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  • Smoking worse then repeated domestic violence


    by Rumbold
    1st July, 2008 at 9:12 pm    

    The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has been working with English local authorities to come up with a new set of priorities and targets for each authority, rather than impose the same targets on each authority. This seems sensible enough, as it allows local authorities (who get the bulk of their money from central government), to react to local conditions. Each area then ranked its priorities from an approved DCLG list, and the DCLG has published the twenty most popular targets on its website (each authority had to pick 35 targets). Allowing each local area to choose its own priorities seemed like a dangerous outbreak of common sense in government, but fortunately the local authorities have restored the status quo with their choices.

    Out of 150 local authorities, only 75 felt that ‘repeat incidents of domestic violence’ was one of their top 35 targets. In comparison 89 thought that ‘stopping smoking’, which is currently a legal activity, was amongst the most important. Laughably, the website links to a newly-published YouGov poll where people ranked their top five priorities, to try and show that the state is responding to people’s needs. Yet upon examination, the YouGov poll reveals that the most important issue for people is crime (83%). Only 82 councils thought that reducing the ‘assault with injury crime rate’ was important, compared to 99 that were really concerned with ‘obesity among primary school age children in Year 6 [ie.10-11 year olds]’. The YouGov poll saw 23% rank improving children’s health as one of the top five, the second lowest of any of the choices. The ‘re-offending rate of prolific and other priority offenders’ and ‘serious acquisitive crime rate’, the two other crime targets, were also considered less important then year six obesity by councils.

    So for the average local council, fat children and smokers are more of a concern then a person who goes round beating people up, or a person who stays at home and beats people up. This attitude seems to pervade the state now, where crimes against the dominant ideology of the day are punished more harshly then vicious assaults. Over the past few years, Britain has seen pensioners, some of whom were war veterans, jailed for refusal to pay their council tax. Yes, these people broke the law, but as our jails are already overcrowded, shouldn’t there have been some leniency for non-violent, first time offenders, whose crimes were hardly on a grand scale? I suspect we know what a YouGov poll would tell us.

    Contrast their fate with a professional footballer, Joey Barton, who received a four month suspended sentence today after brutally attacking one of his teammates, beating him unconscious and then continuing to assault him. The incident happened on the training ground, so there were plenty of witnesses, nor was Barton a first time offender. He has a history of violence (Wikipedia’s summary is only partially complete):

    “In May 2005 he broke a 35-year-old pedestrian’s leg while driving his car through Liverpool city centre at 2 am.[95] He was arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage after an alleged argument with a taxi driver in Liverpool while going to his hotel after a match on 13 March 2007.[96] He was cleared of this charge in May 2008.[97] On 27 December 2007, Barton was arrested on suspicion of assault in the Church Street area of Liverpool city centre following an incident which took place at 5:30 am.[98] He was remanded in custody on December 28 since the alleged offence was committed whilst he was on bail for two prior offences; the presiding magistrate noted “I also have to consider the safety of the public - you lashed out indiscriminately”.[99] He was later charged with common assault and affray, and was sentenced to six months in prison on 20 May 2008.[100]“

    In addition, he first became notorious at a party held by Manchester City, when he thought it would hilarious to go round stubbing out his cigar on people’s clothes, while they were still wearing them. Another player surprisingly objected to this jaunty game of being burnt, at which point Barton stubbed out the cigar in the player’s eye, damaging his eyelid. Oh, and he once bit another teammate. Yet after all this, the judge still saw fit to give Barton (who had pleaded guilty), a suspended sentence.

    The first duty of a state is to protect its citizens, whether from attack by another country, or from crime within the country itself. These council priorities simply confirm that reducing crime means less to the state then imposing their own ideological whims.


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    Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Current affairs






    35 Comments below   |  

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    1. sarah — on 1st July, 2008 at 10:03 pm  

      Out of 150 local authorities, only 75 felt that ‘repeat incidents of domestic violence’ was one of their top 35 targets. In comparison 89 thought that ‘stopping smoking’, which is currently a legal activity, was amongst the most important.

