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Welsh teenager in court for anti-gay Facebook messages

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  1. See, you have to be careful what you say on here. or Stu, will be after your Ass!

    Sorry Stu!

    1. I helped set up the first’ish LGB Forum in the UK, so I know the difference between being homophobic and not.

    2. huh? What are you on about?

      1. Cleggy,

        Stu is contributing, along with a couple of others, valuable and intelligent responses. We could all learn from him.

        1. Thanks Jako

          ;-)

  2. £85?? Hardly a deterrent.

    1. I agree hardly a deterrent, to be fair it wasnt the only part of his penalty and we dont know his financial circumstances – £85 may be a significant amount of money to him.

      But no not an obvious deterrent – but please to see a conviction on his record for life – he will be known for hate crime – hopefully he will change, unfortunately many don’t

      1. Very few of these paltry fines ever get paid. If they do it’s 10p a month for life.
        If he is able to send facebook messages then just take his phone and computer away and crush them. That is something that would hurt.

      2. Fines are never a deterrent for any crime, criminality is far too complex to make a monetry penalty a factor when someone’s decides to commit an offence. The other point about labelling someone as a hate offender and having a criminal record for life hardly helps society, the victim or the offender change his ways. Much better is to use a restorative apprroach for these types of offences where the offender has to meet his victim face up to the consequences, understand that homophobic abuse is wrong and then pay compensation directly to his victims. I’ve been observing such meetings and it make a much bigger difference than police and court action!

        1. @Mark

          Restorative justice can work – but not in all cases. It requires willingness from both victim to participate and that the offender engages.

          When it works it works very well. The likelihood of reoffending reduces significantly. However, those that will not engage are likely to be the most strident and bigoted in their views are less likely to engage. That certainly was the experience in the state of Victoria in Australia in their restorative justice – although as a method of tackling offending it has been effective in reducing reoffending – there are weaknesses to the system such as not being able to tackle certain types of offender.

  3. Jock S. Trap 31 Mar 2011, 4:03pm

    Hardly a deterrent but at least action.

    I’m waiting for some to start with the being allowed to discriminate if they wasnt without punishment….

    1. @Jock

      Don’t quite follow your last sentence … some what to start and discriminate about what and who wasnt without punishment …

      I am obviously missing something here

  4. Roger and Paola Crouch 31 Mar 2011, 4:05pm

    I think that it at least sets a useful precedent and may act as a warning. We found it hard to get the police to take the bullying claim seriously. They checked Dominics phone and computer but no body elses and didnt ask any searching questions about text messages that were being sent around the school. Govt policy says that for bullying to be bullying it has to be intentionally harmful – if not its normal teenage behaviour!

    1. I agree that government policy on bullying needs to change – whilst intentionally harmful bullying is horrific, unintentionally harmful bullying is just as harmful to the victim. Surely whether or not intention is there is merely an aggravating factor?
      As for police investigating – I don’t know what route you were seeking action down, but I presume there could have been a suspicion of a criminal offence of harassment. If there is such a suspicion then the police have the right to investigate fully (particularly if the crime is potentially made out by 2 of more episodes of harassment). Full investigation should include interviewing and where appropriate witness statements, mobile phone analysis, computer analysis (or screen shots), CCTV etc etc – failing to go down these routes is arguably a neglect of duty by the officers involved. Bullying in itself is anti social but harassment is a crime and police are duty bound to investigate – it might not be high priority for analysis…

      1. … of mobile phones/computers etc compared to serious fraud, drug dealing, murder, rape, child abuse etc – but nonetheless it is a crime and if there is evidence it should be checked and verified.

      2. One of the problems is the Police’s own homophobia, get’s in the way of properly investigating hate crimes. Often they cant see a crime has been committed.

        1. @Cleggy

          Am sure that is the case still in some places.

          My experience may be biased as an ex-police officer (but would hope it would be reasonably balanced as I did suffer homophobia when in the police).

          I have seen that the police actually at times give preferential treatment to any allegation that is linked to race, gender, sexuality, religious or other hatred issue. There are special teams to deal with the issues and liaison officers.

          Some of them are very good, some are not. Some front line officers are excellent and do things very well and treat all cases equally – some do not. Some make decisions about hate crimes or bullying etc for all the right reasons, some do not – sometimes for the best of (misguided) intentions, sometimes they are for all the wrong reasons.

