Charlie Gard finally at peace

Initially, it felt wrong to say much more about it than that. So I didn’t.

A day has passed.

Many lessons are being learned, and Charlie Gard’s life and death have not been in vain. I too will be doing a write-up. For the sake of future Charlies and future babies’ parents, but also for the sake – I hope – of all the people who were touched by Charlie Gard’s short life. Towards greater understanding, I hope. Towards more compassion, too.

(Personally, I primarily do it to learn from it and because I enjoy the analytical process and the reasoning. But all the people who write about these issues help pave the way to a future in which we deal with such situations much more elegantly.)

I too felt torn the way everybody else seemed to be torn, and I too generally responded more emotionally rather than rationally to what I read here and there, and I too, like almost everybody else, didn’t have many facts.

Charlie Gard’s condition fell within my definition – not my feelings! – of what constitutes a life not worth living. We need objective definitions to prevent inequality and injustice, and, more importantly, to prevent harm.

I also seem to have managed to define harm for situations like these a while back, and having let Charlie Gard try the nucleoside therapy does not appear to qualify as such within my definition (which I need to write up properly). Whether or not Michio Hirano had a financial interest in the matter is immaterial.

So I have a lot of thinking – and writing – ahead of me, but it looks like my definitions continue to hold up. That comes as a surprise. It makes me conclude that I may be doing something good and useful, something worthwhile exploring.

That’s scary – for several reasons – and powerful – empowering – at the same time.

I will soon post something about my own experiences with this kind of pain and suffering – the medical kinds of pain of suffering – in view of the fact that I say so many things about other people’s pain and suffering in such situations, in what may occasionally come across as a cold and calculated manner to some.

“Don’t you dare harm my baby!”

Yesterday, I encountered a gull and realized “Oh! You’re a baby!”

I think this was the second time in the past five years or so that I’d seen a young from close enough that I was able to detect the messiness of its feathers. The first time, I mistook it for a gull that had had an encounter with hot exhaust gases. *blush*

I looked up. Would there be a parent around? Sure enough, an adult was sitting on the roof above the youngster and sure enough, it swooped down and signalled “Don’t you dare harm my baby!” by reaching a point no more than about a meter over my head – I instinctively ducked – before it swooped upward again.

Message understood. Roger, willco, over and out.

So I walked on. The parent returned to its high perch, literally watching over its young.
Then I took this photo, with my old mobile.

The pigeons of Waterlooville, Havant

In Waterlooville, quite close to where I am based, they are having a situation that is far from rare (and one that is so wonderful to work with). See the following three pages:

https://www.havant.gov.uk/news/crackdown-feeding-time

http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/our-region/havant/don-t-feed-the-pigeons-in-havant-or-you-could-be-fined-80-1-8042053

http://www.aboutmyarea.co.uk/Hampshire/Portsmouth/PO6/News/Local-News/309312-Crackdown-on-Feeding-Pigeons-in-Havant

Apparently, some residents and shopkeepers are experiencing problems with pigeons while other residents are feeding the same pigeons, eh, up to 8 kilograms bird food per day? (I am sure I have misunderstood that, because that is a heck of a lot of bird food.)

Both sides are right, of course. While pigeons rarely spread disease – a common myth – their droppings can be unsightly and, well, a pain in the butt. Pigeons are also very smart creatures for which we are actually responsible, however, as it was us who took these birds from the sea cliffs in the countries where we found them in the past. We took them with us, and spread them all over the world because we liked them. Yep. We also used them as messengers, of course.

So what’s a pigeon gonna do? It has no choice but to use our buildings and bridges to roost and nest, as those are the only things that come close to the sea cliffs they once had in warmer countries.

And apparently, even if they are told that the birds will be killed unless they stop feeding them, many people who feed pigeons will continue to feed the birds. It is understandable. If you’ve only once seen a pigeon trying to eat some utterly disgusting piece of greasy fast food that made us gag and throw it away and that gets grease all over the bird and barely any nutrition into it, then you start feeling an obligation toward these gentle rock doves. Again, after all, we’re the ones that brought them here.

(In fact, when you look at the pigeons around you, you can also often see that the local pigeons breed with the white pigeons released on various festive and memorial occasions!)

