Voices in the Middle – for young people in separating families

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Voices in the Middle – for young people in separating families
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http://voicesinthemiddle.org.uk/ Young people in whose families are separating or divorcing share stories at Voices in the Middle

Police ignore judge’s order, to help Latvian family escape British social workers

Over the past three years, mounting alarm has been expressed by the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and various eastern European governments at the readiness of Britain’s social workers to seize an ever-growing number of children from foreign parents working in the UK for what they consider to be wholly misguided reasons. Foreign government figures show, for instance, that these include 1,000 Polish children; and the number of Latvian families reporting the removal of their children has risen from seven in 2012 to 40 in 2013 and 89 in 2014.

Eleven days ago, the second oldest child of Russian-Latvian parents working in a town I cannot name for legal reasons was seen by a teacher to have a small mark on his neck. When the school reported this to social services, an examination revealed another slight mark on his leg. The family found itself plunged into an inexplicable nightmare.

“The parents were advised to leave the country immediately, while they could still legally do so”

A social worker (of a council we cannot name on the orders of Judge Ross Duggan) pressed the parents into signing a document admitting that these small injuries were their fault (which they later denied).

They confiscated the family’s passports and ordered the parents to vacate their home between 9pm and 7am each night, to leave their four children in the care of a grandmother.

When it became clear that the social workers were planning to apply for a full care order, to take the children into foster care, the parents were advised to leave the country immediately, while they could still legally do so. Arriving in Dublin, they were met by members of a “network” that has assisted scores of parents fleeing to Ireland to escape from UK social workers, one of whom described the couple as “intelligent, cultured people with four beautiful, well-behaved children”.

The next day, when the family had been given temporary passports by the Latvian embassy in Dublin and booked their flight to Riga, the social workers discovered what had happened. Judge Duggan issued an order that the parents must, on pain of imprisonment, return the children to Britain immediately, with copies to be sent to the Irish and Latvian authorities. Seemingly contrary to a recent ruling by Lord Justice Munby, the head of the family courts, that local authorities in such cases can be named, Duggan insisted that in this case it would be a contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment.

“The Latvian authorities are particularly exercised about the treatment of their nationals by social services in Britain”

When the family checked in at Dublin airport they were detained by six police, clutching a copy of the judge’s order. But having interviewed each member of the family separately, the police waved them on. On arriving at Riga, the family was again stopped by police, again holding a copy of Duggan’s order. Again, after brief discussion, they sent the family happily on its way.

The Latvian authorities are particularly exercised about the treatment of their nationals by social services in Britain. A case earlier this year attracted big publicity in Latvia, when senior representatives of its foreign and justice ministries vainly attempted to intervene in the Court of Appeal on behalf of a Latvian mother whose daughter had been sent for adoption.

In this latest case of the family that got away (but which Judge Duggan does not allow us to name), the conduct of the Irish and Latvian police seems yet further evidence of just how little confidence foreign authorities now have in the fairness and legality of Britain’s increasingly notorious system of “child protection”.

Read more of Christopher Booker’s column

This tweet about the Planned Parenthood shooting sums up another sad truth about America

In news that is achingly familiar to the US, last night it emerged that a gunman entered a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and managed to kill three people.

The attack has unfortunately given rise to a vicious backlash from some pro-lifers, who havecelebrated the deaths as justified.

Police confirmed the identity of the suspect as Robert L. Dear, who was arrested at the scene.


Civil rights activist Deray McKesson watched the story unfold, noting as he did so that after the stand-off with police which led to the death of one officer, Dear was escorted from the scene in handcuffs.

But as McKesson wrote on Twitter, there are countless examples of black people in the US, including children, being shot at by police for far less.


Just this week, authorities in Chicago released video footage which showed a police officer needlessly gunning down 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times as he walked away from a police officer last year.

President Barack Obama has once again called for Congress to act on stricter gun controls.

In wake of Colorado shooting, Obama calls for more gun controls

Gun Control photo: Gun Control Issue GunControlIssue.jpg

Peace and Freedom

By Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post

President Obama on Saturday called for additional gun control measures in the United States, after the slaying of three people Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

In a written statement, Obama said that regardless of the motive, it was unacceptable that these sort of mass shootings happen so frequently in the United States.

“This is not normal. We can’t let it become normal,” he said. “If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.”

Administration officials have been scrutinizing whether they can undertake additional gun controls through executive action, but no proposals…

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NSA begins new phone surveillance program as bulk metadata collection ends

Peace and Freedom


Admiral Michael Rogers, director of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Photo credit Yuri Gripas, Reuters

The National Security Agency will end its mass metadata surveillance program this weekend, two and a half years after Edward Snowden’s revelations. However, he NSA’s replacement “reasonable compromise” is far from being celebrated by privacy advocates.

Signed into law this past June, the USA Freedom Act requires that by 11:59pm EST on November 28, the NSA must cease its bulk collection of telephony metadata. The NSA is ready to move ahead with a different program, also ordered by the law, at the same time.

No longer will the NSA rely on the Patriot Act’s Section 215 to collect all phone records. Instead it will have to contact telecommunications companies holding the data for them. Unlike general warrants leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden such as the one issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance…

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