Archive for May, 2010

Last Thursday’s meeting heard from Caitriona Scanlan, the Community Safety Partnership’s Domestic Violence Strategy & Services Manager on efforts to tackle. domestic and sexual violence in Camden.

She noted that some 50% of violence in London is domestic, and said what was particularly horrifying was that many women killed by partners or former partners had not previously been known to any of the agencies that might have helped them.

She said that annually just under 2,000 incidents of domestic abuse are being reported to police, but reported to represent only about 25-48% of actual incidents.

With every incident there is an attempt made to contact the victim to do a risk assessment by the Camden Safety Net (which contacts about 200 victims a month).

Where there is judged to be a serious risk, a “multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARIC)” is held. Some 12-14 cases a month go through this process.

“Medium risk” cases are referred to Solace Women’s Aid and victim support work with “standard risk” victims.

One big issue was providing support to victims during court hearings – Camden was working with Islington to form a special domestic violence court, and a “wrap-around” advocacy service that ensure an advocate was available to assist victims at any time.

One the investigation of sexual crimes, the Sapphire Unit has been centralised since last September, in the “SCD2” in Islington, but there had been “quite a few teething problems”.

Catriona said Camden had seen an increase in rape of young women and girls involving multiple perpetrators, sometimes involving gangs.

There were also cases of violence by young people against their mothers – the last MARIC had seen three of these.

Supt Rodger Smalley said that arrests were made at about 75% of domestic violence calls.

Catriona said the new rape crisis provision for Camden (for which Matty Mitford of Camden Green Party and Boris Keep Your Promise was a highly successful campaigner) should start from September, provided by an existing organisation.

We can only hope that the victim-centred ethos traditional in rape crisis centres is appropriately provided.


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There’s lots going on…

* Adrian Ramsay, Green Party deputy leader, will be speaking at the Right to Work conference, Friends Meeting House Euston Road NW1, Saturday May 22

* Transition Kentish Town is hosting a showing of A Crude Awakening, a film exploring the looming oil crisis, at 7pm–9pm, Tuesday 25th May, The Grand Union pub, 53-79 Highgate Road, NW5 1TL. The film will be followed by a friendly discussion and chat. Free entry (suggested donation £2).

Hosted by Transition Kentish Town, an initiative formed by ordinary members of the community who are concerned about the imminent challenges of peak oil and climate change. (,a href = “http://whatson.camden.gov.uk/whatson/jsp/event.jsp?id=1be60990-4c71-11df-9538-afef0cf200a1”>More

* Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP, and Tony Benn will be speaking at Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay: Solidarity with the Greek Protests 7pm, Wednesday 26 May
Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London, WC1.

* Camden Green Fair – it’s back, and it should be great. On June 6 in Regent’s Park. Do look out for the Camden Green Party stall and say hi!

* Keep Our NHS Public is holding its AGM on June 12, Somers Town Community Centre, Ossulston St, NW1.

And finally the next meeting of Camden Green Party will also be at the Somers Town Community Centre, 7-9pm, Monday, June 28 – interested visitors welcome.

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Thank you, I must say first of all, to the 1,480 people who voted for me in the Holborn and St Pancras constituency.

This was the third highest Green vote in London, and I know that many others (who wrote or spoke to me) felt compelled by the nature of our electoral system to make another choice (either the Lib Dems in hope of electoral reform, or Labour, for fear of Frank Dobson being defeated), while strongly supporting Green Party policies.

I must thank my election agent, Edward Milford, for being a tower of strength and calm, in particular two of my champion canvassers Charlie and Justin as well as the rest of the team, Matty Mitford for doing a vast amount of organisation under difficult circumstances, and Jim for all his support.

But what really matters out of this election is one result: that in Brighton Pavilion, where Caroline Lucas was elected as Britain’s first Green MP. When that was announced about 5.30am among all those rather bedraggled, faded politicos who were attending the count at Haverstock School, there was a Green war dance of pure excitement.

We’re now a parliamentary party for the very first time. And if there’s another leaders’ debate, then as the UK’s fourth national party, we could see Caroline there with those grey, dull men. And what an impact that would have!

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For Camden Green Party, as for Green Parties around the country, there is only one headline from the election – at last we have achieved that historic first with Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion with the first Green MP in British history.

Additionally, more people voted for us across the country than had ever voted Green in a general election before and outside of London we are welcoming new Green councillors in areas we’ve never had them before.

In Camden, we also saw more people voting for Green council candidates than ever before, and more people voting Green in total than before: 11,142 (adding the highest-scoring Green from each ward). Our previous highest vote total was 10,491 in the London Assembly in 2008, and 8,040 in the Euros 2009.

And we saw Cllr Maya de Souza returned at the top of the poll in Highgate ward, a testament to her work over the past four years.

Sadly, however, our two other excellent Highgate candidates, Naomi Aptowitzer and Tristan Smith, didn’t get elected, finishing 5th and 6th respectively. We also did not make the gains we had been working for in wards including St Pancras and Somers Town, Bloomsbury, Holborn and Covent Garden and Gospel Oak.

In London though there has been a massive surge to Labour that has managed to sweep all before its path in the council elections. The Guardian’s Dave Hill describes well the scale of Labour’s resurgence winning back councils and seats that many had long thought were long lost.

But this was a highly unusual local election, the first in recent times conducted with a general election. We will continue to work and fight for communities, to raise issues, and to be a voice for our communities. And we expect to see the Camden Green Party will continue to grow, as it has significantly during this election – if you’d like to get involved, now’s a great time to join. (That link’s now working again, after crashing on Saturday due to weight of traffic!)

Full council election results,

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Thank you to the The Age of Stupid film-maker and 10:10 director Franny Armstong, who has written for the Guardian today her advice to voters, which not only includes strong suggestions to vote Green in Brighton Pavilion, Norwich South, Lewisham Deptford and Cambridge, but also recommends voting Green in our own Holborn and St Pancras, the constituency in which she lives.

Thanks Franny!

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The Camden New Journal has been successful in exposing the failures of Camden council’s care for Jennyfer Spencer, who died alone in her inaccessible Gospel Oak flat last month. With our other excellent local paper, the Ham & High, it has also been a leader in the fight against the closure of the Whittington A&E, and been happy to report the other failures of NHS Camden, as exposed by the Keep Our NHS Public Camden, and others.

But what we need to do is look deeper into the failures of our systems of care – both health and social – to recognise that there’s one central problem at the heart of both: the belief that market forces and “productivity” can somehow deliver better, or even more cost-effective, public services.

A report by the parliamentary health select committee that was slipped out on March 30 has now finally got some attention. It concluded that almost 20 years of “commissioning” in the NHS, since health providers and purchasers were split in 1991, have been a “costly failure”.

It described the 2007 “world class commissioning” drive as “no more than a box ticking exercise”, warned that the bureaucratic costs of commissioning had not been adequately counted, and very strongly indicated that what it did not want was more costly management consultants being employed to react to its conclusions.

I visited the Crossroads Women’s Centre in Kentish Town recently and heard from workers there about how a similar approach to social care is causing suffering and misery to those the system should be helping. They told me of a refugee mother, a victim of torture, who when she asked for limited help to get her children to school was effectively threatened with having them taking into care. She was left with little choice but to struggle on with the help of friends. Money saved – highly “productive”.

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