Facebook's Unanswered Questions

Facebook rightly remains under pressure over its refusal to adopt a panic button to alert law enforcement agencies of potential child abuse. The social networking site has firmly set its face against the adoption of the ‘report abuse' facility developed by the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) despite significant adverse criticism. The shocking rape and murder of teenager Ashleigh Hall has put the safety measures of social networking sites into stark focus. The 17 year old was lured by convicted double rapist Peter Chapman by creating a bogus Facebook profile using the picture of a teenager.

The Surrealist Budget

If this budget were a painting it would be an exemplar of surrealism. The epitome of the absurd came with the suggestion that borrowing £167 billion this year is somehow a virtue, something we can all be pleased about. Similarly, that we should all take a collective sigh of relief at the fact that this has been the deepest recession on record, yet it wasn't as bad as we had feared. It was almost like twisted schadenfreude - a celebration not of someone else's misfortune but our own.

Mephedrone Questions

Earlier today I pressed the Government over the dangers of Mephedrone which has sadly been hitting the headlines after the deaths of two teenagers thought to have taken the drug.  Whilst the Government are now seemingly rushing to take action, the issue of these synthetic drugs being sold online has been clear for some time.

Elm Park Community Meeting

Attended my final Elm Park Community Meeting earlier today.  It's amazing to think how quickly five years have gone by.  It was good to see Rev Colin Philips as host from the Elm Park Baptist Church as well as Sergeant Ken McNish from the Elm Park Safer Neighbourhood Police Team and Ingrid Brandon from the Elm Park Regeneration Partnership.  All of them do so much good work for the local area.  What has been great to see over the last few years is the community coming together with the focal points around the annual Elm Park Fiesta and 'Illuminating Elm Park' event at Christmas.

Safer Streets Drama

I attended a very moving event last night using drama to help reduce youth violence.  The Safer Streets Drama Project is aimed at getting young people to think about their behaviour, their aspirations and the choices they face against the temptation of taking the wrong path.  Through the drama 'Sam's Story' produced and performed by Ten Ten Theatre the project hopes to challenge disaffection and aggression.  The play itself is powerful and carefully crafted to make it both contemporary and relevant to its target audience in schools and young offender institutions. The aim of the programme is to raise self-esteem and aspiration, give young people the tools to manage their lives effectively and reduce knife crime and antisocial behaviour.

Heartstart Havering

Heartstart Havering marked their relaunch with a special event at the Queen's Hospital in Romford earlier today.  I joined the Deputy Mayor of Havering, Councillor Melvin Wallace, Angela Watkinson MP and other community representatives in supporting a new push to increase the number of people trained to respond if someone has a suspected heart attack.  I attended a Heartstart course several years back after my father had a heart attack. Having the knowlege to recognise the symptoms and - if necssary - provide basic CPR if someone goes into a cardiac arrest could literally save someone's life.

A Night on the Tiles

James Brokenshire recounts his night shadowing the London Ambulance Service and the Metropolitan Police as they respond to the drink-related problems of a Friday night on the streets of London.

Teen Drug Treatment

I am deeply disturbed by the news that the Middlegate Lodge drug rehabilitation centre for children is on the brink of closure. Middlegate is virtually the only centre providing residential rehab services for children and teenagers in the UK. The Sun recently carried an excellent article highlighting the work of Middlegate and the unique service it offers:

Alcohol's Hidden Harms

The real cost of Britain's binge drinking culture are becoming ever clearer. The alcohol fuelled violent crime and loutish behaviour which blight many town centres. The increasing pressures on hospital A&E departments dealing with those injured or seriously intoxicated by excessive drinking. The rising death rates where alcohol was a contributory factor.

Dodgy DNA Dossier

I appeared on Channel 4 News this week highlighting incorrect evidence provided by the Government on DNA retention. In a letter to the Parliamentary committee considering the Government's Crime and Security Bill, the Home Office submitted a letter providing details of five case studies purporting to highlight that these cases would not have been solved under more limited retention of DNA profiles of those not convicted of an offence. The problem was I discovered that there were actually four cases rather than five. The details are set out in the C4 report.