While many city councils may feel powerless when dealing with a pigeon problem, there is actually a solution. After Nottingham City Hospital tried it in 1999, they were astonished. The pigeon population was reduced from 1200 pigeons in 1999 to 63 pigeons in 2005, only 5 years later. That is a 95% reduction in flock size without killing a single bird! Nottingham City Hospital also won the prestigious RSPCA Best Practices Award for its work with a pigeon organisation that sadly no longer seems to exist. (But this one does: http://www.pigeoncontrolresourcecentre.org/html/reviews/artificial-breeding-facilities.html. And that page has more examples and cost estimates, too.)

Think like a pigeon! What does a pigeon want? A good place to sleep, sheltered from the elements. A good place to nest too.

(And the best food you can get, because good food helps you stay healthy.)

Our buildings often don’t actually offer pigeons a lot of good shelter, so you can entice pigeons to move out by offering them a better alternative. You can place artificial roosting and nesting structures – modern dovecotes and pigeon lofts – in parks or on flat roof tops. They’re also called artificial breeding facilities or ABFs.

They enable you to decrease pigeon pressure elsewhere by attracting the pigeons to them. They can also allow you to control and maintain a healthy pigeon population (which requires a DEFRA licence just as it is also against the law to kill any kind of wild bird without a licence).

When I read that in Waterlooville, pigeons apparently are roosting (?!) on balconies where the human inhabitants don’t want them, I concluded that those pigeons must be very desperate. So that would mean that this solution might work particularly well in Waterlooville.

I bet it is possible to engage those who are currently feeding the pigeons in locations where they cause problems in a pigeon control and relocation project, leading to good results for everyone.

Put yourself in a pigeon’s shoes. Where would you like to sleep? In a nice condo or in a leaky shed that may not even have a roof? Pigeons are damn smart. It’s easier to work with their intelligence than against it. Some pigeons routinely take the tram or metro and one has even been spotted taking the ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo and back.

Need more convincing? Ha! Watch these 46 minutes by National Geographic.

The artificial structures can be made from scrap materials at almost no cost. They can also be made from recycled plastic, which is sturdy, completely non-toxic (environmentally friendly) and totally maintenance-free. It is highly durable.

You can get it from Kedel, who were the winners of the 2015 ‘Best Recycled Product’ award and are based in Colne, Lancashire, Second Life Products Wales (SPLW), who are based in Swansea and British Recycled Plastic, who are based in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire.

With a bit of luck, ha, you can even tie such a project to your own local plastic recycling. You can also come up with ways to let the structures fund themselves, partly or fully. (Allow people to name a pigeon or sponsor a “floor” in the structure, volunteer in all sorts of ways, what have you.)

You can combine it with all sorts of educational activities (responsibility for our own environment including for example recycling) or use it to, say, connect different generations. You can include it in primary school teaching. Lots of stuff you can do with it, I am sure.

Now, if I were such a borough or city council, I’d jump at such an opportunity to make many people happy, and get lots of kudos without ticking anyone off.

If the pigeons already know one or two people who feed them, they are likely to follow those people, who can lead the pigeons away, in daily steps. And you can also teach pigeons sound signals to respond to (signals they associate with the food).

The Royal Family  has been keeping pigeons for many decades, by the way.

When I searched for the problem on Twitter, for Waterlooville, I only found four tweets, none recent.

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Reblogged: Children of drug addicts

Originally posted on Researching Reform: A new BBC 2 Documentary, the first part of which is airing tonight on BBC2, looks at a unique rehabilitation centre in England which helps mothers and fathers come off drugs. The centre’s approach is controversial – children stay with their parents throughout the process. Researching Reform was very kindly…

via RR For Huff Post: Should We Remove Children From Drug Addicted Parents? — World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum.

Anna Marie Marshall case – 2

This is the case of a homeless woman in York who had been found with an injured gull on a leash. An arrest warrant has been issued against the woman, who may not be well, so I understand.

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/15391489.Woman_found____walking_injured_seagull_on_lead____in_York/

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/15411980.Woman_wanted_on_warrant_over_seagull_allegations/

From the above page, I also understand that one of the charges against her – and likely the most serious one – is that she allegedly caused the injuries to the gull.

I find that unlikely. I have been lucky enough to have volunteered at a world-renowned wild-bird rehabilitator in the US (Lee Fox). It normally takes at least two people to hold and examine an injured bird. Putting a leash on a healthy bird, single-handedly?

Gulls are pretty feisty and far from cuddly. I find it very unlikely that this woman would have been able to capture and keep this gull with her if the animal had not already been hurt (badly).

