Monday, 17 December 2007
Sunday, 16 December 2007
Mark Townsend, crime correspondent
Sunday December 16, 2007
The first payouts of more than £140,000 were made last week to four women who suffered a 'sustained period of sexual abuse'. Another 10,000 are estimated to be eligible under a new interpretation of Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority guidelines.
Authority officials told the London law firm Lovells, which is acting for a number of the victims, that it would 'officially recognise' the trauma experienced by thousands of women and children.
The development is likely to be politically controversial, with charges that offering help to trafficking victims could encourage illegal immigration.
The women who received £140,000 were smuggled from eastern Europe by British-based criminals using established international sex trafficking networks. One girl was illegally brought into the UK five years ago, aged 13. Another was trafficked in 2003 when she was 16. Both were kept prisoner by the same trafficking syndicate until they managed to escape at the start of last year.
According to lawyers, who have agreed to protect the identity of claimants, they were subject to 'forced prostitution, multiple rapes and beatings' while being held captive in the UK. In addition, their captors refused to give the victims money and warned they would be killed if they fled. The highest award was £62,000, the lowest £16,500.
The authority, which awards compensation to victims of violent crime, has agreed payments for 'false imprisonment and forced prostitution during the time of their imprisonment' though neither exists as an official category for damages. Sarah Johnson, of Lovells, said: 'This will serve as a precedent for other cases and we are delighted.'
The Poppy Project, which helps trafficked women after they have been rescued from their captors, hailed the payments as a 'tremendous breakthrough' and said that, in theory at least, thousands of women would qualify.
The women who have received compensation are understood not to have been deported. Victims will shortly win the right to stay in Britain temporarily after the government signalled its intent to ratify the Council of Europe's convention on action against trafficking.
Alongside the controversy of granting women the right to remain, even if only for a limited period, there are also concerns that traffickers might force women to make fraudulent compensation claims that would find their way to criminals. Although trafficking victims will only be required to make a police report - as opposed to assisting a full criminal investigation - to register a claim, experts said the fact they would require legal help as well as having to prove they had successfully escaped their traffickers would help prevent suspect claims.
Julie Barton, of the Poppy Project, said: 'Previously, women have received no financial support for them to start afresh or to address the terrible circumstances they have had to endure. Often they are forced to return vulnerable and traumatised to their home country without any support'.
The scale of sex trafficking is of increasing concern to police. Officially, the Home Office believes the number of illegal immigrants being sexually exploited at any one time is about 4,000. Investigators and support groups, however, calculate numbers are likely to be in excess of 10,000 and describe known cases as the 'tip of the iceberg'.
Even small towns are likely to have a brothel. Peterborough is a typical example. As little as three years ago, the Cambridgeshire town had two of them. This year the police have raided at least 48 in the town. Detectives describe such places as 'sex prisons'.
'The problem of trafficking is far greater than officially recognised and can no longer be considered a big city problem,' said Johnson of Lovells.
In most cases, trafficked women enter the UK 'overtly', using forged visas, false travel documents or visas obtained through corruption or deception, usually from their traffickers.
Barton confirmed her group was aware of a growing number of women who were being prosecuted carrying false documents given to them by organised criminals.
The development comes amid fresh evidence that victims are getting younger and that girls are being smuggled on demand by UK-based paedophile rings.
Barton said: 'Young girls from west Africa and China are, for instance, orphaned at a very young age and sexually abused. Once they hit puberty, they are being brought over here and sold into prostitution. A lot of young women, as young as eight, are sexually abused and then sold here.' One recent case involved a 15-year-old Nigerian girl who was abandoned in England when a member of an international paedophile ring dumped her after years of sexual abusing the teenager.
When found, she had been so badly abused and starved she was almost dead. Medical checks at the asylum centre in the north of England she was left outside revealed she was pregnant. Interviews with the victim established she had been kept for years by paedophiles, a number of whom are thought to be British, in a Belgian home where she was starved, tortured and repeatedly raped.
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
December 11, 2007 - 9:19PM
The prosecutor at the centre of the case in which six attackers escaped jail time for the gang rape of a 10-year-old in far-north Queensland has been stood aside, pending an investigation.
Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine tonight said the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions would investigate the conduct of Steve Carter, the senior legal officer responsible for Cape York matters in the DPP's Cairns chambers.
Court transcripts released today showed Mr Carter had described the 2006 incident as "childish experimentation" and consensual "in a general sense".
The child - who cannot be named - was gang-raped at the age of seven in Aurukun on Cape York in 2002, and was later put into foster care with a non-indigenous family in Cairns.
However, child safety officers in April 2006 returned her to Aurukun, where she was raped again at the age of 10.
Premier Anna Bligh today admitted the Child Safety Department had failed the girl.
"I think it is very important to understand, and I don't resile from the fact for one moment, the system clearly failed this little girl," Ms Bligh told reporters.
But she said the government took immediate action by disciplining the officers involved, moving the child, and improving child safety processes.
Ms Bligh could not give a reason for the officers' decision to return the girl to Aurukun, but said it should never have happened.
Cairns-based District Court judge Sarah Bradley did not record convictions against six teenage attackers and gave three others aged 17, 18 and 26 suspended sentences over the 2006 rape.
The state government is appealing the sentences and has ordered a review of around 75 sexual assault cases in Cape York over the past two years.
One senior child safety officer has been sacked and two others suspended for 12 months on full pay over the incident, but the two suspended officers are appealing the decision.
The girl is now in the care of the Child Safety Department away from Aurukun.
While the Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare declined to comment, her office today released transcripts of the court case.
They revealed that during the case, Mr Carter described the incident - in which the girl contracted a sexually transmitted disease - as "consensual sex".
"To the extent I can't say it was consensual in the legal sense, but in the other - in the general sense, the non-legal sense - yes, it was," Mr Carter told the court.
Mr Carter said the sex had been prearranged and the males had not forced themselves on the girl.
"... they're very naughty for doing what they're doing but it's really, in this case, it was a form of childish experimentation, rather than one child being prevailed upon by another," he said.
Mr Carter also told the court such incidents were not out of character in small, remote communities.
" ... children, females, have got to be - deserve - the same protection under the law in an Aboriginal or an indigenous community as they do in any other community," Mr Carter said.
"But sometimes things happen in a small community when children get together."
Hetty Johnston, founder of Bravehearts, said a judicial inquiry was needed.
"The prosecutor is there to defend the rights of the victims - that man is standing behind the wrong desk," Ms Johnston told AAP.
"This girl's life has been screwed up by a combination of the (child safety) department and the DPP."
Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR
KBR Told Victim She Could Lose Her Job If She Sought Help After Being Raped, She Says
By BRIAN ROSS, MADDY SAUER & JUSTIN ROOD
Dec. 10, 2007—
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.
Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.
"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.
"It felt like prison," says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming "20/20" investigation. "I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened."
Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.
"I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave,'" she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
"We contacted the State Department first," Poe told ABCNews.com, "and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen" -- from her American employer.
Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp, where they rescued her from the container.
According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally."
Jones told ABCNews.com that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.
A spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security told ABCNews.com he could not comment on the matter.
Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.
Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.
"It's very troubling," said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. "The way the law presently stands, I would say that they don't have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity for justice."
Congressman Poe says neither the departments of State nor Justice will give him answers on the status of the Jones investigation.
Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.
Asked what reasons the departments gave for the apparent slowness of the probes, Poe sounded frustrated.
"There are several, I think, their excuses, why the perpetrators haven't been prosecuted," Poe told ABC News. "But I think it is the responsibility of our government, the Justice Department and the State Department, when crimes occur against American citizens overseas in Iraq, contractors that are paid by the American public, that we pursue the criminal cases as best as we possibly can and that people are prosecuted."
Since no criminal charges have been filed, the only other option, according to Hutson, is the civil system, which is the approach that Jones is trying now. But Jones' former employer doesn't want this case to see the inside of a civil courtroom.
KBR has moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.
In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones' case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.
In his interview with ABC News, Rep. Poe said he sided with Jones.
"Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom," said Rep. Poe. "That's why we have courts in the United States."
In her lawsuit, Jones' lawyer, Todd Kelly, says KBR and Halliburton created a "boys will be boys" atmosphere at the company barracks which put her and other female employees at great risk.
"I think that men who are there believe that they live without laws," said Kelly. "The last thing she should have expected was for her own people to turn on her."
Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, says it "is improperly named" in the suit.
In a statement, KBR said it was "instructed to cease" its own investigation by U.S. government authorities "because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations."
"The safety and security of all employees remains KBR's top priority," it said in a statement. "Our commitment in this regard is unwavering."
Since the attacks, Jones has started a nonprofit foundation called the Jamie Leigh Foundation, which is dedicated to helping victims who were raped or sexually assaulted overseas while working for government contractors or other corporations.
"I want other women to know that it's not their fault," said Jones. "They can go against corporations that have treated them this way." Jones said that any proceeds from the civil suit will go to her foundation.
"There needs to be a voice out there that really pushed for change," she said. "I'd like to be that voice."
Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures
Monday, 10 December 2007
A pig farmer accused of being Canada's worst serial killer has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of six women.
Robert Willie' Pickton was on trial for the first six of 26 murder charges for the deaths of women, most of them prostitutes and drug addicts from a seedy Vancouver neighbourhood.
Pickton, 58, was found guilty of the murders of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe, Andrea Joesbury and Georgina Papin. He will be sentenced tomorrow.
The defence acknowledged that their remains were found on Pickton's farm outside Vancouver, but denied he was responsible for their deaths.
Two sisters of victim Georgina Papin screamed "No!" when the jury foreman first stood up and said "not guilty" on first-degree murder.
But later said they were pleased he was convicted on the second-degree charge.
Pickton listened to the verdict with his head bowed and later smirked.
He will receive life in prison and will not be eligible for parole for at least 10 years.
The jury had no recommendation on whether to extend that 10-year period.
The jury of seven men and five women took 10 days to reach a verdict. They had the option of finding Pickton guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter or not guilty on any of the six counts.
Second-degree murder is a lesser charge that means a murder was not planned.
First-degree murder, which means a murder was planned, also carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison and does not offer parole eligibility for 25 years.
Family members and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the courthouse in New Westminster, British Columbia, after the verdicts. A poem and a song written about the women was played. Some sobbed.
Publication date 10/12/07
Thursday, 6 December 2007
CONVICTED wife killer Nat Fraser was dramatically sent back to jail today after spending more than 18 months on bail.
The 48-year-old was ordered back behind bars when his appeal against conviction came to an end this afternoon.
He will remain in prison until judges issue a written judgment on his appeal, which could take several weeks.
Fraser is challenging his conviction for murdering his estranged wife Arlene more than nine years ago.
Three senior judges at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh made the unexpected decision after the Crown asked for his bail not to be continued.
Mrs Fraser was 33 when she disappeared from her home in New Elgin, Moray, on April 28 1998. Her body has never been found.
He was jailed for life in 2003 but was freed in May last year, pending his full appeal, after the court heard the grounds of appeal in his case were “compelling”.
Members of Mrs Fraser’s family, who have attended every day of his four-week appeal, spoke of their surprise at the move today.
This article: http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1907032007
Last updated: 06-Dec-07 13:49 GMT
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
SEVEN women in Edinburgh have been identified as human trafficking victims as part of a UK-wide police operation.
Most of the women uncovered since Pentameter 2 began on October 2 were from the Far East - mainly Thailand and Malaysia.
The majority had travelled to Britain to pay off a family debt and ended up working in the Capital's sex industry.
In one case reported today, a Romanian woman was repeatedly raped by human traffickers on the way to London, before being taken to work in an Edinburgh brothel.
Pentameter 2, the UK's biggest ever human trafficking operation, is now being extended into the New Year.
Meanwhile, a photo gallery to raise awareness about the issue has been set up at Edinburgh Airport.
It is hoped the Slave Britain exhibition will also help airport workers spot signs and alert authorities.
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
by Iain Lundy Glasgow Evening Times
THE growth in Glasgow's night-time economy and lap dancing culture were today blamed for the horrific toll of rapes and sex attacks on women.
Chief Inspector Brian Connel said a lack of a co-ordinated transport strategy when the pubs and clubs come out is making the city a more dangerous place and leaving women vulnerable to attack.
He also agreed with leading women's groups that lap dancing and television images were adding to the problem.
City's 2007 record of rape shameFEBRUARY A 15-year-old girl was raped in Ferguslie Park, Paisley. A 19-year-old man was arrested and has appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court.
