Archive | February, 2008

Jersey Police Search For More Secret Rooms

29 Feb

Jersey: Police Search For More Secret Rooms

By J. P. Anderson

Police investigating an abuse scandal at a former Jersey children’s home say there could be three secret chambers where victims were assaulted.
The search has expanded to an area behind the building which was highlighted by a sniffer dog as a place where more remains could be.

Inside the Haut de la Garenne, forensic teams are sifting through rubble that has lain dormant in the cellar area for decades.

They have identified two hidden chambers that police said were "suspiciously" bricked up, and now they are looking for a third after being contacted by a former member of the home’s staff.

Officers are searching for human remains after the discovery of a child’s skull on Saturday.

The detective leading investigation has vowed to ”hunt down” the abusers. He warned ”You will be made to answer for your crimes”.

Deputy Police Chief Lenny Harper also revealed his forensic team have uncovered a second item of ”significant interest” in the cellar they are excavating.

He refused to confirm reports that shackles and other restraining devices had been uncovered by builders but said new finds gave ”further corroboration” of abuse allegations.

The home is at the centre of a major inquiry into 40 years of child abuse involving more than 160 victims and 40 suspects.

The police say their investigation is hampered by the lack of a definite list of missing children. They do have anecdotal details.

Witnesses have described hearing screams in the night and children then not appearing the next day.

”It was said that they had gone to a family. There are others that we only have first names or nicknames for making it more difficult.”

What is clear is that this investigation will not be over quickly. Police have a building whose name translates as "the rabbit warren" to sift through. They also have testimonies of potentially hundreds of victims to investigate.

Justice Minister Rejects Festival Drugs Proposals

29 Feb

Justice Minister Rejects Festival Drugs Proposals

By J. P. Anderson

“Drug misuse a very serious problem, we can’t let any message go out to the contrary. Possession of any drug taken is a very serious matter and people should face repercussions for possession of such substances.”

JUSTICE Minister Brian Lenihan yesterday firmly rejected a call from a respected drug counselling service that people caught with small amounts of cannabis and other drugs at festivals should not be prosecuted.
The call was made by Crosscare, a Catholic drug counselling agency attached to the Dublin Archdiocese, on the eve of an independent study into its service.
Crosscare is recommending that people caught by gardaí smoking a cannabis joint or with very small amounts of other drugs at concerts like Oxegen and Electric Picnic be referred to drug professionals for assessment. The body said counselling time, police time and court time was being “wasted” by putting such users through the criminal justice system.
Mr Lenihan emphatically rejected such calls. From Brussels, he said: “That would amount to the legalisation of cannabis in a sense. It is a criminal offence and the Government has no plans to legalise drug possession.
“Drug misuse a very serious problem, we can’t let any message go out to the contrary. Possession of any drug taken is a very serious matter and people should face repercussions for possession of such substances.”
He said the courts have power not to impose a criminal record on a defendant and could refer them to the Probation Service.
Crosscare co-ordinator Michael McDonagh said they were not calling for cannabis use to be decriminalised as such, but for gardaí to be given the option to divert users caught at concert festivals to a professional rather than arrest them.
“Every year after events like Oxegen and Electric Picnic hundreds of young people access our services looking to talk to a counsellor. These young people have gone to a concert and been caught maybe smoking a joint or with a very, very small amount of a substance and what happens? They are told they have a court date pending.
“They then contact a solicitor and are advised by the solicitor, or when they get to court, that they need to have counselling in relation to substance misuse. This is wholly inappropriate. These people don’t have an addiction, they’ve experimented with a substance.”
Mr McDonagh said in a number of countries, including England and Australia, they set up a point of referral at concerts.
He said gardaí currently don’t have any discretion in relation to drugs.
“A lot of guards feel their hands are tied and they have to be seen to be hard and process them through the courts.”
Mr McDonagh said the system was putting serious pressure on otherwise young law abiding people.
“A lot of them would have just sat their Leaving Cert, and are under quite a lot of pressure. This might be an occasion to blow off some steam. Most have never dealt with guards or the courts before.”

Garda Appeal: Identity Of Galway Remains Sought

28 Feb

Garda Appeal: Identity of Galway Remains Sought

By J. P. Anderson

Gardaí seeking to identify a man whose remains were found in Co Galway almost six years ago have released a photograph of a man who they believe may be the same person.

Officers are trying to contact any family members of Dave Rawson who is believed to originally be from the south of England.