      What a load of rubbish! I knew there were good reasons why I hate the authorities!

    2. David O'Keefe — on 1st July, 2008 at 10:36 pm  

      Rumbold
      I’m no fan of local government, but this article is atrocious.

      Smoking Kills and obesity is a public health issue. Why not title this piece Health more important than crime to local councils. This says more about your ideology than the states.

    3. Inders — on 1st July, 2008 at 10:37 pm  

      I’m in the industry I’m afraid.

      I’m assuming that they’re using LAA (local area agreements) targets for the basis of these figures.

      Some points.

      LAA targets need to be quite varied. Smoking figures are a health pledge. Domestic Violence is a crime pledge. The comparison is invalid.

      If you asked Local authorities what are their top 3 health priorities. Smoking would always be one of them. The reason of course being that smoking causes such drastic levels of poor health across the board, eventually.

      If you asked Local Authorities what their top 3 crime priorities are. Domestic Violence might not be there. The area might have high levels of street violence, or burglary or even murder.

      Rest assured that Domestic Violence is still high on the police’s agenda. And there are some funds available for Domestic Violence schemes.

    4. Kelly — on 1st July, 2008 at 11:43 pm  

      Thanks for the information on how smoking is worse than domestic violence. That’s very interesting!

      We recently wrote an article on smoking at Brain Blogger. Recently, a lot of areas across the globe have banned smoking in public areas. Is this right; is smoking really that much of a problem? Is so much of a problem that Brazil must take their ad campaigns to a disturbing level?

      We would like to read your comments on our article. Thank you.

      Sincerely,
      Kelly

    5. Sunny — on 1st July, 2008 at 11:53 pm  

      This attitude seems to pervade the state now, where crimes against the dominant ideology of the day are punished more harshly then vicious assaults. Over the past few years, Britain has seen pensioners, some of whom were war veterans, jailed for refusal to pay their council tax.

      Errm.. you’re blaming the state for something that is more about giving local autonomy and then having them not coming back with the results you wanted.

    6. Amrit — on 2nd July, 2008 at 1:14 am  

      David O’Keefe, 2:

      ‘Smoking Kills’

      It does, but domestic violence can also (all too often) end in death - but smoking is a choice and domestic violence isn’t.

      Can I just say on the Joey Barton issue: I know that the tabloids are a load of hypocritical bulls**t, but according to Football365, the Sun is back to its old tricks of ignoring reality where convenient:

      ”SOCCER yob Joey Barton dodged a second jail term for thuggery yesterday - as Newcastle United finally gave him the boot…But last night’s sacking by Newcastle - following calls by The Sun to ban him from football - means the £5.8million midfielder’s career IS effectively over’ - The Sun. ‘

      http://www.football365.com/mediawatch/0,17033,8749_3761894,00.html

      Pretty disgusting, because this guy is actually a menace to society unlike their usual invented or wildly exaggerated threats!

      And as for the government arresting pensioners: they can’t seem to catch many of the teenagers responsible for our knife- and gun-crime rises, but you know, someone’s gotta suffer so it looks like they’re being tough on crime!

    7. Letters From A Tory — on 2nd July, 2008 at 10:01 am  

      It’s sad but not surprising that domestic violence and various other crimes have been squeezed out of the headlines over the past few years, but I doubt the situation has got much better.

      http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

    8. MaidMarian — on 2nd July, 2008 at 10:32 am  

      Rumbold, isn’t this working on the assumption that priorities should be the same for all areas/authorities?

      I would expect an authority with (say) a high smoking rate and a low incidence of domestic violence to make smoking a priority. I am not at all surprised that there are these differences, indeed I see them as a good thing.

      As to crime, yes we need a serious and grown up debate about that, including policing that will involve stepping on toes. Probably some sensitive racial toes. But to present some faux-worldliness about distorted priorities relative to a yougov straw poll does not seem a good place to start.

      Sorry.