APRIL An 18-year-old was raped while waiting for an early-morning bus to work in Cross Arthurlie Street at Barrhead, East Renfrewshire. A man grabbed her and dragged her into a lane. A 33-year-old man was arrested and has appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court.
Reader PollDoes lapdancing encourage sex attacks?
JUNE A woman was raped in Glasgow city centre just yards from clubbers making their way home. The 30-year-old was grabbed from behind and dragged into a lane. She was sitting on a wall at the BP garage in Elmbank Street, between Bath Lane and Elmbank Crescent just moments after leaving a club on Sauchiehall Street. No-one has been arrested.
JULY A dreadlocked gang of four raped a woman in Glasgow's West End. The 30-year-old mum-of-one was attacked while walking her dog in Yorkhill. The four were described as being of AfroCaribbean appearance. The victim was pushed to the ground and held down by two attackers, while a third, who was more than 6ft tall with waist-length dreadlocks, carried out the first assault. The three other men then also raped her in the square, which is next to wine bars, art galleries and tenement flats. No arrests have been made.
AUGUST A teenage girl was dragged off a busy street and raped in a daylight attack. The 16-year-old was walking along Dowanfield Road, Cumbernauld, when a man dragged her into shrubbery near Our Lady's High School and raped her. A 27-year-old man was arrested.
AUGUST A woman reported being raped in Glasgow. The 38-year-old said she tried to flag down drivers as she was chased by her attacker but nobody stopped to help her and she was dragged into bushes near Glasgow Royal Infirmary. A man, 39, was arrested in connection with the crime.Mr Connel spoke out as new figures obtained by the Evening Times revealed there were 192 rapes reported to Strathclyde Police between January and the end of July this year - only one fewer than the same period last year.
Detection rates rose slightly with 128 solved compared with 124 last year.
The number of serious sex attacks dropped from 54 to 41 - but only 16 have been detected this year as opposed to 30 in 2006.
Mr Connel, Strathclyde Police's force crime prevention officer, called for more action to get people safely and quickly home after a night out - and pleaded with young people to be more responsible on safety issues.
He said: "It is easy for a young person to end up with a stranger on a night out, especially after too much alcohol.
"There are thousands upon thousands of people in the city centre at the weekend and the transport is just not sufficient to get them all out. It is getting better but a lot has to be done.
"I don't think the culture helps and people are quite prepared to be irresponsible. It is all about enjoyment without a thought about what the consequences are.
"We are not asking folk to regulate their lives to the nth degree - but think a bit ahead, have money on your phone, don't get lost, stay with your friends. It is really simple stuff.
"When people are under the influence their skills in dealing with these kind of things are decreased dramatically."
The statistics come after a string of rapes and sexual assaults on women in and around Glasgow in the last few weeks - including the terrifying gang-rape of a 30-year-old woman near Yorkhill Hospital.
Women's groups believe many more victims are unwilling or too afraid to tell the police and the true picture is more grim than statistics suggest.
Diane Travers, personal safety tutor with Glasgow-based Wise Women, said she was concerned about what she called the "lapdance culture" in Glasgow city centre.
She added: "Our current culture of lapdancing clubs is worrying, especially hearing so many young men talk about it.
"There is a connection between lapdancing - which is sexual exploitation of women - and rape.
"It is saying that women are there to be watched and used and that they are there for entertainment."
Ms Travers claimed the statistics were the tip of the iceberg because so many women who were raped by someone they knew did not report the attacks.
She said: "It is easier to report an attack by a stranger but they are less inclined to talk about a friend, partner, boyfriend or someone in their family.
"It is very chilling to realise rapists are people who appear like normal everyday guys that we talk to in the pub or at home."
Mr Connel agreed lapdance culture and many television images were adding to the problem.
He said: "It is all about exploitation and it is all about behaviour I would say is unacceptable but is creating the wrong type of role models."
Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, said the attitude of rape perpetrators had changed little over the years.
"There are prehistoric attitudes to rape and sexual assault in this city that we are having to challenge," she said.
"You wouldn't think it was 2007. Things should be much more enlightened but it feels like it is the same attitude since the 1970s when rape crisis centres had to be set up in the first place."
