A summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

Official: Shipman murdered 166 of his

A public inquiry will rule this week that GP Harold Shipman
killed at least 166 of his patients, and possibly as many as

The judge heading the inquiry, Dame Janet Smith will give
individual verdicts in the cases of 429 of Shipman’s patients
who died between 1974 and 1998 in suspicious circumstances.

Sources say the judge is preparing to rule unlawful killing in
166 cases regarded as “highly suspicious” and declare that a
further 43 patients died in “suspicious” circumstances. Smith is
expected to record an open verdict in another 50 cases where
records were unavailable.

Her interim report on the killings will be published on

Source:- The Sunday Times Sunday 14 July page 1

Super-prison to house UK’s eight
worst inmates

A special top security “jail within a jail” is to hold
Britain’s most dangerous prisoners

The new “exceptional risk centre” has been opened at Wakefield
prison and can house up to eight prisoners judged to be too violent
for a conventional jail.

The eight cells are believed to contain furniture made from
compressed cardboard, preventing inmates from using it to make

The unit has proportionately more staff than a conventional
prison and it will cost around £55,000 per inmate to run
compared with the £28,000 per inmate in other prisons.

Prisoners likely to be housed in the new prison include Charles

Source:- The Sunday Times Sunday 14 July page 10

Juries to hear of past

Juries may be informed about the previous convictions of
defendants – and of some witnesses – in a wide-ranging shake
up of the criminal justice system to be announced this week.

Judges will be given the discretion to allow prosecutors to tell
juries about any “relevant” criminal convictions of those who give
alibis or evidence of good character in court.

The plans are likely to anger civil liberties campaigners who
say the move could prejudice juries against defendants and
undermine the principle of being “innocent until proven

Source:- The Sunday Times Sunday 14 July page 26

Blair’s £12bn school

Every secondary school budget will be boosted by a £50,000
increase, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Gordon Brown is due to announce an increase in spending for the
Department for Education and Skills, which will take the education
budget to £12.5 billion over the next three years.

Each school currently has an average grant of around
£100,000. The new money represents a 50 per cent increase over
three years.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 14 July page 1

Drugs tsar warns of cannabis

Crime will soar as a result of increased cannabis dealing,
according to outgoing drugs tsar, Keith Hellawell.

Hellawell, who announced that he was quitting the post last
week, said the public thought the government had gone “soft on

He also revealed the prime minister was against downgrading
cannabis to a grade C drug until after the general election last

His statement will fuel speculation that Downing Street is
nervous about last week’s decision to change the
classification of the drug.

Hellawell confirmed he is writing a “tell all” book to be
published in the autumn.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 14 July page 2

Council workers ‘earn less than
in 1979′

The prime minister has been accused of leaving council workers
worse off than during the winter of discontent, as millions of
staff prepare to strike this week over pay.

Social workers, and classroom assistants will stage picket lines
as ministers announce billions extra in funding for hospitals and

Local government workers earn less as a proportion of average
earnings than they did in the 1970s, according to research by the
General and Municipal Boilermakers Union released today.

Lowest paid workers earn £4.80 an hour, it says, arguing
that soaring private sector salaries have left key workers

Source:- The Observer Sunday 14 July page 6

Homeless in drugs epidemic

Four out of five of Britain’s homeless people are drug
users and almost half have used heroin or crack cocaine in the last
month, latest research shows.

The figures have shocked homelessness experts.

Shaks Ghosh of homeless charity Crisis, which commissioned the
research, said: “What we never expected, in our worst dreams, was
this level of use and addiction.”

One in four of homeless people in Britain use cocaine or ecstasy
and one in three use tranquillisers.

Only four per cent do not use drugs or alcohol at all.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 14 July page 12

Estelle Morris: jail parents who abuse
school teachers

Violent parents who abuse school teachers should be jailed,
according to the education secretary.