    9. Inders — on 2nd July, 2008 at 10:37 am  

      Local area funding for crime initiatives is different from mainstream policing. No-one is suggesting that the police will not help domestic violence victims if and when needed.

      Local funding usually is in the form of revenue or capital projects that aim to improve upon base line figures.

      What counts as a success for a domestic violence support project anyway ? Is it number of people successfully leaving an abusive relationship ? The levels of domestic abuse falling ? The levels of domestic abuse actually rising because of the improvement in communication means that more people report violence ?

    10. Sofia — on 2nd July, 2008 at 11:28 am  

      I’m not sure I agree with the comparison here. As Inders and Maid Marian have pointed out, there are local priorities as well as funding and areas of responsibility in terms of delivery of information and services.
      Alongside targets will be funding (i’m assuming), so it makes sense for local authorities to have a differing set of targets. Of course violent crime is important, but I can imagine councils are weighing up priorities, funding and longterm outcomes. Smoking does not just kill people through cancer, but heart disease and stroke..the three biggest kills in this country. It is unfair to compare this as you have and you could have picked on some of the other 35 targets mentioned.

    11. Rumbold — on 2nd July, 2008 at 2:29 pm  

      David:

      “Smoking Kills and obesity is a public health issue. Why not title this piece Health more important than crime to local councils. This says more about your ideology than the states.”

      People choose to smoke and eat. They don’t choose to get beaten up. It is the state’s job to rpotect us, not to lecture us about our lifestyles.

      Inders:

      “LAA targets need to be quite varied. Smoking figures are a health pledge. Domestic Violence is a crime pledge. The comparison is invalid.”

      I understand the need for flexibility, but why have so many health pledges, if there are crime pledges that have to fall by the wayside.

      “Rest assured that Domestic Violence is still high on the police’s agenda. And there are some funds available for Domestic Violence schemes.”

      Not enough, by most accounts. Let councils still find the money for expenses and lecturing people on their lifestyle choices.

      Sunny:

      “Errm.. you’re blaming the state for something that is more about giving local autonomy and then having them not coming back with the results you wanted.”

      The state is both central and local government. This report demonstrates the current state thinking.

      Amrit:

      Now it looks like not only will Barton stay at Newcastle, but they are not even going to cut his pay.

      MaidMarian:

      “Rumbold, isn’t this working on the assumption that priorities should be the same for all areas/authorities?

      I would expect an authority with (say) a high smoking rate and a low incidence of domestic violence to make smoking a priority. I am not at all surprised that there are these differences, indeed I see them as a good thing.”

      Again, I do see the need for flexibility. Obviously some areas have more problems with certain issues than others. But for only half the councils to say that repeated domestic violence was one of their top thirty five priorities is just ridiculous. Why are councils getting involved with reducing smoking rates anyway?

      Sofia:

      “Smoking does not just kill people through cancer, but heart disease and stroke..the three biggest kills in this country. It is unfair to compare this as you have and you could have picked on some of the other 35 targets mentioned.”

      At the end of the day people don’t have to eat, drink or smoke to excess. If they want to, that is perfectly fine by me, but I am unsure why the state deems it a priority to try and get them to change their ways, when there are so many services (domestic violence, rubbish collection, transport) that need the money instead. It is a question of priorities.

    12. Roger — on 2nd July, 2008 at 2:50 pm  

      Barton was given a suspended sentence, I think, because he is already in gaol for another assault.
      There are some important aspects to what local authorities aspire to do: one is that they would be wiser to try to do something they can do: thus reducing the number of smokers or obesity level of schoolchildren is something they can probably more easily affect than crime rates or domestic violence; secondly, there is whether the results will be noticeable in the short term, to help them get re-elected; thirdly, there is the question of how serious a problem actually is: ‘assault with injury crime rates’ are fairly low, but fear of them is very high, so general information about their level might be more useful than attempts to reduce them by councils that have little control over the factors that cause them

    13. Rumbold — on 2nd July, 2008 at 3:15 pm  

      Roger:

      But surely reducing crime is their first duty, rather than changing people’s lifestyles?

