EDITORIAL No. 52 MAYJUNE 2004
Another major accident on the North Devon Link Road a week or so ago has prompted calls again for it to be ‘dualled’ for its entire length. With 160 reported accidents and five deaths since its construction, you may be interested in an article submitted by the Highways Agency for this issue, highlighting an identical road, which could provide a much cheaper experimental, temporary, or permanent solution
If you can’t be a sun, don’t be a cloud.
IT DOESN’T HAPPEN AROUND HERE – DOES IT?
Domestic violence is a widespread social problem, cutting across not only the social strata of society but through ethnic and cultural boundaries. It occurs in rural areas as well as cities and is far more common than violence in the street, pub or work place.
Domestic violence is essentially about the misuse of power and the exercise of control by one person over another within the context of any intimate or close relationship. Such abuse may manifest itself in a variety of ways including physical, emotional, sexual violence or abuse and financial control, together with the imposition of social isolation or movement deprivation. The violence could be from a partner, ex-partner or a family member.
Attacks taking place behind closed doors often leave women too scared to speak out, due to threats and intimidation by the abuser. Many women suffer in silence because they fear no-one will believe them. Leaving home or calling the police may be too terrifying and they may also fear poverty, homelessness or the loss of their children. Emotional abuse, which includes humiliation, continual criticism, mind games, sleep deprivation and isolation can be more easily hidden due to the lack of visible injuries. Often this type of abuse, over a long period of time, can leave women with very little confidence and low self-esteem.This then acts as a barrier to women leaving or seeking help.
Police say that domestic violence accounts for a quarter of all reported assaults. However, it has been estimated that only 2% of attacks are reported. With 1 in 4 women experiencing domestic violence at some stage in their lives and up to 95% of domestic violence being committed on women, there is a real issue that needs to be addressed. Recent research carried out in Devon suggests that women experiencing domestic violence may feel there is a lack of support available to them. Women in rural areas may feel more isolated due to a lack of public transport. They also fear their situation becoming public knowledge within their community.
Outreach projects work in the community across the whole of Devon to offer free and confidential support and information over the phone to all women affected by domestic violence. Arrangements can be made to meet women somewhere they feel safe to talk over their options, for example in a café, a health centre or a community centre. Women can find out about a variety of issues such as housing, money, legal issues and children. Women’s Aid is a charity offering outreach support and refuge space to women and their children affected by domestic violence.
Exeter, East Devon and Mid Devon Outreach Helpline – 0800 328 3070
And yes, there is a number for M.A.L.E. Domestic Violence – 0845 064 6800
Don’t be afraid to take big steps. You can’t
cross a chasm in two small jumps.
LETTER TO THE ED. - MULTIPLE CHOICE???
Dear Ed. I read in the local paper recently about yet another flurry of activity to get an additional supermarket in Cullompton. Or possibly two. Quite how many more are planned for Tiverton escapes me at the moment – I try to keep up with the retail activity in the CulmValley and elsewhere but I have to admit I find it very depressing. I moved to this area in 1982 to run my own shop. Since then, you would need at least two pairs of hands to count the number of independently-run retail shops that have closed within a three-mile radius of Willand. Not because of mismanagement but because they could not compete with the buying power of the multiples. Add the cost of travelling further afield to get your shopping and the total bill would have been about the same as that of buying locally. O.K., you may not have had such a wide variety of choice but for the everyday necessities, local was ideal and the personal service helped retain the community spirit. Now that’s gone – and it won’t come back. The car has also helped kill off the rural way of life and increased the pace so that we no longer have to wait for the turn of the seasons.
Now the supermarkets are said to be fighting each other, with the media seemingly playing one against the other. There will always be one or two people who will say ‘there isn’t enough choice’. Having found your ‘favourite’ store however, and got used to its layout, range and the time it takes to do your shop, do you really nip down to its competitor to check out the price of their Nescafe, Andrex, Fairy Liquid and the other ‘known-value-items’? And change your allegiance because of the odd penny? I doubt it. You stick to your normal routine, except for the odd visit to a ‘rival’ store. With the current activity of the rationalisation of Post Offices, you could well see yourself in the future getting onto the Safeway/Tesco/Somerfield/Sainsbury free bus to get your pension or post a parcel. Can anyone tell me I’ve got it hopelessly wrong? An ex shop-keeper
Snowmen fall from Heaven unassembled.
