Pakistan has begun its first national census in 19 years amid tight security from around 200,000 military personnel. A 70-day data gathering operation, starting in 63 districts and protected by police and soldiers, is being carried out by 118,000 officials. The previous census was completed in 1998 and the long delay in updating it is down to a lack of funds, political disputes and insufficient troops to keep everybody involved safe. But in December the chief justice of Pakistan’s supreme court set a deadline of March or April, saying a census was essential to democracy. Seats in Pakistan’s parliament are allocated according to population density and without a census the number of seats cannot be decided. Rural populations in the world’s sixth-largest country frequently change as people try to escape poverty and ethnic or sectarian violence by moving to towns and cities. The security staff will protect census teams and ensure households can enter data without being intimidated by powerful feudal landlords and political families who fear losing influence.
“We made all the arrangements for a smooth, safe and transparent process of population census,” said census official Javed Iqbal in Peshawar, capital of the volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
For the first time, transgender Pakistanis will be counted – although forms had already been printed when the decision was made. “We have been anxiously waiting for the process to begin but it hurt us as there is no separate column in the form,” said Farzana Riaz, president of Trans Action. Afghan refugees will also be included, despite opposition from the southwest province of Baluchistan on the border with Iran, where ethnic Baluchs fear becoming a minority. Other communities have criticised the decision to include only nine of the estimated 70 languages used in Pakistan. Households will also be asked how many toilets they have, as the United Nations estimates up to 40% of Pakistanis defecate in the open air with dramatic health consequences, especially for children.
In a sign of how much has changed since the previous census, Karachi’s population was put at 9.2 million in 1998, but current estimates now vary between 18 and 23 million, according to the National Database and Registration Authority.
The decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to bring charges against a suspected serial sex offender has been condemned as wholly perverse by Leicestershire s Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader.
Sir Clive said he believed an overwhelming case had been built during a two-year investigation by the Force to show that the man spent three decades sexually abusing children in Leicester care homes in the most revolting and hideous manner.
That man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is alleged to have committed his catalogue of crimes whilst holding prominent public office.
But today, having had the file of evidence for nearly nine months, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has decided that it would not be in the public interest to bring charges against the man (who is now in his 80s).
Sir Clive said: This decision is not just wrong it is wholly perverse and is contrary to any notion of natural justice. I cannot believe that any right-minded person will understand or support it.
For decades this man is alleged to have carried out premeditated, systematic sex crimes against young boys and one girl who were in the care of the local authority. He got away with it for all those years because his victims were frightened of him and of his position of authority.
Thanks to the great courage of his victims, and the meticulous and painstaking work of detectives, Leicestershire Police built what the DPP herself accepts is a case firmly indicating multiple, very serious offenses involving a number of victims over a lengthy period of time.
She also accepts that the victims were vulnerable, that they should have been looked after rather than abused, and that many of them have been seriously damaged.
It therefore beggars belief that, despite that evidence, she does not believe it on balance to be in the interest of the victims, or of wider society, that this man faces justice.
I, on the other hand, am absolutely clear that such a prosecution would have been firmly in the interests of the victims, who have suffered and continue to suffer terribly from the crimes committed against them when they were vulnerable young children. Indeed, it is not only their expressed wish to be heard and to be believed, but to see justice in the best form available done and for their offender to be brought to book.
Moreover, it is in the wider interests of current and future generations that those who may contemplate such sexual crimes against the most vulnerable in society are left in no doubt that they will be hunted down and will face the strong likelihood of prosecution, such retribution having no sell by date . It is therefore ironic that the DPP herself, only in February last year, stressed that she wanted potential victims of crime to know that it doesn t matter how long ago a crime is alleged to have been committed, we the CPS will take it seriously and we will take the views of victims, or their families, into account when deciding if we should prosecute.
Perhaps even more ironically, she went on to say that where the most serious offences are being alleged it is nearly always in the public interests to prosecute Here I can only agree with her, for it is only with this certainty that we can hope to protect our children and deter future offending of this nature.
Since the Savile scandal, and the Alexis Jay report into the appalling crimes committed against children in Rotherham, there has rightly been a national determination to bring to justice those who committed historic crimes against children. The death of some offenders, notably Savile, robbed victims of justice. But the man we believe responsible for a catalogue of terrible abuse in Leicester for three decades remains alive, and neither his victims nor I can begin to understand how prosecution could be anything other than firmly in the public interest and the right course of action.
It is for these reasons that, when I heard earlier this week that the DPP was likely to make this determination, I immediately wrote to the Home Secretary urging her to take whatever action she could to intervene, so perverse did I personally consider this decision to be.
