Another quick round-up:
The warehouse workers who’ve been organising in West London want to hit the road and talk to other workers in big warehouse hubs across the country, as well as organising film screenings of a new documentary about struggles by warehouse workers in Italy. If you’d like to get in touch about an event in your town, you can contact them at email@example.com.
The Freedom Riders, the group of pensioners and disabled people who’ve been taking direct action against transport cuts in South Yorkshire with mass fare-dodging actions, have been going strong for a year now, and celebrated their first anniversary with a demonstration in Barnsley on Tuesday 31st. They’ve produced a two-sided leaflet to explain the story so far in their fight for free travel on both trains and buses.
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So, another year has come and gone. To be honest, it’s not really been a great one, overall: on an international level, the wave of revolt that rolled around the world in 2010-12 feels like it’s still rolling back, with most of the struggles that broke out having been contained one way or another. In particular, something that’s been vividly illustrated over the last few years is the dangers of a popular revolt being turned into a military struggle: from Syria to Ukraine, we’ve seen how tragic the results can be when widespread anger against an unpopular regime can be captured and channelled into nationalist directions, especially when wider imperialist forces are involved.
In the UK, I don’t think there’s been many big, definitive moments that sum up the year as a whole: just like in 2013, life for most people has mostly continued gradually getting worse, and my real…
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Prison overcrowding combined with a cut in officer numbers of up to 30 per cent is stretching the service to breaking point, according to a new report.
The Howard League for Penal Reform shows that in the last three years officer numbers in the North East dropped by 30 per cent from 2,062 in September 2010 to 1,450 by September 2013.
The figures in Yorkshire and Humber show a reduction of 28 per cent in the same period. Northallerton prison has been closed since the figures were compiled.
The charity says the decline in officer numbers across the country has coincided with the loss of 6,500 prison places due to closures and readjustments, which has resulted in a growing number of inmates being forced into a diminishing number of prisons.
However, the charity’s figures have been branded ‘misleading’ by the government minister in charge of prisons.
Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said: “These are flawed and inaccurate figures from a left wing pressure group which can’t see past its dislike of this Government.
These figures present a misleading picture of the prison estate. Our approach to staffing levels has been agreed with the unions to ensure we run safe, efficient and decent prisons with prison officers back in frontline roles where they are most needed.”
“Ministers and various MPs have used different figures to try to minimise the impact of prison closures, but the statistics in this report show the true picture.
“Governors, inspectors and prison officers are joining the Howard League in warning the government that prisons are not just failing, they are dangerous.
“Violence and drug use is out of control and we will all suffer the consequences. This is the most irresponsible government penal policy in a generation.”
The findings, published in charity’s latest research briefing paper, Breaking point: Understaffing and overcrowding in prisons, warns that suicides, assaults and riots will become increasingly common unless urgent action is taken to increase officer numbers and reduce prisoner numbers.
A spokeswoman for the Prisoner Officers’ Association said: “The POA has raised concerns over the link between staff reductions and the increased level of violence, self-inflicted ?injuries, deaths, poor regimes and acts of indiscipline, in our prisons but saving money is the priority of the Ministry of Justice and Treasury.
“The POA welcome the report and findings and call on the Minister to act quickly to ensure prisons are safe secure and fit for purpose and not warehouses ?which is the reality under the current regime.”
Source – Northern Echo, 12 July 2014
Riots similar to those which swept the country three years ago will happen again, a Teesside academic has warned.
Research carried out by Professor Simon Winlow from Teesside University‘s School of Social Sciences & Law suggests that the majority of those involved in the UK riots were not motivated by a desire for social justice.
Despite many arguing that the riots should be understood as a political response to rising inequality, Prof Winlow believes the looting offered an endorsement of contemporary consumerism.
The Teesside academic was part of a research team which interviewed around 40 young men who took part in the riots.
He claims that anger and frustration exist in abundance in poor neighbourhoods but it shouldn’t be assumed that this represents a desire for social change.
Prof Winlow said: “People are angry, but they’re not angry at capitalism. They’re angry that they are not being provided with the opportunities to achieve within capitalism. The difference is crucial.”
As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to rise, Prof Winlow indicates that another wave of riots is likely and that it is just a matter of time.
He added: “There are very few legitimate opportunities for marginalised young people. Every night on television we see the dream of extravagant consumerism. People are told that all of this is available but for many people it’s a dream that can’t be realised.”
Professor Winlow was speaking ahead of the National Deviancy Conference which takes place on 25-26 June.
The historical conferences began in the 1960s and developed new approaches to the understanding of crime and disorder.
This year the conference will be hosted by Teesside University’s Centre for Realist Criminology for the first time and will be attended by speakers from around the world.
The Centre opened last September and has since been developing a distinct form of criminology which examines harm rather than those things judged ‘criminal’. The centre also has a commitment to charting changes in politics and consumer culture.
> He’s almost certainly right about the 2011 riots, sadly. If people were motivated by a desire for social justice, we’d have had millions taking to the streets over the past couple of years.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 19 June 2014