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August 2, 2009 permalink
Children's Secretary Ed Balls announces a plan to put surveillance cameras in thousands of British homes to spy on (he calls it support) families. In case you think some standards of modesty will prevail, Britain has already installed a CCTV camera in a couple's bedroom. The system will be two-way, so from time to time it will talk back, advising families how to exercise, clean, dress children or make love.
SIN BINS FOR WORST FAMILIES
Thursday July 23,2009, By Alison Little
THOUSANDS of the worst families in England are to be put in “sin bins” in a bid to change their bad behaviour, Ed Balls announced yesterday.
The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.
They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.
Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.
Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far.
But ministers want to target 20,000 more in the next two years, with each costing between £5,000 and £20,000 – a potential total bill of £400million.
Ministers hope the move will reduce the number of youngsters who get drawn into crime because of their chaotic family lives, as portrayed in Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless.
Sin bin projects operate in half of council areas already but Mr Balls wants every local authority to fund them.
He said: “This is pretty tough and non-negotiable support for families to get to the root of the problem. There should be Family Intervention Projects in every local authority area because every area has families that need support.”
But Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is all much too little, much too late.
“This Government has been in power for more than a decade during which time anti-social behaviour, family breakdown and problems like alcohol abuse and truancy have just got worse and worse.”
Mr Balls also said responsible parents who make sure their children behave in school will get new rights to complain about those who allow their children to disrupt lessons.
Pupils and their families will have to sign behaviour contracts known as Home School Agreements before the start of every year, which will set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.
The updated Youth Crime Action Plan also called for a crackdown on violent girl gangs as well as drug and alcohol abuse among young women.
But a decision to give ministers new powers to intervene with failing local authority Youth Offending Teams was criticised by council leaders.
Les Lawrence, of the Local Government Association, said they did “crucial” work and such intervention was “completely unnecessary”.
Source: Sunday Express
Addendum: For readers who think our interpretation is an exaggeration:
Disturbing the Peace
On the inalienable right to "excessively noisy sex"
Brendan O'Neill | August/September 2009 Print Edition
“Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner meaning of the Party’s sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party’s control and which therefore had to be destroyed if possible. What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war-fever and leader-worship.”
So wrote George Orwell in 1984, his dystopian vision of a future where mankind’s every thought, desire, and bodily tingle would be policed by the powers that be. Orwell imagined a Junior Anti-Sex League that spied on kissing and cavorting adults, and a ruling Party that sought to squash the “sex impulse.” The heroes of his nightmarish tale had to sneak off to a wood in order to explore each other’s bodies in a bit of peace and quiet.
It turns out that Orwell was suffering from premature speculation. It was not in 1984 that a major Western government made the “sex impulse”—the grunting, groaning sex instinct—into a police matter; it was in 2009. Here in the U.K., to add to our existing panoply of Orwellian measures—5 million closed-circuit TV cameras that watch our every move; “speaking cameras” that warn us to pick up litter or stop loitering; the government’s attempt to recruit child spies to re-educate anti-social adults—we now have the bizarre and terrifying situation where a woman has been arrested for having sex too loudly. In modern-day Britain, even the decibels of our sexual moaning can become the subject of a police investigation.
At the end of April, Caroline Cartwright, a 48-year-old housewife from Wearside in the northeast of England, was remanded in custody for having “excessively noisy sex.” The cops took her in after neighbors complained of hearing her “shouting and groaning” and her “bed banging against the wall of her home.” Cartwright has, quite reasonably, defended her inalienable right to be a howler: “I can’t stop making noise during sex,” she told The Daily Mail. “It’s unnatural to not make any noises, and I don’t think that I am particularly loud.”
Pleasurable groaning and bed banging are common noises in crowded towns and cities across the civilized world. Most of us deal with them by sticking a CD in the stereo. Those who complain are normally told to stop being prudish or to have a discreet chat with the creators of the offending sex sounds. So how did Cartwright’s expressions of noisy joy become a police case, scheduled to be ruled on at Newcastle Crown Court, one of the biggest courts in the north of England? Because, unbelievably, Cartwright had previously been served with an anti-social behavior order (ASBO)—a civil order used to control the minutiae of British people’s behavior—that forbade her from making “excessive noise during sex” anywhere in England.
That’s right. Going even further than Orwell’s imagined authoritarian hellhole, where at least there was a wood or two where people could indulge their sexual impulses, the local authorities in Wearside made all of England a no-go zone for Cartwright’s noisy shenanigans. If she wanted to howl with abandon, she would have to nip over the border to Scotland or maybe catch a ferry to France. It was because she breached the conditions of her ASBO, the civil ruling about how much noise she can make while making love in England, that Cartwright was arrested.
This case sheds harsh light not only on the Victorian-style petty prudishness of Britain’s rulers, who seriously believe they can make sexually expressive women timid again by dragging them to court, but on the tyranny of anti-social behavior orders themselves, which were introduced by our authoritarian Labour government in 1998. Anyone can apply for an ASBO to stop anyone else from doing something they find irritating, “alarming,” or “threatening.”
Local magistrates’ courts issue the orders, sometimes on the basis of hearsay evidence (which is permissible in ASBO cases). In short, the applicant for an ASBO does not have to go through the normal rigors of the criminal justice system to get a civil ruling preventing someone he doesn’t like from doing something he finds “alarming” or “dangerous.” Once you have been branded with an ASBO, if you break its conditions—by having noisy sex in your own home, for example—you are potentially guilty of a crime and can be imprisoned.
The ASBO system has turned much of Britain into a curtaintwitching, neighbor-watching, noisepolicing gang of spies. The relative ease with which one can apply to the authorities for an ASBO positively invites people to use the system to punish their foes or the irritants who live in their neighborhoods. ASBOs have been used to prevent young people in certain areas from wearing hoods or hats (they look “threatening”), to ban a middle-aged couple from playing gangsta rap (the expletives offended workers and children at a nearby kindergarten), and to prevent a 10-year-old boy from having contact with matches until he turns 16, after he was found to have started a fire.
And now, prudish people who previously would have been told to “put up or shut up” over their neighbors’ noisy sex have been empowered to turn one woman’s private affairs into a very public trial. This, too, is Orwellian: the creation of new layers of spies and inter-communal suspicion.
In Orwell’s dystopia, “the sexual act, successfully performed, was rebellion.” So it is in Wearside in 2009, where the excessively noisy exploits of Cartwright and her possibly very talented partner are a form of rebellion against the arbitrary and interventionist nature of the ASBO-wielding authorities. They are screwing for liberty.
Brendan O’Neill (Brendan.ONeill@spiked-online.com) is the editor of Spiked.
Source: Reason Magazine
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