Sadly, this has not had the effect for which I had wished.
Of note, statute gives me a legal responsibility to safeguard victims and witnesses and to champion their cause; that is what I have sought in this case, and it is most certainly what I will continue to do.
Meanwhile, I have committed millions of pounds of investment to safeguard the most vulnerable in Leicester City, Leicestershire and Rutland, and in particular to combat CSE.
And, only last September, I commissioned a root and branch review going back 20 years to reassure myself and the public that nothing like Rotherham had ever happened, or been swept under the carpet , here.
I would wish now to reassure all the people of this area that I will do all within my power, in concert with the Chief Constable, the Force and other partners, to play my part in safeguarding the most vulnerable in our society.
In short, on behalf of the victims in this case and the wider population, I am dismayed and deeply disappointed by this lamentable decision; justice has, in my view, been fundamentally undermined.
5 February 2015
Warwickshire s Police and Crime Panel have accepted the proposed 1.99% increase to the policing precept, as set out by Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball.
But what does that mean for the residents of Warwickshire, and how was the increase worked out? Take a look at our Q&A below to find out more:
Why is the proposal to increase the precept by 1.99% the right thing to do?
- 2015 16 will be a challenging year for policing across the country the Government s 300 million cuts to the UK s policing budget will hit hard, and further efficiency savings will need to be made.
- Warwickshire has not escaped in December 2014, it was announced that our budget would be cut by 10-11m, which will have a significant impact over the coming years.
- If the current council tax rate was kept as it is, Warwickshire would lose around 340,000 next year and 700,000 every year after, resulting in an additional financial burden of around 3.1m over the next five years. Given the current financial picture, it would be irresponsible not to put in longer term plans to safeguard services.
- The current level of austerity requires us to ensure that we have strong financial plans in place for the next four or five years to minimise these risks it is necessary to take a longer term view rather than focus on a short term one year plan.
We are currently only halfway through the ten challenge of trying to reduce our budgets whilst maintaining a strong policing presence.
- We are expecting the next phase to be much more challenging, and we will work with the police and our partners to ensure that we can continue to provide the highest level of service to the people of Warwickshire.
What is the challenge and what are the risks?
- The extent of the challenge we are currently facing involves cutting our base budget by a total of 10-11m over the next four to five years 1.5m of this rolls over from the current phase of the spending review cuts.
- There are four key risks that we are facing: following the general election in May 2015, the incoming Government review and possibly raise the level of cuts required; that pay and pay inflation will be at 1% in 2015/16, and 1.5% thereafter; that the Government continue to top-slice the police budget and continue to put funds into national initiatives such as the IPCC, HMIC and the Innovation Fund; and finally that the Commissioner does not increase the precept by 1.99%.
- Of the above four risks, the only one the PCC can control is the rise in the level of precept. By lifting the precept by 1.99%, or a penny a day for a Band D household, we would avoid adding to our cuts, a further 3.1m.
- By increasing the precept, we succeed in removing the risk of having to make up the shortfall of 3.1m by dipping into our reserves.
How was the decision to increase the precept taken?
- The foremost factor for consideration was the outcome of the Government s funding settlement, which made it clear that Warwickshire Police would lose 10-11m of its base budget. It was calculated that a 1.99% rise or 30p extra a month on a council tax bill for a Band D property, or one penny a day would make a significant contribution towards plugging the gap.
- The intention was to secure a small increase to the precept as the best means of ensuring that the we are able to have a viable financial plan in place over the coming years.
- Before the decision was put to Warwickshire s Police and Crime Panel, a consultation was held to gauge public opinion on whether they supported a rise.
This was run online, and attracted 89 responses.
- To ensure as many people as possible knew about the consultation and were able to take part, both the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner met with each local council leader and chief executive, the county council leader and chief executive, and convened meetings with local interest groups such as businesses and unions to discuss the consultation.
The Commissioner also met with all of Warwickshire s MPs to brief them on the consultation and the proposed increase.
- It was clear that the public did not want to compromise police performance, police presence or public safety almost two-thirds of respondents voted in favour of the small increase of 1.99%.
- This reflects the emerging national picture from consultation by PCCs across the county.
- Respondents recognised that police budgets were continually being tightened by central Government but valued the hard work our police force does.
There was also recognition that the force has already made significant cuts and undergone considerable change as a result of the Strategic Alliance with West Mercia police, which has led to substantial savings being made.
- The Commissioner was persuaded that a 1.99% increase to the policing precept was prudent, minimised risk and secured the medium term for Warwickshire s police force.
- On the evidence available, it was the right budget for the people of this county.
The precept will be published on the Warwickshire PCC website by 1 March 2015.