A summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.

Child abuse watchdog for priests

Catholic bishops of England and Wales have appointed a
non-Christian social worker, in a bid to rid the Church of

Former senior official at the NSPCC Eileen Shearer will run the
Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable
Adults, in Birmingham.

It is the first time a non-Catholic has been appointed to such a
high profile office.

A Church spokesperson said it would be wrong to narrow the field
for such an “important” job by restricting it to Catholics or even

The new office was set up after a critical report by Lord Nolan
on the Church’s child protection policies.

It will run a database on all clergy and lay workers and hold
intelligence on convicted and suspected paedophiles.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 12 January page

Policeman lied to inquiry into Climbie killing, says

A senior police officer accused a colleague of lying at the
Victoria Climbie inquiry on Friday.

Chief superintendent Susan Akers accused detective chief
inspector Philip Wheeler of lying in his evidence that he had a
“purely administrative role” over the “totally unacceptable” child
protection services.

Akers told the inquiry that he had operational line management
responsibilities for the teams, which he had condemned in a report
as “bereft” of proper organisation.

The inquiry found there was no system for managing or allocating
cases, no proper supervision, and a team whose members turned up
for work whatever hour it suited them.

Wheeler claimed a senior officer told him his role with the
teams was strictly administrative.

Neil Garnham, QC counsel to the inquiry, asked Akers if Wheeler
was lying by claiming that was what he had been told.

“Yes, I am afraid it does,” Akers said.

Lauretta Okocha will appear in court on Tuesday charged with
assault occasioning actual bodily harm, criminal damage and
possession of cannabis after she threw a black substance over
Wheeler as he gave evidence on Thursday.

Source:- The Independent Saturday 12 January
page 12

Most hospitals reach patient waiting target

The number of long waits on hospital treatment lists is
continuing to fall, although 10 thousand more people are on the NHS
lists than a year ago.

More than 1 million people were in the queue for hospital
treatment at the end of November, which is 1 per cent up on the
previous year.

But the figures showed that two thirds of NHS trusts have
achieved the government’s aim of having no patient wait
longer than 15 months for treatment.

There are three acute hospital trusts in England where no-one
waits more than six months for operations: Poole Hospital NHS
Trust, West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust and the Royal
Marsden Hospital NHS Trust.

Source:- The Times Saturday 12 January page 9

Fury over UK refugee expulsions

Britain faced growing condemnation of its policy of deporting
Zimbabwean asylum seekers last night, after allegations they were
being handed over to President Robert Mugabe’s secret

Refugees with links to the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change are being deported every day despite evidence they face
torture or death in Zimbabwe.

Some have been attacked or arrested on their return to their
country and others have gone missing. Opposition politicians and
human rights groups accused the government of ignoring the dangers
faced by returning the deportees in the run up to presidential
elections in March.

“The home office needs to take immediate and urgent action,”
said Nick Hardwick, chief executive of The Refugee Council.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 13 January page 1

Heroin users will go free as police focus on

People caught using heroin, cocaine and ecstasy will not face
court action under reforms of the drug policies being considered by
police chiefs.

Thousands of users who are arrested with small amounts of hard
and soft drugs will be referred to medical centres for treatment
rather than face charges, under the reforms.

Chief constables insist they are not decriminalising hard drugs
and emphasise that police will retain the option of pressing

Chiefs say the aim is to focus resources on hard drug dealers.
They believe that “medicalising” instead of “criminalising” the
problem is the only way to cut the number of hard drug users and
the 80 per cent of property crime that is drug related.

Source:- The Sunday Times Sunday 13 January page 26

Autistic man was held by force

A hospital has been condemned by the NHS watchdog for forcibly
detaining an autistic man.

The NHS ombudsman said the man, known as Leonard for legal
reasons, should never have been held in the first place.

Bournewood Psychiatric Hospital refused to let the man’s
guardians, who care for him at home as a member of their family,
see him for three-and-a-half months.

When the relations won visiting rights, they found Leonard with
blood pouring from his head. His clothes were soiled and he had
lost two stones in weight.

Leonard’s guardians are going to take the case to the
European Court of Human Rights to try to change a ruling which
means that hospitals can hold such patients without legal

David Pamment, director of mental health services at Bournewood,
said the hospital fully accepted the findings of the report and had
apologised to Leonard’s guardians.

Source:- The Times Monday 14 January page 9

BA halts Zimbabwe deportation

British Airways has refused to accept a home office directive to
fly a deportee from Gatwick to Zimbabwe, it emerged yesterday.

Ministers gave their first hint that they may halt the expulsion
of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers, among rising fears that
deportees face arrest by Robert Mugabe’s secret police.

Home office officials have suspended the expulsion of another
Zimbabwean asylum seeker from Heathrow.

An official statement from the department said that although
they were not going to suspend all removals at this point, they
were monitoring the situation very closely and acknowledged the
situation in Zimbabwe had deteriorated.

Source:- The Guardian Monday 14 January page 2

Scottish newspapers

Crime set to be abolished for under 12s

Thousands of children under the age of 12 years in Scotland will
not be prosecuted for crimes under a radical plan to be published
this week.

The Scottish Law Commission is expected to recommend raising the
age of criminal responsibility from the age of eight to 12 years in
a report ordered by the Scottish executive. If the move is
implemented it would mean 5,000 crimes committed in Scotland each
year by eight to 11-year-olds would no longer be taken to court
regardless of how serious. The proposal is set to raise a fierce
debate between child welfare groups and organisations which believe
the law is going soft on crime.

Source:- Scotland on Sunday 13 January page 1

Parents fight to save son trapped in State

A mother and father from Dundee are set this week to petition
MSPs over a problem which has left their son languishing in the
State Hospital Carstairs.

Darren Crichton, aged 20, was sent to Carstairs when he was 17
after a series of mental health problems in his teens. However, his
condition improved and in 1999 doctors recommended that he should
be returned to the community.

A subsequent review last year repeated the recommendation, but
Crichton has had to stay on in Carstairs because of a lack of
facilities in his home area of Tayside. Last year a Scottish Health
Advisory Service report indicated that there were more than 30
patients “trapped” in Carstairs due to similar circumstances.

Source:- Sunday Herald 13 January page 10

NHS – the critical debate

The first in a series of full length investigative features into
the state of the NHS. Is it terminally ill or misdiagnosed? Should
we use private hospitals and why are 600 consultants against this

Source:- Sunday Herald 13 January pages 12 & 13

Chief inspector of prisons to go

Clive Fairweather, the outspoken chief inspector of prisons, is
to leave his post. Fairweather, who has been scathing in formal
reports about private prisons and general conditions for prisoners,
refused to comment as to the reasons for his departure. The
Scottish executive has denied claims by the SNP that Fairweather
was being forced out of the post. A spokesperson for the executive
said that the appointment was “coming to a natural end”.

Source:- The Herald Monday 14 January

Delay looms on free personal care

Malcolm Chisholm, health and community care, minister, is
expected to announce this week that the implementation of free
personal care will be delayed until the summer. The original
implementation commitment was for April of this year.

Source:- The Herald Monday 14 January page 8

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