We'll see what happens!!!
Fraser's defence has featured the issue of his wife's ringsNat Fraser's defence team has rubbished claims a jury would still have found him guilty had evidence about his wife Arlene's rings been available at trial.
Fraser, 48, was jailed for life in 2003 after being found guilty of murdering his wife.
Her body was never found after she went missing in Elgin, Moray, in 1998.
Peter Gray QC said fresh evidence of two police officers cast doubt on the Crown's main theory about the murder, meaning it was not a fair trial.
The prosecution case had included claims that Fraser placed Arlene's engagement, wedding and eternity rings in the bathroom of her house several days after she vanished.
Evidence has since emerged that two police officers may have seen the rings in Arlene's house shortly after she disappeared.
Fraser's defence claims he suffered a miscarriage of justice because the advocate depute in the trial made Arlene's rings the "cornerstone" of his case.
The Crown has argued that the evidence against Fraser was "overwhelming".
Arlene Fraser went missing from Elgin in 1998
The Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh earlier heard John Beckett QC, for the Crown, claim the officers' evidence would have helped the prosecutor.
However, Mr Gray said it was "wholly artificial" for appeal judges to consider what the Crown might have done had they been aware of the evidence.
"If the cornerstone of the Crown case has been on an inaccurate premise then, in my submission, it is extremely difficult to see how the appellant can have had a fair trial," said Mr Gray.
"This is a very unusual case because the Crown proceeded on a basis on which it now recognises was inaccurate, and in the context of a fresh evidence appeal it would be wholly artificial to start looking at what may have happened if the Crown had presented the case in a different way, because that didn't happen."
The judges will deliver a decision on the appeal later
Monday, 3 December 2007
Advocating for women who experience domestic abuse can allow women to look at the decisions they make in their lives - Scotland needs independent advocates.
Pioneering scheme cuts domestic violence
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
Published: 03 December 2007
A pioneering scheme to tackle domestic violence, which affects 1.5 million women each year in the UK, has cut the incidence of assault and injury to women by two thirds, according to the first independent evaluation of its impact.
The £1m scheme, half funded by the Home Office, uses special case workers to co-ordinate services aimed at keeping the victim safe in her own home and has been so successful that it is being rolled out across the country.
Every year more than 100 women die at the hands of their partners, and 150,000 suffer physical or sexual assault, psychiatric harm, or are driven to suicide. More than 600,000 report incidents of abuse to the police, but thousands more suffer in silence.
The new approach involves identifying women at highest risk, using a 20-point checklist of risk factors, and appointing independent domestic violence advocates (IDVAs) to support them. The advocates co-ordinate monthly meetings of local services to protect the victims and help them to rebuild their lives.
Results from the first eight pilot areas to be evaluated showed that after six months, in at least 90 out of 140 cases (65 per cent), the violence had stopped. The monthly Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (Maracs) have dealt with 8,000 cases this year, which is set to double to 15,000 next year. Research shows that 70 per cent of women who have been through the Marac process were still safe six months later.
The scheme is run by a charity, Co-ordinated Action on Domestic Abuse (CAADA), set up by Diana Barran, a former hedge fund manager, in 2004.
Ms Barran has the enthusiastic backing of Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, and was last week awarded a Beacon prize, one of Britain's top awards for philanthropy.
She said: "The research shows that the model works. When we talk about violence in this context we are talking about a knife being held to a victim's throat. There is nothing pink and fluffy about this.
"For too long victims of domestic abuse have been chucked from pillar to post because it is a problem that crosses so many boundaries – police, health, housing, social services. Women's refuges have kept victims safe, but lives have also been lost because women didn't want to go into them, or they were full or too far away.
"Our objective is to keep women in their homes but safe and supported. We aim to provide a GP-style of service so that wherever you go for help you know exactly what you are going to get. Currently victims of domestic abuse who go to a local agency get a completely different response in one area from the next."
A national training programme will have 360 advocates in place around the UK by the spring, enough to deal with 30,000 high-risk cases annually.
The largest project is at Worthing, West Sussex, where 10 IDVAs are attached to the accident and emergency departments of Worthing and Crawley hospitals. Detection of domestic violence rose from one case a year to one a day after A&E staff began routinely asking women how they were injured. The scheme is being rolled out to hospitals at Chichester and Haywards Heath, and the number of advocates more than doubled to 25.