WHO WANTS A CAN OF COKE?
Just a few things you might like to know:
To clean a toilet: Pour in a can. Let ‘the real thing’ sit for an hour, then flush. The citric acid in it removes stains from vitreous china.
To remove rust from chrome: Rub the chrome with a crumpled-up piece of aluminium foil dipped in Coke.
To clean corrosion from battery terminals: Pour a can over the terminals to bubble away corrosion.
To loosen a rusted bolt: Apply a cloth soaked in Coke to the rusted bolt for several minutes.
To bake a moist ham:Empty a can into the baking tray, wrap the ham in foil and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished cooking, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy.
To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent and run through a regular cycle. The Coke helps loosen stains.
Coke also removes haze from inside your windscreen. Straw, anyone?
‘Handshake and Forum’, Old Colleagues Assoc. of MAFF & Defra.
A note from a small boy on his first day at school: “The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents”.
There are those that do and those that don't,those that can and those that can't,
Those that will and those that won't,those that give and those that take.
There are those that applaud and those that boo,
Those that should but don't and those that shouldn't but do,
Those that did, but cannot now andthose that haven't but will later.
So let’s all accept what is and just get on with it - Life is short, enjoy it!
MORE ON THE YOUTH OFFENDING TEAM
The country's growing problem of petty crime and young people is being successfully addressed in North Devon. Since the setting up of a dedicated Youth Offending team four years ago, the region saw a 30% decrease in youth crime in the first three years.Now, in a bid to push that figure down further, the young offenders, their parents and their victims are being brought together to work with volunteer members of the public to look at the best ways to deal with the offenders and prevent them from re-offending.
These members of the public, local volunteers from all age groups and all walks of life, form the Youth Offending Panels, which cover the areas of Tavistock, Okehampton, Bideford, Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and are co-ordinated by Matt Wilcox. Matt was with the Police for 8½ years, the last two of which were with the Youth Offending Team in Wolverhampton. Since he had been the manager of a windsurfing shop in the Midlands in a previous life, Devon already had its attractions for him. And he says "I was hugely impressed with the set-up in Devon and I'm quite confident that North Devon has one of the best youth offending teams in the country." When the 1999 Criminal Justice Bill came out, it included the setting up of Referral Orders with a start date of April 2002. When a young person between 10 and 18 goes to court for the first time and pleads guilty, the court looks at the seriousness of the crime and if he or she is not sentenced or fined,a Referral Order will be made. While the court sets the length of the order (from three to twelve months), its content will be set by the community volunteers.
The young person will be referred to the Youth Offenders Panel which consists of three volunteers as well as a representative from the Youth Offending Team, who will be there solely for information purposes. The young person will attend, along with both parents if possibleand (also if possible) the victim."It's a round circle format," explains Matt, "and the discussion is about what should go into the order. The young person gets their say, their views are valued and the conversation forms the contract. He or she says what they did, the victim and the parents say how they felt, then the conversation turns to how the harm can be repaired.The offender may apologise to the victim - if not face-to-face perhaps by letter or video. We encourage victims to attend as not only do they benefit from the meeting but it has a real impact on the young person, who often try to ignore the impact of what they have done. However, it is not easy for victims to attend and we would never force them to. It has to be remembered that parents can be victims too and often feel the same shock and disappointment”.
Rowena Crocker, who is a volunteer panel member, says "A Court setting is so formal and can sometimes be humiliating.It is often difficult for a young person in this situation to show they are sorry or to be truly remorseful but in a panel setting, with a few people, it is easier to be natural. The young people have to relate with the effect of their actions, and can't hide themselves from the personal aspect when they actually see someone.Even if the victim isn't present, the biggest element is responsibility.It's very powerful and it helps them not re-offend.Having been confronted with the consequence of their actions, next time they'll think about the personalities involved”.
