It’s been a few days since I’ve written here, things have been a bit hectic. That’s how I like to keep my life these days; largely because I enjoy all the things that I find myself doing, but also because I don’t do sitting around doing nothing so well. This evening I’m not long back from watching an amazing film – The Imitation Game.
Without giving too much away it got me thinking about how society and those in positions of power/authority have treated people at times. My thoughts go back to how Luke was treated by the law and the effect it had on his life. I’ve mentioned before his infamy for being the 2nd person in Essex to have an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO); this evening I think I’ll expand.
Luke was a problem teenager, there is absolutely no denying that; he was constantly in trouble at school; I’m sure he must hold some sort of record for the number of detentions he amassed! He was excluded from school, for non-attendance at times – go figure that one – you don’t attend so as a punishment you can’t attend!
I totally put my hands up to having little or no control over how Luke behaved in this respect; I had a terrible fear of him being permanently excluded from school. I can remember one awful morning when he wouldn’t get up for school; I took Jake and Alex to school then came home. I then threw a full, large cup of water over Luke’s head and dragged him out of bed! I was so incredibly frustrated that I hit him; not a good confession but a very true one. He ran out of the house in just his boxers to get away from me. So that’s a sign of how hard I was finding life with a rebelling teenager. I don’t as a rule have that level of temper at all.
So, I would say that I was at the end of my tether with this boy, yet I never, ever stopped loving him; that underlying good ‘man’ was always there. Luke had a drug and alcohol problem at the age of 16 for which I could literally find no help. One of his first brushes with authority saw him going to a drug help type centre; while he was there he was given crack cocaine to try! The whole situation was appalling.
At the same time that Luke was going through this crisis so too was the town we lived in; there was a lot of nuisance behaviour by the local teenagers and the police were looking for ring leaders. As I recall a curfew was put on the whole town to keep the teenagers off the street. Luke put himself in the firing line by being louder than most and probably cheekier than lord of the other kids.
He became a target for several officers; yet he himself had a tooth punched out by a grown man in his 50’s because he’d heard Luke had been cheeky to his wife; a wife he himself hit, the man was allowed to make an appointment at the station. A friend of the family was later told by an officer that they’d allowed the man who assaulted Luke to get away with it because he was a pain.
Luke received a warning for handling stolen goods – picking up some flints that had been stolen and I can’t remember what the next thing was for, but he ended up with a referral order. This involved working on an allotment and writing a presentation warning parents of the dangers of drugs; letting them know how ridiculously cheap they are to get hold of.
We went on holiday during the summer Luke was 16 – we arrived home late and received a knock on the door at a stupidly early time to find the papers for an interim ASBO being delivered. There had been no prior warning that such a horror was on the cards.
The whole process of getting the conditions of the ASBO firmed up took court appearance after court appearance and 5 months. The initial conditions would shave put Luke into a position where if he stood in a queue he would be in breach, if he walked around virtually the whole of the town he’s be in breach. And as we found very early on a breach in Luke’s case meant a spell in a cell.
Luke spent 2 months at a Young Offenders Institute while the ASBO was a work in process – his crime? He walked 100 yards in the wrong direction and had a small amount of cannabis in his pocket. Having defied authority for years ignoring the word of a District Judge would see him inside that cell. I will never ever forget the look of fear in his eyes as he was waiting to be taken away.
It was a hugely traumatic experience for all; and of course for Luke most of all. He was in a place with drug dealers, murderers, robbers all and sundry. Yet he managed to fit in, stay out of trouble and mix with all of the other inmates with no trouble at all. The day after he came home however the police arrested him for something that had happened way before he was sent away.
I will say here and in black and white – total shame on Essex Police for the way they treated Luke, he was in tears and wanting to go back to the prison the night he came home where at least he’d be safe from harassment. I learnt at a later stage some of the why they pursued him so relentlessly I believe.
A small tale to raise a smile amongst all the serious stuff – we spent hours in court trying to get conditions that were at the least sensible and workable. I dressed as I was doing for work at that time in a suit as a rule – it was in a way funny to be asked who I was representing one day – to have to tell them I was the mother of a customer raised a smile.
I will write more about some of the things that happened during the awful 2 years Luke had that ASBO hanging round his neck – but, an indication of why he was pursued so relentlessly. I returned to court the 2nd time Luke was sent to prison as he turned 18 while there, making him entitled to be in possession of alcohol; one of the conditions of the order. The solicitor representing the police told Luke’s representative – ‘well the mother did cost us a lot of money you know’. It may not shock you to know my response on hearing that – along the lines of – ‘you tell them that if I don’t get my way here today, I walk out of here and into a newspaper’. Funnily enough they didn’t fight the alteration!
More to follow on this subject – there is a lot to tell – but for now I’m signing off.