    14. Sofia — on 2nd July, 2008 at 3:40 pm  

      Rumbold, although I do understand the issue of choice vs abuse of human rights, I do think your opinion of smoking is slightly skewed. The whole reason people find it difficult to give up is because it ceases to become a social past time and is actually an addiction. This goes for alcoholism/binge drinking(note i have not mentioned social drinking) and other forms of drug abuse. In many cases people will start smoking or drinking excessively at a young age and therefore the question is really around preventing this..this means that it isn’t only the issue itself that is tackled,but the underlying reasons around say..binge drinking. So when you say they can choose not to smoke ..of course…but when it is an addiction it takes a bit more than not wanting to…as for prioritising…again based on local needs assessments…it would be a total catastrophe if money into smoking cessation and prevention of say..diabetes, was halted or channeled elsewhere.

    15. MaidMarian — on 2nd July, 2008 at 4:07 pm  

      Rumbold - fair enough, point more than taken.

      What’s your prescription for cutting crime? Clearly and rightly you think that more money should be thrown at the problem, but money in itself is surely not the answer.

      What should we (councils, police, Home Office, writers on here, you and I) all be doing? And by that I mean physically, right now - not what should we be doing in terms of changing society for the future etc.

      I’ll be honest - I don’t know.

    16. persephone — on 2nd July, 2008 at 5:49 pm  

      this blog reminded me about an article (the guardian) on Boris Johnston increasing the number of rape centres but cutting down his predecessors advertising budget some of which went to raise awareness to avoid rape and was found to work by being preventative. Apparently rape centres are cheaper than an advertising campaign, so even +ve results do not swing the balance.

      As to doing something, one of the trademarks and reasons for continuing domestic violence is that it is hidden and victims are too embarassed/fear reprisals/social stigma to go public.

      Changing society would entail empowering the victims and changing the behaviour of the perpetrators. Don’t believe a quick fix will do it

    17. Rumbold — on 2nd July, 2008 at 5:52 pm  

      Sofia:

      I think that the NHS has a role to play in helping people improve their helath, but only those that want to do so. Therefore I don’t see why more councils considered ‘stopping smoking’ a priority then stopping ‘repeated domestic violence’. Smoking is after all a legal activity for consenting adults, so governments should focus on other areas first, as they only have limited resources.

      MaidMarian:

      I have some solutions for cutting crime, but most involve other ways then just throwing money at the problem. However, as you say, money is also important, which is why these council priorites got me so annoyed.

      To cut crime, you first need to scrap and/or simplify a large number of laws. This is not so crime figures drop (though they would), but so that less people get caught up in the criminal world. At present, a consenting adult can get a criminal record simply for performing an activity (taking drugs), which doesn’t hurt anyone else per se (though it can). Once you have a criminal record, it becomes harder to get jobs, people shun you, and you find yourself more drawn into the realm of criminality, and become a habitual criminal damaging society. Re-offending rates are shockingly high, because it is difficult for people to re-integrate into society.

      If drugs were decriminalised, less people would be sent to prison. This would give prisons and other related services a better chance in focusing on helping the remaining prisoners. For the remaining crimes, full sentences should be enforced, rather than letting people out early because of overcrowding. Violent/serial offenders should be sent to prison quicker as well, which would increase public trust in the justice system. For non-serious crimes, a criminal record should be time-limited to a few months, to encourage ex-prisoners to return to society.

    18. Piggy — on 2nd July, 2008 at 6:42 pm  

      “crimes against the dominant ideology of the day are punished more harshly then vicious assaults”

      I genuinely cannot believe that you actually believe this.

      Let’s accept your terms of reference and do a quick compare/contrast:

      Maximum sentence for common assault: 6 Months
      Maximum sentence for GBH: life
      Maximum sentence for Council Tax evasion: 3 months
      Maximum sentence for being a smoker: None. £50 fine for smoking in an enclosed public space.
      Maximum sentence for being fat: None

      Now, if you’re wondering why being fat and smoking do not carry custodial sentences, it’s down to an amusing legal quirk, namely NEITHER OF THEM ARE ILLEGAL. Jesus.