Unless they have experience with birds, even regular veterinarians generally don’t know how to handle birds (so again, unless this bird was already injured considerably, this woman very likely would never have been able to keep the bird with her). Even a pigeon – usually much calmer than a gull – can be very hard to catch. Even a non-flighted pigeon can be very hard to catch if you don’t know what you’re doing (and even sometimes if you know what you’re doing).

I am trying to find out more, am contacting veterinary practices in York to see which one received the gull and what the nature and extent of its injuries were.

I have been in touch with her solicitor on Twitter, but he is not allowed to tell me much, of course, and I can only applaud his reticence. I’ve also left a message with an organization for the homeless in York, and one or two other places.

My sole interest is helping this woman if I can. Because this case is not about a healthy woman purposefully hurting a bird, by the sound of it.

I think it’s probably fairly disgusting that the police officers or prosecutor in question added the charge that the woman was yelling at the officers. In this case, that’s likely comparable to charging someone in a diabetic crisis with public intoxication (“drunk and disorderly”).

Of course, I may be wrong. Maybe the woman had a big shovel and suddenly stormed down Parliament Street, hit a few gulls, grabbed one and put it on a leash just to, say, re-enact a scene from a film with someone else recording video on a mobile to put on social media. That’s why I am trying to find more information.

I am not saying that the woman has not hurt the bird (as birds have much less dense bones than mammals and have a very different respiratory system, it’s probably easy to injure a bird accidentally), but by the sound of it, it clearly was not her intent to hurt the bird. She may have found the bird and intended to look after it. If she’d taken it to a veterinarian, she might have been turned away by reception staff. (Maybe she even had taken it to a vet practice. I don’t know.)

Neither can it be ruled out at this point that someone else put the injured animal on a leash and pressed the leash into her hands, told her to look after the bird. (That’s the sort of thing that goes on in some towns.)

Is there any CCTV of what happened?

If the woman had been in a different town or had run into different police officers, the case might not even have existed. It sounds like a waste of human resources and the taxpayers’ money.

Let’s ask this. If someone had found an injured gull and put the animal in a box in order to take it to a vet, had run into and yelled at a police officer who wanted to take the box away because he or she thought that the box contained stolen goods, would that person have been charged with the three counts Anna Marie Marshall has been charged with, even though technically, the exact same things would have happened, but with a different person?

(Generally speaking, whether you put a gull on a leash or in a box makes little difference, legally.)

Why do I bother? Because in my nearly thirteen years in Britain, I have seen a heck of a lot of injustice and it makes me sick. If I can do a little bit to decrease the injustice in Britain a little bit, I will.

(But I am no longer naive enough to think that the masses in Britain want anything else other than the misery they already have, because misery – like beauty – is in the eyes of the beholder. The British actually like most of their misery, it seems.)

In the town where I am based, you could kill a hundred gulls, so to speak, for instance with the sole purpose of annoying a nature lover, and police here would very likely merely consider it hilarious, also because lots of people actually complain about no more than gulls being gulls and calling out while flying around. Gulls have just as much right to be on the planet – or more as birds have been on the planet so much longer than humans. That’s all just as bad, or sad, but it shows you how unequally “justice” is meted out in Britain.

If anyone has any helpful feedback, please use the form below. Thanks.

 

 

What Monica Lewinsky looks like now

TED: https://www.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame/transcript

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_8y0WLm78U

And what happened after TED posted her talk online?

This… (“This is what happened when we posted Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk” by Nadia Goodman on TED.com)

Playing God

There was a time when doctors were being accused of playing God when they helped patients stay alive. Now they’re accusing doctors of playing God when doctors don’t want to force a baby who isn’t viable to stay alive. (Alive?)

There is a lot wrong in the medical world. I agree. And I too have had to tell doctors things they didn’t know about although they’re supposed to be the experts and I admit that it used to surprise me. Discovering that I sometimes knew more than the doctors I went to for advice.

I don’t have the impression that the Charlie Gard case is one of those.

Charlie is being abused, by having been forced to stay alive this long. He is NOT fighting.

After having been forced him to stay alive – against nature – for so long, the decent option is now to let him have that experimental treatment, as I’ve said in a previous post.

But what will happen if the treatment has no effect? There will be more accusations, more lawsuits and more media drama because this stopped being about Charlie Gard a long time ago.

