In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king

According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (PDF | 3.4 MB) an estimated 43.6 million (18.1%) Americans ages 18 and up experienced some form of mental illness. In the past year, 20.2 million adults (8.4%) had a substance use disorder. Of these, 7.9 million people had both a mental disorder and substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.Various mental and substance use disorders have prevalence rates that differ by gender, age, race, and ethnicity. 


Those are the American figures, now take a look at some British ones, in 2014/15 there were 8,149 hospital admissions of drug related mental health and behavioural disorders that’s 14% higher than the previous year. There were also 14,279 hospital admissions for poisoning as a consequence of drug use, that’s 57% up on 2003/4. 


24% of those arrested by police for assault later tested positive for drugs, in 12% of those cases the drug of choice was cannabis. More British people than ever are taking drugs but to all intents and purposes we’re not addicted, even with a surge in drug abuse brought on by a recession, austerity and economic uncertainty. Despite this lack of addiction there’s been an increase in comorbidity ( mental illness coinciding with drug use), an increase in drug driving, and an increase in assaults (how many of those involved in the perpetration of knife & gun crime would have been found to have used drugs if they’d been caught at the scene?).


There’s been an increase in parents attending their own children’s funerals, an increase in police attending teenage crimes scenes, an increase in community concerns about the increasingly violent ways in which teenage members of their communities are meeting their end. The only thing that hasn’t increased is governmental concern about what’s going on, the kind of concern that could lead to an increase not a decrease in policing numbers and police budgets. British police have form when it comes to targeting big time drug dealers and the havoc and mayhem they create in Britain’s cities. Out of control children (black and white) are running around with guns and knives and pockets stuffed full of cash and besides being bemused, the government has cut policing budgets time and again and chosen to do nothing.


The stats on Cannabis farms make for astounding reading, that’s thousands of suburban terraced homes in which plants and not people are being housed. The police used to raid thousands of these properties a year, returning the homes to estate agents who could then arrange for them to be filled by real people with real housing needs. However, the number of cannabis farm raids has dropped, the reason? A cut in policing manpower and budgets.


Tied to the issue of cannabis farms is modern slavery, the enslaving of homeless people for the sole purpose of cultivating the cannabis crop. According to Teresa May (she who has declared Eritrea a ‘safe haven’ for returning refugees) ‘Britain leads the world in its efforts to tackle modern slavery’ but not it would seem in eradicating homelessness or cannabis farming. 

Reasons Not To Privatize The Feds: Part Two


Going Country

More and more, city gangs are sending young runners out into the sticks to sell crack and heroin. We spoke to dealers, sex workers and police to get a better understanding of how the whole thing works.

As commuters arrive into Britain’s major cities from their homes in the shires, a different kind of commuter is travelling the opposite direction. They’re more likely to be young and wearing trainers, tracksuits and puffer jackets. Most of them generate more cash each day than their city-bound counterparts. The tools of their trade are a cheap mobile phone, a bag of class A drugs and a knife.

Last week, the National Crime Agency released its second report into the growing phenomenon known as “going country” – city drug gangs sending young runners to sell crack and heroin in market or coastal towns. The report found that these were no occasional day trips: over 180 urban drug dealing gangs have expanded into the jurisdictions of three quarters of British police forces.


Going country, or “OT” (out there), is not an entirely new phenomenon. Gangs from the big four UK drug hubs – London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool – have been sending dealers to sell in less crowded areas since the rise of the highly profitable crack selling business, and of mobile phones, in the 1990s. The drug trade in Ipswich, Suffolk, for example, has been dominated by London gangs since 2003.

 HAINE, LAYet, in the last decade, across Britain the trickle has turned into a flood. Using motorways and trains, city gangs have expanded their reach far and wide, beyond the commuter belt, from Devon and Gloucestershire to Humberside and Scotland. London gangs – the most prolific of them all – have taken over the trade across the south of England: in west country towns such as Swindon, Melksham, Aylesbury, Bournemouth and Yeovil; in southern towns such as Hastings, Eastbourne, Worthing, Tunbridge Wells, Margate and Brighton; and in the east, in Colchester, Cambridge, Norwich, Leiston and Bury St Edmonds.


What’s more, the dealers are getting younger, with children as young as 11 being found selling drugs in areas a world away from the inner city zones they call home. Meanwhile, as the newcomers increasingly discard the old school criminal code of local drug markets, rivalry, enmity and violence intensifies.

Despite recent police and media reports about this phenomenon, little is known about how these gangs operate and the impact they have on “host” towns. In truth, it’s a story about a collision point: where people’s desperation to escape poverty and pain meets head-on with the cold, hard economics of the drug trade.