          Its understandable that some in ethnic communities and the LGBT communities etc struggle to trust the police given history. There are methods of reporting via other agencies in most police areas.

          1. @Stu

            “some do not”

            My un-announced visit from the Police, came from the Diversity Unit at A & S Constabulary, we had the chat where I was threatened and we finished the un-announced visit. But as I followed him up my garden path, he suddenly noticed “I” was behind him and he freaked!

            Most people think that when a hate crime is committed the victim is automatically given a specially trained hate crime Police officer to investigate their case. This is “not true” the police have a queuing system of coppers that takes the next investigation whether it’s a hate crime or not. It’s luck if you get a hate crime officer to investigate your case. The forces need to have a Hate crime unit of specially trained hate crime officer’s that take over an investigation once it’s known or suspected as a homophobic hate crime, like when a victim asks for a WPC or when a firearm is suspected of being used, they send in the coppers with guns.

          2. @Cleggy

            The way you describe the un announced visit (not unusual in itself in policing) from the police makes me angry that there are still people in the police who behave in underhand ways like this. I know victims of hate crime are not always allocated a specially trained officer (they should be – but arent) but they are entitled to request one! The hate unit was what we had in the force where I worked for 7 years as a police officer and initial response would be whoever on uniform but once identified as a hate crime it would usually (have to be good reason not to) be referred to the hate unit. (really called PPRSGH unit but ,,,), The hate unit would also review all hate crimes and all incident logs that appeared to be hate related but were closed off as not being. Didnt get it all right but it was better.
            If you have evidence I am sure IPCC would be interested.

        2. Jock S. Trap 1 Apr 2011, 7:52am

          Cleggy

          I have to agree. My own situation I ended up having to find out the local Gay Liaison Officer to be taken seriously. Have also heard other people’s accounts when they have been attacked, which haven’t been helpfully.

          Lucky when I did find my local Gay Liaison Officer I couldn’t have asked for better help.

          My worry is, if this is in London, I dread to think what help it like elsewhere.

          1. @Jock S Trap

            The police service I was an officer in was a long way out of London and whilst it didnt get everything right every time it did do a pretty good job at dealing with LGBT and other hate issues.

            You shouldnt have to seek out a liaison officer. There should be schemes in place to have effective management of incidents, allegations and reports being dealt with appropriately skilled officers – but with all officers being capable of dealing with the initial report.

          2. I was assaulted in a homophobic attack about 7 years ago and went to Islington police to report it. The woman on the desk was extremely homophobic but I did get a half-apology from her later on. The gay liaison officer left a message on my mobile but I tried and tried to get hold of him but couldn’t. At the 2-day trial the defence barrister kept asking me if I was a “practising homosexual” and kept telling me I was a liar. They didn’t even bother with my written statement or photographs of the bruises and the police woman who took my statement was laughing and joking with the defence barrister. It all seemed a fit-up and the magistrate didn’t even bother to sum-up – he just let my attacker off who gave me a broad smile as he left the court. I’m still bitter about the whole experience…

          3. @Stu

            The hate crime officer advises, but the officer who was given the incident, still has the case and as an untrained (to be gay friendly) Police officer they still make homophobic mistakes.

            I’ve been to the IPCC and ACPO over this and they are not interested.

            And lets not forget a former Deputy Chief Constable of A&S is now the lead officer for Race & Diversity at ACPO and he just cut the funding of Gay Police Association and not the funding of the Christian Police Association. He also has a highly questionable history.

            With A&S you have to demand a hate crime officer.

          4. @Cleggy

            Sounds very concerning all you say regarding A&S. If you have any form of documentary evidence then I would formulate it into a purely factual account – leave out any speculation – and send a letter to your MP explaining what you know, what you have tried to do, what the unhelpful responses were. The concerns you have about behaviour eg of the ACPO rank A&S officer and his decisions re GPA and CPA and ask for it to be taken up with relevant bodies. If that doesnt get you anywhere media expose … but thats how I would tackle it …

            I agree in some locations its essential to have a liaison officer. I have seen some very good police practice and seen and heard of some very bad police practice.

            @Jamesh – I am really sorry to hear of your experience. Most of it the police should not be doing. The police can’t be accountable for the conduct of the defence solicitor but the magistrate should have ensured fairness and equality. Its sad that the police have still much to do

  5. I want to tell you a story of what happened at a secondary school in 2004.

    (Part 1)
    Up until that point I was a co-founding member and chair of South Glos LGB Forum.