They will then fight to continue to keep him on a ventilator. (The disagreement in court yesterday about what one of the parents apparently had said three months ago seems to indicate that, along with the statement that the parents will continue to fight for the baby as long as he continues to be on a ventilator.)

That said, there are no 100% guarantees in medical matters. Sometimes, someone does wake from a coma twenty years or so later. True. But someone who ends up in a coma used to be viable. That makes a big difference. It means there was a well-functioning body with the healing abilities that entails.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/charlie-gard-army-high-court-medical-experts-great-ormond-street-hospital-murder-doctors-lying-a7840236.html

“We will not be silenced,” they chanted.

Like I wrote above, this ceased to be about a little baby a long time ago. (I had that feeling from the beginning but I was not sure about it, and kept my opinion to myself until very recently.)

This is just as consumerist as wanting to design your own babies according to specs.

I hope that I am wrong about this. I do. I hope that they’ll take Charlie to the States and that a miracle occurs and he’ll grow into a strapping young man. But that’s not going to happen and I am afraid for little Charlie who is denied a say in this and who will also be denied a say if the treatment has no or no significant effect.

I heard a very significant mistake by an American news anchor yesterday.  She talked about the current “treatment”. But Charlie Gard is not being “treated” and the legal proceedings are not about GOSH wanting to stop a treatment, which some people apparently seem to think.

Read this, too (GOSH statement):
https://t.co/X9WHHjhl3u

Read also this (opinion piece in The Guardian):
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/09/the-guardian-view-on-charlie-gard-reason-and-unreason?CMP=soc_3156

Also, there are huge differences between Charlie Gard’s situation and the situation of Ashya King and his parents, as I have mentioned before.

See: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/judgment-and-family-court-orders-in-the-matter-of-ashya-king/

Ashya King is healthy now.

Charlie Gard matter in court again

Is all of this still about Charlie Gard, actually?

Or is this an expression of a consumerist view of children?

Been wondering about that for a while now…

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/10/health/charlie-gard-new-hearing/index.html

The parents seem to claim that Charlie is “fighting”. But if he was, he wouldn’t require life support. He is being kept alive artificially.

Charlie “fighting” would be to take him off life support and finding him able to live on his own, surprising them all.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/10/charlie-gard-key-questions-answered

It’s true, though, that if this child had been in the US, the experimental treatment would already have started and doctors would have a better idea of how it would affect the child.

With the case having been dragged through the courts for so long, and the postponements in terminating life support and allowing the child a peaceful passing, it’s now becoming more logical to allow the kid the treatment, if only because he’s been forced to stay alive so much longer now and would already have passed away if it hadn’t been for the legal battle.

If this news article is correct, though, then the parents’ battle is not about what is best for Charlie, by the sound of it:

http://www.wxyz.com/news/national/baby-charlie-gards-parents-storm-out-of-court-hearing

“Yates interrupted Francis as he said that the parents had said they would not want to prolong Charlie’s life in its present state, only if there was hope of improvement. “I never said that!” she exclaimed from her seat behind her barrister.”

Let’s see if I can find this back in Joshua Rozenberg’s tweets. Yes. Though he does not specify what the disagreement was about.

 

Nature itself considers Charlie Gard absolutely not viable. That is a very strong clue. Nature does its best to limit lives not worth living as much as possible.

Forcing Charlie Gard to stay alive is like insisting on having a purple parrot if its natural color is green and the other color goes with, say, severe liver disease. That’s not about what’s best for the parrot.

(I apologize to those who feel hurt by putting it this way. Maybe I should add that I had a green parrot for 21 years and loved her very dearly.)

How to deal with British police

Essentially, you don’t. You avoid them as much as you can because in Britain, you must consider police your enemy. They are not on your side. They are on their own side.

(Note: Anything I say on this page won’t stop me from, say, buying donuts for random police officers when they’ve all been called back from leave and are working very long days out on the streets. I do my best to see them as individual people.)

The only good reason for going to a police station in Britain is when you need to do that to be able to make an insurance claim.

Police in Britain stopped investigating crimes against individuals at least 10 years ago because they lack the resources to do so. The only crime against an individual that they are still bound to look into is when that individual has been murdered or if the individual is a supermarket owner or the like they like and someone has stolen a sandwich because he or she was hungry and was, say, caught red-handed or recorded on CCTV.