As her department is likely to benefit from a £10 billion
boost to reform secondary education in the comprehensive spending
review, Estelle Morris made clear that tackling discipline in
schools is vital to the government’s vision.

In a GMTV interview with Steve Richards, she said local
authorities should use existing powers if teachers are abused by

“I’m giving a clear message to local authorities and head
teachers that if their staff are abused, physically or verbally,
take legal action and you will be applauded. Nobody will turn round
and say ‘it must have been that the head teacher
couldn’t cope’,” Morris declared.

Source:- Independent Sunday 14 July page 1

Mentally ill tourists cost NHS

Mentally ill tourists, who are not eligible for free healthcare
in Britain, are forcing the NHS to pay millions of pounds on
private treatment.

Mental health patients in this country are losing out on
treatment because hospitals are compelled to take foreign visitors
who suffer mental breakdowns on holiday, health authorities across
the UK say.

The problem results from a shortage of NHS beds, which means
tourists are sent to private clinics if they are considered to be a
risk to themselves and the community.

The worst affected areas are those covering the main tourist
areas in London including Chelsea, Westminster and Kensington.

Source:- Independent Sunday 14 July page 11

Half of young killers to be

More than half of Britain’s most dangerous young killers
are to be freed from prison early.

Lord chief justice Lord Woolf has ordered that 46 underage
murderers had their sentence reduced. He is studying the files of
every prisoner who killed while still a minor.

The move is as a result of last year’s ruling by the
European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg court declared that
sentences could no longer be set by the home secretary and only by
the lord chief justice or judges.

Source:- The Mail on Sunday Sunday 14 July page 4

Most new HIV cases in UK are African

Immigrants from Africa are the largest group reporting new HIV
infections in Britain according to latest figures.

Last year, 4,163 people were found to be HIV positive.
Homosexuals accounted for 1,338 and more than 1,500 were
heterosexuals from Africa.

Barry Evans, HIV consultant at the Public Health Laboratory
Service’s centre for communicable disease surveillance, said:
“The figures show that there were more newly diagnosed cases of HIV
among African immigrants than gay men for the first time.”

Source:- The Times Monday 15 July page 1

Council workers to strike despite

The first national council strike since 1979 will take place
this week despite a campaign of “intimidation” by employers, unions
said yesterday.

Unison, the Transport and General Workers’ Union and GMB
predict that 1.2 million staff will join the walkout and will
result in schools, council offices and leisure centres closing.

This is despite workers being threatened with redundancy, pay
and pension cuts if they participate.

National organiser of the TGWU Jack Dromey said that it was
immoral for councils to intimidate low paid workers. A survey by
his union showed that council workers were being threatened with
privatisation of the services they offer, followed by pay cuts.

The strike has been called in protest of a 3 per cent pay offer,
which would see wages of the most poorly paid council staff rise to
£4,94 per hour. The union wants a 6 per cent increase.

Source:- The Times Monday 15 July page 2

Children mix with

Vulnerable children are mixing with male offenders, including
sex offenders, as a result of a shortage of funds and staff in the
agency in charge of children’s court cases.

Children attending offices run by the Children and Family Court
Advisory and Support Service, Cafcass, share consultation rooms
with the probation service.

The problems with offices were strongly condemned by the
National Association of Probation Officers yesterday.

Its assistant general secretary said the sharing of facilities
was “totally unacceptable”.

The agency is also encountering problems in London, where the
backlog of undecided cases is more than 150.

Source:- The Times Monday 15 July page 1

Probation service £8m in the

A government spending watchdog was urged to hold an inquiry into
the accounts of London’s probation service, which is
currently £8 million in the red.

Lack of money has forced the service to cut the number of
reports it prepared for courts about offenders, according to union
leaders. Two hundred vacancies were being frozen and a third of
temporary staff contracts were being terminated.

Judges who rely on the reports to help them decide on an
appropriate sentence for offenders are infuriated by the reduction
in the service being provided.