    One day a member of the LGB Forum who was an outreach prostitute worker came across 2 young boys living on the streets of Bristol. He discovered they had been kicked out of home by there parents after the school had outed them.

    The LGB Forum subsequently confronted the Education Department of South Glos council about what had happened and after 6 weeks of deliberations the council said the head teacher had “understandably lost his way” and no action was taken against him.

    1. (Part 2)
      We subsequently found out that the school was having an OFSTED inspection and 3 boys were being homophobicly bullied at the school and rather than tackle the bullying the head teacher “expelled” the boys and when there parents asked why the school told them which outed 2 of them and they were kicked out of home and the third talked his parents around.

      The LGB forum was horrified! The council had no worries about what had happened and wern’t even concerned that these 2 boys were living on the streets and selling themselves for a roof over there heads each night. The head teacher was let off when he should of been sacked!

      1. (Part 3)
        In protest I resigned from the LGB Forum and contacted the Panorama Program (BBC TV) and I told them what had happened. But unfortunately the 3 boys weren’t prepared to go on camera and even Stonewall wanted to do an investigation, but frustratingly the boys refused. The BBC subsequently made a program called “why bullies win” (http://tinyurl.com/yzd3n8n) which made bulling in schools a 2005 general election issue.

        So you can see, I’ve tried to sort out bullying in schools.

        1. @Cleggy

          I have heard similar stories in the past (not so entrenched in terms of how teachers etc were protected, nor so political with issues such as OfSted inspections) they all are tragic and often have very unpleasant and harmful repercussions that are unlikely to be predicted.

          However, in part, the unpredictability of what might happen as a result of bullying is one of the many reasons why bullying MUST be confronted.

          I applaud what you did – firstly trying to follow the book and sadly, discovering that the system conspired to protect itself rather than those it had failed (or those it may fail in the future) and then trying to take more direct action in terms of media exposure.

          Bullying is insidious and can not and should not even be tolerated, condoned or covered up.

        2. Jock S. Trap 1 Apr 2011, 8:06am

          Cleggy

          Sadly, I can associate with the school treatment and fear this isn’t a rare as people would hope. It’s all to much ‘washing hands of anything they consider ‘unsavoury”. I remember Very well my head teacher using abusive language to my parents will outing me. Luckily I had already ‘came out’ two weeks earlier to them. I also know if it wasn’t for my mother I would have been out on the streets at a young age. I remember my fathers words now, “You either stop it (being Gay), or get out”, coz it just that black and white, isn’t it. I did actually leave but not for long.

          I have heard several stories of boys being outed then thrown on the street at very young ages and nobody lifting a finger because just because these children just happen to be Gay. How can society be proud of anything if it truely doesn’t give a damn about those children just because society chooses to label them.

        3. Jock S. Trap 1 Apr 2011, 8:12am

          If anything these parents should be charged with child abuse by their actions. As for the school teachers, pupils should have the right to sue for being outed especailly if it results in homophobic bullying. Teachers are supposed to be there to protect, teach and better. They are not there to discriminate. Schools also should have a stricter work ethics, in that if teacher are found to be racist or homophobic etc, they have the right to remove such teacher because they are hardly there for the best interests of the child.

          I’m also afraid yet again religion has to play it’s part in this. It is due to their attitude that these feelings of hate exist. It is why people feel they have the right to behaviour in this appalling manner. Unless religious involvement is separated from school and state things will not improve. Society will not progress

          1. @Jock

            I have every sympathy with your comments that the parents should be charged with child abuse. I don’t know the ages of the pupils involved or the circumstances of their home lives prior to what Cleggy reports but having seen a couple of cases with similarities to some of this, I suspect either the legal offences in relation to child abuse would not be complete or CPS would not authorise prosecution, It may be time to look at the law in cases like this to enhance protection for young people in cases of this type – or provide better guidance to the CPS or both.
            Schools already have the right to suspend teachers who are racist, homophobic etc and discipline them (including dismissal) unfortunately, I suspect that while the cases of this are not massive that this option is not pursued rigorously by many. It is important that teachers are engaged in ensuring the best interests of the whole child.
            I agree religion has a part to play in a large number of cases and church ….

