A summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.

Church to act on paedophile priests

Child abuse will be eradicated in the Catholic Church under new
procedures to be implemented by Catholic bishops in England and

It has been agreed that 50 recommendations made by Lord Nolan in
a report on improving child protection will be adopted “with
immediate effect”.

From now on, any clergy convicted of child abuse will be
defrocked, all staff will be police checked and there will be a
database of all applicants for priesthood.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac
Murphy-O’Connor yesterday spoke of his regret at “mistakes”
he and others have made.

When he was bishop of Arundel and Brighton, he allowed Michael
Hill to continue his ministry despite reports of child abuse. Hill
was later sentenced to five years for abusing a boy with learning
difficulties while he was chaplain at Gatwick airport.

O’Connor said at a conference yesterday: “The Church must
become the safest of places for children and an example of best
practice in the whole field of child protection.”

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 28 April 2001 page

Drugs that give shy children confidence

Doctors could face a surge of parents demanding the drug Luvox,
which makes shy children more confident.

An American study has found that children on the drug were less
inclined to panic when left on their own and made friends more

The findings have raised concerns that schools, parents and
doctors are choosing solutions to problems that would be better
treated with therapy, rather than drugs.

Problems that were previously regarded as growing pains or
adolescence, now have names and cures.

Hundreds of thousands of children are prescribed Ritalin for
attention deficit disorder, and some schools encourage parents to
put children on the drug for quieter homes and classrooms.

Critics claim the prescription drugs gloss over deeper problems
linked to how children are brought up.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 28 April 2001 page

Darling pledges ‘new model’

Alistair Darling promised a radical reform of the welfare state
yesterday, should Labour be re-elected.

The social security secretary outlined plans to make people
independent rather than paying out state benefits.

In a speech in Edinburgh, Darling said: “We are seeing a
fundamental shift towards our vision of a welfare state that is
much more than basic protection and insurance, but instead plays an
active role in helping people to become independent. A welfare
state that helps people when they need it, but that also helps them
to be self-sufficient.”

He added that those who worked would see a benefit and those who
saved would be rewarded for their thrift.

Source:- Independent Saturday 28 April 2001 page 8

Arsenal! Machine that reads minds gives disabled

A computer that can read thoughts and be controlled by
brain-power alone, will give hope to thousands of disabled people
throughout Britain.

The machine’s developers hope it will enable paralysed
people to type, play computer games and even steer their own
wheelchairs using mind power.

Cathal O’ Philbin, a severely disabled man from
Walthamstow, north London tested the mind reading Adaptive Brain
Interface (ABI), and found that after three hours practice he was
able to write a message by thought alone. His words were:- “Arsenal
Football Club.”

O’Philbin, who has spinal muscular atrophy which has
progressively taken away his ability to control his arms and legs,
and whose voice is now deteriorating, believes the system will
really help him to retain his ability to communicate.

ABI cost £1 million to develop but needs no surgery to
implant devices in the head. Instead, electrodes are attached to a
£150 plastic cap that is placed on the user’s head and
is attached to a personal computer running Windows 2000 and
specially designed software.

Source:- The Sunday Times Sunday 29 April 2001 page

Chaos as 14,000 asylum seekers go missing

The government’s asylum dispersal scheme, which sends
asylum seekers to different parts of the country, is in disarray
with thousands refusing to leave the capital, or returning to
London immediately after they have been placed elsewhere.

Local authorities, as a result, are struggling to keep track of
hundreds of children who are missing out in school places. Since
the dispersal scheme was introduced 12 months ago, about 14,000
asylum seekers have just not turned up to coaches supposed to take
them to their new locations.

The scheme was designed to ease the burden from authorities in
south east England, where the majority of asylum seekers had
settled. The Home Office hoped that 65,000 people would be
re-housed across Britain in the first year.

In fact, just 21,072 have been successfully re-housed as
families are reluctant to be sent to unfamiliar parts of the

Chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service Keith Best
said: “The whole system is in total meltdown. I only hope the
government will have the courage after the election to scrap the
system and say that if people are going to be dispersed, it should
only be on the basis of their agreeing to it.”

Source:- The Sunday Times Sunday 29 April 2001 page

Smith orders £3bn lottery funds spree

Community projects, sports and arts will benefit from an
additional £3 billion from lottery distributors in a post
election spending spree.

Culture secretary Chris Smith ordered the spree following
criticism of a £3.45 billion reserve which bodies like the
sports council have built up.

Alongside normal lottery annual spending, up to £9 billion
will be spent in four years on voluntary groups, sports centres and
theatres, nearly double the normal amount.

Ministers fear, however, that if Lottery ticket sales continue
to dwindle, two bodies could have spent their reserves by 2005. The
New Opportunities Fund, set up to divert funds to community-based
education, health and environment projects, and the National
Lottery Charities Board, would have no reserve funds and be forced
to slash spending.