      So given that a ‘vicious assault’ carries a potential life sentence and smoking carries no penalties if done at home or in the street and a £50 fine if done in a pub, do you not think that the statement:

      “crimes against the dominant ideology of the day are punished more harshly then vicious assaults”

      Is utter fucking gibberish?

    19. Rumbold — on 2nd July, 2008 at 7:17 pm  

      Piggy:

      How do you explain Joey Barton’s sentence then?

    20. Philip Hunt — on 2nd July, 2008 at 7:47 pm  

      Over the past few years, Britain has seen pensioners, some of whom were war veterans, jailed for refusal to pay their council tax. Yes, these people broke the law, but as our jails are already overcrowded, shouldn’t there have been some leniency for non-violent, first time offenders, whose crimes were hardly on a grand scale?

      Realistically, what else could they do? If some people are seen to get away with not paying taxes, then lots of poeple won’t pay, and if they aren’t punished either, then no-one will pay.

    21. Piggy — on 2nd July, 2008 at 8:38 pm  

      What do you want me to explain?

      He got six months for the first offence and a four month supsended sentence for an offence that occured before the incident he got a four month suspended sentence.

      The longest sentence I can find for a Council Tax martyr is 34 days.

      To my knowledge no-one has ever been jailed for smoking or being fat.

      In order for the statement

      “crimes against the dominant ideology of the day are punished more harshly then vicious assaults”

      to be true, you would have to look me in the eye and tell me that its worse to be in jail for a short time than a long time AND that not going to jail at all is worse than going to jail.

      And that’s before we get started on the wisdom of using a single case to make sweeping generalisations about the criminal justice system or your weird conflation of smoking/being fat and council tax evasion.

    22. soru — on 2nd July, 2008 at 8:45 pm  

      Smoking is after all a legal activity for consenting adults, so governments should focus on other areas first, as they only have limited resources.

      A market crash and decade-long depression would also be entirely legal - doesn’t mean whether one happens or not should be a matter of studied indifference to government.

      Having to rank priorities, as opposed to just saying ‘everything is urgent’, sounds like a minor but possibly helpful aid in working out which local party to vote for. It’s not a replacement for local elections: those producing these list already won those.

      If you disagree, you are free to vote for a party with a different set of priorities. But there is nothing in that list that sounds remotely like it would be outside the things a democratic mandate should allow a state agency to do.

    23. Piggy — on 2nd July, 2008 at 9:15 pm  

      Apologies, couple of corrections

      Should have been

      “He got six months for one offence and a four month supsended sentence for an offence that occured before the incident he got the six month sentence for.”

      Additionally the longest sentence I can find for a council tax martyr is actually 32 days. Maths fans out there will note that this remains less than 6 months.

    24. Piggy — on 2nd July, 2008 at 9:28 pm  

      Oh, hang about, turns out the government want to stop sending council tax evaders to prison altogether

      http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23505129-details/No+prison+for+rebel+council+tax+pensioners/article.do

      Presumably by the Rumbold less-is-more theory of punishment, this is further evidence of the political class being hellbent on inflicting the harshest possible penalties on pensioners who won’t pay their council tax.

    25. Roger — on 2nd July, 2008 at 9:37 pm  

      “But surely reducing crime is their first duty, rather than changing people’s lifestyles?”

      Local authorities have so little control over the police force now that reducing crime is no longer effectively part of their responsibility. They do have powers to control where people can smoke and what is provided in school dinners.

    26. MaidMarian — on 3rd July, 2008 at 11:36 am  

      Rumbold (17) - I certainly accept eveything you say, crime becomes a self-reinforcing thing and the more get drawn in the more stay in. Drugs are a good illustration of that point.