Detectives wish to compare DNA from Mr Rawson’s family with the body found buried in the back garden of a house in Salthill in April 2002.

On 17 April 2002 that a man excavating a back garden discovered a man’s remains wrapped in a blue sleeping bag.

The body had been buried just beneath the surface at the back of 158 Lower Salthill.

The man, who made the discovery, Henry Greally, told RTÉ News of his shock at discovering the skeleton on his property.

‘It has stayed with me ever since, it is not right that this man has not been identified, he is someone’s son’, said Mr Greally.

Gardaí in Salthill today took the unprecedented decision to release a photograph of a missing man who they now believe to the unidentified body.

Officers released the photograph of Dave Rawson in the hope that a family member will come forward.

For almost the last six years the body of the unidentified man has remained at the mortuary at University College Hospital Galway.

It’s hoped that this appeal, which is being extended to Britain may see the body finally identified and laid to rest.

Dave Rawson arrived in Ireland in August 1998 and travelled to Limerick, Kerry and Ennis before settling in Galway.

He lived a New Age Traveller existence and was one of a number of people who used to squat at 158 Lower Salthill.

He was a familiar face as a busker on the streets of Galway before he vanished in late 1999 or early 2000.

As Gardaí now try and trace relatives of Dave Rawson, they have some clues.

‘Dave Rawson told some people that he was originally from the Tunbridge Wells area of Kent in England’, says Supt. Noel Kelly at Salthill Garda station.

‘He told some people he was once married, but wasn’t any longer. He also mentioned that he had a sister in the Exeter area close to England’s southern coast.’

As Gardaí liaise with English police to try and find Dave Rawson’s family, they are conscious that this may not actually be his real name.

That is why the photograph of Mr Rawson they have released today is crucial to their efforts to find family members, who in turn, through DNA technology may be the only hope of formally identifying the body found in Salthill in April 2002.

Until that happens, the body will remain at the mortuary at University College Hospital Galway.

Cannabis Time-Bomb Threatens Our Children

28 Feb

Cannabis Time-Bomb Threatens Children

The gateway to Hell

Chris Murphy, director of the drugs & alcohol programme at Crosscare, said on the ‘Morning Ireland’ Radio programme that “it is a waste of time to prosecute young people for minor offences like cannabis possession”.

Mr Murphy seems to be somewhat misinformed and misguided in his attitude to the possession and use of cannabis by young people and of how young people are being used as dealers and runners by drugs gangs because of the fact that children receive much less of a penalty for possession of drugs.

The handling of and possession of cannabis for personal use, or for the purposes of supply to another person whether by sharing or for profit by sale – by dealing are very serious matters in more ways than one for young people.

Teenagers and young adults who smoke cannabis are more likely to suffer mental health problems in later life. Experts described the warning as a “mental health time bomb” with widespread use of cannabis developing among children at an alarming rate. According to scientists, youngsters who use cannabis just twice a week have nearly double the risk of developing mental illness-problems, such as, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.

Even if people have taken cannabis only a handful of times, they are two-thirds more likely to suffer psychotic (demented) illness than those who have never touched it, according to a study *published on-line by the British Medical Journal. (*Authors note: December 2004).

With British children now the biggest cannabis users in Europe, the findings sparked warnings that the drug could have “hidden and disturbing consequences” for the UK. The evidence is mounting that; cannabis can be a trigger to life-long mental illness such as, schizophrenia. For some already suffering it exacerbates symptoms such as delusions and paranoia. Some 40% of 15 year olds in the UK have tried cannabis. Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis said “Drug abuse by young people is increasing and so is drug-crime. The downgrading of cannabis was a mistake which sent mixed-messages to the young people and the vulnerable about the dangers of drugs“.(Authors note: Source, Daily Express) Recently, evidence of a potential association between cannabis use, especially intensive cannabis use and a range of health and social problems has been growing. There is also increased concern about an apparent rise in the number of cannabis users who are seeking help from specialist drug treatment services, which requires a more informed debate on the potential public health impact of this most common of all forms of illicit drug use. The scientific knowledge base in this area is still developing, but it doe already provide increasingly convincing evidence of an* association between cannabis use and a range of problems. It is important to distinguish between the acute (short-term) effects of cannabis and the (long-term or chronic) impact of the drug.