Assistant general secretary of the National Association of
Probation Officers, Harry Fletcher, called for the London probation
service to publish its budget and for the National Audit office to
consider an inquiry into the causes of the deficit.

Source:- The Times Monday 15 July page 2

Bureau in chaos

Chaos at the Criminal Records Bureau has resulted in the
postponement of a service to allow employers to check prospective

The government may shut the bureau and give Capita’s
contract to run it to another company if there is not a rapid

Source:- The Times Monday 15 July page 4

Jail for dangerous offences

Only violent and dangerous offenders are to receive prison
sentences as part of a large shake up of criminal sentencing to be
announced on Wednesday.

David Blunkett is to unveil a series of “new and innovative
sentences” which will mean that most of the 45,000 adults sentenced
to less than 12 months each year will no longer go to prison.

A leaked draft of the overview of the criminal justice white
paper, says that short prison sentences for a further 15,000 young
offenders will be replaced with intensive supervision and
surveillance programmes in the community.

“The radical reform of sentencing policy should mean fewer
people in prison and more time to rehabilitate those that are,” it

Source:- The Guardian Monday 15 July page 2

Care home doors are tied up with
Labour’s red tape

A 2cm shortfall in the width of doorways of care homes will mean
the country’s largest operator of homes for older people will
face a massive reconstruction bill.

The BUPA chain, which runs nearly 250 homes, must pay out
£3 million to alter the doorways so they meet the new
government standards.

A large chunk of the money will pay for doorways to be widened
by two centimetres so they reach the specified 80cm.

Many of the BUPA homes are purpose-built and designed to meet
the needs of older people. But in around 40 homes, the doors are 78
cm wide.

While BUPA is facing the bill to make the changes, many smaller
operators are closing their homes because they cannot cope with the
demands of the Care Standards Act.

Source:- Daily Mail Monday 15 July page 19.

Scottish and Welsh

Housing finance plan behind schedule and still

The Glasgow housing Association (GHA), the new proposed landlord
of Glasgow City Council’s 82,000 housing stock, has produced
its detailed financial plans but said its contents will remain a
commercial secret. The document sets out the case for the private
sector lending the GHA £770 million, some £40 million
more than was predicted last year. The plan has been sent out to
more than a dozen leading financial institutions.

Source:- The Herald Saturday 13 July page 9

Social work under fire after sex abuse

Social work services in Borders Council came under fire
yesterday following a court case which revealed a series of sexual
attacks by three men on a woman with learning disabilities. The
30-year old woman had been placed in the care of one of her
attackers and was subject to horrific sexual abuse and prolonged
humiliation by the three men who admitted the charges at the High
Court in Edinburgh. The offences took place only yards from the
council’s social work headquarters in the village of Newton
St Boswells. A spokesperson for the council said that the acting
director of lifelong care had already commissioned an external
review prior to the court case and added that none of those
involved had been subject to any formal supervision

Source:- The Herald Saturday 13 July page 7

War on soft drugs

Seizures of cannabis and amphetamine have plummeted up to 75% in
Scotland reinforcing claims that the police have abandoned the war
on soft drugs. New figures reveal that Scotland’s police
forces had made just 648 seizures of amphetamine in the year 2000,
a drop of 60% compared with the year before. The number of hauls of
cannabis also fell by 10% to 11,973.

Source:- Scotland on Sunday Sunday 14 July page 4

Councils’ concern over proposals for redundant

A local authority in west Wales is calling for urgent talks with
the Welsh assembly over proposals to accommodate asylum seekers in
a redundant psychiatric hospital.

Carmarthenshire county council has asked for urgent talks with
health and social services minister Jane Hutt over the plans for St
David’s Hospital, Carmarthen, following reports that a private
consortium wants to use it to house up to 1,000 refugees.

Council leader Meryl Gravell said that the reports were causing
great concern to the local community and that the council was
concerned that there had been no prior consultation. Source:-
Western Mail Monday 15 July page 7

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