      But what I had in mind was things like knife-carrying kids. The act in itself of carrying a knife does not per se hurt anyone does it? These kids could get a knife legitimately through any number of means - how to stop that? Mass stop and search? Profiling of police targets? None of the alternatives are palatable to my mind. With the greatest of respect to those that go on marches or write letters to newspapers, those activities will do nothing to take knives off the street. How to go about that - what should knives being a priority actually physically involve? Again, I don’t pretend I have an answer.

    27. Sofia — on 3rd July, 2008 at 11:43 am  

      “I think that the NHS has a role to play in helping people improve their health, but only those that want to do so”
      Rumbold I respect a lot of your opinions but find this to be one of the times where I will respectfully totally and utterly disagree with you. People are not so simplistic to be divided amongst those that want to improve their health and those that don’t. The inverse rule of health provision mean that that the worried few and socially affluent will have access to the health information and care they require. For those in socially deprived areas, from ethnic minorities as well as refugees, travellers and asylum seekers who have not had their status confirmed (and thus in limbo), are just an example of communities that often want and need specifically targetted health care, but are often being overlooked for a variety of reasons. These communities are also the ones that are at highest risk of cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke and associated illnesses such as diabetes…all of whom have smoking as a large risk factor.
      So to follow your argument, if they want the help, they should get it…but in many cases these ppl aren’t actually being accessed because they are apparently ‘hard to reach’ (which is a load of bollocks)…if numbers of ppl with heart disease and diabetes/stroke is increasing, then does that mean these ppl don’t give a damn about their health or because they haven’t been provided with the right information at the right time with the right intervention???

    28. Inders — on 3rd July, 2008 at 1:10 pm  

      The discussion is getting a bit wide of the mark here. Criminal sentencing is nothing to do with local government. Conventional health treatment and conventional policing is nothing to do with local government.

      I’m not sure how Rumbold can claim that there is not enough money is being dedicated to Domestic Violence victims without figures and comparisons with monies spent elsewhere.

      One could argue that Domestic Violence schemes are overfunded as they offer no preventative aspect at all. The argument is that they should be mainstreamed along with conventional social services, which is still handled at local government level and deals extensively with these issues along with the police.

      By helping people give up smoking it is clear that the money is being used to

      a> prevent future strains on council and NHS resources
      b> lead to a steady decline of the problem
      c> improve the health of the communities in which they serve

      There are plenty of things funded by local government that could be considered a waste of money but I don’t think that stop smoking campaigns are one of them.

    29. Sofia — on 3rd July, 2008 at 1:42 pm  

      In terms of local government or councils, it depends if there is a close connection between pcts and the local council..also if the council is working on neighbourhood renewal, connecting communities grants etc, which may also end up having a health agenda.

    30. Piggy — on 3rd July, 2008 at 6:55 pm  

      “The discussion is getting a bit wide of the mark here. Criminal sentencing is nothing to do with local government. Conventional health treatment and conventional policing is nothing to do with local government.”

      I think Rumbold’s point appears to be that more or less everything related to the state is controlled by a quasi-masonic librul-fashist cult that wants to lock up old ladies and create a master-race of five-a-day eating, non-smoking, wife-beating Joey Bartons. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but there you go.

    31. Rumbold — on 4th July, 2008 at 8:28 pm  

      Piggy:

      It never matters what the law says, it is how things are enforced which really matter. Increasingly the state is concentrating its efforts on repressing those it considers to be ideologically unsound.

      “Oh, hang about, turns out the government want to stop sending council tax evaders to prison altogether.”

      Only to avoid media attention. Instead, they are just going seize whatever assets they want. Typical.

      “I think Rumbold’s point appears to be that more or less everything related to the state is controlled by a quasi-masonic librul-fashist cult that wants to lock up old ladies and create a master-race of five-a-day eating, non-smoking, wife-beating Joey Bartons.”

      Thanks for the summary.

      Soru:

      “If you disagree, you are free to vote for a party with a different set of priorities. But there is nothing in that list that sounds remotely like it would be outside the things a democratic mandate should allow a state agency to do.”

      I am not questioning their right to make such lists, just questioning what they have put on those lists.

