Charity Matters Dec 2017/Jan 2018 ISSUE 76

GROOMING CHILDREN Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are making it easier for perverts to target children and groom them for … 

PRISON IF YOU GET IT WRONG A sad case of a vulnerable woman in her 50’s and in bad health being jailed for non-payment of council tax of £700, including fines …

DANGEROUS AND MISGUIDED Charities working with domestic abuse have criticised a campaign by Essex police which offered extra support to those over 55 who were …

VILE TRADE LEGAL IN SOUTH AFRICA Around 800 lions in South Africa have been taken from their mothers at a few days old, while still blind, and reared to be petted …

STEAL £1.3 MILLION – PAY BACK £51,745 A trusted boss of Welsh homeless charity who stole £1.3 million to fund a lavish lifestyle has been jailed for five years and …

UNSUSTAINABLE EATING Research by the food charity Sustain has revealed that some of the UK’s largest contract caterers are serving fish deemed by the Marine …

GROOMING CHILDREN

Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are making it easier for perverts to target children and groom them for sexual purposes.

The NSPCC’s ChildLine emergency number has received 33% more calls in the past year as 3,122 children contacted them for counselling. The charity has warned that predatory adults were using money, gifts and affection to groom, sexually harass and traffic children who were usually unaware they were not communicating with another child their own age.

One young girl told ChildLine: – “I was playing a game online and started talking to someone who asked me to send them rude pictures. They said they were my age and after talking for a while I sent them some pictures, but now they’re blackmailing me and threatening to show everyone if I don’t carry on. I feel really stupid and I’m scared about what will happen”.

ChildLine say girls aged 12 – 15 are most likely to be targeted.

PRISON IF YOU GET IT WRONG

A sad case of a vulnerable woman in her 50’s and in bad health being jailed for non-payment of council tax of £700, including fines, was recently featured in the national press, and supplied by charity Citizens Advice in York.

A magistrate decided that because she was paying off a catalogue debt before her council tax this constituted wilful refusal and helpfully and compassionately sent her to prison. In such cases there is no time off for good behaviour, only release if the full debt is paid, and her husband, also in bad health couldn’t pay. After she had served the full term, which affected her deeply, she entered insolvency and the debt she had been so severely punished for was written off anyway.

In fact council tax debt is not a crime but that doesn’t stop magistrates sending debtors to prison, to mingle with real criminals. And it doesn’t stop some councils risking the health, both mental and physical of those who don’t pay by taking them to court. England’s worst is Bradford Metropolitan Council, where court proceedings resulting in 18 being jailed. Second worst was Vale of Glamorgan council, where the number jailed was 14, and third worst was Coventry City Council where the number jailed was five.

Failure to pay for a TV licence, and the subsequent fines, resulted in jail, and mixing with real criminals, for 90 people last year.

Meanwhile caring councils have just been given leave to increase council tax charges by an average of £100 per household, twice the rate of inflation and three times the rate of wage growth.

DANGEROUS AND MISGUIDED

Charities working with domestic abuse have criticised a campaign by Essex police which offered extra support to those over 55 who were in an abusive relationship and who decided to stay with their abuser.

The campaign featured a fictional woman of 65, Sheila, who was in an abusive relationship. The copy read:- “She knew that the abuse in her relationship was wrong, but also knew that she wouldn’t leave” “With help and support from specialist organisations and agencies Sheila and her husband stayed together, but safely”.

Essex police admitted that the campaign used “clumsy language”. The Women’s Aid charity commented that:- “The message that a woman can safely stay in a relationship that is or has been abusive is extremely dangerous. Every week two women are killed by their partners or former partners”. And the Refuge charity commented:- “It’s the job of the police to arrest and charge domestic abuse perpetrators, but only last month the third Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary report into the police response to domestic abuse victims found fewer perpetrators were being arrested as well as grave inadequacies in practice”.

VILE TRADE LEGAL IN SOUTH AFRICA

Around 800 lions in South Africa have been taken from their mothers at a few days old, while still blind, and reared to be petted by fee-paying tourists as they grow up and then shot at three to four years old by brave fee-paying “hunters” at close range in a “canned hunt” arranged in a small enclosure so there is no actual hunting, just an easy kill. The “hunter” then takes home the skull and skin as trophies, while the bones of the lions are sold to China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam where they are often described as tiger bones and made into jewellery, cakes, wine, medicines and supposed aphrodisiacs, with each carcass fetching up to £50,000 on the street.