A range of both positive and negative acute effects have been reported. Negative effects include deficits in attention and concentration difficulties, adverse effects on ‘motor function’ (reflexes, coordination), short-term memory problems, anxiety and panic attacks and depression. Positive effects include euphoria, relaxation and increased sociability. The acute effects of the drug which arouse the greatest concern are the short-term drug-induced psychosis or severe panic attacks, an increased risk of accidents, when driving or when engaged in hazardous work environments, and among young people, a negative impact on school performance.

The chronic effects of cannabis are complex to understand, because of the difficulty in separating its effects from the effects of chronic use of other illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol. Among the key concerns, are an increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases and an association with the development of long-term psychiatric health problems, including depressive illness, psychosis and schizophrenia? In addition to the concern about the development of dependant behaviour brought about by chronic use of the substance.

Cannabis is the illicit drug most used in Europe, but only a small proportion of the people who use the drug seek treatment. Despite this, in many countries cannabis is now the second most frequently reported primary drug for which people receive specialised drug treatment; some 12% of all clients and 30% of those new to treatment are now recorded as having a primary cannabis problem. Cannabis clients represent a small, yet annually increasing number of individuals entering treatment, with Spain accounting for almost 50% of all reported treatment demands, similar treatment* demands have been noted in the USA. Most cannabis clients are referred to treatment by family and friends, social services or the criminal justice system. Those referred by family or social services (often schools) are typically younger, less likely to be using other drugs in addition to cannabis, and tend to be more socially integrated. Older clients referred by legal authorities or classed as self-referrals, often use other drugs as well as cannabis. In Germany and Finland, which have the highest percentages of primary cannabis clients, legal authorities and schools play an important role in referring cannabis clients? Cannabis clients new to treatment are predominantly young males (83%) with a *mean (*in the middle) age of 22 – 23 years. Whereas, in the case of other drugs, the proportion of clients who are males is marginally lower and the* mean age higher.

In the case of almost 80% of new clients classified as very young (under 15 years of age) and 40% of those aged 15 to 19 years, the primary drug for which treatment is sought is cannabis. These groups are still predominantly male, but include a higher proportion of women than the client group overall, a similarity in age and gender in each country broadly reflect the same patterns found among all clients. The relative young age of cannabis clients is reflected by the large proportions (45%) that are still in education, compared with only 8% of clients being treated for problems with other drugs.

A further 24% of those being treated for cannabis problems are in regular employment, which is in stark contrast to clients using other drugs such as, heroin. In addition, cannabis clients more often report living in stable accommodation than those being treated for problems with other drugs, reflecting the fact that many are young people, students and living with their parents. Patterns of use among clients receiving* out-patient treatment for primary cannabis use vary considerably and are quite different from those found for other drug types, particularly the opiates.

Among clients in treatment for a primary cannabis problem in 2002, only 36% were daily users of the drug and only 17% used cannabis more frequently than once a week (2 – 6 times a week), 15% used the drug once a week or less often and 28% were occasional users or had used cannabis in the last month. In contrast 84% of opiate users in treatment are daily users. The younger the age at which users first consume cannabis the higher is the risk of them developing drug problems in the future. Known widely as the gateway drug (opening the gate to more and more serious drug use, and highly-probable addiction in the not too distant future), cannabis is truly ‘the gateway*

to hell’ for many young people.

In Europe 28% of all cannabis in treatment in 2002 started using the drug before the age of 15 years, and the majority 80% before 20 years of age. The corresponding figures for opiates are 9% and 42.8% and for cocaine 6% and 26.5%.

Most countries report that clients in treatment who have primary cannabis problems often show a pattern of poly-drug use. The most commonly reported secondary substance used by primary cannabis clients are alcohol (32.9%) and stimulants (25%). Some cannabis clients in treatment also admit to injecting other drugs, and some report lifetime experience of injecting despite currently using no drugs other than cannabis.

The increase in demand for treatment for primary cannabis problems should be viewed in the context of changes that have occurred in the characteristics and patterns of use. Between 2000 and 2002, in those countries reporting data, the total number of referrals by legal authorities, family and friends and social services increased* exceptionally, by (103%). (81%), and (136%) respectively. No relevant differences were found between countries, except that in Germany the proportion of referrals accounted for by the criminal justice system also increased (from 21.7% to 26.7%). A number of countries reported an increase in the number of clients with educational, social and psychological problems. … It is likely that those most at risk of developing problems or becoming dependant are those that use the drug intensively. In the EU as a whole, with a total population of 302 million – people aged 15 to 64 years; the prevalence of daily cannabis use would be about three million people. Despite the well-known link between smoking and respiratory problems and increasing concern* regarding the negative health impact of intensive cannabis use, interventions aimed at reducing harm associated with cannabis use remains poorly developed in comparison with those aimed at users of other drugs.

