Children in private care ‘left vulnerable’ under government’s new rules

Children in private care ‘left vulnerable’ under government’s new rules
Thousands of vulnerable children living away from their parents with private foster carers remain unprotected by new rules intended to safeguard them because the government has no record of who or where they are.
Official figures on the number of children being looked after by relatives, many sent to the UK by parents in Africa, significantly underestimate the real number of privately fostered youngsters, government statistics chiefs admit.
The Liberal Democrat children’s spokesman, Annette Brooke, last night demanded a compulsory registration scheme for private foster carers.
Source:- The Guardian, Saturday 2 December 2006, page 21

Paediatrician in baby death case vindicated after six years
The paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow was yesterday vindicated by a high court judge over his evidence in a care case six years ago, when he told the court a four-month-old boy probably died because he was intentionally smothered by his mother.
In a 70-page judgment following an exhaustive and highly unusual review of the issues surrounding P’s death in January 1999, Mr Justice McFarlane said: “I am driven to the firm conclusion that no criticism of Professor Meadow’s role in this case can be sustained.”
Source:- The Guardian, Saturday 2 December 2006, page 20

Plight of old folk
Pensioners are having to cut back on food and heating just so they can pay their council tax, a new report by Help the Aged claims.
Source:- The Sun, Saturday 2 December 2006, page 2

Rapist who snatched child from bath told he may never be freed
A predatory paedophile who snatched a six-year-old girl from her bath and dumped her naked in a freezing street was given life yesterday for kidnap, rape and sexual assault. Peter Voisey, who was under multi-agency supervision as a convicted child molester at the time of the attack last Christmas, will not be considered for parole for 10 years.
Source:- The Guardian, Saturday 2 December 2006, page 11

Find out if a paedophile lives next door to you
Residents would be given the right to ask police whether their neighbours are convicted paedophiles, under new proposals announced by the Home Office.
Source:- The Times, Saturday 2 December 2006, page 2

Appeal court ruling may free scores of dangerous prisoners
A ruling by the court of appeal yesterday has opened the way for scores of the most dangerous prisoners in custody to claim the right to be released and five-figure compensation from the Home Office.
Source:- The Guardian, Saturday 2 December 2006, page 10

GPs angered by call to reveal names of NHS database rebels
The Department of Health provoked uproar among doctors yesterday by asking GPs in England to send in correspondence from objectors who do not want their confidential medical records placed on the Spine, a national NHS database.
Source:- The Guardian, Saturday 2 December 2006, page 20

One person a week killed by mentally ill
The tragic scale of failures in the mental health system is to be revealed in a new report showing that one person a week in Britain is killed by a psychiatric patient who has been assessed as being low risk, often only days before.
A culture of ‘desensitisation’, in which psychiatric staff become used to dealing with very high-risk patients and so fail to notice the warning signs when one is becoming dangerously ill, lies at the heart of the problem, according to the results of the independent inquiry chaired by the mental health ‘tsar’, Professor Louis Appleby.
The victim of the mentally ill patient is nearly always a family member.
Source:- The Observer, Sunday 3 December 2006, page 1

Money to be taken from errant parents’ accounts
Powers to allow the government to access errant parents’ bank accounts are to be given to the body that will replace the Child Support Agency.
Source:- Sunday Times, 3 December 2006, page 7

Ministers ‘must give up council tax power’
Council leaders want the Government to relinquish the power to set council tax because they are fed up with implementing unpopular increases forced on them by the Treasury.
The Local Government Association will ask the government to create an independent commission, already nicknamed Oftax, to decide council tax levels.
Source:- Sunday Telegraph, 3 December 2006, page 2

Row over asylum-seeking rape victims
The Home Office is at the centre of a fresh row over its handling of asylum applications after it emerged that hundreds of people who have fled the slaughter in the Darfur region of Sudan have been told by officials that it is safe to return to their homes. Among those who have been refused permission to remain in the UK is a woman doctor who was gang-raped by Sudanese soldiers for protesting to aid workers about the rape of more than 40 schoolgirls.
Source:- Sunday Telegraph, 3 December 2006, page 8

Ministers plan to get unfit Britons dancing in the streets
Dance classes are to be provided by the National Health Service in a drive to tackle plummeting fitness levels and a national obesity crisis.
Source:- Independent on Sunday, 3 December 2006, page 1

Gay rights – how hardline Christians use shock tactics against new law
One of Baroness Thatcher’s closest political allies is behind a push to derail new laws designed to end discrimination against homosexuals.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern, a former lord chancellor during the Thatcher era, is the patron of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, part of a coalition of religious groups opposed to the new rules which they say will ride roughshod over their beliefs. The new rules, which ban those offering goods and services from discriminating against gays and lesbians, will force them to act against their consciences, they say.
Source:- Independent on Sunday, 3 December 2006, page 14

