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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: The crisis in
Birmingham children's services ` branded a national disgrace, now it
could be taken over by the Government before Christmas.
On children's services are being given a last chance.
I'll be talking to the man with the job of trying to sort out the mess.
Also tonight: Think about the consequences ` a plea from the
mother of the rapper stabbed to death outside a Birmingham
nightclub. If you go out tonight and you are
carrying a knife, you could be breaking your family's hearts.
Cynical and systematic ` a former financial advisor who conned
pensioners out of thousands in a property scam.
We are glad that the outcome is as it is, and these people will be
prevented from carrying on. Special delivery ` Dudley Zoo's new
star, a rare Sumatran tiger. There are just 140 left in the wild. And,
just in time for the German Christmas market, our weather is
getting colder. And work forecast later.
Good evening. The job of keeping children safe in Birmingham, which
has been labelled a national disgrace, could be taken over by the
government before Christmas. The BBC has learned the decision hinges on a
review within weeks. So what's gone so wrong? As long ago as 2003,
serious questions were asked following the killing of Toni`Ann
Byfield, gunned down by drug dealers. In 2008, Khyra Ishaq
starved to death ` a preventable tragedy, according to an official
review. And then, in 2011, Keanu Williams, murdered by his mother and
"invisible" to the authorities. In a moment, I'll be talking to the man
in charge, but first, here's Cath Mackie.
These are some of the children in Birmingham who've died at the hands
of those who should have loved them, let down by those who should have
protected them. But would the government do a better job than
Birmingham City council of keeping children like Keanu Williams safe?
He was beaten to death by his mother. Ofsted's about to carry out
a review of the city's children's services and, unless there are
improvements, the Department for Education will take over.
I think that the children services are in the last chance saloon. We
look carefully at the report, and if it shows that there is no
alternative than to impose different organisation, we will have no
situation but to do so. Birmingham children's services seems
to be stuck in a vicious circle. They get bad publicity, then can't
attract enough social workers. That leads to more failures like Keanu
Williams, and that in turn leads to more bad publicity and so it goes
on. The question is whether they are doing enough now to break out of
that circle and prevent the need for government intervention.
The union Unison believes that the government should stay away.
We have Ofsted coming in, but who has confidence in them? There is a
new director in place and the social workers are working hard.
One former social worker believes that a takeover will happen.
We need to be prepared for that to happen. We need to work with central
government to make sure that the children that we try and protect our
put first. It is irrelevant to the children who is running the
situation, they just want to be protected.
We will talk to Peter Hay now. This is a blow to your department. You
have been told to fix things. Why hasn't it happened?
We need a clear grip on the safety of children through some basic
steps. Staffing, and their adequacy, and creating a coherent is about
what we are here to do. That is what will be judged. It is not news to us
that those options continue the option of a City Council. What
matters is the focus that we bring to the safety of children, and, in
particular, an option that carries the ability for staff to do their
job as best as possible. You say that you have not had time to put
this right, but ten years ago, you had a zero star rating. It is
difficult to see what has changed since then.
We were dealing with the social services section, it ceased to be
the social services sector in 2006 with one star. I have recently been
running adult services. The service has not prospered under the split
between adult and children's services. So, I have come back to it
with a track record of improving it. But nothing seems to have changed in
ten years. The Department for Education may have to take it over.
Absolutely, I do not like coming back to the situation because of
that. The gravity of the situation facing children is something I have
been clearer about. The steps to improvement are about that honesty
and transparency. That has been reflected by a City Council that is
prepared to admit that this will take additional investments as well
as improvement and continued focus. The first step to improvement is to
to look at some of the fundamental building blocks, can we retain
staff? But you have not got time to put
anything in place. You will soon be having another review. Is it
inevitable that the Department for Education will take over?
The City Council is humble enough and focused enough to take the
comments on board. I don't know what will happen. It is up to the
Secretary of State to make this difficult decision. The judgement
should be about what help staff to work with children. What effective
services need are enough staff. They need to be able to work with
partners. This is a massive problem. Would
there be an element of relief if the government took over? It would be
someone else's problem. It is not an easy decision. People
should not think that there is an easy option. There is no alternative
in existence at the moment. It is not about relief, it is about what
is best for the children of Birmingham. What would be better?
