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Police ignored decade of abuse

PUBLISHED: 10:04 02 October 2009 | UPDATED: 09:32 11 May 2010

THE most astonishing and depressing statement of the week - enough to make us all pack up and run for the shores - emerged in the inquest into the dreadful deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her severely disabled daughter.

THE most astonishing and depressing statement of the week - enough to make us all pack up and run for the shores - emerged in the inquest into the dreadful deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her severely disabled daughter.

Mrs Pilkington suffered a decade of abuse, vandalism and threats from feral thugs who made her family sheer hell. She lived with her daughter and son, also disabled, in absolute day-to-day terror.

Abandoned, with no support or protection - imagine how she would have felt being told she was over-reacting to her daily hell - she could take no more hounding, no more persecution and set fire to her car killing herself and her daughter, who had the mental age of four, to escape their living hell.

At the inquest, Superintendent Steve Harrod explained the police's lack of activity to protect Mrs Pilkington. It was not a police responsibility, he said.

Come again? If, like me, you had to read this again, it got worse. “Low-level anti-social behaviour”, he said, was the responsibility of local councils and not the police.

Even the police are at it now, passing the buck, shirking responsibility. It's them not us.

We're not talking the odd night of noise nuisance. Frogmarching a disabled boy by knifepoint and locking him in a shed is hardly “low-level”. Nor is constantly laying siege to a family home, pelting it with stones and eggs, abusing and traumatising a family.

Night after night this poor woman cowered in darkness in her own home as they bayed outside like savage wolves.

Her pleas for help ignored, her diary of hell described as over reaction. The police's inaction in this case was beyond disgraceful. Their apologies now hollow and meaningless.

No wonder yobs strut the streets around like Cocks of the North. They look untouchable because they are.

They drop out of school uneducated, work is a dirty word, they lie in bed all day only getting up at night to drink and terrorise communities, all funded by the taxes of the hard-working people they despise so much.

I've never bought the “they've got nothing to do” argument. These kids don't want youth clubs, community projects and organised activities. They just want to cause trouble.

And they can continue terrorising their victims because, as Supt Harrod said, police don't want young people to be “criminalised.” Even if what they're doing day after day is criminal.

What are the police for? To protect, uphold and preserve a civilised society. To protect individuals from crimes and prosecute the perpetrators.

Not to drive round in cars, booking speeding drivers and pursuing cases to tick enough boxes to meet targets.

If protecting a family from the feckless and violent - grass roots policing surely - isn't on their “to do” list we've descended into thug-infested anarchy where each and every one of us is at the mercy of any gang of thugs who happens to target our family.

Mrs Pilkington's terror is hardly rare. Countless families endure the same night after night and can now expect the same police inaction, if they're not experiencing it already.

Police is an emergency service. Councils police by bureaucracy. What are they to do - send a man round with a clip board? Report to committees?

Whatever councils do takes forever. When they do take action it's a worthless asbo or eviction for problem families, which take months, if not years.

In this case, by the time the council got its act together and took a “problem family” to court, Mrs Pilkington and her daughter had been burned to death.

Supt Harrod's words now mean that every gang of feral youths can carry on their reigns of terror without fear of arrest or punishment but with the pathetic threat of the odd asbo once the paperwork is complete.

He has spelt out the future. Across the country these feral youths are producing feral babies who grow into more feral youths, their lawless tribes grow and multiply until we're all held hostage by their lawlessness.

And all the time we will wait for the council to help as the so right-on police worry about “criminalising” the criminal.

WHAT is Ofsted doing turning up heavy-handedly at individual's doors to snoop into private childcare arrangements?

Haven't they got enough messes to sort out in disastrous schools failing our children and weeding out cranky teachers who should never be allowed near classrooms to have time to hammer on off-duty police officers' doors?

Instead of dealing with serious real issues - like why so many of our 11-year-olds are illiterate and innumerate with the communication skills of a toddler and how so many 16-year-olds leave 11 years of schooling even more incapable than they were at 11 - they're busting friends for doing what friends do, helping each other out.

The case of the two police detectives who were best friends, job shared, looked after each other's daughter while the other was at work and have been hauled over the coals by Ofsted for “illegal childminding” it is yet another gobsmacking case of state interference into personal affairs.

Making it illegal for friends to look after each other's children makes a mockery of the law. Whoever dreamt it up deserves to be locked in a playpen and pelted with wet nappies.

If these mothers were breaking the law then I and many other working mothers are lawbreakers too. And the law is indeed an ass.

Some of us don't have the luxury of grandparents willing to care for our children when we work. Many of us are wary of mass childcare in nurseries and don't want to pluck an unknown childminder from a council register.

We have to work to pay the mortgage. We need someone we know and trust to look after our children.

How more perfect than friends with children the same age?

I've had, and do have, reciprocal arrangements with several friends over the years. They have my children while I work in school holidays and I have theirs.

Our arrangements are based on goodwill not money.

But Ofsted's silly rules dictate that free childcare constitutes a “reward” so is against the law.

Well Ofsted, I've accepted the odd bottle of wine as a “thank you”. Should I face a month in old choky for accepting plonk for a favour?

This loopy legislation is an attack on easy targets - loving parents struggling to get by doing the best for their children.

It needs to be reviewed and Ofsted should get stuck into the real messes. But that might involve hard work and mean getting hands dirty with genuine issues.

THE groom wore mayoral purple and the bride Labour red.

“Red Ken” Livingston opted for the regal purple used for his London Mayor campaign for his wedding suit when he married partner Emma Beal by the reptile house in London Zoo.

It's good to see that although Ken may have lost his job to Boris Johnson he's hung on firmly to his sense of humour.

THE four boys who tied a girl to railings and whipped her with a skipping rope at playtime have learned a huge lesson from the actions of their role-model head teacher.

She sacked the dinner lady for telling the victim's parents about the bullying after covering up the full extent of the incident, describing it as a trivial incident with a skipping rope.

The dinner lady told the truth and exposed a cover-up by people who should know better. Her crime, according to the school, was breaching confidentiality.

So the boys learn that grown ups cover up and pretend bad things - like the mean and nasty behaviour they used towards this girl - never happened and people who tell the truth and do what's right end up in trouble and, in this case, sacked.

I wonder what Ofsted has to say about that?

IT'S one way to boost the ratings. Get women to take off their clothes on prime time TV.

Strictly Gone Boring went Strictly Raunchy at the weekend and the televisions steamed.

The female dancers' mere wisps of spangles showed far more than the cha-cha-cha and Zoe Lucker risqué moves sent Len Goodman into a right lather. The spectacle verged on soft porn.

All designed to detract from Alesha and her 5,000 complainants by any chance?

It worked. Complaints about tacky costumes, flesh flashing and smutty moves flooded in.

Ironically, the effort wasn't needed in the end because Alesha was actually quite good. She faced her critics with spark and fire and, to her credit, pulled off a perky performance.

Phil Tufnell though was my surprise of the night. The nifty footworker isn't called “The Cat” for nothing. And that face - the man can carry off anything.

A TIP to politicians. Never call a General Election soon after the party conference season.

Watching the conferences puts the public off politicians for life. All that self-satisfaction, posturing and contrived oratory. It's a window on a surreal world. Cultish even.

The herd mentality, clapping like seals in speakers' elongated pauses. Dreadful jumpers and party ties. Odd “fringe” events.

The night time parties are probably a riot - politicians dancing can make anyone laugh - but on the stage everyone looks insincere, insecure and more than a tad challenged in the personality department.

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