Other than that, forget it. That does not have to leave you stranded in all cases in which you’d normally expect to be able to get assistance from the police officers whose salaries you pay for through your council tax, after all.

Below are some tips, first for if you are a crime victim and second for if police are targeting you, for instance, because you are a crime victim.

Here is the GOLDEN RULE:

If police officers knock on your door, never ever open the door. Under no circumstances.

(You can still talk with them through the closed door, if you feel that it’s useful or required.)

1. Are you the victim of a crime?

Unless you need to do this for the sake of an insurance claim, do not go to the police. If you go to the police, the officers may tell you that they will use the information you give them as intelligence (though they won’t tell you that they are more likely to use it against you than against the perpetrator of the crime(s) you are reporting).

In almost all cases, they will also tell you to go to your council (civic offices) and to your GP. Don’t take it personally when they do this, even though it may sound like they are suggesting that you need mental health assistance. (After all, how on earth can a GP help solve a burglary, for instance?) They say this to just about everyone all over the country. It’s nothing personal; it‘s merely national policy.

You can investigate and try to stop crimes having been or being perpetrated against you but you have to proceed very carefully.

  • What you need to do first of all is print several copies of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Tuck one away in each of your bags or suit pockets.
  • Next, you write a letter to your local MP and any other politicians and/or journalists worth contacting. You explain to them what happened or is happening (the crime), in no more than one or two sentences, such as “My home was broken into” or “My daughter is being stalked. This has been going on for two years and last week the stalker broke into her home”. Then you write that you “will be approaching persons and taking actions for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime, pursuant to and in compliance with the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a.” and that you are sending this letter to him or her for his or her information. Send this letter or these letters by Special Delivery. Yes, that will cost you a few bucks but it’s worth it.
  • If the MP or anyone else you wrote to then asks or tells you to go to the police, ask the person in question to come with you.
  • Use Word or any other program to type up the following text: “Pursuant to and in compliance with the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a, I am approaching you for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime.”
  • Print several copies of that text and always have them with you during your crime investigation. Before you say anything else, say this and hand the printout to anyone you want to speak with in relation to the crime in question.
  • Also begin all your e-mails with that sentence if the e-mail is sent for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime.
  • Remain reasonable at all times. That means, do not behave as if you are a police officer, do not get rude and do not lose your temper. You can certainly be firm. You are standing up for your rights. That is perfectly normal in many other countries and it’s a cry and shame that police in Britain don’t help you protect yours.
  • Never undertake any of your crime investigation activities on your own, but always ensure that you have at least two witnesses, not from your family, but perhaps a colleague from work, a fellow member of a sports club you belong to or a neighbour or a client.
  • If you do go to police, tell them as little as possible. They will use anything you report to them as “intelligence” and while they may inform you of that, what they won’t do is let you know that they may well use any information you give them against you. Police officers may act very friendly and reassuring, and talk about the action they will take, but when they do, they are usually just lying to you, unfortunately.
  • The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub b also means that it is very good (essential) to know the nature of the crime you are investigating, in legal terms. Look up which law applies to what happened, and why what someone did or does was or is a crime according to the law. You can go to the CAB or any other advice organisation, make some calls, see solicitors for a free half-hour consultation, drop in on a law clinic from your local law school and of course research it online and in books.

2. Are you being targeted by police?

British police officers these days seem to go after just about any person that they perceive as easy prey for their arrest (and prosecution) records and whose name and address they have. This could be someone who is probably poor or lower-class, someone who they suspect has a mental health problem and also someone who lives on his or her own or will likely only have kids in the house. So that there won’t be a partner who says “wait a minute!” and they only have to deal with one adult who police officers think will be intimated. Police officers know very well what effect they have on normal citizens and they exploit it when it serves them.

They also are more likely to go after people they don’t like, such as people who report serious crimes and are inexperienced enough to keep asking police officers what they are doing about it, particularly if the person lives on his or her own or will likely have only kids at home.

The problem with reporting a crime is that in the process, you give police officers a lot of information about yourself. They have your name and address now and know what you look like. By contrast, they very likely do not know the identity of the person who committed the crime or is committing the crimes you are reporting. They do now know also some of your personal circumstances, such as that you just broke off your relationship, got fired, just started a new job, whether you rent or own your home and things like that.

If you become the victim of a crime, no matter what cause of action you take (go to the police and/or investigate yourself), it raises the probability that police will start targeting you.