Ms Barran said: "IDVAs are the catalyst that make everything else work. We estimate the cost of providing a national service at £50m, which would save £5 for every £1 spent. But it is the biggest human need for which it is most difficult to raise money."
'You don't have to put up with it' - Tessa, victim
Tessa was with her five-year-old daughter, Maisie, when her partner came at her in the living room with a knife.
"He had attacked me lots of times but this time I thought he was going to kill me. He picked me up and flung me over the sofa because I wouldn't go to a party with him. I tried to protect myself and he stabbed me through the hand. I went to casualty and I told them I had had an accident cutting meat – even though I am a vegetarian. That's the problem – there was no help so you tell lies. You put up and shut up."
She had met Roy, a plumber who played rugby and boxed for charity, in a pub in Manchester in 1995. She said: "It was an on-off relationship, full of violence and nastiness. I did try to get away, but he used to turn up at my house and I couldn't get rid of him. He was on drugs and would smash the windows to get in."
The police did nothing and the domestic violence helpline was useless, she said. Then social workers threatened to take her children into care. "That was really scary. I felt trapped – there was nothing I could do."
Eventually her local Women's Aid branch put her in touch with an advocate, trained by CAADA, who organised police protection, helped her to start court proceedings and found her a new place to live. "They really helped me. I would not have had the go in me to carry on without them. I want people to realise that you can get out of situations like mine. You don't have to put up with it."
GERRI PEEV POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
MEN in Britain believe they can get away with rape, David Cameron claimed yesterday as he accused the Labour government of presiding over a moral collapse in society.
The Conservative Party leader pledged extra help for victims and stronger punishments for rapists, calling for sex education to include emphasis on the need for consent.
While the figures he cited for England and Wales showed a conviction rate of just 5.1 per cent of all complainants, in Scotland it is 1 percentage point lower. The Scottish Government has already pledged a new Sexual Offences Bill to tackle the low conviction rate.
In a speech to the Conservative Women's Organisation in London, Mr Cameron called for a cultural change. "Studies have shown that as many as one in two young men believe there are some circumstances when it's OK to force a woman to have sex," he said. "To my mind, this is an example of moral collapse."
The Tory leader warned that society has become increasingly "sexualised" over the past decade, during which time treating women as sex objects has become viewed as "cool". He also called for compulsory sex education in schools to drive home the message that sex without consent is a criminal offence.
"And what about when the perpetrator is convicted?" he continued. "The average custodial sentence handed to rapists in England and Wales has fallen ... to around 80 months. Given all this, we have a situation where rapists think they can get away with it, while victims wonder what's the point of pursuing the criminal process."
Citing the case of Lindsay Armstrong, 16, who committed suicide after seeing her attacker convicted of rape in a trial at which she was asked to show the court the underwear she had been wearing at the time of the assault, Mr Cameron said more support was also vital.
The Labour Party hit back at criticism of the low conviction rates for rape. A spokesman pointed out that the Conservatives - including Mr Cameron and David Davis, the shadow home secretary - had voted against allowing police to take DNA samples from a person arrested for a recordable offence as part of the Criminal Justice Bill. Since the law came into force in 2004, 90 rapists had been convicted, the spokesman said.
Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister, insisted the government was taking action, including providing new centres to provide medical care and counselling to victims, putting in place specialist police officers and prosecutors and trialling the use of "independent sexual violence advisers" in 38 areas.
Sally Ireland, senior legal officer at the campaign group Justice warned against engineering conviction rates upwards by making trials unfair.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it was awaiting a report from the Scottish Law Commission before it published a final sexual offences bill. "No victim should be dissuaded from coming forward because they fear that the law is unclear or that their experience will not be taken seriously," he said.
SCOTLAND has one of the world's lowest conviction rates for rape, a statistic which has been repeatedly condemned by campaigners.
Out of 975 serious sex crimes reported to the police last year, only 38 - or one in 25 - culminated in guilty verdicts. This translates to a conviction rate of 3.9 per cent.
The all-time low compares with a 5 per cent conviction rate in 2005.
The number of reported rape cases has soared by 300 per cent over the past three decades. In 1997-98, there were 596 rapes reported, while in 2004-5 the number was 900.
