Weblog archive for June 2004

8th June 2004

The junk science that separates families

The aftermath of the cases that put innocent mothers into court & sometimes prison continues.

This is a reminder that the recent events that impacted Sally Clark, Trupti Patel, and Angela Cannings are not unique. They are the latest in a series of uses of junk science that separate parents from their children, sometimes permanently. Often it is junk "social science". Here are a few examples from the last decades.

Some children are born for the purpose of abuse and are not registered on birth certificates. 

Valerie Sinason, consultant child psychologist at the Tavistock Clinic in London

It is astonishing that anyone would continue to give credence to the myth of "satanic ritual abuse", which has been utterly debunked here in the United States, where it originated, and in the UK.... Yet in the UK a group of earnest but pseudo-scientific "true believers" such as Valerie Sinason continue to promote belief in this absurdity....You compounded it by citing Sinason et al as "experts". They are as much experts as those who conducted the Inquisition were "experts" in identifying witches. 

Mark Pendergrast, criticising The Independent

... claims that the children themselves alleged Satanic and ritual abuse were false. The fact is that the small children didn't actually say these things. They said bits and pieces that were picked up by the adults. 

Professor Jean La Fontaine

The situation is even worse when the doctor's opinion will itself influence the ultimate findings of the justice system. If Doctor X opines that a child has been molested, based on findings which in truth do not prove molest, a court will frequently rubber-stamp such an opinion. This judicial finding then becomes the confirmation which makes the doctor feel he can rely on his "experience." Such "confirmation" is, of course, scientifically meaningless. 

Lee Coleman, IPT (Institute for Psychological Therapies ) Journal

Everyone knows that babies die at the hands of their parents by accident or in a fit of exhausted rage. But the evidence available puts it at less than 10 per cent. 

George Haycock, professor of paediatrics at Guy's Hospital, London

Notorious cases supposedly about "Satanic and/or ritual abuse" have been at Rochdale, Cleveland, Nottingham, Orkneys, etc. Perhaps the retraining of social workers that followed the reports into these cases have resulted in few if any similar cases.

But a lack of critical thinking continues. The common theme among all of these appears to be a breakdown in critical thinking. This needs logic and the ability to step back and ask "what do we really know?"

Incompetent analysis of child deaths:

Unproven theories about child abuse:

False "recovered" memories:

10th June 2004

New Rules to Identify Sperm Donors Approved

On 9th June, The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (Disclosure of Donor Information) Regulations 2004 were approved in the Lords. This is a much needed change for official sperm donation. (Unfortunately, it won't affect unofficial sperm donation, such as "Man Not Included") .

These reflect the paramount rights of the child. 

Baroness Andrews, Government spokesperson

Information which personally identified a donor would not be made available retrospectively, but disclosure would apply to such information that had been provided after March 31, 2005. From 2006, all sperm donations would have to be used on an identifiable basis. Any applicant would have to have reached the age of 18 before they could be given the information.

Therefore, the full affect of this will not be felt until 2023. Donor children who sought out their donor would be unable to make any claims on the donor, who would have no legal, social, or financial responsibilities towards them .

However, of course, sperm donors to the "Man Not Included" service certainly are legally responsible for child support!

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (Disclosure of Donor Information) Regulations 2004 - It was moved by the Baroness Andrews that the draft Regulations laid before the House on 4th May be approved; after debate, the motion was agreed to.

12th June 2004

Queen's Birthday Honours to CSA staff

Civil Order of the British Empire (OBE):

  • Mrs Lynda Margaret Collis, Implementation manager, Child Support Agency.

Civil Order of the British Empire (MBE):

  • Adrian Clements, Exec Officer, Child Support Agency.
  • Miss Dawn Skelton, Admin assistant, Child Support Agency

16th June 2004

CSA statistics for February 2004 released (incomplete)

From the 3rd March 2003, all new Child Support applications have been assessed under a new scheme. These cases are stored on a new computer system. In addition, approximately 144 thousand old scheme cases are also administered on the new computer system. Technical issues continue to prevent reliable figures on compliance, throughput and other more detailed statistics from this new system. The Department continues to retain around 15% of each monthly payment due to EDS, the service provider, due to the continuing problems with the computer and telephony systems. The Agency are working together with EDS to come to a commonly understood view over the accuracy of figures from the new system. 

Department for Work and Pensions

These statistics are useful because they represent almost exactly one year since the new scheme started. (They apply from 3rd March 2003 to end February 2004).

It is clear that the new scheme is a shambles. But, since the new computer system can't provide reliable numbers for various aspects, it isn't clear just how much of a shambles it is. (It is covering up its own failings!)

The total number of cases on the old computer system continues to fall. Some have been transferred to the new computer system, but apart from the number, there are no details available.

While there are plenty of statistics from the old computer system, such as ages, amounts, etc, there are no such numbers available from the new computer system. Yet it was supposed to improve the availability of information! MPs were getting fed up with being told, in response to their questions, "the information you ask for is not available on the current computer system".

New Scheme applications, in 1000s
  By end May 03 By end Aug 03 By end Nov 03 By end Feb 04
Total applications 48.6 126.2 217.1 290.5
Total calculations 2.5 20.8 52.3 79.8
Total closed/withdrawn 2.6 14.3 34.8 53.6
Work in progress 43.5 91.1 130 157.1
Number of NRPs who have made at least 1 payment of regular maintenance 0.1 3.3 13.1 25.6


Numbers of Old Scheme live cases, 1000s
  Feb 00 Feb 01 Feb 02 Feb 03 Feb 04
Live cases on old computer system 1020.2 1050 1059.5 983.7 781.8
Cases transferred to new computer system         144
Total 1020.2 1050 1059.5 983.7 925.8

30th June 2004

Potential of some staff transfers from pensions to child support

An undisclosed number of jobs are under threat following a Government decision to close Plymouth Pensions Centre. The site in the Crownhill area of the city is being taken over by the Child Support Agency.

Plymouth Pensions Centre opened in April 2002 and has 422 staff, but there are no indications of the scale of the job losses yet. The DWP wants to reduce its workforce by 30,000 nationally over four years.

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