The Challenge


How can technology help people working to uphold human rights in the face of unlawful detention? read the brief


Unlawfully Detained Autistic Son Separated From Father

It was Night mare for autistic son Steven Neary and father Mark, when his stay only meant to be a few days in a ‘positive behaviour unit’ while his father recovered from flu ended up being a year long seperaton.

The Court of Protection has ruled that Hillingdon Council acted unlawfully in detaining a 21-year-old autistic man, Steven Neary, for almost a year .

This was against his wish and was completely inadequate.

Steven's behaviour was actually disrupted due to the new surroundings, which Mr Justice Peter Jackson, Hillingdon Council thought would be dangerous to the public.

One cannot be deprived of their liberty according to the Mental Capacity Act.Hillingdon circulated a sorry document and the Justice appologized , while he appreciated Mark Neary for his perseverance.

When Steven had not been adequately supervised, he was deprived of activities that are important to him for weeks and in some cases months, and he was prevented from going on holiday.

Unlawfully detaining an innocent man like Steven could have caused such trauma to him and his father.As stated in an article, "A father wept as a judge vindicated his crusade to free his autistic son from a year-long ordeal in the clutches of social workers."

There should be a way the cops can retrieve pre-saved background information of people in a database of somekind.

So, may be each resident owns an ID Card with background information that keeps getting updated.This could be done, by conducting surveys or interviews with the people in the surrounding neighbourhood.This could be maintained and updated by officers assigned to do this task.Knowing that they are being watched might make people more responsible of their actions too.

A person who has not caused any harm to public and has a clean reputation in the neighbourhood, is less likely to be detained for as long as a year.

As in Stevens case , police officers and the court's justice could go wrong. We could help in their decisions by involving ourselves.

Mission #4 Inspire Us


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hubert franz

October 10, 2011, 16:14PM
Shocking! Makes me think of a concept I once came across: Formal vs. Informal Bureaucracy. One as being the established power of the state/county/council, the other as some sort of media-based hidden agenda influencing decision making by either supporting or confronting formal bureaucracy (with both, positive and negative effects). – What could Joe Public (or the boy's father) do to increase pressure on the often superslow bureaucratic proceedings in an informal way?

Meena Kadri

October 10, 2011, 00:02AM
Insightful example, Sreshta. We're looking forward to the ideas it might inspire in the upcoming Concepting phase where we'll be turning to solutions-focused responses to the many examples we've collected. In many countries Medical Alert bracelets indicate conditions such as this.
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