Britain used to pride itself on many things: education, law enforcement and a sense of calm in a crisis. Over the years, those values have eroded, eaten away by profit margins, lethargy and an unreasonable belief that technology will evolve entire nations with the click of a mouse.
What we are left with are the ruins of dreams. What we are left with, is Ashya King.
Ashya is the five-year old boy who has a brain tumour and whose parents removed him from hospital to flee to Malaga. The hospital in question refused to treat Ashya with a procedure the parents felt was less invasive – a procedure which targets the tumour specifically, avoiding, as the parents explained, Ashya’s entire body being bombarded with radiation. The hospital refused to entertain this therapy, and so the family fled to Malaga to find alternative treatment.
The police then issued an arrest warrant. In the days that followed, the family were located and the parents arrested.
The hospital and the police involved are unrepentant – Ashya, they say, needed immediate medical attention and should never have left the care of medical professionals. The parents, aware that their decision might cause concern, posted a video on Facebook to explain their actions.
So how did we get to a point where this evening, a little boy suffering with a brain tumour is no longer in the care of his loving parents because they have been arrested? Arrested for trying to find him the safest treatment possible for his condition.
The truth is, this story started long ago, when the justice system began to deteriorate, slowly at first, and then faster as resources become scarcer and people cared less and less about the art of their work and more about surviving environments where human beings have become nothing more than numbers, tools and scapegoats. But the end result is Ashya King.
Overbearing, heavy-handed and without common sense to steer its wielding power, government agencies are failing to carry out the most basic tasks. The hospital in question should have done more to help the family find a treatment for their son they felt comfortable with. They should have understood their concerns and tried to support them. They should have communicated better – whether to explain that the treatment was not effective or just to try to find a better way. But nobody bothered. And so the family fled. To a place, as it turns out, where they were happy with the treatment on offer.
The police should never have issued an arrest warrant. The EAW is already under extreme scrutiny for its blatant misuse over the last few years. It’s deeply embarrassing to think that our police force believe such an action in this context was even warranted. It’s hard to imagine that they ever tried to engage with the parents first, or to understand what was going on. And knowing that they had sought out treatment elsewhere and were clearly not neglecting their son, the police should have dealt with the warrant and had it set aside. But they didn’t.
And tonight, a little boy with a brain tumour lies in a hospital bed on his own, without the parents he so loves, and who love him.