Under no circumstances report a crime and then keep calling to ask what the police officers are doing about it, even if a police officer has told you to do so. (Don’t investigate and report on your investigations either, not even if they have specifically asked you to do so.) All of this is bound to annoy them so much that you may well find them knocking on your door on Sunday morning at 7 am, when you innocently open the door and then find the door slammed into your face and yourself crushed onto the floor and arrested, your kids watching scared and helpless.

Unfortunately, that is the reality in Britain. It happened to Michael Doherty, for instance.

If you’re a woman, it may be more likely that police officers will call the local mental health hospital behind your back and suggest that you are mentally unwell. They may also pay your employer a visit and anyone else who suggesting to that you are not well in the head may disadvantage you.

That too is the reality of Britain today.

Do not open the door if police officers (are targeting you and) knock on your door. You do not have to open the door if police officers knock on your door, no matter what they tell you (with very few exceptions and in those cases, it makes no difference whether you open the door or not, so, don’t). That’s right.

Police officers can sound very convincing when they tell you all sorts of bullshit. Some of them are genuinely convinced that they know the law because they have this law book specifically for police in which they can look things up. If it says anything that does not suit them but would be to your advantage, they won’t tell you that. It will almost never come back to bite them anyway. In practice, police officers in Britain rarely have to adhere to the law, let alone administer it appropriately.

If you ever get arrested, don’t trust whoever shows up as duty solicitor either. He or she will not be interested in your rights. He or she will either want to get out of the police station as soon as possible or milk the circumstances for whatever reason. Of course, there are exceptions – GOOD and HONEST lawyers do exist; in fact, a few of your personal heroes may be lawyers – but under no circumstances assume that a duty solicitor will look out for you.

If you are investigating crime committed or being committed, someone may still call the police and say that you are harassing him or her. This is more likely if that person is the person who committed or has committed the crimes you are investigating, of course, because he or she knows that your powers are nowhere near those of police officers and may have more experience with police than you. He or she will want to make you go away and complaining about you is a possible approach to that.

That is particularly why you need to know what the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a says so that you can say that and maybe even show the printout of that law. Do not count on a duty solicitor to do that for you!

The fact that you are investigating crime on your own already indicates that you are not a person in power, after all. It makes you easily dismissible in the eyes of the police and in the eyes of the duty solicitor. Stand your ground. Don’t let them walk all over you. (You were doing what police officers should be doing. It is not your fault that, as a rule, they no longer deal with crimes committed against individuals these days.)

Also, you have informed several persons such as for example your MP about what you were going to do and you have witnesses.

Last but not least, a bit of a warning. Shana Grice, a young woman who reported being stalked to police was accused by police of wasting police time police (and fined, I believe) before her stalker killed her. There are other women in Britain who were killed by their stalkers, and they too were often not taken seriously by police.

I know a woman who was in similar circumstances, in the Netherlands. Her ex-boyfriend started stalking her and strangled her almost to death one day. In stark contrast to British police, Dutch police did not dismiss her but were very helpful. They advised her to relocate to a town in which she did not know anyone so that her ex was least likely to look for her there.

She took the advice, even though it meant breaking off her Master’s. She moved to a town at quite a distance from where she used to be and also from where her family was, enrolled in a lower-level educational program, then enrolled in another Master’s and after that started a PhD track. She got that PhD and she’s also a mother now.

(He eventually tracked her down in her new town too, but it took him a long time, and by then, he was less angry. One of her house mates or neighbors found him on the doorstep one day, and convinced him to go back and leave the woman alone.)

If you are being stalked in a way that seriously worries you, do not investigate or try to stop it by yourself (and certainly don’t bother reporting it to British police, also because they are likely to inform your stalker of everything you told police, whether on purpose of accidentally). Do what Dutch police advised this young Dutchwoman.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to know any of the above.

If you do use any of the above, and you end up killed, stabbed, bullied, hacked, arrested or anything else that you would have preferred to avoid, then note that you cannot hold me liable for any of that. I am not a lawyer, certainly not within this context, and I am not in a position to shield you from all risk.

Like the woman I mentioned above – no, it wasn’t me; it concerns a much younger woman whose acquaintance I made when she was working on her PhD – I too have only very positive experiences with Dutch police, even in sensitive circumstances that could have easily created friction and for which the officers in question had no training. Hats off!