Source:- Independent Sunday 29 April 2001 page 13

Shock rise in hard drug use among pupils

Hundreds of thousands of Britain’s school children have
meddled with heroin and cocaine and many more use cannabis and
amphetamines on a weekly basis, according to a new survey.

More than one in 100 boys said they have tried heroin, at the
age of 12, and a similar number of 11 year olds said they had tried
cocaine. Twice as many had used cannabis, glue or had sniffed

The findings are based on questionnaires filled out by 20,000
children in 67 secondary schools last year and contradict the
government’s claims that hard drug use among juveniles is

Jeremy Gluck of the Adolescent Assessment Services, the
Swansea-based consultancy that carried out the survey on behalf of
local authorities said: “Drug use is much more extensive than we
thought. The sheer numbers involved are worrying. Some totals were
so high that we genuinely didn’t want to believe them.”

Source:- The Observer Sunday 29 April 2001 page 4

Asylum translators lost for words

Desperate Home Office uses inexperienced students to interpret
tales of terror as refugees plead to stay

Source:- The Observer Sunday 29 April 2001 page 12

Betrayed pensioners backed by over-50s

The erosion of the state pension and the dismantling of free
long-term care have resulted in a generation growing old with a
strong sense of betrayal and injustice, leading pensioners’
campaigner will claim today.

Former trade unionist Rodney Bickerstaffe will warn politicians
that the growing focus on means testing is alienating millions of
voters today at the National Pensioners Convention in

“There are 11 million pensioners in the UK, out of a population
of 59 million, and their numbers are growing. Increasingly, the
over 50s are also seeing themselves as affiliated with pensioners
as a social group. This makes them a pretty powerful and
unstoppable group,” Bickerstaffe said at the weekend.

He criticised the government policy of means testing benefits
for older people which he believes requires them to “parade their

Source:- The Times Monday 30 April 2001 page 7

Jailed mothers test baby age limit

Two women prisoners will today ask a high court to rule that the
Home Office’s upper age limit of 18 months for babies in
prison is unlawful, in a bid to prevent their toddlers being taken
from them and placed into care.

The case is brought under the Human Rights Act 1998 and is the
first challenge to the rule.

The two women will seek a confidentiality order before the
hearing today and their lawyers were reluctant to disclose
information about their personal circumstances yesterday.

The two children are believed to be over 18 months and will have
to go to foster parents unless the court intervenes. One woman is
serving a five-year sentence and the earliest she will be released
from jail is in one year’s time. The other has been jailed for
eight years and faces deportation at the end of her sentence.

Judges will take into consideration the permanent psychological
damage that young children may endure as a result of being parted
from their mother. The women’s lawyers will argue that the
prison service is ignoring this under its current policies.

Source:- The Guardian Monday 30 April 2001 page 2

PM sanctions lottery boost for minorities

The prime minister has sanctioned the preferential allocation of
millions of pounds to ethnic minority projects bidding for lottery
funds, which will go towards a programme to end social exclusion
and deprivation of black communities.

Tony Blair approved the transition of £20 million lottery
money from the New Opportunities Fund to the millennium commission,
in order to fund big projects led by black and Asian groups.

The move follows reports that only 2.3 per cent of lottery money
went to ethnic minority groups although these groups make up 6 per
cent of the population.

Culture secretary Chris Smith sought approval for the special
measures as “it has proved more difficult to support capital
projects addressing ethnic minorities”.

The memo to Blair said: “Despite many government initiatives,
the Afro-Caribbean community still faces significant deprivation
and social exclusion which the lottery could, and should, do
something to address.”

Mike O’Connor, the millennium commission’s director
confirmed that following the plea, the prime minister had given the
go-ahead to the initiative.

Source:- The Guardian Monday 20 April 2001 page 5

Scottish newspapers

Cosla’s future under review

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities is carrying out a
review of functions and core activities after a year that brought a
budget deficit through member councils resigning.

Earlier this year, CoSLA was plunged into a financial crisis
when Glasgow, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire councils resigned.
Overall the organisation faces a £600,000 deficit on its
£2.5 million per annum budget.

An interim budget has levied a 3 per cent increase for the
remaining 29 members. The review of the organisation’s future
role is expected to be completed by June.

Source The Herald 30/4/01 page 4

Top secure prison wing to close

The secure unit at Shotts Prison in Lanarkshire is set to close
due to staff shortages. The Scottish Prison Service is blaming the
closure on recruitment problems and protracted negotiations with
the trade unions delaying the implementation of a proposed staff
attendance scheme.

The unit caters for high-risk prisoners who are having
difficulty in coping with mainstream prison and, as yet, there is
no indication where they will be accommodated.

Source The Scotsman 30/4/01 page 1

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