Monday, 13 April 2015

GIRFEC and Police Scotland

"GIRFEC is all about early and effective intervention – and of course about putting the child at the centre of that approach." So they say.

It is also about Community Planning Partnerships - all state, corporate and voluntary agencies working together with a shared understanding of children`s wellbeing (common language) and a consensus about passing on information about children between the various agencies.

Alongside health and education, the police are an important partner in the Community Planning Partnership. From their document Getting it right for children and families and using language straight from the SHANARRI wellbeing wheel, they assure everyone that their mission is to keep children safe. 
Every child or young person has the right to be safe and protected, and to feel safe and protected from any avoidable situation or acts of commission or omission which might result in that child being exposed to demands and expectations which are inappropriate to their age and stage of development.

Well if that is GIRFEC (Getting it Right for Every Child) and the Community Planning Partnership it is not working out too well.

The following article from the Guardian exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of the CPP:

"Scottish ministers have appointed a human rights lawyer to investigate a record level of police use of stop-and-search after a damning report by the police inspectorate."

"An inquiry by the Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland found a series of failures by Police Scotland after the force increased the use of common law stop and search, dwarfing its use everywhere else in the UK. After revealing that 83 children under 11 were stopped and searched in six months last year without any proof of a crime – despite the force’s promise that it would end, the inspectorate said Police Scotland’s record-keeping on stop and search was riddled with errors and inconsistencies...."

"The Scottish justice secretary, Michael Matheson, announced on Tuesday that John Scott QC, a leading human rights lawyer and chair of the Scottish branch of the Howard League for Penal Reform, would now lead an expert panel to investigate the future use of stop and search, including considering a ban."

"Stop and search can be a valuable tool in combating crime," Matheson said, "but we must get the balance right between protecting the public and the rights of the individual. "As such, it is vital that stop-and-search powers are used appropriately, and we need to make some key decisions on how such powers should be used going forward. We need a clear, consistent approach which, as a society, we can all be agreed upon."

"Both announcements mark a U-turn by the Scottish government after Matheson’s predecessor as justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, repeatedly defended the practice, despite mounting evidence that it was being abused and unregulated. They are also a significant blow to the reputation of Stephen House, the former Metropolitan police assistant deputy commissioner who became the first chief of the new force Police Scotland...."

"A study by Kath Murray, at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Edinburgh, found that stop-and-search rates were four times higher than the rest of the UK because Scottish police were heavily using common law powers to search without evidence – a practice banned in England and Wales..."

"She discovered too that children under 14 were searched 26,000 times in 2010 without evidence or suspicion of a crime. That included 500 searches of children aged 10 or under, and 72 searches of children aged seven or younger...."

All of this, including GIRFEC, leaves us to ask the embarrassing question: How come Police Scotland, one of the important partners in the Community Planning Partnership, does not know that it is inappropriate to stop and search children in a consensual search who are actually below the age of consent?

To use their own words: when the police stop and search children below the age of consent are they not exposing them to demands and expectations which are inappropriate to their age and stage of development?

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