Tag Archives: police

To the care staff, you deserve the world and I gave you a bottle of wine

I’ve never seen someone look more tired. The luminous orange jumpsuit he was pulling on looked paper thin, but the way he handled it made it look like it was weighing him down. The rain didn’t help either, coming down as it was in thick heavy droplets. He steadied himself and leant awkwardly up against the police van trying to dress himself. I didn’t like to stop and stare, but it was hard not to.

I sat there in my car for some minutes. How many exactly I can’t say for sure. It smelt sickly of limoncello, from the hand sanitizer that rested permanently now in the driver’s door. Another small visual clue of how things have changed. A few months ago, I was not the type of guy to religiously use hand sanitizer. Now though as rain blurred my windscreen and limoncello filled my nostrils, I watched two young police officers pull on full protective clothing outside of a medium sized residential care home on the outskirts of my hometown, Gloucester. I learnt later that they were undertaking this task to free up capacity amongst medical personnel.

Sat there I thought back to visiting the care home in the last few months. The gush of warm air as you open the door. The biro by the visitor’s book perched next to the inexplicable bowl of foxes mints. How a sea of faces would look up as you entered the living room; One resident, chair-bound and staring, another engrossed in knitting, and my Dad always, and I mean always, fast asleep. All of them frail, elderly and often with poor health. Each of them deemed ‘vulnerable’ by the new vernacular of our new age. And none of them with any real agency to control the threat that they faced from this new virus.

I still don’t know how many of the people that my Dad shared the final few years of his life with are now dead. I’m not sure I want to know. I also don’t know how many of those who survive him know he is dead. I realise now that there is a lot I don’t know about Dad’s final few years of life as I played little more than a weekly cameo part popping in and out of his four walled world. I think about how terrifying it must be now for those with the cognitive function to process what is happening as they remain isolated away from their friends and family in care homes reading daily about this deadly virus.

I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to work in a care home and be responsible for their health and wellbeing in this context so out of our control. As the news catches up with the role care homes play in this global pandemic though the numbers that are following are terrifying. The ONS has already recorded over 5,000 deaths but this figure is likely to be much higher. As Full Fact say:

“[many of the] unexplained extra deaths in care homes and private residences are in fact Covid-19 deaths, and we’re undercounting the size of the epidemic”

The enormity and scale of this crisis isn’t always evident to those not on the frontlines – myself very much so included. But I promise you that I saw it in the body language of the two young police officers pulling on their protective clothing waiting to go into the care home. And I promise you it was more than evident in the staff member who greeted me at the back door. I saw in her so much tiredness. The tiredness that death brings. Worse though I think I saw in her the tiredness that suffering you can’t stop brings.

I asked if she is OK and she mustered a forced smile that meat little and said that she hasn’t hugged her child in weeks. I stood there helplessly in the rain that seemed to be getting worse.

We went inside, a few seconds respite from the rain. We started to pick up the pile of possessions I was there for. A small mountain piled in the corner of an unused communal room. We carried them together outside. Working quickly together but always apart. Large drops of rain running down each of the bin bags of clothes that we both bundled into the back of my car. At one point I made a joke about how much he owned but no one was around to hear it. In the silence that followed the latex of my gloves squeaked loudly against the plastic of the wet bags every time I dropped one into my car.

The whole transaction felt stripped of remotely appropriate interaction. I remember thinking that I wanted to hug her, to give her any strength I have left and to help her keep going. I wanted to tell her that in my eyes she is the nearest thing to a hero I’ve seen for doing what she does. I wanted to tell her how much her years of care of my Dad meant. Instead she handed me an envelope of 140 pounds and twenty-two pence of petty cash leftover, and I gave her a bottle of wine and some chocolate.  I muttered something about being eternally grateful but the phone in her pocket rang.

It was so inadequate.

It kept raining and I got back into my car, stripped off my gloves, squirted the yellow limoncello smelling hand sanitizer onto my hands and started the engine. I left knowing I would probably never come back.

Sat here now surrounded by my Dad’s possessions I can say that I am grateful to the care staff, to the nurses, to the police. But this doesn’t even come close to communicating how profoundly important I know their jobs to be, how much I think we as a society owe to them and how angry I am that it has taken these truly awful circumstances for us to begin to appreciate this.

