A summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.

Abduction claim by internet twins’ parents

The natural parents of the internet twins adopted by British
couple Judith and Alan Kilshaw, asked for the twins to be declared
abducted under the Hague convention, in a further twist to the

The official solicitors’ child protection office has been asked
by lawyers for Aaron and Tranda Wecker to deal with the

The news emerged as the Kilshaws arrived at the high court in
London yesterday to continue their fight for the nine-month-old
twin girls.

PR consultant Max Clifford has offered to help the Kilshaws who
have been heavily criticised for speaking in public about the case,
having promised not to do so.

Both the US and Britain have signed up for the Hague convention
which was designed to restrict child trafficking and fraud. If the
application by the estranged parents, who are both taking separate
action for the custody of the twins, is successful the twins will
be returned to their home country.

The hearing is expected to last at least until tomorrow.

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 3/4/01 page 5

Crime victims gain new rights

The victims of the 200 to 300 violent and sexual criminals who
are released from jail each month, will now be consulted on the
conditions of release.

Victims or their families will be asked if they want a say in
the release of paedophiles and other sex offenders, it was
announced yesterday alongside the launch of the National Probation

Home office minister Paul Boateng said there would be a ‘law
enforcement’ emphasis in the national probation service, which
hopes to recruit an extra 3,000 staff including former teachers and

There will be “multi-agency public protection panels” consisting
of police, probation, health education and clinical psychologists,
who will assess paedophiles and other dangerous criminals before
they are released.

Eithne Wallis, director of the National Probation Service, said
it would not mean that parents would know if a paedophile moves
into their area, but people would be informed about any measures

The probation service plans to expand places on sex offenders
treatment programmes outside jail, so that by 2003, all 4,000 know
sex offenders will be involved.

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 3/4/01 page 9

Dispute a threat to child abuse hearings

A pay dispute in the family court service could mean abused
children wait more than a year before their cases come to

The government has insisted that all child abuse cases should be
heard within 12 weeks, but some already take as long as 42 weeks to
reach court. The pay dispute among care professionals could lead to
bigger backlogs and further delays.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service
launched yesterday brings the 1,800 family court welfare functions
now provided by the probation service, the children’s branch of the
Official Solicitor’s Department and the local authority guardian ad
litem services, into one organisation.

Plans to impose fixed keys for guardian ad litem or care
professionals who advise in child abuse cases are being opposed by
the guardians who currently work on an hourly rate.

Karen Harris, spokesperson for the guardians national
association, said: “I think judicial review is certain unless they
drop plans for these lump sum payments.”

She added that children would receive a worse service because
guardians would not make that extra visit to find out what would be
best for the child.

Source:- The Times Tuesday 3/4/01 page 9

100,000 more qualify for income support

Around 100,000 pensioners will receive letters informing them
they are eligible for income support under the government’s minimum
income guarantee.

The database, held by the department for social security,
contains details of people who applied for income support under the
scheme, but had savings too high for them to qualify.

The Chancellor announced the pre Budget report last autumn which
stated the threshold scale for savings will rise to between
£6,000 and £12,000 up from between £3,000 and

The minimum income guarantee will also rise to £92.15 from

Source:- The Times Tuesday 3/4/01 page 12

Down’s children were ‘less favoured’ by heart

Parents have demanded a public inquiry after an investigation
virtually accused leading heart surgeons of discriminating against
children with Down’s syndrome.

Parents of children with Down’s syndrome claimed there had been
overt discrimination. The department of health said that even if
discrimination had not been deliberate, that was the effect of
doctors’ attitudes.

The investigation centred around two hospitals, The Royal
Brompton and Harefield between 1984 and 1999. It was based on
allegations that children with Down’s syndrome were refused surgery
and a number of cases where parents alleged children had died or
suffered damage unnecessarily. The report made 119

The inquiry panel chaired by Ruth Evans, former director of the
National Consumer Council, found doctors had failed to take a
balanced view and as a result, some children with Down’s syndrome
were ‘less favoured’.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Tuesday 3/4/01 page 2

Watchdog attacks Britain for racism and

Britain’s police forces, politics and media are institutionally
racist, according to a report today by the 43-nation Council of
Europe’s Commission Against Racism and Intolerance.

Britain has been criticised by the study focussing on racial
discrimination, which calls for the government to implement
reforms. Britain’s right wing media is singled out for its
“consistent inflammatory attacks on asylum seekers and migrants
coming into the United Kingdom”.

Politicians are also attacked for supporting increasingly
restrictive laws on asylum and immigration.

Such moves “have played a fundamental role” in fostering a
xenophobic climate in Britain against foreigners.

The study says: “Politicians should not only avoid promoting the
general assumption that most asylum claimants are not genuine, but
also the vilification of those who are not considered by the
authorities to have valid asylum claims and are sometimes defined
as ‘economic migrants’, ‘economic refugees,’ or ‘bogus asylum

Source:- Independent Tuesday 3/4/01 page 6

Half of young prisoners ‘suffer drug induced memory

Half of all young prisoners in England and Wales could be
suffering from memory loss as a result of drugs, research published
today suggests.

A speech therapist analysed the language and communication
skills of prisoners aged between 18 and 21, and chief inspector of
prisons Sir David Ramsbotham described the findings as “sobering
and revealing”.

The results indicate the effects of increasing drug use among
young people and the links between drugs and crime.

A sample group of prisoners at a young offenders institution
revealed that 73 per cent of inmates were grammatically incompetent
and more than a fifth had comprehension skills of 11-year-olds.
Around 50 per cent suffered memory loss.

The work by Dr Karen Bryan at Swinfen Hall in Lichfield,
Staffordshire has prompted the chief inspector to recommend that
the prison service set up a system for monitoring the problems of
young offenders who have trouble communicating.

Source:- Independent Tuesday 3/4/01 page 11

Chat room paedophile made girl of 14

A paedophile used an internet chatroom to groom a 14-year-old
before abusing her and making her pregnant.

Simon Josephs lied about his age as he “chatted” to the girl,
before luring her to hotels for unprotected sex, a court heard

She was later forced to undergo an abortion..

Josephs was jailed yesterday and the judge branded the internet
a vehicle for the “utterly depraved to take advantage of those
foolish enough to enter chat room discussions”.

According to recent research, one in five children who use chat
rooms are targeted by paedophiles.

Source:- Daily Mail Tuesday 3/4/01 page 6

Scottish newspapers

Alcohol plays key role in fire deaths

Alcohol was a key factor in nearly half the fire deaths last
year, according to the Scottish executive. In 1999-2000, fire
caused 111 deaths in Scotland, an increase of 15 on the previous
year and 15 more than the annual average over the past decade. The
vast majority of fires were caused in the home.

Angelo Errigo, assistant inspector of fire services at HM
Inspectorate, said: “I am obviously very disappointed with any rise
in deaths and the finding that many were caused by alcohol.”

Source The Herald 3/4/01 page 10

Campaign to counter fascist propaganda on

East Renfrewshire Council has launched an information campaign
to counter National Front propaganda on incoming refugees and
asylum seekers. The council plan to house refugees in the
Auchenback area of Barrhead which has been targeted by right-wing
groups in a concerted campaign stating that a “flood tide of bogus
asylum seekers” was set to swamp the area.

Around 2,000 homes have been circulated with leaflets explaining
that the home office will fund the accommodation and the area could
actually benefit from the initiative. A helpline number has also
been set up.

Source The Scotsman 3/4/01 page 8




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