A summary of social care news

By Clare Jerrom

Net adoption pair would be jailed under new

Couples seeking to adopt children overseas without approval from
British authorities will face imprisonment, the government
announced yesterday.

The Internet twins case has prompted the government to act and
the Adoption and Children Bill was drawn up and received its first
reading in the Commons yesterday.

People bringing children into England and Wales without being
assessed by authorities will face a £5,000 fine or

Health minister John Hutton said the
government was determined to legislate on adoption “this year” with
the bill’s second reading planned for the next few weeks.

Other proposals in the bill include
the setting up of a register to match children in care with
prospective parents, and increase the annual rate of adoption of
children in care by 40 per cent over the next four years.

The scandal that prompted the bill
saw Judith and Alan Kilshaw from Buckley in north Wales buy twin
girls from an internet agency in the US for £8,000 after they
had allegedly been sold for £4,000 to an American couple. The
children are now in care while British and US courts decide their

Source:- The Times Friday
16 March page 16

FBI seizes children from
Internet baby broker’s home

Social workers have removed the
three children from the home of the internet adoption broker at the
centre of the dispute over twin baby girls first sold to an
American couple, then to the Kilshaws from north Wales.

The FBI raided the home and took
computer records from the San Diego home of Tina Johnson on
Wednesday. Social workers then stepped in to remove the three
adopted children from the house Johnson shares with her girlfriend
and business associate Peggy Phile.

FBI spokesperson Jan Caldwell said
Johnson was under investigation by the FBI for possible fraud in
connection with the internet adoption brokerage that she runs.

Californian couple Richard and
Vickie Allen claim they legally adopted the twin girls after paying
£4,150 to Johnson. The girls remained with the Allens for six
weeks before the birth mother Tranda Wecker removed them.

Belinda and Kimberley Wecker were
then taken to Arkansas where the Kilshaws paid Johnson $12,000 to
arrange the adoption.

Johnson maintains she merely took
the fees to arrange the adoption, and did not sell the children to
the highest bidder.

Source:- The Times Friday
16 March page 22

Child health worker arrested
after four deaths

Police investigating the “unexpected
deaths” of four children on a paediatric ward at a Berkshire
hospital have arrested a hospital health care assistant.

Thames Valley police questioned the
unnamed woman, who worked on ward 24 at the Wexham Park Hospital in
Slough, after consultant paediatricians became concerned about the
number of deaths on the ward.

During the last eight months, four
children, who were all being treated for non life threatening
illnesses, died. This compares to the usual average of two or three
unexpected deaths a year.

The hospital has refused to comment
on whether the care assistant was the last member of staff with the
children before they died.

The hospital and police have refused
to name the children to protect their families.

Source:- The Guardian
Friday 16 March page 8

Pensioner benefit campaign
‘is a flop’

Many pensioners invited to claim
extra benefits in the government’s £15 million campaign,
received nothing, it has emerged.

More than two million older people
were targeted with letters from social security secretary Alistair
Darling last year, who were thought to be possible candidates for
the minimum income guarantee (MIG).

The Tories have acquired figures
however, that alleges only 82,000 claims were successful, and many
of those pensioners would have applied for the money anyway.

Shadow social security secretary
David Willetts said the figures demonstrated the campaign was “a
massive flop”.

The government launched the campaign
to combat fears that many pensioners were not getting money they
were entitled to. The television campaign was launched by Dame
Thora Hird.

Source:- Daily Telegraph
Friday 16 March page 14

Baby killer sent to

A 13-year-old boy who stabbed his
baby brother to death, was sent to a specialist unit in a mental
hospital, a judge said yesterday.

The boy, who was 12 when he stabbed
his brother 17 times with a kitchen knife and cut off the
six-month-old child’s hand last year, admitted manslaughter
due to diminished responsibility, but denied murder.

Mr Justice Toulson said at Bristol
crown court yesterday that the boy would be sent to a “medium
secure” special hospital unit.

An earlier hearing heard how the
attack happened at the brother’s home in the Withywood area
of Bristol.

Source:- Daily Telegraph
Friday 16 March page 15

Free computers for isolated

A £10 million government scheme
announced today will enable thousands of people living in poor or
isolated rural areas access to free computers.

Education minister Michael Wills
will announce that 12,000 homes in six deprived areas will be
“wired up”.

The move is designed to highlight
the government recognises poverty is as much a problem in rural
areas as inner cities.

Those given computers will include
farmers who could benefit from the internet. Training will also be

The computers are being installed in
areas of high deprivation to see if they increase employment
chances and reduce poverty.

The areas which will benefit from
the initiative are Framlingham in Suffolk, Alston in Cumbria,
Newham in east London, Brampton upon Dearne in South Yorks, east
Manchester and Blackburn.

Source:- Daily Telegraph
Friday 16 March page 14

Social workers are seen as

Social workers are perceived as
interfering, ineffective and excessively bureaucratic taking their
image to an all time low, a survey has revealed.

The survey from Community Care
magazine comes in the wake of a series of high profile cases
including the murder of eight-year-old Anna Climbie.

The poor image and consequent low
morale has resulted in an extreme shortage of staff.

Two thirds of social services
departments have reported difficulties in recruiting staff while
more than one in six jobs are vacant.

The Local Government Association
launched a campaign across England and Wales yesterday, in a bid to
restore confidence in social workers and boost recruitment.

Source:- The
Independent Friday 16/3/01 page 12

Gallery escapes court over
nude child photos

An art gallery escaped legal action
yesterday for displaying pictures of young children in the name of

Police made strong protests about
the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to take

Detectives fear the failure to
prosecute will send the wrong signals to those in the child sex
industry. Paedophiles have already threatened police to appeal
against their convictions for possessing similar material.

The investigation into the Saatchi
Gallery in north London followed four complaints by outraged
visitors who claimed the pictures were obscene and indecent.

Images included naked youngsters
wearing a variety of animal masks.

Detectives argued that some pictures
had clear sexual connotations, but reluctantly accepted that some
could be categorised as contemporary art, at a meeting with CPS
lawyers on Wednesday.

Police now fear a dangerous
precedent has been set which will help lawyers representing
paedophiles. They have called for changes to the Protection of
Children Act 1978.

Source:- Daily Mail Friday
16 March page 17

Scottish newspapers

Poverty reigns unabated

The gap between rich and poor remains as stark as ever according
to the first detailed analysis of lifestyles comparing Scottish
political constituencies.

The profiles were prepared by the Public Health Institute
established last year by Susan Deacon, health minister, to advise
and drive the Scottish executive’s policies. The analysis
reveals that the areas traditionally renowned for low income, poor
health and high crime remain so, and are drifting further away from
well off communities in life opportunity and expectancy.

Professor Phil Hanlon, director of the institute, said: “This is
an attack on complacency. I think we almost need to make people
agitated, if not angry, about some of these things so that they can
engage at a local level.” The profiles are expected to play a major
part in forthcoming local and general elections.

Source:- The Herald Friday 16 March page 6

Controversial asylum plan dropped

Plans to convert an A-listed hotel in the centre of Glasgow into
a large hostel for asylum seekers and refugees, have been dropped
after the national asylum support service indicated it would turn
down the application. Private developer, the Leena Corporation, was
effectively forced to abandon its plans to convert the three-star
Kelvin Park Lorne Hotel. The company gave no reasons for its

Source The Scotsman Friday 16 March page 6




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