Rapists are also almost ten times more likely to be found guilty in some parts of Scotland compared with others, according to figures released earlier this year.
Grampian had a conviction rate of less than 1 per cent, while at the other end of the scale the neighbouring Northern Constabulary area achieved 8.7 per cent.
Sunday, 2 December 2007
Catherine Thomson, 26, was stabbed in the jugular vein at her family home in Moodiesburn, North Lanarkshire.
John Campbell attacked Ms Thomson - his brother's girlfriend - while on leave from Castle Huntly prison in 2005.
A fatal accident inquiry ruled that a risk assessment should have been carried out before he was given leave.
Sheriff Thomas Millar ruled Ms Thomson's death could have been avoided.
Campbell was arrested and later plunged to his death from an upper gallery at Glasgow's Barlinnie prison, in an apparent suicide.
Lawyer Cameron Fyfe said Ms Thomson's family were taking legal action against the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).
Mr Fyfe, who is acting for the family, said: "We take the view that the determination from the sheriff gives us the basis to proceed on the basis that the prison service was negligent in allowing Campbell out without a proper risk assessment.
"The family really don't care about the compensation money, they haven't even asked me how much they could get.
"What they want, in their words, is for some justice to come out of this and for the prison service to pay for the mistake that they made."
Campbell, 34, was serving an eight-year sentence for two charges of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement when he was allowed out of prison on short unsupervised leave.
He had initially been placed on high supervision level when he was sentenced in August 2002.
In 2004 his supervision level was wrongly reduced to low, which meant he was eligible for unsupervised home leave when he was transferred to Castle Huntley prison.
Sheriff Millar found that officers there had assumed Campbell was of low risk to the community because he was on a low supervision level.He added they failed to carry out a fresh risk assessment on Campbell because they assumed one had been carried out elsewhere and were simply "rubber-stamping" it.
The police suspect Arthur McElhill of setting fire to his house and killing himself, his partner Lorraine McGovern and their five children - Caroline, Sean, Belinda, Clodagh and James. May the family find peace
Updated:16:45, Saturday December 01, 2007Children weep for lost classmates
Several hundred people attended requiem mass at the
Arthur McElhill, 39, his partner Lorraine McGovern, 30 and their children - Caroline, 13, Sean, seven, Bellina, four, Clodagh, 18 months and James nine month - died together when fire engulfed their three-bedroom, end of terrace house.
Police are treating the deaths as murder and suspect Mr McElhill of starting the fire after they found petrol had been sprinkled around the house and set alight.
The McElhill and McGovern families disagreed for a fortnight over where the family should be buried.
Eventually it was decided a single service would be held for the family but that Mr McElhill would be buried separately from his family.
He will be buried in Ederney,
Speaking during the service, parish priest Monsignor Joseph Donnelly referred back to the Omagh bombing saying a community may have experience of tragedy but could never become accustomed to it.
He said: "To lose an entire family unit in one instance is unimaginable. It is a devastation for the families immediately connected. It is a loss so total that words fail to describe the immensity of the events."
Looking down at the five white coffins of the children - each with a single white carnation upon it - and flanked by the coffins of their parents, he added: "The visual impact of what lies before us leaves us in no doubt about the horrible reality."
Children from St Conor's primary school, next door to the fire blackened house in
Sombre faced, many wept for their lost classmates. So too did the pupils from the Sacred Heart college which the oldest child attended.
At long last someone is getting that domestic abuse is about the abusive man - why do the women and children have to leave and live in fear? When a man is charged with domestic abuse and is bailed to stay away from his ex-partner he needs to stay in a bail hostel - if he is a persistent offender he needs to be remanded. Perpetrators need to be held responsible and accountable for their behaviour as it is their problem - there will need to be a huge injection into funding it is imperative as Lily Greenan says in this article that women and children's safety is paramount. Best of luck Cheif Constable House - hope you can win the Glasgow Council over to your way of thinking and convince the Scottish Government to pay for it. Working with men costs quite a lot of money and their needs to be parity for the victims - the women and children, they need resources too. But Another Witch to Burn is behind this initiative, hope it happens..