It needs a really serious decision. I do not envy the Secretary of
State. Beyond the speculation, people need to realise that nothing
like this has happened before and what matters is what is going to
work. The City Council believes it can be part of that. It knows it has
lost the right to make the decision, but that is what the review is
about. Have we got enough grip and have we got a say in the future?
Coming up later in the programme: The public don't know who they are
and aren't convinced Police and Crime Commissioners are a good idea.
Find out how they think they're doing.
The mother of a stabbing victim has spoken publicly for the first time
since her son's death about the need to educate children on the dangers
of knives. Rapper Joshua Ribera, known as Depzman, was attacked at a
fundraising event for a friend, who'd been stabbed and killed the
year before. Our special correspondent Peter Wilson has this
exclusive report. # I just want to go to the front of
the queue. #. Joshua Ribera's star was rising. In
September, he had an album at number one in the download charts. The MC
rapper was tipped for the big time, but a knife to his heart cut his
life short at 18. This is the first time that his mother has spoken
publicly about the case and her wish to do something about knife crime.
It needs to be a long`term investment in young people and in
people who have not got enough self`respect and haven't had the
love and care that they have deserved. That is the problem. I
could sit here and say don't carry a knife. Who am I to tell anyone? If
they have not been shown respect and Shannon Love, they Joshua Ribera had
been at this nightclub, attending a fundraiser for his friend Kyle
Sheehan. Will not listen to me. Ironically,
he had been fatally stabbed a year before. Today, detectives have
released nine images caught on CCTV of witnesses that they wish to talk
to. If it was you who had been killed
and your mother in my position, you would want your friends to make this
situation as easy for your mother as you possibly could. If anybody knows
anyone in these images, you need to come forward, as I hope people would
do for you. Joshua was known as Depzman on the
music scene .His first royalty cheque was paid the day before he
died. He bought his mother a watch. His fans have been distraught and
scores of young people visit Alison's home every day.
They listen to the lyrics of his songs to guide them through life,
and his lyrics, you can look over the last five years and see the
growth and the change in his lyrics to positive, strong messages to
young people. Fans, as you call them, some of them don't have the
guidance and they turned to him for the guidance.
Detectives have charged an 18`year`old man with the murder, but
they are keen to stress that this is an ongoing investigation and they
are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.
The Stratford`upon`Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi is to pay back almost ?5,000
after claiming too much on energy bills. Mr Zahawi is returning all
the money, because his supplier couldn't separate electricity used
at his house from that used in stables, which he shouldn't have
claimed for. The Conservative MP has apologised unreservedly for his
mistake. A former financial adviser and
financier has been jailed for two years for conning his clients, many
of them pensioners. Gary Hexley earned thousands in commissions,
even though he'd been declared bankrupt and wasn't authorised to
offer financial advice. Giles Latcham reports.
A final taste of freedom for Gary Hexley, jailed today by a judge who
called his deceit cynical and systematic. But he has a history of
double dealing. He said I am setting up a new
company. A retired teacher from Sutton
Coldfield considered Hexley a friend and invested tens of thousands with
him. But when they needed money urgently, there was none.
We had a daughter`in`law who was dying of cancer, and we thought,
maybe, if we got some money out, we could send her to Switzerland. But
we could not. She died. Gary said it would take two or three months to
get the money together. Hexley ran a property investment
company, Greenfield, but that went into administration with losses of
more than ?2 million. Another of his firms, Intellectual Property
Limited, collapsed with losses of more than ?1.3 million.
Hexley was declared bankrupt, but in spite of this continued trading as a
financial advisor, earning ?74,000 in commissions.
Jailing him for two years, the judge said that his was a deliberate
enterprise to exploit the trust placed in him by his clients, many
of whom were elderly and vulnerable. I think he heard lots of pensioners
who were not able to appreciate investments. He took advantage of
our ignorance. Some of his clients battled
successfully for compensation. Others are left only with regrets.
Our top story: The crisis in Birmingham children's services,
branded a national disgrace, it could be taken over by Christmas.
