Jan 17 2007

Pre-Charge Detention Limit

The House of Commons has narrowly voted for the period for which the police can detain suspects without charge to be extended to 42 days.

This vote was carried by only 9 votes and then only after a series of concessions had been given to Labour MPs opposed to the proposals, including considering giving suspects released without charge £3,000 per day for every day over 28 days that they had been detained.

Bob Blackman, prospective parliamentary candidate for Harrow East, has condemned this proposal as an outright attack on civil liberties. Bob Blackman commented, “We need practical measures to bring terrorists to justice. We want to see terrorists charged, tried, convicted and put behind bars. The Government has forced through a vote on detaining people without their being charged with any offence whatsoever. The risk here is that innocent people will be detained against their will and no charges ever levelled against them. Why has the Government decided on 42 days? In all the cases where suspected terrorists have been detained, either charges have been made or the suspects released well within the existing limits. The Government has not been able to demonstrate the case for this draconian measure. The lesson of internment without trial in Ireland proves that this type of measure creates martyrs and is ineffective. We cannot defend our liberties by sacrificing our liberties.”

Commenting on the decision by David Davis to resign and fight a by election on the issue of extending detention without charge, Bob Blackman said, “This is a courageous stance by David Davis to highlight the slow strangulation of fundamental freedoms by the Labour Government.  We can look forward to a strong victory to further deepen the unpopularity of Gordon Brown’s Government.”

Jan 16 2007

New figures expose harmful effect of binge and under-age drinking

Alcohol misuse fuelling yob behaviour and hospital admissions soar

Bob Blackman, prospective parliamentary candidate for Harrow East expressed his concern over new official figures which have revealed a soaring number of hospital admissions due to alcohol misuse, and the effect of alcohol in pushing up crime and disorder.

According to research by the NHS Information Centre:

  • The number of admissions to NHS hospital due to alcohol has soared by 52 per cent over the last decade.
  • 1 in 10 of all these incidents now involves those under 18 – the legal drinking age.
  • Across London, there were 25,577 hospital admissions due to alcohol last year.
  • 1 in 3 of all 15 year olds thinks it is acceptable to get drunk at least once a week.
  • Half of all violent attacks are committed by those under the influence of alcohol.

Growing alcohol misuse has coincided with new 24 hour licensing laws imposed by the Government, and a failure to enforce effectively the laws which exist against under-age drinking. The Government has also raided budgets for the promotion of healthy living to meet NHS deficits.

Bob Blackman said:

“There’s nothing wrong with adults having a good night out, but under-age and binge drinking fuels crime and anti-social behaviour. Labour Ministers talk endlessly about cracking down on alcohol-related violence, but these new figures expose Gordon Brown’s complacency and the knock-on effect on the NHS.

“The Labour Government’s failure to enforce the law sends totally the wrong message about under-age drinking. We need greater social responsibility, more powers for local communities over licensing, and an end to some parents turning a blind eye to their children’s drinking.”

Notes to Editors

NEW RESEARCH ON BINGE-DRINKING

The NHS Information Centre has published new research on the health effects of alcohol misuse:

  • In 2006-07, there were 57,142 NHS hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis specifically related to alcohol. This number has risen by 52 per cent since 1995-96.
  • Of these admissions, 4,888 (nine per cent) involved patients under 18 years of age.
  • 15 per cent of pupils thought it was okay to get drunk at least once a week; this figure was 30 per cent for 15 year olds.
  • In 2006-07, just over a half of violent attackers, where the attack resulted in wounding and minor injuries, were believed by their victims to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of incident.

NHS hospital admissions where there was a primary or secondary diagnosis of diseases specifically related to alcohol

2006-07

Hospital admissions due to alcohol

East England Strategic Health Authority

14,116

East Midlands SHA

16,016

London SHA

25,577

North East SHA

16,391

North West SHA

45,035

South Central SHA

10,231

South East Coast SHA

13,550

South West SHA

19,081

West Midlands SHA

20,650

Yorkshire & Humber SHA

19,170

 

NHS Information Centre, Statistics on Alcohol: England 2008, 22 May 2008.

GROWING CONCERN ON UNDER-AGE BINGE DRINKING

A report published by Crime Concern in January revealed the extent of under-age binge drinking.

The survey of 10-19 years olds found that 42 per cent began drinking when they were 13 or under and 29 per cent said they drink to get drunk.  Half of the young people surveyed had been involved in fighting, violence and aggression as a result of drinking. In addition, 50 per cent of parents were reported to condone or not care about their children’s drinking.

Crime Concern, Binge drinking: young people’s attitudes and behaviour, 23 January 2008.

FAILURE TO ENFORCE LICENSING LAWS EFFECTIVELY

The Home Office’s Tackling Underage Sales of Alcohol Campaign, during which 2,683 premises were targeted by police and trading standards officers between 4 May and 13 July 2007, show that 40 per cent of licences premises in the study sold alcohol to children (Home Office press release, 11 October 2007).

Just two people have been prosecuted and one found guilty of selling alcohol to a drunken person since the Licensing Act 2003 was introduced. In addition, only 47 penalty notices were issued for this offence in the whole of England and Wales in 2006 (Hansard, 19 March 2008, col.1244W).

Jan 16 2007

New threat to remaining Post Offices in Harrow thanks to Gordon Brown

Loss of Post Office Card Account threatens more post office closures

Harrow faces a second wave of post office cuts, Bob Blackman, prospective parliamentary candidate, warned this week. A further 1 in 4 post offices could close down, on top of existing plans to close 5 post offices in Harrow and the 10 that have been closed since 1999 in Harrow.

  • Loss of Post Office Card Account: The National Federation of Sub-Postmasters has stated that 3,000 post offices will forced to close if the Post Office Ltd loses its contract for the Card Account. The Card Account is used by 4 million people each week to access pensions and benefits.
  • Further 1 in 4 post offices under threat: Card Account transactions bring in 12 per cent of sub-post offices’ income, and 1 in 4 of all visits made to post offices each week are by Card Account customers. The Federation has estimated that another 3,000 post offices will go out of business – on top of the current round of 2,500 cuts nationwide – if they lose the right to handle state pension and benefit payments.
  • Labour Government to blame: The current Post Office Card Account contract ends in 2010. Gordon Brown’s Government is replacing it with a new contract (so-called ‘POCA2’), but due to EU rules, it has to put the new contract out to competitive tender. Conservatives have repeatedly called on the Government to continue the Card Account beyond 2010.

Bob Blackman commented:

“I am very concerned about Gordon Brown’s plans for a second wave of post office cuts. A cloud of uncertainty now hangs over our vital community services. The future of Saturday deliveries is in doubt and local post offices are closing by the week across the country. Our postal service faces death by a thousand cuts – thanks to Gordon Brown.”

Notes to Editors

Details of the current Post Office closure plans can be found at:

The National Federation of Sub-Postmasters warned of new cuts in a press release on 12 May 2008.

The table below shows the shrinking size of the Post Office network in the last decade. The potential 1 in 4 cuts would be in addition to the closures highlighted below.

1999

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

United Kingdom

18,374

17,546

17,204

15,895

14,556

14,376

14,219

est. 11,700

 

A list of Post Office closures by Parliamentary constituency from 1999 to 2007 is available at:

The Government has previously said that it would like to maintain a network of 11,500 under their regime of subsidies. But in an answer to a Parliamentary Question, the Minister for Postal Services, Pat McFadden, ahas dmitted that under their current access criteria, “Post Office Ltd. currently estimates that the minimum size of network necessary to meet the access criteria is around 7,500 offices” (Hansard, 30 January 2008, col. 418W).

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