For the most part, those with a cannabis-related problem are treated alongside clients being treated for problem use of other illicit drugs, typically opiates. As many of these specialised drug treatment centres are configured to meet the needs of an often chaotic and marginalised population, their suitability for those with less acute needs, (such as most cannabis users) is debatable. Member states of the EU are aware of the problem and have observed in their reports, that it could be counter-productive and disadvantageous to mix problem cannabis users with problem heroin or poly-drug users. In summary, there remains a critical need for research to provide an understanding of the relationship between different patterns of cannabis use and the development of problems. The extent to which cannabis users experience problems and the nature of the problems that may be found, still remain poorly* understood; Methodological tools are required to assess problems at the population level. Such information is a prerequisite to the development, targeting and implementation of ‘effective’ public health responses to cannabis use in

Europe.

(Authors note: Source, EMCDDA Annual Report 2004) *

Jersey: Police Expect To Find Children’s Remains In Secret Rooms

28 Feb

Jersey: Five Decades of Abuse, Torture and Murder Uncovered as Police Expect To Find More Remains in Former Children’s Home

By J. P. Anderson

ST MARTIN, Jersey- Police in Jersey said on Thursday they have found two items of "significant interest" while searching the cellar of a former care home at the centre of a child abuse inquiry.

Officers found the items beneath the Haut de la Garenne house as part of their investigation into abuse on the island between the 1950s and 2003.

The island’s deputy police chief Lenny Harper said abuse victims had mentioned the items in their descriptions of the cellar at the home in St Martin.

He refused to identify the objects and declined to comment on media reports that officers had found shackles and a bath in the cellar.

"They are significant because they are items that victims told us were there in the cellar … when the offences were committed," he told a news conference. "They certainly help corroborate accounts given by victims."

A search dog trained to find human remains started barking when it entered a bricked up cellar at the former care home earlier this week.

The dog’s "extremely strong reaction" was the same as when it helped find a child’s remains buried under inches of concrete at the house last weekend.

The underground room has been identified by many of the 160 people who have contacted police saying the were victims of child abuse.

Harper said police believe two other areas beneath the house need to be searched. The searches could take weeks because the cellars are full of building rubble and dust.

The police inquiry now has more than 40 suspects. One person has been arrested and charged and Harper said there would be arrests.

Children’s charity the NSPCC said it has received more than 100 calls reporting allegations of abuse on the island, with more than a third coming in the past two days.

Police searching a Jersey children’s home where a skull was found have recovered "significant" items that back up allegations of abuse.

The island’s Deputy Police Chief Lenny Harper said the objects found in an underground room "tend to provide corroboration for some of the allegations that we have received".

Detectives have received hundreds of calls from former residents of the Haut de la Garenne home alleging children were systematically sexually assaulted by staff.

Victims have described being locked up in a small "punishment room", drugged and sexually abused.

And builders who renovated the building said they found shackles, leg irons and wooden stocks at the site.

A search team has found three underground rooms that had been bricked up, and officers are concentrating their efforts on the first room, said Mr Harper.

He told reporters: "I don’t want to be specific in respect of the items that we’ve found."

But he added: "I wouldn’t call them household objects. They are items that witnesses have said were there."

A police sniffer dig reacted strongly while in the first room, indicating he may have human remains or blood, it has emerged.

The room is about 12 feet square and is bricked up from the front. Access is blocked as it is filled with rock, clay and soil.

Police hope to enter a second room of the same size which is still blocked off. They have said that the way it has been bricked off appears suspicious.

They have also not ruled out finding further rooms and say they want to carry out excavations at the site that could take up to two weeks to complete.

Mr Harper confirmed that one person has so far been charged in a massive investigation into historic child abuse in Jersey.