Dec 2 2007 By Norman Silvester
Husbands Face Time In Hostels To Keep Them Away From Victims
WIFE-BEATERS will be forced to live in hostels far from their victims in a domestic violence crackdown.
The measure was revealed by Strathclyde Police's new chief constable, Steve House, yesterday.
He is making domestic violence a priority after taking charge of Scotland's biggest force and says it is wrong for battered women and their children to be forced to hide in refuges.
Mr House wants to turn the tables and put the wife-beaters there instead.
The dad of three said: "Domestic violence is on the increase. A woman will be the victim an average of 20 times before she calls the police.
"Normally, when a woman is the victim of domestic violence, she ends up in a refuge.
"I would like to see more refuges and hostels for women. But the last thing you want is the victim and her children taken out of the home because of the disruption to schooling and family life.
"We would prefer the accused be made to go to a hostel and the victim stay in the family home."
Mr House revealed men who assault their wives and partners will be routinely kept in custody until they can be taken to court.
They will be sent to live in hostels - paid for by the police and local authorities - until their trial.
The Glasgow-born officer added: "An average of 45 per cent of attacks in the home happen in front of a child and that child will often go on to commit acts of crime and violence.
"Evidence shows teenagers who commit violence are usually from homes where they have seen domestic violence."
The hostel plan is part of a raft of measures which include allowing police to accept third-party reporting of domestic violence, where terrified victims won't come forward. The moves also propose the creation of "Cocoon Watch" schemes, where neighbours are encouraged to report suspected domestic violence to police.
Victims will also be given panic alarms and their attackers forced to attend anger-management classes.
The plans have been welcomed by women's rights campaigners and politicians.
Jean Cumming from support agency Crisis said: "I'm delighted the chief constable is introducing the measures and hope every other force will follow suit.
"We've been campaigning to encourage authorities to take more radical action to tackle domestic abuse because it has such a knock-on effect across society.
"Providing bail hostels is particularly welcome as it will give an abused family a breathing space."
The scheme will be similar to the estimated 100 bail hostels in England, where about 2000 alleged offenders await trail.
'The last thing you want is the victim and kids moved from home'
Saturday, 1 December 2007
Rape inquiry police make arrest
Police investigating a rape in a North Lanarkshire village have arrested a man.
A 15-year-old girl was allegedly attacked in Banton, near Kilsyth, on Tuesday night while she was out jogging.
A 31-year-old man has been arrested and is being detained in custody in connection with the alleged incident, a Strathclyde Police statement said.
The man is expected to appear in court on Monday.
The female victim, who is understood to be in her late twenties, was reportedly raped by a group of Spanish men as she made her way back to the city-centre hotel where she had been staying. She is believed to have become separated from friends minutes before the attack on Wednesday, the night before the European fixture.
A spokesman for the British Consulate confirmed they had assisted a Scottish woman in connection with an alleged gang rape.
But while Scottish fans have accused Spanish police of heavyhanded tactics, Grampian Police believe known troublemakers who associate themselves with the Pittodrie club travelled to the game with the intention of causing violence.
However, there were no reports of any arrests amongst the
An estimated 6,000
At least one fan, Ian Bremner, a father of two, was taken to hospital during clashes in the Spanish capital.
Friends of the 38-year-old project manager, originally from Buckie, Moray, who now works in
Lindsay Bartlet, 45, who was with Mr Bremner at the time, said: "It was way over the top for the police to charge at us like that; it was completely unprovoked."
It is understood Mr Bremner was due to be discharged from the
John Morgan, Aberdeen FC's head of security, said he witnessed a child of about ten being hit with a baton, and also saw women being struck.
Superintendent Adrian Watson, of Grampian Police, said: "There was a clash between fans and the Spanish police, but the trouble was limited to a small number of troublemakers. This small group travelled to
Four Grampian Police officers were in
Dave Macdermid, a spokesman for Aberdeen FC, said the club was to write to Uefa.
He said: "There is no doubt there were problems with violence, but it was limited to a small number of people.
"Most of the fans behaved impeccably and I would like to thank them for that. Unfortunately, there was a small number that did not and that is where the violence stemmed from."
The Spanish media reported yesterday that at least 17 people had suffered injuries during the trouble, which saw riot police try to control the crowd after flares, bottles and other objects were thrown.