Summary of social care stories

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay

Ruling could free dozens of mentally disordered

A landmark judgment in an appeal court yesterday could lead to
the release of dozens of mentally disordered offenders from
Broadmoor and other high security hospitals in the UK.

Two sections of the Mental Health Act 1983 are incompatible with
the European Convention on Human Rights, three appeal court judges

In yesterday’s case, a person with paranoid schizophrenia
detained in Broadmoor successfully challenged procedures under
which psychiatric patients detained against their will can gain
release. The patient named as H was detained for the manslaughter
of a fellow hostel resident in 1988.

Solicitor for H, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, said: “This ruling will
force the government to change the law. It means that all patients
who are now detained without strong evidence will be entitled to

The judges ruled that sections 72 and 73 of the Mental Health
Act, which state how mental health review tribunals should decide
on the release of patients, breached the right to liberty under the
human rights convention.

Source:- The Guardian 29 March 2001 page 7

Ministers clash on youth jail releases

Home office ministers have clashed over discipline in youth
jails, according to a leaked Whitehall paper.

Prisons minister Paul Boateng objected to the introduction of a
more liberal approach claiming that rewarding well-behaved
juveniles with early release suggested it was the only way the
prison service could get them to behave.

Home secretary Jack Straw has rejected Boateng’s
criticism, backing Lord Warner’s demands for the introduction
of a more liberal juvenile system.

The incentive scheme aims to enforce discipline among
troublesome offenders by rewarding good behaviour with early
release, televisions in cells and allowing more home visits.

The clash occurred after governors complained the juvenile
detention and training orders did not give them the power to add
extra days to the sentence for bad behaviour.

Source:- The Guardian 29 March 2001 page 13

Woman, 93, waited 30 hours for bed in ward

A 93-year-old woman waited for more than 30 hours in a hospital
casualty unit before she was found a ward bed, an independent
survey has found.

The Casualty Watch study of 200 accident and emergency
departments revealed the incident of the 93-year-old suffering from
hypothermia and leg ulcers. The watchdog group found patients had
waited up to 54 hours before being admitted to a ward.

Health chiefs have down played the findings saying they paint a
misleading picture of casualty units.

Organisers of the survey have warned that over-stretched
accident and emergency units are forced to “warehouse” patients
before they receive specialist care.

Donna Covey, director of the Association of Community Health
Councils, said: “Resources are over-stretched in many hospitals and
it is the A and E departments that are taking the strain.”

Source:- Independent 29 March 2001 page 5

Checks on childcare workers

The national computer used to check the criminal records of
people working with children could have made mistakes, according to
MPs yesterday.

The opening of the Criminal Records Bureau should be delayed
until July unless police information on convictions is improved,
said a report by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

A study by the chief inspector of constabulary found error rates
of between 15 and 65 per cent and long delays in updating

The bureau will issue certificates disclosing criminal history
to the police with the national computer being the main source of

Chairman of the committee Robin Corbett said: “It would be
disastrous if errors on the police national computer let even one
undesirable person through the checking system, enabling them to
work with children or vulnerable adults.”

Errors included a man on a theft charge given bail because the
court thought he had no previous convictions. He was a murderer
released on licence. Another case was the conviction for a serious
sexual offence on a five-year-old child that went unrecorded.

Source:- The Times 29 March 2001 page 15

Escape into Ecstasy leaves gap in reality

Young people using the drug Ecstasy could face long-term brain
damage and become unreliable as friends and colleagues, research
has revealed.

Ecstasy significantly affects the part of the memory linked to
planning and remembering daily activities, producing similar
symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease and amnesia. Users suffer the
impaired ability to pass on messages, turn up to dates and pay

Experts have known for years that the use of Ecstasy can
significantly lower the levels of the brain chemical serotonin, an
important controller of mood, which is linked with depression and
can affect long-term memory.

Co-author of the report Tom Heffernan told the British
Psychological Society’s conference in Glasgow: “There is the
belief that soft drugs – which many consider Ecstasy to be
– should be legalised when in fact research, including our
own, suggests that regular use can have a very damaging affect on
your cognitive health.”

An estimated one million people in Britain take Ecstasy each

Source:- The Times 29 March 2001 page 10

Sex pest wrote to 60 household names

An anonymous sex pest has targeted over 60 female celebrities in
Britain with pornographic letters, according to the police.

Scotland Yard has widened its inquiry after several celebrities,
including Jan Leeming, stepped forward claiming to have received
similar letters.

After Crimewatch UK broadcast last night, police received
hundreds of calls and are particularly interested in a number
received from postal workers in the Bury and Wigan region.

The pest has been posting letters from a small area of Greater
Manchester for almost a quarter of a century.

Scotland Yard described the letters as vile and deeply

Source:- The Times 29 March 2001 page 3

Scottish newspapers

Four weeks’ free home care for older people

Older people leaving hospital are to receive up to four weeks’
free home care services starting in June, following an announcement
by the Scottish executive. Local authorities received written
guidance yesterday on implementing the initiative, first pledged by
health minister Susan Deacon last October in response to the Royal
Commission on Long Term Care. Home care charges vary across the
country with most social work departments charging between £6
and £7 per hour. Malcolm Chisholm, deputy minister for
community care, said: “We want to introduce greater consistency to
the system.”

Source:- The Herald 29 March 2001 page 6

Scots homeless figures fall

The number of homeless Scots has dropped for the fourth
consecutive quarter, according to the Scottish executive. Social
justice minister Jackie Baillie announced yesterday that
applications for housing from homeless people were down to 11,204,
a fall of seven per cent.

Source:- The Herald 29 March 2001 page 4

Social workers call for a salary review

A comprehensive review of the pay and conditions of social work
staff should be carried out as a matter of urgency, according to
Kingsley Thomas, social work spokesperson for the Convention of
Scottish Local Authorities.


Thomas acknowledged that recruitment of social workers was
becoming more difficult and morale was low. “All too often there is
failure to recognise the value of social work services which
provide vital support to the most vulnerable members of our
communities,” he said.


Thomas called for a similar review to that carried out for
education, enhancing the salaries of those at the frontline and
creating “super social workers”. He added: “The gap in pay between
social work and similar professions is wider than ever.”

Source:- The Herald 29 March 2001 page 13

Sex guide causes outrage

A teaching guide suggesting children as young as 11 should be
encouraged to discuss sexual acts, such as bondage, sado-masochism
and group sex, has been denounced as a “pervert’s charter” by
teaching unions, religious groups and family campaigners.


The guide, Taking Sex Seriously, published by
Healthwise, appears on a list of approved resources produced for
the Scottish executive by Learning and Teaching Scotland,
established in July 2000 to advise ministers on the school
curriculum. The manual proposes that a one-hour lesson should be
devoted to encouraging children to discuss every possible sexual


Following the recent abolition of section 28, churches, trade
unions and family campaign groups have responded with public
outrage. Tino Ferri, the national executive officer of the NAS/UWT
teaching union, said: “This sort of material encourages perversion
in our schools.” A spokesperson for the Scottish executive said:
“The new guidelines for sex education were developed through
consultation with parents’ groups, teachers and other
concerned parties and have the support of the mainstream of

Source:- The Scotsman 29 March 2001 page 1



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