Mental health tsar resigns over ‘scandal’ of black patients
The academic who designed the Government’s race equality policy on mental health has resigned over fears that not enough is being done to protect ethnic minorities from mistreatment and discrimination.
Lord Patel of Bradford has told ministers he intends to step down as director of the Department of Health’s ethnic minority mental health programme because the “scandal” of the treatment of black patients has not been dealt with.
Source:- Independent on Sunday, 3 December 2006, page 26

Strategy to empty jails backfires
A key government strategy to curb reoffending and reduce the prison population is achieving the opposite result.
Source:- The Observer, Sunday 3 December 2006, page 6

Charities step in to help cystic fibrosis sufferers
More than £20m is being raised at jumble sales and shops by charity workers to fund trials of a revolutionary cystic fibrosis treatment developed by British scientists.
Source:- The Observer, Sunday 3 December 2006, page 7

Cost of selling ban on smoking will burn a hole in healthcare budgets
The cost of advertising to prepare the public and businesses for the new anti-smoking laws will top £12 million between now and next July, making it one of the most expensive public health campaigns ever.
Source:- The Observer, Sunday 3 December 2006, page 20

Health charities get ‘covert’ aid from drug firms
Britain’s chief drug regulator has accused pharmaceutical companies of covert and distasteful tactics in funding patient groups that campaign for wider use of the medicines they manufacture. Sir Michael Rawlins, chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which decides which drugs are provided by the NHS, warned that the industry’s sponsorship of health charities could lead to excessive pressure and unfair rulings about which medicines were made available.
Source:- Sunday Times, 3 December 2006, page 6

Court challenge for law on statutory retirement
An Age Concern-backed challenge against the introduction of a statutory retirement age reaches the High Court today.
Heyday, an organisation which represents people nearing retirement age, will say that the policy, included in recent regulations, does not meet the requirements of a European Union directive outlawing age discrimination.
Source:- Financial Times, Monday 4 December 2006, page 2

New disability duty will test hospitals
Hospitals are in the firing line over new laws that come into force today, requiring all public bodies to improve services for disabled people. An investigation for the Disability Rights Commission uncovered alleged neglect within the NHS of people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.
Source:- The Times, Monday 4 December 2006, page 2

When the gift of a goat is not always a goat…
The trendy alternative to the Christmas present stalwarts of a pair of socks or special soap is buying goats, cows and even toilet blocks for Third World countries. But a report by Intelligent Giving, a charity watchdog, shows that money is often not spent on what donors expected it to be spent on.
Adam Rothwell, a researcher at IG, says: “We have looked at what your money actually buys you, because what you see isn’t always what your African farmer gets.”
Source:- Daily Telegraph, Monday 4 December 2006, page 14

Parents lock son in cupboard 6 weeks
Parents who kept a boy of seven locked under the stairs for six weeks because he behaved badly have escaped a jail sentence.
Source:- The Sun, Monday 4 December 2006, page 7

Scottish news

Executive accused of losing war on youth crime
The number of hardcore young offenders has risen by 15 per cent rise in the past three year, new Scottish executive figures show.
Some 950 children were classed as persistent offenders by the children’s reporter between July and September, compared with 828 for the same period in 2005.
The number of offences carried out by hardcore offenders referred to the reporter increased over the same period from 791 to 822.
Source:- The Scotsman, Saturday 2 December 2006

Adoption system overhaul is futile without an increase in funding
New laws to open up the adoption system to gay and unmarried couples will not reduce the number of children in care unless extra funding is provided to help support prospective parents.
Maureen Kanell, practice manager for the Scottish Adoption Association, said: “The new bill will help but it needs to be well resourced to increase the support we are able to provide.”
She added families could be left with inadequate support if funding for social work and psychological services is not improved.
Source:- The Sunday Herald, 3 December 2006

Welsh news

Hutton: jobs are key to ending poverty
Work and pensions secretary John Hutton rejected the argument that child poverty can only be ended by raising benefit levels on a trip to Wales. Hutton also praised first minister Rhodri Morgan’s key election pledge, for eradicating child poverty to be the major theme of his third term administration if he remains first minister after next May’s election.
Source:- Western Mail, Saturday 2 December 2006

Toddler’s sex attacker jailed
A paedophile was jailed for indecently assaulting an 18-month-old girl yesterday. Edward Bernard Collins, 46, befriended a family to get close to the girl and even moved to Rhyl to get nearer to them.
Source:- Western Mail, Saturday 2 December 2006

Foster teen housed alone
A teenager was allowed to live alone in a bedsit despite being unable to look after herself a court heard. The case was brought by two-ex foster carers against the former South Glamorgan Council, now Cardiff Council.
Source:- South Wales Echo, Sunday 3 December 2006


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