By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.
Blair vows to embrace faiths
The prime minister has pledged to put religious groups at the
heart of government policy.
Tony Blair promised more church schools and a bigger role for
voluntary groups tackling social issues such as homelessness.
Blair’s plans were outlined in a speech to the Christian
Socialist Movement conference in London, but were undermined by a
report from the same group expressing concern at Labour’s
handling of asylum and crime.
Blair admitted with issues such as poverty, the government had
only just made a start.
He offered a partnership between the government and voluntary
groups saying: “Where you have the desire and ability to play a
greater role, we want to see you do so.”
Source:- The Times Friday 30 March page 2
Divorcees are child abusers, says rector
Church leaders and marriage guidance officials were outraged
yesterday after a village rector claimed that divorcing couples
should be investigated for mental and spiritual child abuse.
The Rev Roger Smith urged couples to stay together, despite
their indifferences, for the sake of their children. According to
the rector, children could cope with violence and drunkenness, but
divorce caused them to fail at school and become drug-addicted
The remarks were delivered in a church letter to three parishes
Middleton, Theberton and Kelsalecum-Carlton in Suffolk.
His bishop has distanced himself from the remarks.
Nick Clarke, spokesperson for the diocese and the Bishop of St
Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Right Rev Richard Lewis, said: “In the
Christian perspective there has to be compassion and understanding
for all families contemplating and going through divorce. To accuse
all divorcing parents of mental and spiritual abuse of their
children clearly lacks that compassion and understanding.”
Source:- The Times Friday 30 March page 13
Doctors breaking ‘free NHS’
Older people in care homes and sheltered housing are paying to
see an NHS doctor, undermining the principle that state medical
services should be free, charities said last night.
Up to 34 per cent of charitable homes for older people were
paying retainers of up to £10,000 a year to get attention, it
was revealed in an investigation of 183 homes. GPs commonly
requested fees averaging £41 a year for each resident, when
they were already collecting £45.05 from the NHS for each
patient over 75.
In some cases, the fees were over £150 a year with
additional costs for basic services such as flu jabs, the report by
the Association of Charity Officers states.
Although homes were using the charitable income to meet some of
these costs, the charges were passed on to residents, breaching the
principle that services should be provided according to need and
free at the point of use.
This week the government launched a strategy to eliminate age
discrimination in the NHS.
Tessa Harding, head of policy at Help the Aged, said: “It is
outrageous that older people in residential and nursing homes are
having to pay over the odds for something the rest of us get free.
I cannot believe it is the government’s intention that those
who need healthcare most should have to pay.”
Source:- The Guardian Friday 30 March page 5
Hammer attack man detained indefinitely
A man who used a hammer to beat his mother, aunt and grandfather
to death after hearing “voices” was ordered to be detained
indefinitely, Birmingham crown court heard yesterday.
Stuart Hall denied three counts of murder, but admitted
manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Last October he killed his mother Susan, aunt Lynda and
grandfather Clifford by striking them several times with a hammer
at the family home.
Mr Justice Hughes said that Hall was and still is mentally ill
with a form of paranoid schizophrenia.
The court heard how Hall had been hearing voices since 15, and
gradually became virtually housebound.
Source:- The Guardian Friday 30 March page 6
Immigrants dilute culture, says MP
A second Tory MP has claimed that immigrants dilute Anglo-Saxon
Britain, expressing support for MP John Townend.
Christopher Gill MP for Ludlow agreed with Townend, MP for
Yorkshire East, who, earlier this week, triggered uproar by
claiming immigration has led to an increase in crime.
Gill said a rise in asylum seekers had led to a “rats in a
bucket” syndrome of over population, putting pressure on the NHS
Gill has called for tighter restrictions on immigration and
asylum. He claimed he was resigning from the Conservative Party
after 40 years to join the Freedom Association.
He said: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that it
has been diluted. If you pour enough water on a double scotch, it
ceases to taste like whisky.”
Source:- The Independent Friday 30 March page
One in four children admits breaking the
Government research has revealed that youngsters have become
more active in almost all areas of criminal activity in the past
year, posing a setback for Labour’s efforts to combat youth
Children aged 11 to 16 have become more involved in handling
stolen property, shoplifting, vandalism, physical assault, theft
from school and fare dodging, according to a survey commissioned
from Mori by the Youth Justice Board. The results are intended to
help the board “fine-tune policies to prevent youth offending”.
Officials are concerned the survey reveals increased levels of
lawlessness last year among “regular school attendees”.
The number of children admitting to having committed assault
rose from 24 per cent to 31 per cent, while those confessing to
vandalism went up from 29 to 34 per cent.
Overall the number of children admitting to criminal behaviour
rose from 22 to 25 per cent.
Source:- The Independent Friday 30/3/01 page
Young drug drivers shock
Nearly one in four people drive while high on drugs, it was
However, of that number, only six per cent admitted their
ability to drive was damaged by the substances they had taken.
Three times that number, claimed taking drugs made them better
The internet study for youth motoring magazine Max Power of
mainly men aged 17 to 21 suggests the worst group of offenders may
have been identified.
Michelle Laidler, executive at Max Power, said: “Young people
are fully aware of the consequences of drink driving, but do not
realise taking drugs and getting behind the wheel can have equally
Source:- Daily Mail Friday 30 March page 23
Removals boss is jailed for smuggling
A man who used his removal business to smuggle illegal
immigrants into Britain was jailed for nine years yesterday.
Stephen Hobbs was given the longest sentence for human
trafficking given by a British court, after he smuggled 96
immigrants into the country.
His brother, John Hobbs, was sentenced to seven and a half years
for his “central role” and John’s son Darren Hobbs and friend
Warren Charge were sentenced to three years each for their
Police said the “business” based at a farm in the home counties
was the biggest operation in human trafficking which has led to
conviction in Britain.
Police were first alerted when a neighbour of one of the
brothers saw minibuses of people driven away from a farm in Hemel
Hempstead where John Hobbs lived.
Source:- The Independent Friday 30 March page
Newspapers criticised over treatment of asylum
Scottish newspapers came under fire yesterday over their
coverage of asylum seekers which was described as “negative to the
point of being hostile”. The tabloid press was singled out for
particular attention in the report Asylum, The Truth Behind the
Headlines, compiled by Oxfam and supported by the Scottish
Parliamentary Cross Party Group on Refugees and Asylum Seekers as
well as the Scottish Refugee Council.
Analysing Scotland’s six main newspapers the findings were
that barely one fifth of the 253 articles analysed were regarded as
“positive”, 35 per cent regarded as “balanced” and 44 per cent
regarded as “negative”. The report also slammed the use of negative
language such as “flood”, “wave” and “influx”.
Source:- The Herald Friday 30 March page 10