All I can do to make sense of it is write this and think how in retrospect I am embarrassed that I gave them a bottle of wine when they deserve nothing short of the world.     

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Filed under Gloucestershire, Health

Why did the police follow up a UKIP complaint about a blogger?

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Last week a good friend of mine (who has previously guest posted on Hynd’s Blog) posted the original of this poster (minus the sources). What ensued was a discussion about the origins of some of the claims.

It is with interest then that I heard this morning about the chap who posted this alternative poster (trying to ascertain which claims were true and which were not) being visited from the police (you can read his whole account here) in relation to the poster.

In his account he says that:

‘they [the 2 police officers] said this was in relation to a complaint that had been made by a certain political party in relation to tweets I had published about them’

This seems bonkers doesn’t it? UKIP, lodging a complaint with the police (as far as I know this guy hasn’t broken any laws) against someone who has tried to reference a poster that was attacking them? And then, either more strangely, the police actually following it up.

Either way, both his local MP (Lib Dem Julian Huppert) and Jenny Jones (Green in the House of Lords) have promised to follow this up on his behalf.

And there are some interesting questions that hopefully one or both of them will ask. Like, why were the police following up a non-legal complaint from a political party?

I am no expert here but surely this cannot be normal procedure can it?

I will look into it some more and post any follow up information below.

UPDATE:

A police statement (quoted by The Guardian) says that he has done nothing wrong but fails to say why the police officers were there to begin with:

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: “A Ukip councillor came across a tweet which he took exception to. The name of the person on the tweet was identified and that individual was spoken to. We looked at this for offences and there was nothing we could actually identify that required police intervention. Clearly, the councillor was unhappy about the tweets. If every political person was unhappy about what somebody else said about their views, we would have no politics.”

As for being told not to tweet about the visit, the spokesman added: “I don’t know if he’d have been told that. It’s certainly not the advice I would have given him. A gentleman has a right to free speech – absolute total right to free speech – we can’t tell people what they can and can’t say on the internet, as long as it’s within the law. We certainly don’t go to people’s houses and say: ‘You can’t tweet about this’. This is not 1930s Germany.”

 

 

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Filed under Far-right politics, Politics

It’s not just our leaders who are above the law

AGAIN, a police office will not face charges after a death of an innocent man is directly linked to his actions.  In this case, Ian Tomlinson’s family is left to wonder why justice is not being served. Suddenly my previous blog on how some people were above the law seems too focused on how just our leaders.

Straight after his death the police informed Ian Tomlinson’s family that he had died of natural causes, a week later the Guardian released footage showing him walking home and being struck and pushed by a police officer during the G20 protests last year.  A few minutes later he died.  The initial post-mortem said that he had died of a heart problem (this was conducted by a man who is being investigated for returning a string of questionable post-mortem results).  This post-mortem was conducted with only one medical expert present, why? His family was not there, why? The family then ordered a second post mortem that found he had died as a result of internal bleeding and a related liver problem.  This death was compatible with being hit with a blunt object! The Police then ordered a third post mortem that supported the conclusions of the second! The CPS considers this to be reason to not push for manslaughter charges because there is “conflict” in expert opinions.

Despite being filmed striking Ian Tomlinson, the officer concerned will not face charges of common assault because the botched investigation into Mr Tomlinson’s death took 16 months.  A charge of common assault can only be given within 6 months of the offence.

Put simply, despite being filmed striking Mr Tomlinson with a police baton and then pushing him to the floor, and then these actions being directly linked to his death be two separate post-mortems, the Crown Prosecutions Service deems this not a case that they can pursue.  Is this anything other than a miscarriage of justice? In my last blog I accused our leaders of living with impunity to our laws that govern our lives, but it appears that the police also live in this world outside of the laws that govern our lives.  This verdict pleases no one.  It leaves the officer with this hanging over his head as the family inevitably launches an appeal, it leave the family unhappy as it highlights the massive problems with the investigations.  It leaves the public’s opinion in the police in question.  This is so obviously the wrong decision to have reached that it leaves no one satisfied.

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Filed under Politics