Also in tonight's programme, how a team effort to get more women
involved in sport is paying off in Shropshire.
And from Germany to the Black Country ` one of the rarest tigers
on Earth with an important job to do at Dudley Zoo It's a year since 41
Police and Crime Commissioners were elected across England and Wales.
The controversial, high`profile positions were created to replace
police authorities and ensure forces are run effectively. But a new poll
commissioned by the BBC found many people are still to be convinced
about whether they're needed. Here's Ben Godfrey.
The Police and Crime Commissioner is supposed to put ordinary people at
the heart of policing. But with less than 15% turnout at the election
last November, it was clear that would be difficult.
Nowhere did the message gets across. I don't think people
understood what the change was about.
One year on, and there's confusion. A survey for the BBC found that 36%
of people in the Midlands were not aware their region has a PCC. 44%
thought they'd had a positive impact on policing generally. While more
than half said they had no impact on levels of crime.
It has not been a success everywhere, but it has been a
success in most places. A year ago I came here to Wem in
Shropshire to ask people what they expected from a Commissioner. They
said visible policing and less crime, particularly anti`social
behaviour. So how are they doing? I don't know what they do. I don't
understand what their purpose is. They are in charge of the police
forces, and there is not enough. I do think there should be more
police and there are a few more, actually.
One four year term is enough for Bill Longmore. The West Mercia
Commissioner has survived two "votes of No confidence" but says he's an
effective player. People will see how much work we
have done. Really, the result of the first 12 months will begin to show.
Would you stand for another term? I think I deserve some rest in my
life. Bob Jones is, reluctantly, the West
Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner. That's because he
wants to scrap his job. He's trying to recruit 450 police officers.
You say that you don't believe in the role, so why don't you step
down? I don't think it is the best way,
but it is the only way, and I think it is important that someone who can
avoid the risks is in the job. I think I can do a better job than the
people who think the job is unsinkable.
Ron Ball didn't expect controversy but he found it. Warwickshire's
Commissioner told me he's been trying to build an alliance with the
West Mercia force. But the former airline pilot has suffered political
turbulence. He's on a collision course with the
Home Secretary, who appeared to suggest he'd been too quick to
defend local forces police caught up in the row over what was or wasn't
said to police in Downing Street by Sutton Coldfield MP, Andrew
Mitchell. I don't think that is acceptable. I have written to the
Home Secretary saying, under the circumstances, I think I am owed an
apology. Format you Alice, partnerships are
helping to rehabilitate people. The police have stopped this man
from a life of burglary. The commission wants to put more cash
into changing the lifestyle of offenders, while working with
voluntary groups. You said that you would like to
invest more than ?1 million, but your budget is only ?1 million.
Where does the money come from? We find the money.
We have already made savings whilst we have been involved in policing. I
believe that you have to be bold. You have to spend money in the right
place. You have to stop spending money where it does not make
difference. One year on, the PCCs still have a
message to sell. And yes, they're even heading to the supermarket to
win support, after a year in which politics and policing have collided
spectacularly. Tomorrow, it's Children in Need and
all week we're featuring projects which have benefited from your
generosity. A charity in Warwickshire helps child victims of
sexual abuse. Tina is a trained counsellor. The words of two of the
children she's worked with are spoken by actors. You may find some
of this report upsetting. I am supported by Children in Need
to help children who have experienced sexual abuse. Two of the
children will shed their story today.
It started when I was ten. I was playing outside, and he started
massaging my feet. Then it went a step too far. That is how it
started. It did not go on that long. Two
separate occasions, but one lasted four hours. I thought he was someone
I could trust, but he kept me away from everyone else.
At the time, I didn't feel anything, but when I got home, I told my
mother and then I felt guilty. I saw my mum so sad, but it was only when
I was older that I realised what had happened.
I got angry that I stopped doing things, but nothing seemed to happen
to him. After the sessions, I realised I did not do anything
wrong. I told my mother, and you have to
trust someone. I told someone I trusted.
The organisation gave me a different kind of support. As much as my
mother wanted to help me, she could not do it. It has been helpful and
it has change my behaviour at school.
