A summary of social care news

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay

Man murdered wife then son and daughter

A man who killed his wife and children was sentenced to three
life sentences yesterday at Northampton crown court.

Philip Austin went into a rage as he argued with his wife,
Claire. He struck her with a mallet and then tried to strangle her
after pushing her down the stairs. He stabbed her in the kitchen
then battered the pet dog to death to stop it barking.

Austin changed his clothes and collected his eight-year-old son
Kieren and daughter Jade, seven, from school, drove round for a
while and bought them a fish and chip supper. After they had gone
to bed he followed them upstairs and killed them.

Police claim large doses of the adult drug Nytol were given to
the children. It did not knock them out, as there were signs that
both of them struggled as their father strangled them.

After the killings Austin fled the house and police found him in
his car in Cumbria three days later, soaked in blood after cutting
his wrist.

The court heard how Austin felt under stress because of debts
and because he could not cope with the family arrangements, which
meant he worked at night and looked after the children during the
day when they were not at school.

Psychiatrists said he was responsible for his actions as he was
not mentally ill.

Source:- The Times Friday 23 March page 17

Step family woes prompt many children to

Failing relationships between children and step-parents lead to
one in five children running away from home, research has

There are 2.5 million children living with step-families. The
youngsters account for the highest proportion of the 77,000
teenagers who run away every year.

Tony Blair announced a strategy to protect runaway children,
many of whom stay away from home for months after a family

At least 5,000 runaways resort to begging, stealing, drug taking
or prostitution with one in four sleeping rough. A further 10,000
runaways are physically or sexually abused.

Blair proposed that all runaway children should be interviewed
by an independent youth worker before they return home. They should
also be assigned a mentor who would liase between parents and
teachers to prevent them running away again.

The prime minister also proposed a nationwide network of refuges
to accommodate runaways under 16 as currently there is only one in
London – Centrepoint.

The report came from Downing Street’s social exclusion
unit and portrays a stark image of tens of thousands of children
who flee their homes after family rows, physical abuse or sibling

Penny Dean of the Children Society said that children in
step-families often felt jealous that their parents’ attention was
being diverted elsewhere.

Source:- The Times Friday 23 March page 17

Driver ‘speechless’ over Dover

A Dutch lorry driver claimed he did not know there were 60
illegal immigrants in the back of his lorry.

Maidstone crown court heard that Perry Wacker was speechless
when he arrived at Dover, and customs officials found 58 dead
Chinese immigrants on board with only two survivors.

Wacker said he believed he was carrying tomatoes and had not
seen the lorry loaded.

He said he was not concerned when stopped by customs officials,
as it had happened 25 or 26 times before.

Wacker claimed the first he knew of the real cargo was when he
was charged with murder – later reduced to manslaughter
– and people trafficking.

He denies 58 charges of manslaughter and four of conspiracy to
facilitate the entry of illegal immigrants.

The trial continues.

Source:- The Guardian Friday 23 March page 8

Fury over cardinal’s voting advice

Roman Catholic leaders have called on voters to consider
withholding support from candidates in the general election who
support a woman’s right to have an abortion.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, head of the Catholic
Church in England and Wales, said voting against pro-abortion
candidates was for the “common good” of the nation.

At a launch of a document ‘Vote for the Common Good’
the cardinal said abortion should be top of the list of questions a
constituent should ask.

Women’s sexual health groups have reacted furiously to the

A spokesperson for Brook, which provides free sexual advice for
young people, said it was a “sad day” if people were being told how
to vote.

“We would consider that to be a backward and disappointing step.
We don’t want to see a return to the days of back street
abortions,” the spokesperson said.

The Conservatives, who tried to turn abortion into a political
matter, welcomed the cardinal’s remarks.

David Lidington, home affairs spokesperson, said: “Moral
questions can never be divorced from politics, and the bishops are
to be congratulated for their strong support of marriage and the
traditional family.”

