A summary of social care news

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay

Blair to give all runaway children a mentor

Britain’s 77,000 runaway children, many of whom end up
sleeping rough and committing crime, will be helped by measures to
be announced by the prime minister.

Tony Blair will disclose the severity of the problem, which
affects one in nine children under 16. He will suggest that a
personal adviser is assigned to each child once they have been
picked up by the police.

The aim of the adviser will be to keep in contact with the child
at school and home, and try and prevent them running away

Downing Street’s social exclusion unit has compiled a
report which shows that one in four youngsters who run away from
home sleeps rough, while 5,000 a year are found begging or
committing crime.

The problem areas are Manchester where 30,000 leave home each
year, and London where the figure is 10,000.

The prime minister will also announce a big consultation
exercise on the problem, and the unit will also investigate the
education of children in care.

At present 75 per cent of these children leave care homes with
no qualifications. The government aims to reduce this to 25 per

Source:- The Times Thursday 22 March page 11

Prisoners fight for right to vote

Prisoners could win the right to vote under the human rights
legislation. Three offenders, an arsonist, drug dealer, and a man
serving life for manslaughter, began a high court challenge
yesterday to overturn the 130-year ban on allowing prisoners the
right to vote during elections.

The test case could result in 62,000 convicted prisoners and
candidates canvassing in jails, having the right to vote.

The ban introduced in 1870 has been described as “completely
illogical” by Edward Fitzgerald QC for two of the inmates. The
inmates claim the ban violates their rights under the Human Rights

Rabinder Singh, counsel for the home secretary, said the right
to vote was part of a collective social enterprise and the loss of
right to vote was part of a prisoners punishment.

Source:- The Times Thursday 22 March page 2

Private jails to take young offenders

A £250 million shake up of the juvenile custody system
includes plans to triple the number of teenage criminals held in
privately run secure training centres, according to Jack Straw

The government’s youth justice board has drawn up a
four-year plan which will see the number of places for teenagers in
privately run prisons rise from 130 to more than 400. It will
ensure teenage girls are not held in adult prisons, and more 15 and
16-year-old boys are held outside the prison system.

Jailed young mothers and pregnant teenage offenders will also
benefit from the shake up as 20 places will be made available for
their care.

Lord Warner announced that no under-18s will be held in Portland
young offenders institution in Dorset from April next year.

Pressure on the troubled Feltham young offenders institution in
west London will be relieved by additional places in Hollesley Bay
Colony in Suffolk.

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 22 March page 8

Vorderman’s fury as net abuser’s sentence is

A man who used the internet to lure a teenager to his home for
sex has had his five year sentence halved, and could be free in
five months time.

Friends of the thirteen-year-old girl’s parents said the
decision of the appeal court has devastated them.

Patrick Green’s appeal was on the grounds that the crown
court judge who sentenced him had not taken into account his
remorse and lack of previous convictions, according to his

Campaigners for controls over the internet believe the decision
by the appeal court sends out the wrong message to paedophiles.

Broadcaster Carol Vorderman, who has exposed the ease at which
paedophiles can use chatrooms to target teenagers said: “It is an
absolute disgrace. Five years wasn’t enough in the first

Last October, Ayelsbury crown court heard how Green contacted
the girl through a chat room.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of having unlawful intercourse,
and two of indecent assault. He admitted eight counts of possessing
indecent photographs of children.

Green was caught on his way to meet another child.

He will be eligible for parole after 15 months. As he has been
in custody since his arrest last June, he could be free in five

Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 22 March page 3

Mothers are unhappy with quality of maternity

Most mothers are unhappy with the care they receive while
pregnant, according to research published today.

One in 10 mothers dismissed maternity staff as incompetent, and
more than half expressed unhappiness at the thought of returning to
the same hospital for a second birth, due to the lack of support
during and after childbirth.

Women were rarely able to build a trusting relationship with a
midwife, according to the survey of the website

However eight out of 10 mothers of the 2,000 who filled out the
survey described midwives as ‘sympathetic and

Four in 10 criticised antenatal classes for not fully preparing
them for the birth, and a quarter said medical staff unnerved them
unnecessarily with 71 per cent feeling frightened during

Louise Silverton, the Royal College of Midwives deputy general
secretary, said: “The concerns of mothers do support our own
assessments of the problems linked to the shortage of midwives and
the lack of investment in maternity care.”

Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 22 March page 5

The nurse who was arrested in baby deaths hospital

The Daily Mail has today revealed the identity of a nurse
arrested after the suspicious deaths of four babies in

Paediatricians raised concerns over four deaths in eight months
and Evelyn Brace was suspended from her job on Ward 24 at Wexham
Park Hospital, Slough, Berkshire.

The mother of two was involved in the child’s care in each

The auxiliary nurse, whose duties include patient hygiene,
serving food and general non-medical care, was interviewed under
caution and released on bail last Wednesday.

Colleagues on the ward have been shocked by her arrest saying
they regarded her as a caring professional.

Four children aged between four months and two years died
between June 2000 and this month.

Consultant paediatricians voiced their concerns to the chief
executive of the Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals Trust,
Margaret Edwards, who called in detectives.

Police and hospital authorities stress the numerical anomaly is
the only reason the deaths are being investigated. The number of
unexpected deaths is usually two or three a year.

Authorities said that when the inquiry concludes in several
weeks, there may be no blame attached to Brace.

Source:- Daily Mail Thursday 22 March page 16

Scottish newspapers

Making children safer on the internet

Measures to protect children from paedophiles on the internet
were introduced by Jack McConnell, education minister, yesterday. A
group is to be formed to advise on the risks to children and how to
protect them. The executive is to issue guidance to all Scottish
schools on how to operate e-mail systems and the internet while
avoiding infiltration by predatory paedophiles.

The announcement preceded an international conference on the
subject in Glasgow today. Delegates will hear calls to use the
internet to trap paedophiles. The conference organisers, Glasgow
university’s centre for Europe’s children, will also
introduce Net-Enforce, a secure internet project which will allow
police and other agencies to share relevant information.

Source:- The Herald Thursday 22 March page 11

Council returns to Cosla fold

Dundee Council has rescinded a decision last month to leave the
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and returned to the
organisation. Yesterday, the hung council decided by one vote to
continue their membership, a decision which was warmly greeted by
Norman Murray, Cosla’s president. Glasgow Council,
Clackmannanshire and Falkirk councils have decided to leave while
South Lanarkshire has postponed its departure for the moment.

Source:- The Herald Thursday 22 March page 6





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