G4s have demonstrated to the general public just how adept they are at managing national events and the probation service, they clearly aren’t. So where would they find the money for the kind of policing work that throws up this research data? Policing cuts have consequences.


Poole Council staff ‘forced to use food banks to survive’


A POOLE councillor has claimed that council staff are being forced to use food banks and take out pay day loans to survive.

Cllr Phil Eades is calling on colleagues to support a motion urging the council to pay its entire staff at least the living wage. He says recently elected councillors have their first chance to, “make a real difference to Borough employees lives”.

He was among 10 Liberal Democrat members who originally signed a motion calling on Borough of Poole to pay its staff at least £7.85 an hour.

The motion, which has been before the council efficiency and effectiveness overview and scrutiny committee, is due to go back to full council next Tuesday (June 23).

“Bearing in mind that the Borough recently declared a £2.5million surplus for 2014/15 and that it is now sitting on £30million of council taxpayers money in reserves, the sole argument against paying our staff the living wage (that it costs too much money) is a very poor one indeed,” said Cllr Eades.


He said council papers going to members next week assert that it would cost, “only £55,000 per annum, or less than £1 per household in the borough”.

Cllr Eades added: “There is evidence in front of councillors that a number of borough employees have had to use food banks, take out pay day loans and apply to the local union hardship fund.

“The Borough must set the standard by which all large firms in Poole are judged in paying the living wage and should be a leader in this field,” he added.

Anything to add, suggest, advise Mr Robert Syms Mp? No? You’re diary’s full that day? Hardly a surprise…..


(Article courtesy of Bournemouth Echo 2015)

The Trials & Tribulations of Tiny Tims (& Their Parents)

Although in this day and age (and with the proliferation of children’s books) it is far from certain, I feel sure that many of us are conversant with ‘A Christmas Carol’. For those of us that aren’t, it is a wonderful Christmas themed tale, that has the plight of one little boy at its core. Tiny Tim is a sickly crippled child who has the great misfortune to be born to a humble office clerk, Bob Cratchett. Bob’s wages are so scant that he can barely afford Christmas and most definitely can’t afford the kind of medical care his son needs. Tiny Tim’s fate is therefore etched in stone is it not? But witness this conversation between Scrooge (keeper of the purse) and the ghost of Christmas Present,

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”

“No, no,” said Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared.”

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Poor Tiny Tim! His fate has been so clearly delineated by Scrooge’s miserly, unstinting and privatization oriented, intractable mindset. There will be no future for Tiny Tim nor (in keeping with the tradition of such miserly inclinations down through the ages) future Tiny Tims!

social-014And so to Kings Norton Green and the Kings Wood Respite Bungalows, which are under threat of closure. Kings Wood offers carers the ability to ensure that whilst their loved ones suffering from learning disabilities are being cared for, they themselves can take a break and so recharge their batteries. One of the carers regularly sending her loved one here is 91 years old, imagine that! So her breaks must be well and truly needed.


The story is that the bungalows are being under-used. But the reality is that new referrals are being blocked, in order to reduce use of the service, in time for its closure in March 2015. But never fear! Help was on the way in the form of staunch and principled Labourite, Steve McCabe, the MP of Birmingham Selly Oak who said: “The fact that 50% of carers are not receiving enough support either financially or emotionally is very concerning. In my constituency we have a great respite service which is highly valued by the people who use it but at the moment there is uncertainty surrounding the future of the service, what we now need is a guarantee from the Birmingham City Council that Kingswood Respite Service is here to stay. (B-14 News,June 16 2014)”.


Perhaps though, they would have been better off enlisting the help of Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts group. (SACAC) who, alongside many others, successfully opposed the closure of Charles House Respite Care Centre. Because at the end of the day, unlike principled politicians looking for an alternative to ‘slash & grab’ at the expense of the vulnerable & the poor, the Labour party seems determined to go right on administering nasty doses of austerity by the tablespoonful (should they win GE15). In the words of one eponymous politician, the equally staunch and suffering for it Diane Abbott,

A few months ago (in good old 2014), commentators marvelled that Peter Mandelson turned up at a Balls fundraiser and was lavish in his praise. But Mandelson has not been suddenly won over by Balls’ charm. The key sentence in his speech was when he said that Balls was “a man willing to say no to his party and someone who will resist the short-term temptations that will bring us nothing in the long term”. In other words, Balls is the man to deliver the cuts that the Tories and New Labour grandees think are so essential’
Yes, the election of (new) Labour could mean continued closures of respite care centres, day centres and old people’s homes, that is if we choose to replace the raddle-faced visage of Conservative austerity, with the shiny new face of austerity-as-usual (new) Labour. Want this opinion to change? Then stop glossing over the cracks, tell us the truth about austerity and how much further you intend to cut into the flesh of the poor Mr Balls!