nothing could be done. I showed them dozens of texts and they were not really interested. They said nothing could be done unless he actually tried to hurt me.”

“Another victim said:

“Being abandoned by the police while being stalked only adds to the fear and distress of what is already a terrifying situation.””
http://www.theguardian.com/law/2011/nov/13/stalking-not-taken-seriously

Ryan Reid may have been found guilty of data access and sexual crimes. But what can a Police Scotland officer expect if accused of illegally accessing data on an ex-partner? As reported in the Evening Express, Police Scotland’s DC Duthie has astonishingly been cleared of any wrong doing when his ex’s personal data was accessed by someone within the police.

“DC Duthie, whose address was given in court papers as care of Police Scotland [note – I doubt a member of the public would be allowed to give their work address to the court – SK], had denied accessing the secure information himself.

“He accepted that the files were viewed on February 27 and April 2, 2012 using his unique username and password but said someone else must have used a computer he was logged on to. But today he was found not guilty of the charges.”

Who else would have wanted to look at the data in question? If someone other than Duthie had an interest in this matter, how did they manage to get Duthie’s personal login information? Why hasn’t the person who accessed this information come forward? Have the police identified who it was, and if so, why is no prosecution forthcoming?

This may seem like a case of one man snooping into his ex-partner’s affairs without due cause. What the court decision has done however has set an extremely dangerous precedent: police officers can now access any data they want, and claim that the unique password and login must have been used by an unknown police operative, who will not be sought.

This tiny decision gives the police legal sanction to do whatever they want with our data. It may have passed unnoticed by the mainstream news, but this is a potentially dangerous legal precedent.

WPCs:

It should be noted that women don’t always fare well inside the police forces, either. Unequal pay, discrimination and sexual harassment are all realities. The Scotsman reported in April this year that women in the force are not getting equal promotion opportunities.

Being a domestic abuser is not a barrier to re-joining the force, either.

However, there are a growing number of women in the force. Perhaps positive, real change is within reach.

But as a Guardian investigation found, there is sexism and bias against women making claims of sexual assault against police officers.

Summing up:

Women are being ignored at best, and attacked at worst, by the people paid to protect them. Rape victims are victimised, domestic violence is often downplayed, and stalking victims are routinely brushed off. The recent cases mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg, and the kinds of problems women face also include trafficking and forced marriage, among other issues.

No doubt there will be some kind of investigations into the senseless deaths of Christine and Lucy Lee, and the farcical CPS attack on Eleanor de Frietas which led to her suicide, as her note indicated.

But the system has gone down these routes before without reforming, and reform is possibly farther away than ever before. Change is long overdue, but with comments like those coming from UKIP donor Marchessini, that a husband can’t be guilty of raping his wife, coupled with the scale of abuse either ignored by or perpetrated by the UK’s police forces, it’s hard to see things improving any time soon.

If the situation for grown women is brutal, then it is a far worse reality for children dependent on the state for protection. The next piece in this series will look at issues such as Rotherham, child abuse and how the state and in particular the police, are involved in the neglect and sometimes abuse of children.

Support Services:

Samaritans Aberdeen

60 Dee Street Aberdeen AB11 6DS
Tel: 01224 574488
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Usual hours open to receive callers at the door: 9am – 10pm

Rape and Abuse Support

88 John Street Aberdeen, AB25 1LE
Office Tel: 01224 639 347
Helpline: 01224 620 772
Email: info@rasane.org.uk
Web: www.rasane.org.uk

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Nov 142014
 

With thanks to Christina Elliott.

Photo Credit the bridge 2 - Creative Commons

Lions and tigers from Chipperfield’s circus are being over wintered in the Northeast of Scotland. Photo Credit: The Bridge – Creative Commons

Local people concerned for the welfare of lions and tigers from Chipperfield’s circus being over wintered at the circus high school are holding a demonstration to protest the use of all wild animals in circuses.

The protestors wish to send a message to Holyrood and to circuses that confining and exploiting wild animals for entertainment is not acceptable to the British public in the 21st century and that any further delay in prohibiting such acts is unacceptable.

The demonstration against the use of all wild animals in circuses is due to take place on Sunday Nov 16, 11.30am – 3pm at the Circus High School, Cairnglass Croft, Inverallochy, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. AB43 8UT.

28 countries around the world now have national restrictions in place and yet Scotland and the rest of the UK are still debating the issue.

Earlier this year the Scottish Government undertook a public consultation on the issue but a response to its outcome has been delayed until the new year.

ADI (Animal Defenders International) President Jan Creamer commented:

“ADI applauds efforts by Kevin Stewart MSP to ban circuses from using wild animals in Scotland. Without action from government, the arrival of big cats in Aberdeenshire could be the first of many, making Scotland a destination for circus suffering that it has not been for years. We can’t let that happen.”

Further information on animals in circuses can be found here: http://www.ad-international.org/animals_in_entertainment/go.php?id=249&ssi=10

A video, filmed at the Circus High School by Victor Beattie, showing characteristic ‘pacing’ behaviour associated with animals living in cramped, stressful or unnatural conditions can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152896934243092

Demonstration against the use of all wild animals in circuses.

Sunday 16th. November 2014, 11.30am – 3pm

Circus High School,
Cairnglass Croft,
Inverallochy,
Fraserburgh,
Aberdeenshire.
AB43 8UT.

Contacts:

Kevin Stewart MSP
Tel: 0131 348 6382
Email:Kevin.Stewart.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

FYI: MOTION NO: S4M-11344

Contact for protestors:

Christina Elliott 07415663890

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Oct 312014
 

willows owlsWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Come and meet our stunning European Eagle Owls named Hedwig and Errol at our special Halloween event on the 1st of November, 11.30 am till 3.30pm. We will be holding a spooky treasure hunt, raffle and tombola. There will be free entry to the visitor attraction for all children in fancy dress!

The events run from 11:30 am through 4:30pm; they include:-

  • Live music,
  • Bottle Stall,
  • Tombola,
  • Plant sale,
  • Lucky ducks,
  • Gift shop,
  • Coffee Shop,
  • Raffle,
  • and Home-bakes.

Willows Animal Sanctuary, Lambhill Farm, Strichen, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire AB43 6NY

Reg. Charity No. SCO29625

Tel. 01771 653112
www.willowsanimals.com
email kate@willowsanimals.com