Calls To Childline Reach Record Levels

27 Feb

Calls to Childline Reach Record Levels

By J. P. Anderson

THE number of calls answered by the Childline service reached record levels last year, with almost one in seven calls related to abuse and violence.
Figures released by the ISPCC yesterday showed its Childline service answered 294,908 calls in 2007, although more than half the calls to the number are still going unanswered.
Of the calls answered, 155,017 involved a two-way interaction, with the remainder often silent calls.
Those involved in running the Childline service said they were concerned about the growth in the number of calls relating to abuse and violence — last year 20,592 calls, or 13% of the total, were linked with violence and abuse.
A further 25,897 calls, or 16% of the total, were to do with issues of sexuality. Issues involving everyday life accounted for 70,801 calls, or 45% of all calls.
Other worrying trends also emerged: 85 calls involved child prostitution or sexual exploitation; 315 calls involved concerns over seeking shelter; 138 calls involved children who had been abandoned; and 1,174 calls involved concerns over drug abuse, with another 248 linked with addiction.
Childline manager Margie Roe said the number of unanswered calls was “a resource issue” and said measures would be put in place to ensure full call answering by 2011.
The percentage of calls being answered has increased steadily since 2002, when just 22% of calls were answered, and Ms Roe said the service cost about €3 million to run.
“There are certain times of the day when it is busier, such as when children come out of school, and we will be looking at focusing on those times so more calls can be answered,” she said.
“We have noticed an increase in calls relating to abuse and violence — it is higher than last year and we would be concerned about that.”
The figures also show 6,295 calls last year related to mental health issues, ranging from topics such as depression (964 calls) to suicide (926 calls).
“We have made recommendations regarding the improving support services for children experiencing mental health issues,” said Ms Roe. “These issues do not happen nine-to-five but a lot of the services available are nine-to-five and that is something we have been lobbying for.”
Childline’s text and web services, which, unlike the phone service, do not operate on a 24-hour basis, also saw an increase in activity last year.
The automated text service received 75,175 texts and dealt with a range of issues, such as bullying (5,632 texts), pregnancy (7,240 texts) and suicide (4,978 texts).
Its one-to-one Teentext service, meanwhile, received 32,051 texts.
The web service received 22,086 visits and answered 689 emails.
Ms Roe said both the text and the web services “mirrored” the issues dealt with on the phone service, and stressed the importance of ensuring the rights of the child through a constitutional referendum.
On the issue of child mental health services in Cavan and Monaghan, local TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called on Health Minister Mary Harney to ensure “vital services” in the region were maintained.
The Sinn Féin deputy said: “The announcement by the Health Service Executive North East that it will only accept urgent or emergency child psychiatric referrals from GPs in Cavan and Monaghan for at least the next four months requires an immediate response from the minister.”

Also:

A leading group which campaigns to eradicate violence in the home has said an early warning assessment programme needs to be put in place to deal with fatal domestic violence.

Aoibhneas says risk assessment models in use in other countries could help identify when women are at risk.

140 women have been murdered in Ireland since 1995.

88 of the women murdered in the past 13 years died in their own homes. Almost half of those murdered were killed by a current or ex-partner.

These figures have been the root of concern for some time but now the support group says assessment mechanisms could help save lives.

The group has commissioned a study on the potential for identifying early warning signs in order to prevent possible fatal attacks arising out of domestic violence.

The study has found that risk and safety assessments should be developed and implemented in conjunction with NGOs, gardaí and the HSE.

It also recommends that frontline staff should be trained in the use of such risk assessment tools.

Aiobhness says developing a database of statistics from the assessment should also be a key aspect of any potential programme.

The study was being published in Dublin this morning.

Teenager Dies In Tyrone Bus Crash

27 Feb

Breaking News: Teenager Dies In Tyrone Bus Crash

By J. Anderson

A teenage girl has died following a collision between a school bus and a lorry in Co Tyrone this morning.
Another child is in a critical condition after the crash, while six more have been hospitalised with less serious injuries.
The bus driver was also hurt in the crash, which happened near Dungannon.
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Sean McGuigan says there has been a number of fatal accidents in the area in recent years.
Seven other pupils were injured, one seriously, when a truck crashed into the rear of the school bus on the A4 road between Dungannon and Ballygawley.

The bus was hit as it was about to turn into St Mary’s Primary School. Children belonging to St Ciaran’s High School in Ballygawley were also on the bus.

The driver of the bus sustained minor injuries in the accident.

Northern Ireland Education Minister Caitriona Ruane said she was deeply upset by the crash and said her thoughts went out to those affected.

The road is one of the busiest in Northern Ireland but there has been a series of fatalities and demands for it to be upgraded.