Source:- The Guardian Friday 23 March page 10

Schoolgirl pregnancies fall back to 1994

Schoolgirl pregnancies have fallen to their lowest level since
1994, according to latest government figures.

A study by the Office for National Statistics found the overall
rate for girls aged 15-19 had dropped by three per cent between
1998 and 1999 from 64.9 conceptions per 1,000 girls to 62.8.

The largest fall was in girls under 16 in England and Wales with
figures showing an 8 per cent fall in the rate of under-age

The research indicates that young people have taken heed of safe
sex messages, and will give ministers hope that the government can
halve the rate of teenage conceptions among under 18s by 2010 in

The teenage birth rate in Britain is the highest in western
Europe, three times higher than France and six times higher than in

Source:- Daily Telegraph Friday 23 March page 9

Rebel teenagers myth de-bunked

The stereotypical image of a teenager – rebellious,
insensitive and removed from family life – is a myth,
according to a study published today.

Most teenagers enjoyed a good relationship with their parents,
and turned to them for support, researchers have found.

The findings arise from two reports conducted by the Joseph
Rowntree Foundation by Oxford Brookes University and the University
of Lancaster.

Oxford Brookes researchers found the family relationship was
viewed as “a companionship between equals” in most of the
households of the 32 people aged 16 to 18 interviewed. Few parents
and teenagers agreed with the stereotypical image of teenagers.

Researchers at Lancaster found that most of the 57 families
interviewed described the family as a source of love, care, help
and trust.

Jane Ribbens McCarthy, co author of the Oxford Brookes report,
‘Pulling together, Pulling Apart’, said it showed
teenager stereotypes were wrong.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Friday 23 March page 9

British child migrants get apology for

British child migrants, who were sexually abused, flogged or
forced to undertake hard labour in Australian Roman Catholic Church
institutions, received an apology yesterday.

The apology came during a Senate inquiry into an emigration
scheme where around 10,000 children were forcibly sent to Australia
in the late 1960s.

Children were forced to do the work of men, and others were
subjected to systematic abuse, sexual assaults and whippings.

In a joint submission to the hearing yesterday in Sydney, two
Catholic Church organisations said: “We are painfully aware that
some children suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse. This
is a deep source of shame and regret for us.”

A $1 million sum had been allocated to allow former child
migrants to travel back to their country of origin, particularly to
meet relatives, the groups said. A similar sum had been spent on

The results of the Senate inquiry are expected in May.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Friday 23 March page 21

Scottish newspapers

Methadone programme under fire

Glasgow’s methadone programme where heroin users are
prescribed the synthetic opiate to help them break their addiction
has come under fire as official statistics reveal that methadone
users in the city have increased from 1,000 to 4,000 since

Critics say the programme simply replaces one drug with another
while Dr Laurence Gruer, consultant for the Greater Glasgow Health
Board, stated that ending the programme would have “catastrophic”
social effects. Councillor Jim Coleman of Glasgow City Council,
said: “The methadone programme has grown so fast that everyone has
taken their eye off the ball.” Dr Tom Gilhooly of the Glasgow
methadone programme said that the scheme should be extended so all
who needed treatment received it.

Glasgow Council social work department and the Greater Glasgow
Health Board are now to undertake a joint review to consider the
best way to proceed and what improvements can be made.

Source:- The Herald Friday 23 March page 11

No winter crisis in spite of increased

The Scottish executive yesterday denied claims that they avoided
a backlog of delayed discharges this year because of a mild winter
reducing demand. Good management, planning and extra resources were
cited by Neil Campbell, head of the winter performance group for
the NHS in Scotland, as the reasons a crisis had been avoided.
Demand on health services had increased by 2 per cent in 2000/01
compared with the same period of the previous year. Including the
cost of flu vaccinations for the over 65s, a total of £85
million had been invested in the winter campaign.

Source:- The Herald Friday 23 March page 9



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