A summary of social care news

Prison terms for illegal adoptions

People adopting children from overseas could face jail sentences
as a result of measures to be introduced by the government next

The plans come in the wake of public concern over the “internet
babies” case.

People who bring children into the UK from another country for
the purposes of adoption without first gaining approval from a
recognised adoption agency, will be breaking the law. Prospective
adoptive parents bringing children to Britain without passing these
tests will be subject to a prison term of up to three months, a
fine of £5,000 or both.

Health minister John Hutton will announce the tough approach
today as he publishes legislation introducing the first
comprehensive overhaul of British adoption for 25 years. However,
the bill is unlikely to pass through parliament before the next

Health ministers wanted to legislate later this year but Tony
Blair said the bill would

come in the present session.

Ministers are considering using the bill to target those –
such as Judith and Alan Kilshaw – who complete adoption
formalities abroad before bringing the children to Britain. The
couple bought twin girls through a child broker on a Californian
website before bringing them back to Britain.

Chief executive of the British Agencies for Adoption and
Fostering Felicity Collier said: “I welcome the bill, but we get
adoption legislation only once every quarter century. We have got
to get it right. This must not go through on a ground-swell of
public reaction to a particular case. Children are too important
for that.”

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 15 March 2001 page 7

Elderly patients ‘abused’

Older people at a Bupa-run residential care home are victims of
neglect and abuse, an employment tribunal heard yesterday.

When seven former care workers spoke out about the treatment of
elderly patients at Isard House in Bromley, south east London,
between 1996 and 1999, they were harassed and forced to quit.

It emerged after a three-month investigation that there was “a
climate of abusive and neglectful behaviour” at the home, according
to Bromley Council’s principal inspector Richard Turner.

He added that some of the 27 claims of abuse against senior care
assistant Maria Keenaghan were corroborated but went unchecked by
Carole Jones, manager of the 65-room home.

The tribunal in Ashford, Kent, was told how Keenaghan was
arrested but no charges could be brought against her as the
residents were too frail to give evidence.

Source:- The Times Thursday 15 March 2001 page 3

Anti-poverty efforts ‘are failing

The most excluded people in society have seen no significant
effect from the government’s measures to tackle poverty,
researchers have concluded.

The fortunes of 5,000 low-income families in Britain in 1999
were compared with similar families in 1991 by the Policy Studies
Institute. It revealed that only families in which at least one
parent is working had seen an improvement in their lifestyle.

More than 80 per cent of children in households in which neither
parent worked were forced to go without basic necessities,
according to the study, Low Income Families in Britain: Work,
Welfare and Social Security in 1999

Working families fared better. Among those receiving family tax
credit, now replaced by the working families tax credit, the rate
of severe hardship halved.

Source:- The Times Thursday 15 March 2001 page 4

Jamaican with drug record may stay

A convicted Jamaican drug dealer will be entitled to live in
Britain, a high court has ruled.

The home secretary failed in a bid to prevent Darrel Harris
entering Britain. Immigration officials had refused Harris
permission to enter the country on the grounds that his presence
was “not conducive to the public good”.

He was prevented from returning to his home in Streatham, south
London, after he visited his dying father in the West Indies.

Mr Justice Collins ruled that it was impossible to exclude
Harris from Britain.

His convictions between June 1968 and February 1997 are for
offences including robbery, and possession and supply of a
controlled drug. He was released from jail in April 1997.

Harris arrived in Britain in 1966 and did not apply for
permanent leave until November 1997. A month later he went to
Jamaica on a month-long visit, but an immigration officer refused
to allow him to re-enter Britain in January 1998, a decision upheld
by Jack Straw.

Source:- The Times Thursday 15 March 2001 page 9

Farmer hangs himself

The foot and mouth epidemic is thought to have tipped a farmer
over the edge causing him to hang himself.

The BSE crisis and falling farm prices left father of two Brian
Oakley clinically depressed for two years. In a bid to survive, he
abandoned cattle and turned to sheep farming.

He was found hanged on 2 March on his farm at Bryn Coch, near
Powys. Friends believed the foot and mouth epidemic was the final

His wife Gillian said the crisis hit him badly after years of
struggling to cope with BSE and low prices.

“Depression is an increasingly common illness in the farming
community. They need to realise that help is available,” she

Oakley received considerable support from the Samaritans and
Rural Stress Network.

An inquest has been opened and adjourned.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 15 March 2001 page

Ministers blamed for ‘appalling’ state of

Home secretary Jack Straw and other ministers have been blamed
for ignoring warnings three years ago over “appalling” conditions
in one of Britain’s most notorious jails.

The chief inspector of prisons David Ramsbotham has expressed
shock that Birmingham jail is being forced to make cuts of nearly
£1m even though it’s treatment of prisoners is “wholly

In a report published today, Ramsbotham states how a mentally
ill inmate was found in an “extremely dirty” cell with almost no
furniture except a partly destroyed foam mattress. He was told that
the inmate had not washed or changed his clothes for weeks.

The chief inspector was angry that no improvements had been made
in conditions since his report in 1998.

He said: “I will not mince words. During this inspection we saw
some of the worst conditions for prisoners that we have seen
anywhere in the country.”

Ramsbotham said the blame should extend as far as to those in
ministerial control of the prisons.

Source:- Independent Thursday 15 March 2001 page 12


Scottish newspapers

Housing bill approved amid protests

The Housing Bill (Scotland) received unanimous approval in the
Scottish parliament yesterday in spite of a massed demonstration of
objectors picketing the building.


Jackie Baillie, the social justice minister, said the objectives
of the bill were “the prevention of homelessness” and to give
landlords greater powers to evict anti-social tenants. The bill
will pave the way for the mass stock transfer of council houses and
give housing association tenants the right to buy their home.


Housing activists claimed the bill would undo the good work of
housing associations, by making homes harder to obtain and
exacerbating homelessness. The bill contains nine sections and 101
schedules which are expected to be subject to fierce debate among
MSPs during its progress through parliament.


Source:- The Herald 15 March 2001 page 6

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