WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

Protest, Norwich Job Centre

Protest, Norwich Job Centre
Fatso Gets Militant!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

the rewards of free expression

Today, I received this mail as a result of my pplog entry of 25th September:

cc SL
Thank you for keeping Sarah and others in the loop on your experience at the Loddon SNAP meeting held on the 24thSept as posted on your Blog.
I sought to follow up your experience given its very negative perspective. I have had a number of different perspectives from various other attendees at the meeting. All of them accept that the meeting was not well run and that, consequently, things were not spelt out at the outset. However, they all seriously challenge the view that the police officer was rude or abusive to anyone. That said, he was, due to the lack of an effective chair, left handling many issues that were not for the police, or them alone.
This combined with the fact that the closure of Loddon Police Station was still a “local” issue and it dominated the anti-attitude of those present even when, in policing terms, crime is down and performance is up with a consequential improvement in public satisfaction. Despite this, the officer found himself exposed in areas where other partners had a responsibility to proffer comment or, the public had a predisposed position that would not have changed even if zero crime had been reported!
Your views and perceptions are, of course your own, and I am sorry that you seem to feel so negative about this. Your Blog demonstrates that you feel you have had a series of bad experiences all around. Following my own visit to you, with Pauline Mason, a while ago I had hoped that, as far as the police were concerned, where you had the experiences you might seek to share them with us first before launching a negative attack on those that may have inadvertently offended. Whilst it is obvious to me, now at least, that this might be a major change of approach for you, it is one that I again seriously commend to you.
You mentioned that there was “disregard for proper access by vulnerable people to a public meeting”; the South Norfolk Community Safety Officer had specifically assessed the school for wheelchair access and had addressed the meeting regarding the need for the audience not to cross-talk as it would cause difficulties for those with hearing impairment.
Perhaps, as we discussed, I seek to look at this through glass half-full approach and with a view to building on the undoubted progress being made in policing in Norfolk. This is true in all areas, but we are the first to recognise that the needs of hard to hear groups (only a minority of whom are represented on the Disability Forum) have to be recognised and considered along with everything else, and reasonable adjustments made. We won’t, and in some cases can’t, do that right every time, but our aim is to do just that eventually. We need those on the Disability Forum to help us achieve that aim, and quite frankly, lashing out via the blog won’t help us – even though it may help you feel better! I would be grateful for your positive suggestions, made via the Disability Forum, if you think that appropriate. 
I am aware that the Constabulary are seeking to arrange for a visit to you by Inspector John Allison so he can discuss the policing issues with you.
Overall, my desire is for there to be a positive, but pragmatic/realistic dialogue amongst the members of the Disability Forum. To that end, I will share this response with the members of the Disability Forum to whom you emailed.
Chris Harding MBE LL.B Solicitor
Chief Executive
Norfolk Police Authority

I replied:

Hello Mr Harding.

The first point I must make is that on the header on pplog there is a clear statement which says that the views and opinions on there are my own and, unless stated otherwise, are not representative of anyone else or any other body. Although, when I wrote the report, I happened to be a member of the Police Disability Forum, I had retained the right to express my views as an individual private citizen. Your mail to me IMHO smacks of attempts at repression and censorship.

Most importantly the write up is accurate as I (and others - read the comments) experienced the meeting. I did take verbatim notes of what was said. I don't know who you have spoken to! the report is negative because the experience was negative.

You should note that the disabled people I referred to as being excluded by the tone and process of the meeting are those with learning difficulties and/or mental health problems.

It is also inescapable that the parameters of the SNAP have been changed arbitrarily and without public consultation. It is inescapable that the police officer there took a bombastic approach, dictating that the SNAP could deal with nothing that happened between the hours of 12 midnight and 8am - something of a farce if accurate, and (contrary to campaigns to stress that 999 calls should ONLY be used in emergencies) advised the meeting not to phone the ordinary police response number if youths were throwing stones and causing damage but TO PHONE 999!!!  It is inescapable that people present at the meeting were told forcibly that the SNAP was not the place to report incidents involving local criminality!!!

If you take the trouble to look properly you will see that along with factual negative reports on pplog there are very positive ones where a positive report is merited. I have been praising the Safer Neighbourhoods initiatives and some of the officers involved in many quarters and, in fact highlighted the work PCSO Donna Boggis has done in out neighbourhood at the SNAP meeting in question. Also on pplog I even suggested the Norfolk model as a potential model for rural areas nationally (17.01.08).

I take serious exception to your tone and censorship attempts in your mail to me and I will have nothing further to do with any organisation having these repressive attitudes. From today, I am no longer a member of the Police Disability Forum.



I am convinced that the police do need a Disability Forums but I am now equally convinced that this needs to be fully run by service users and wholly independent of the Constabularies and Police Authorities. Please let me have your views in “comments” below.

1 comment:

Mandy said...

"I sought to follow up your experience given its VERY negative perspective"

Interpretation "As you are not compliant I sought out those who would be"

We, the nodding heads, are upholding our right to have the same old same as..so please don't rock our boat.

Naughty Mike


The Tough Tenor (when I could walk)!

In a Mellotone

In a Mellotone
Ah sweet Youffff