The vile trade, legal in South Africa, is condemned by a number of charities, including the Environmental Investigation Agency which confirms that lions have now replaced tigers as a source of big-cat body parts. Wild cat protection group Panthera states that this has simply kept alive the demand from China and other countries for the highly prized body parts. And conservation group Born Free, which has campaigned for tighter rules on trophy imports into the EU and USA, states:-“The intensive breeding of lions and their exploitation for profit is completely unacceptable. It serves no conservation purpose and the animals all too often suffer short, miserable lives. The government has a responsibility to close this industry down and focus on protecting wild lions”.

STEAL £1.3 MILLION – PAY BACK £51,745

A trusted boss of Welsh homeless charity who stole £1.3 million to fund a lavish lifestyle has been jailed for five years and ordered to pay back just £51,745.

Robert Davis, 50, admitted fraud by abuse of position while working as the £45,000 a year head of finance at the Cyrenians Cymru in Swansea. Over a 6 year and 5 month period from June 2008 to November 2014 Davies paid 271 cheques intended for the charity into his personal bank account, forcing his employer, which had started helping the homeless in 1973, into administration.

From his fraud Davies spent £100,000+ on boats, £250,000 on mooring costs, £80,000 on 15 stays at the Savoy Hotel, London, £20,000 on private flights and expensive holidays for himself and his family in America, Africa and Japan.

UNSUSTAINABLE EATING

Research by the food charity Sustain has revealed that some of the UK’s largest contract caterers are serving fish deemed by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) to be “at risk” because of overfishing, those produced unsustainably or those produced with slavery in the supply chain.

The caterers, some of which will be contracted at venues used by charities, include Sodexo, Compass Group UK and Ireland and ISS.

MCS identify 63 species and types for their “red” list of ones to avoid eating. These include fish where the sustainability is improved by selection of method of catching, area caught in or farmed possibilities and included on the list are cod, haddock, herring, seabass, bream, eel, grouper, halibut, lobster, marlin, grey mullet, plaice, pollock, whitebait, rays, Atlantic salmon, scallops, shark, skate, sole, squid, swordfish and tuna.

Check the MCS website before eating, if you don’t want to be part of the problem.

Charity Matters Oct/Nov 2017 ISSUE 75

EXPOSING SLAVERY In conjunction with the government’s anti-slavery units the London Evening Standard has issued readers with key signs for the public to look…

MORE PRISON FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY OFFENCES The RSPCA has welcomed the government announcement that the current maximum term of six months in prison …

CARE CRISIS Charities concerned with the care of the elderly have warned of the frightening extent of the crisis in the care home sector. A report by the Care Quality …

ONLINE PORNOGRAPHY BLAMED Charities have blamed the easy availability of online pornography for the revelations that child on child sexual assaults have …

MORE ON KID’S COMPANY “Unethical journalists” who conspired against her and “politicians who don’t know what is happening on the street” have been blamed for …

BAG BAN Charity collection bags posted through householder’s letterboxes are now banned, if the householder displays a sign advising charities the bags are unwanted…

A CHARITABLE CHANCELLOR? Chancellor Philip Hammond could face questions over his moral integrity after he shelved a review of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals …

EXPOSING SLAVERY

In conjunction with the government’s anti-slavery units the London Evening Standard has issued readers with key signs for the public to look for which could indicate enslavement. In particular the Met police’s Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit and the government’s Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority are currently investigating hand car washes in London where slavery is considered especially likely.

  • Is someone always watching the staff?
  • Do staff have injuries that indicate assault?
  • Do staff seem frightened and/or unwilling to make eye contact?
  • Do staff always wear the same old clothes?
  • Are staff wearing gloves to protect their hands from chemicals?
  • Do staff look starving or neglected? Are the car washes offered for £5 or less?

At four hand car washes in East London staff told officials of sleeping four to a room and working 12-hour days for £3 an hour. Other premises likely to house slaves are nail bars. Continue reading

MORE PRISON FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY OFFENCES

The RSPCA has welcomed the government announcement that the current maximum term of six months in prison for cruelty to animals is to be increased to five years.

The six month maximum was set in 1911, more than 100 years ago, by the Protection of Animals Act, and is one of the lowest in Europe. Studies by the Centre for Crime Prevention (CCP) show that custodial sentences are, in any case rarely imposed in animal cruelty cases, in just one in every thirteen cases since 2005.Many of these were handed suspended sentences. One in four of convicted offenders was simply handed a fine, with an average of less than £300. Continue reading