I have worked with Dutch police in a neighbourhood crime prevention initiative. I also have positive experiences with American police, but race riots broke out in the US city where I used to live only shortly after I left. As we all know, American police has its troubles too because there had been too many incidents in which innocent black persons were killed by police officers in that city.

I think such incidents are often the result of irrational fears on the side of the police officers who often work under a lot of tension. I have personally witnessed in the US that when I had to call police in highly suspicious circumstances, they seemed much more scared and nervous than I was (presumably because I was living in a Florida neighbourhood that didn’t have a good reputation at the time). They were also looking out for my safety extremely well and I noticed that with gratitude.

I wish I could be more positive about British police.

I post the following from the work of Dr Lorraine Sheridan, as this can be vital information to have.

Typology 4: Sadistic stalking (12.9%)

Characteristics

· victim is an obsessive target of the offender, and who’s life is seen as quarry and prey (incremental orientation)
· victim selection criteria is primarily rooted in the victim being:

(i) someone worthy of spoiling, i.e. someone who is perceived by the stalker at the commencement as being: – happy – ‘good’ – stable – content and
(ii) lacking in the victim’s perception any just rationale as to why she was targeted

· initial low level acquaintance

 · apparently benign initially but unlike infatuation harassment the means of intervention tend to have negative orientation designed to disconcert, unnerve, and ergo take power away from the victim

– notes left in victim’s locked car in order to unsettle target (cf. billet-doux of infatuated harassment)
– subtle evidence being left of having been in contact with the victim’s personal items e.g. rifled underwear drawer, re-ordering/removal of private papers, cigarette ends left in ash trays, toilet having been used etc.
– ‘helping’ mend victims car that stalker had previously disabled · thereafter progressive escalation of control over all aspects (i.e. social, historical, professional, financial, physical) of the victim’s life

· offender gratification is rooted in the desire to extract evidence of the victim’s powerlessness with inverse implications for his power => sadism
· additional implication => self-perpetuating in desire to hone down relentlessly on individual victim(s)
· emotional coldness, deliberateness and psychopathy (cf. the heated nature of ex-partner harassment)
· tended to have a history of stalking behaviour and the controlling of others · stalker tended to broaden out targets to family and friends in a bid to isolate the victim and further enhance his control
· communications tended to be a blend of loving and threatening (not hate) designed to de-stabilise and confuse the victim
· threats were either overt (“We’re going to die together”) or subtle (delivery of dead roses)
· stalker could be highly dangerous

– in particular with psychological violence geared to the controlling of the victim with fear, loss of privacy and the curtailment of her social world

· physical violence was also entirely possible

– especially by means which undermine the victim’s confidence in matters normally taken for granted e.g. disabling brake cables, disarming safety equipment, cutting power off

· sexual content of communications was aimed primarily to intimidate through the victim’s humiliation, disgust and general undermining of self-esteem
· the older the offender, the more likely he would have enacted sadistic stalking before and would not be likely to offend after 40 years of age if not engaged in such stalking before
· victim was likely to be re-visited after a seeming hiatus

Case management implications

· should be taken very seriously
· acknowledge from outset that the stalker activity will be very difficult to eradicate
· acknowledge that there is no point whatsoever in appealing to the offender – indeed will exacerbate the problem
· never believe any assurances, alternative versions of events etc. which are given by the offender
· however, record them for use in legal action later
· the victim should be given as much understanding and support as can be made available
· the victim should not be given false or unrealistic assurance or guarantees that s/he will be protected
· the victim should carefully consider relocation. Geographical emphasis being less on distance per se, and more on where the offender is least able to find the victim
· the police should have in mind that the sadistic stalker will be likely to:

(i) carefully construct and calculate their activity to simultaneously minimise the risk of intervention by authorities while retaining maximum impact on victim,
(ii) be almost impervious to intervention since the overcoming of obstacles provides
(iii) new  and potent means of demonstrating the victim’s powerlessness (ergo self-perpetuating) and,
(iiii) if jailed will continue both personally and vicariously with the use of a network.

http://www.le.ac.uk/press/ebulletin/archive/speaker_sheridan.html

http://www.le.ac.uk/ebulletin-archive/ebulletin/features/2000-2009/2007/07/nparticle.2007-07-17.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6300291.stm

http://www.le.ac.uk/press/stalkingsurvey.htm