      Roger:

      “Local authorities have so little control over the police force now that reducing crime is no longer effectively part of their responsibility. They do have powers to control where people can smoke and what is provided in school dinners.”

      They might have little control over the preventative aspects of crime, but they could provide more women’s shelters, for example. If they have so little to do, one wonders where all the council tax goes.

      MaidMarian:

      “But what I had in mind was things like knife-carrying kids. The act in itself of carrying a knife does not per se hurt anyone does it? These kids could get a knife legitimately through any number of means - how to stop that? Mass stop and search? Profiling of police targets? None of the alternatives are palatable to my mind.”

      I’m stumped as well. How do you stop someone doing something that they think is cool and/or necessary?

    32. Rumbold — on 4th July, 2008 at 8:38 pm  

      Sofia:

      “Rumbold I respect a lot of your opinions but find this to be one of the times where I will respectfully totally and utterly disagree with you. People are not so simplistic to be divided amongst those that want to improve their health and those that don’t. The inverse rule of health provision mean that that the worried few and socially affluent will have access to the health information and care they require.”

      I was thinking more about people who smoke/drink/eat a lot, rather then groups who have higher rates of particular diseases then others. For example, much of the TB currently in this country appears to have originated from sub-Saharan African migrants, so I would have no problem with sepnding money telling them about this and encouraging them to get chekced out. In the same vein (excuse the pun), I think that there is a lack of blood and/or organ donors from South Asian coommunities, so a targeted ad campaign etc. is fine. What I have an issue with is where the state spends money and time trying to get people to change their lifestyle habits, when they didn’t ask for help.

      Inders:

      “One could argue that Domestic Violence schemes are overfunded as they offer no preventative aspect at all. The argument is that they should be mainstreamed along with conventional social services, which is still handled at local government level and deals extensively with these issues along with the police.”

      Domestic violence schemes are certainly not overfunded. How could they law is, there will always be crime, so one of the responsibilities of the state is to provide protection for the victims of crime. I agree that domestic violecne services could be better co-ordinated with the rest of the state, but that is not an argument for cutting funding.

      “By helping people give up smoking it is clear that the money is being used to

      a> prevent future strains on council and NHS resources
      b> lead to a steady decline of the problem
      c> improve the health of the communities in which they serve”

      It is debatable whether preventing smoking saves money, as the tax take drops, and people live longer which costs the NHS more money.

    33. Inders — on 5th July, 2008 at 10:56 am  

      Have it either way Rumbold.

      Either the NHS saves money and resources from the reduction in smoking related illnesses.

      Or people save money and live longer.

      Either is fine with me. ps. I am actually a smoker.

    34. Piggy — on 6th July, 2008 at 11:42 pm  

      “It never matters what the law says, it is how things are enforced which really matter. Increasingly the state is concentrating its efforts on repressing those it considers to be ideologically unsound.”

      Jesus. Let’s leave aside the fact that this would have been at best a half-arsed answer to my first post.

      To repeat:

      1) Barton got 6 months plus a suspended four month sentence for an offence that took place BEFORE the one he got locked up for.

      2) The longest sentence given to a council tax martyr is 32 days, the government are considering proposals which will mean council tax martyrs won’t go to prison at all

      3) No-one has ever received either a custodial or community sentence for smoking or being fat.

      This IS ‘how things are enforced’. Unless you can provide evidence of a top secret ‘Operation Lock Up The Fatties’ or you’re willing to argue that 32/0 days in prison is worse than 6 months I don’t see how you can suggest that:

      “crimes against the dominant ideology of the day are punished more harshly then vicious assaults”

    35. Laban — on 7th July, 2008 at 12:10 pm  

      sofia : “The whole reason people find it difficult to give up is because it ceases to become a social past time and is actually an addiction.”

      Nonsense. You stop when you want to. Some people just don’t want to enough. A couple of examples from close to home

      a) female. Get pregnant. Stop smoking

      b) male. Late 40s. Get mysterious chest pain. Stop smoking. The pain turns out to be nothing to do with smoking, but why not quit while ahead ?

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