Justice for Meshach Boland: A struggle for the African disabled in U.K.


 

LONDON––African (black) mothers in the UK and around the world are outraged by the injustice that the London Borough of Brent has unleashed for over 15 years on Meshach Boland, a 28-year-old disabled and vulnerable African man. 

 

Since the age of 11, Boland has been deliberately and intentionally ignored and isolated from the facilities, benefits and services that were necessary to help him cope day-to-day with his various conditions.

 

This resulted in Boland feeling unsafe and intimidated. It also led to him suffering from a number of issues which include: anxiety; bouts of depression; mood swings caused by repressed anger; and frustration stemming from institutionalized psychological and emotional abuse and willful neglect.

 

Meshach, after being “functionally” assessed by the London Borough of Brent, was identifiedas having a general learning disability and emotional behavioral difficulties or challenging behavior, for which the council issued him a Statement of Special Educational Needs on March 6, 1996. 

 

Boland's disabilities were later confirmed and reaffirmed by the council’s additional educational psychologists, Nicole Smethurst and Pat Holton in October, 1997 and October, 2001 respectively. 

 

In January 2001, independent psychologist Gerald Hale agreed with Boland’s diagnosed disabilities, but also found him to have the specific learning difficulty, dyslexia.

 

Due to the Special Educational Needs Disability Tribunal’s (SENDIST) refusal to properly consider his applications in 2003 and 2004 against Copland Community School and the London Borough of Brent, he was intentionally denied access to the council’s children disabled services and a smooth transition from the children disabled services to the adult disabled services.

 

Boland’s ongoing experience of institutional psychological and emotional abuse and neglect had significant impact on his health and wellbeing, causing him to suffer with depression at the age of 18. 

 

Another “functional” assessment was carried out by independent psychologist Dr. Barbara Christine Stevens. In her report dated November 29, 2006, the conclusion of all previous psychologists are accepted.

 

Dr. Stevens’ report states, “If [Meshach Boland] were to be in the category of learning disability, his Full Scale IQ would have to be 69 or below”. This is indicative of a person with a learning disability. Her report concludes, “I would suggest that the mental age of Mr. Boland is approximately 9 years.” 

 

On December 12, 2006 the council registered Meshach Boland as a Learning Disabled resident of the London Borough of Brent and on February 5, 2007 sent him a Social Services Yellow ID Card and a Freedom Pass.

 

On February 26, 2007, the council carried out a “needs” assessment. Instead of determining the services Boland is to receive, however, the council sent him a letter dated March 26, 2007 that perversely declared that he does not have a learning disability and on this basis was denied access to the Learning Disabled services.

 

Further attempt to access the services were thwart by the council’s administrative staff who irrationally stated that the five psychologists that assessed Boland were incompetent and negligent since the council has determined that he did not have a learning disability.

 

The London Borough of Brent’s “significant degree of unreasonableness” was overlooked by the Local government ombudsman, the administrative court and the civil court of appeal.

 

They all failed to recognize Boland’s Learning Disabled Registration and refused to apply the relevant legislations, case laws, codes of practice and policies in their decision-making process to arrive at a decision of no maladministration.

 

The attorney general and MENCAP––the charity that champion learning disability––both failed to effectively intervene.

 

Calculatingly barred from interventional services, the only state agencies that have a clear interest in Meshach are the metropolitan police service and the criminal justice system who have targeted and subjected him to cruel and degrading treatment.

 

He has been falsely arrested, assaulted, harassed and unjustifiably strip searched.

 

We understand that this case is not peculiar to Meshach Boland. Situations like this have been repeated over and over again with other African children and adults throughout London.

 

If we do not hold the council representatives accountable to their own policies––which ensure that the most vulnerable of us will be guaranteed services––then we unwittingly agree with their cavalier decision making, which only seems to change when African people are involved. 

 

They are sending a message that the only “help” they are willing to give us is at the end of a police baton. 

 

African families facing similar treatment in school and other institutions should no longer be silent and should contact us as soon as possible to organize a committee to defend the rights of loved ones.

 

Please contact ANWO in London at 07723 067 486 or email us at london@anwouhuru.org.

 

Visit our website www.anwouhuru.org find out more about the projects we are working on and the ways you can get involved.

 

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