“The next stage is to talk about how to repair the harm that has been done and what to do to stop re-offending. We ask the young person what they think and how they feel about stopping and we talk to the parents. There will be a risk assessment report from the Youth Offending Team, which may highlight such issues as alcohol abuse, drug use, or poor anger management and we talk about what areas we need to work on. For instance, the young person may be sent on an anger management course. And we talk about how he or she can be integrated into the community, not be labelled as "a wrong 'un" and we look at their leisure time, boundaries, peer group and curfews.The contract will be drawn up and if the young person doesn't agree to sign it he or shewill have to go back to court and be sentenced, so hopefully they see that this is an opportunity."
"The difference between aCourt and the panel is that if a young person completes a referral order, the conviction is spent, whereas a court fine will stay on their record for at least 2½ years," explains Matt. "A referral order is over the day it finishes and they don't have to tell future employers. But if the young person re-offends and goes back to court, there's no second referral order and any future conviction would have to be declared. Each offender will be linked with a Youth Offending Team member and there's a review meeting halfway through the order," he continues. "But if the young person is at risk or it's a complicated or hefty contract, the review could be after a month - this is negotiated at the first meeting. We're just coming up to our first reviews and no one's gone back to court, which we see as evidence that the young people think it's a fair system. They know they can go back to the panel if they want to change the contract."
There's a lot of preparation and background work to be done before a panel meeting and Matt represents the Youth Offending Team on each one so that he can see how the process is working and if the training is effective. He also has to look at the area the offender lives in and decide on the best panel members to engage positively with the young person. "I like a panel mix of hawks and doves," he says, "people who take the harder line and people who take the softer line, a mix of different skills, backgrounds and personal perspectives.Each volunteer panel member brings a hugely rich source of experience and knowledge and this is an opportunity for them to gather more skills as well as put something back into the community. Panel members can be parents of offenders or people who have been victims”.
"We're not trying to create an informal magistracy - we want to encompass different views without creating clones. In small communities, they may know each other, they may even know the offender. While this could lead to potential conflict it may be the best way to help the young person back into village life, although the offender has the right to change a panel member. We wouldn't want something to get in the way of the process."
“We've had hugely positive feedback," says Matt, "and the court is positive about it. Of course, it's not without its flaws because it's early days but the initial assessment is that it's going very well. And it's working! Youth crime has fallen 20% in Devon and 30% in North Devon in the three years up to 2003 and more panels will improve that. The biggest danger to these reductions are the changes to Police recording procedures, which will inevitably bring more young people into the system, when behaviour that was previously thought of as 'childish' becomes a criminal offence.But people, especially victims, who have previously been disempowered by the system, now have the opportunity to have a say and ask questions and every young person who is cut out early on in the system will save the tax payer a fortune and make our communities better places to live in." Jo Clarke, Devon County Council
P.C.3894 Malcolm Davies, the Neighbourhood Beat Manager for Willand, has recently detected various criminal damage offences within the community. “I regularly stress the need to be observant and vigilant and as a result would like to gratefully thank certain parishioners for their assistance in aiding my enquiries to detect mindless acts of vandalism. Sadly, anti-social behaviour prevails and some damage incidents remain unsolved. It will not be tolerated – do you know where your children are? Do you know what they are actually doing? Being economical with the truth is something all ages achieve, so please check the story fully, and their respective friends’.
An initiative to deter and further detect misbehaviour is planned jointly with other Neighbourhood Managers, to tackle alcohol, drug, damage and other anti social behaviour. PLEASE, take responsibility – help me curtail this unsociable element which is spoiling the reputations of so many good people.” Malcolm Davies
Plan for the future, because that’s where
you will spend the rest of your life.
WILLAND VILLAGE HALL
The trustees have been dismayed by the amount of vandalism at the Hall. There have been several windows broken, both in the Hall and the Youth Club, probably through youths playing football. The Village Hall Car Park IS NOT A PUBLIC CAR PARK OR FOOTBALL PITCH. It is private property belonging to the Village Hall. Any people caught causing a nuisance there will be reported to the Police, as will registration numbers of any cars found in the car park when the Hall is not in use.
The Whist Drives are continuing for the moment but, unless there is more local support, they will have to be stopped. Mrs Willis puts in a lot of hard work and time to organise and run the whist drives and it is not worth her while if they are not well supported. All profits raised through them goes towards the upkeep of the Hall and we are very grateful to her for her support.