          2. …. and state should be separated. I think its important to remember that not all bigotry is religion based or grounded and that we must guard ourselves to deal with homophobia from religion and from those without any faith. We also must be prepared that if we succeed in separating church from state – that in itself will not stop the bigotry from those that are prejudiced, ignorant or hostile. It hopefully will be more difficult for them to be insidious with some – but we still need to expose bigotry and condemn the actions of those individuals who engage in hatred and educate to try and demonstrate the importance of equality.

  6. I dont believe the amount is important – hopefully this person will be careful about posting homophobic material.

  7. Big Brother is watching.

    1. Jock S. Trap 1 Apr 2011, 8:13am

      This is nothing to do with Big Brother but Everything to do with unacceptable behaviour.

      If you commit a crime in public you face the consequences of that action.

      1. “A Welsh teenager ended up in court last week for sending homophobic messages on Facebook.”

        What happened to blocking someone on Facebook? Oh right, you want the government in your pants (read: email). What happened to just walking away? Oh right, gays want special treatment; nevermind that sets precedent that we need protecting and implies inferiority if you can’t be mature enough to walk away without bawling to the cops over a teenager. LOL. Nice use of tax money in this recession… Babysitting homophobic kids.

        1. @Ty Pole

          Of course you can block someone

          But that doesnt prevent them from having already published message already visible to others prior to the block.

          It doesnt stop it already being offensive, harassing and distressing.

          No gays don’t want special treatment – equal treatment. I would expect anyone bullied for age, ginger hair, size, disability, race, spots, football team they support (and I have seen all in my time in the public sector) would be treated appropriately and where they wished action taken due to harassment that it was progressed.

          Some of the most vitriolic harassment (leading to some horrific offences later) that I invesitgated were by two 15 year old girls.

  8. Until the homophobes can treat gays with respect we have no choice but to have them arrested and taken to court. If you sue them you can money to support your farvorite gay groups. that will get the attention of homophobes.

    1. Jock S. Trap 1 Apr 2011, 8:14am

      Excellent point Moro.

    2. Until the gays straighten up, we have no choice but to have them arrested and taken to work camps. If you can cure them, you can have them join the congregation of your choice. That will get the attention of those sinners.

      Parody, obviously. Do you see why an eye for an eye can come back to haunt you? We need less government, not more.

      1. Ty

        Nothing has changed – the offences that this guy could have been prosecuted for could have breached statutes from 1997, 1986 or 1861 (take your pick).

        Also, you have no idea what this “teenager” had previously done – maybe he already had 152 convictions, and thus walking away clearly isnt going to stop it.

  9. Wipeout Homophobia On Facebook
    http://www.whof.net/

    https://www.facebook.com/WHOF1?ref=ts

    Approx. 1,600 hate groups wiped off of Facebook so far…

  10. I agree that the government’s definition of bullying needs to be tightened up. However, one thing that needs to be included is a definition of bullying that states that it has to be repeated behaviour. I was lucky enough to go to two schools which had zero tolerance to all forms of bullying, which was in many ways excellent – for example I never witnessed or experienced homophobic bullying at either school. However, the teachers were so anti-bullying that I myself got told off at the age of 9, for making a joke about a girl and a boy who were ‘a couple’. The joke involved myself and some others, lasted just one lunchtime, but as the couple involved complained to a teacher I was hauled in front of the headmistress and severely told off – for bullying! I appreciate the vast majority of the time you don’t have overreaction from teachers, but it does happen as I have experienced it. (This all happened in the late 80s).

    1. Jock S. Trap 1 Apr 2011, 11:17am

      I think you make a good point. I guess the problem is children can be particularly cruel so it might be difficult. Whilst there is a distinct difference between bullying and a joke I do agree with a zero tolerance to bullying. A lot of it just needs a common sense approach.

      It does need to be rolled out to all schools.

  11. Victory!

    The Police have now decided to cut the Christian Police Association’s funding!
    http://www.secularism.org.uk/funding-for-police-religious-gro.html

    1. At least there is parity on that issue

      Bet the ACPO officer from A&S is unhappy

    2. Jock S. Trap 2 Apr 2011, 12:02pm

      Cleggy

      Victory indeed. Now watch as they play victims and martyrs coz they feel they are the only important ones.

  12. I didn’t know you could take things like that to court. =] I’d have probably sued alot of people by now if I had.

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