I still get down. It can't cure everything, but it has benefited me.
I would say wake up, it is happening. I know it is
uncomfortable, because I listen to it every day. But it is happening,
and we need to support these children and give them a voice.
And you can donate to Children in Need ahead of tomorrow by calling
03457 332233, and there's more information on the website.
One of the main aims of the Olympics was to increase sports
participation. One club in Shropshire has done that in style,
and it's not even an Olympic sport. The game's netball, the club's in
Shrewsbury and it's a contender for newcomer of the year at the West
Midlands Community Sports Awards. Here's Lura May McMullan.
Getting youngsters fit, focused and having fun is the aim of this
netball club in Shrewsbury. The group was set up over a year ago
to encourage more junior participation. The response has been
fantastic. We started off with four or five
girls. Now we have 80 girls. We have done really well. We have
won two games. I have played since I was really
little, but the coaches give you so much passion.
I would like to go all the way. Especially with my coaches, they
have really inspired me. Huge fundraising efforts and
donations also mean that the girls get a kit and pay small fees.
We are all one big family. They give them so much. They get their
exercise, their confidence, and they become part of a family.
New members are joining them weekly.
An endangered breed of tiger moved into Dudley Zoo today. The Sumatran
tiger has been brought over from Germany as part of a conservation
programme. Our reporter Kevin Reide is at the Zoo for us ` how rare is
this tiger? It is incredibly rare. The official
description is that it is critically endangered. It is believed that
there are very few of these tigers left. The arrival of Joe is seen as
a good step. He is not in the enclosure behind me, he is in the
Tiger house. In morning of excitement and anticipation, as they
waited the arrival of the Tiger. Finally, a glimpse as they waited
for him to be moved into his new home. He was put into the enclosure
by crane and then released into the house.
The zookeeper is trying to calm him down. We hope to enter the enclosure
sooner. Finally, he was, off to face the
camera, although he was grumpy. He is very rare.
He is thought to be one of only a few of these tigers left on the
planet. There are said to be more tiger rugs in the world than there
are of these actual tigers. He seems OK.
That he is growling. What does that mean? He has had a big change. He
used to live with his sisters in Germany, but now he is alone.
His former home was near Frankfurt. He is now going to be with another
tiger who is settled at Dudley Zoo. It is a magnificent animal. The
conservation, bringing tigers to the public, we will hopefully get the
message across. Eight tiger cubs have been born at
the zoo in the last few years, and hopefully more will be.
He looks beautiful. When will he have visitors? Over the next few
days, he will be a climate I then to his new environment.
Then he will be introduced to his new mate. While they meet each other
and get to know each other, it could be a bit snow fracking, but it is
thought that they will get to know each other, because they are young.
But it is hoped that people will be able to visit them by next week. A
reminder that Dudley Zoo is open all year round.
It is just six weeks until Christmas. We have sent our reporter
out to the German market. Will be winter weather be here?
Maybe not tonight, but it should be later this week.
It is cold tonight, but people are still at the market. This market
will last until late in December. We are expecting 4 million visitors to
visit the market. It is the biggest German market outside Germany and
Austria. Although it has been cold here, it has been even cold in
Frankfurt. It will be one degree that night. That is not too
different from here, the temperatures will be around to
Celsius tonight. The clear skies that we had to end the day will
stick with us. The wind, that made it colder today, that will drop. The
temperatures will fall away and we could cease and frost tomorrow. A
cold start to our Friday, but it should be quite cloudy during the
day. Then, there will be some brightness in the eastern areas.
Temperatures not too different than they have been today. However,
having said that, without those wins, it will be milder. In the
sunshine, it will be pleasant. We will have that cloud on Saturday.
Further south, we watched is `` see some clear spells. We will see some
mist and frog on Saturday. It will be a mild night. Into the weekend,
it will be milder. There will be a cold front, with
some rain. We will get a different air mass, which means that things
will get much colder next week. Eyes, frost and snow in the
forecast. I will be back at 10pm, when we will
be finding out what social workers think about the crisis of social
care and children's services in Birmingham. Goodbye.