A summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

Including Saturday and Sunday.

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.

Freed. But to what future?

The safety of James Bulger’s killers is already in doubt,
within hours of the home secretary announcing their release.

A newspaper appeared to breach an injunction banning
information, which might identify their whereabouts.

On Friday night, proceedings were being considered against
Manchester Evening News as the attorney general reiterated the high
court injunction.

The home secretary David Blunkett has warned vigilantes not to
pursue James’ killers, after he confirmed Robert Thompson and
Jon Venables were to be released.

The parents of the murdered two-year-old were informed on Friday
morning, of the decision to free the two men, as they no longer
posed an unacceptable risk to the public. They will be released on
licence, which would ensure their recall to prison if they should
step out of line.

They have served eight years and four months in separate local
authority secure units, and are to be released to secure half way
houses with new identities. They are banned from contacting the
Bulger family, each other or from visiting Merseyside without the
written consent of their probation officers.

The decision implements the recommendation made by the lord
chief justice Lord Woolf, last autumn that the killers should serve
a minimum of eight years.

He said the alternative to send them to a young offenders’
institution would “be likely to undo much of the striking progress”
they had made inside the secure units, because the atmosphere in
the institutes was so corrosive.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 23 June page 1

Bulger killers go free

Double page spread about the release of James Bulger’s killers.
Includes how the two youths were rehabilitated, Blunkett’s
comment and how years of planning the new identities could be
wrecked by vigilante action.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 23 June page 4-5

Why migrant single mothers are seeking a new life

Single mothers of Somali origin are flooding to Britain because
they claim their children will have a much better chance of going
to university in this country.

About 1,500 women are believed to have settled in Birmingham,
claiming they are the victims of domestic violence. But some have
been accused of exploiting legal loopholes to get welfare benefits
and homes.

Having fled the civil war eight years ago and been granted
asylum in Holland, the women have now decided their prospects will
be better in Britain.

The majority are single mothers and have made their views on
British education clear.

Some claim the competition for university places is less fierce

A Birmingham council source said: “They thought their children
had a better chance of getting into universities because there was
less to compete with over here. They didn’t have to get as
good qualifications.”

Birmingham council’s housing department has made 170 newly
repaired and furnished homes available for the women, which has
eaten into the social services budget, already more than £13
million in the red.

Source:- Daily Mail Saturday 23 June page 19

70 young killers will be freed early

The release of James Bulger’s killers could set a
precedence for 70 child killers, including many of the most brutal
young killers in Britain, to be freed early from prison.

Lawyers acting for the child killers are taking advantage of the
decision by the European Court of Human Rights that helped ensure
the freedom of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson.

The European court ruled in December 1999 that tariffs for
juvenile killers could not be set by the home secretary but only by
their trial judges, or the lord chief justice. Therefore, killers
who were originally detained for life, now must have their jail
terms reviewed by Lord Woolf.

Whitehall officials indicated that between 50 and 60 per cent
will apply for the right to leave prison early, and nearly all will

Among those eligible to see their sentences reduced are:- the
teenage killer of headmaster Philip Lawrence, two
fourteen-year-olds who laughed as they murdered a drunk on a park
bench, and a gang leader who killed a 14-year-old with a machete
outside his London school.

Source:- Sunday Times 24 June page 1

Social workers are sick leave champions

Social workers in children’s homes are the worst employees
for taking sick leave, according to new research.

Whereas the average worker takes 7.8 days a year, social
workers’ 19.2 days puts them at the top of the league of
workplace absence.

Owen Davies, national officer for social services at Unison,
said he was not surprised at the high figures.

“Staff who are looking after disturbed adolescents have to cope
with difficult and abusive behaviour and violence, which leads to
huge amounts of stress,” he said.

After social workers, driving examiners and civil servants took
the next highest figure of days sick leave per year.

By contrast, doctors and dentists take just 2.9 days.

Source:- Sunday Times 24 June page 5

Bulger killers could be exposed in weeks

The killers of James Bulger could be identified in weeks,
forcing the home office to make contingency plans for the
protection of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables.

Whitehall pessimism about the prospect of keeping the identities
secret was reinforced on Saturday as the first cracks appeared in
the elaborate operation to give them new lives.

One tabloid newspaper has recent photographs of the youths.
Attorney general Lord Goldsmith had to seek assurance from the
Sunday newspaper that it would not help identify them.

A source close to the process said: “We want to stick to Plan A,
but there is a series of contingency plans in place.”

Earlier this year, Thompson and Venables were granted lifelong
anonymity, but it is thought that several newspapers are preparing
to reveal the identities of the killers, if they show violent

Source:- The Observer Sunday 24 June page 1 and 2

Milburn: NHS care ‘not for

The row over Tony Blair’s plans to privatise public
services was defused as Alan Milburn insisted that NHS care “is not
for sale”.

The health secretary said unions who had threatened to withdraw
financial support from Labour could be given “no veto” over the
plans, but added: “The core NHS principles are not up for sale
– care will still be based on clinical need, not the ability
to pay, and services will continue to be free at the point of

General secretary of the GMB warned Blair there would be a “row”
over his plans. Unison also voted to review its £1.3 million
donation to Labour.

Source:- The Independent on Sunday 24 June page 8

Anarchists plan assault on detention centre to free

Anarchists plan to attack Britain’s flagship detention
centre for asylum seekers, and rip down its fences, in a bid to
free hundreds of refugees.

A group called The Wombles have announced instructions for a
‘day of destruction’ on 21 July, on the internet.

Activists have been told to converge of Campsfield House in
Oxfordshire, and anticipate a violent confrontation with the

Source:- The Observer Sunday 24 June 2001 page 4

Blunkett fears Bulger killers face attack from

The home secretary last night admitted that the two youths
convicted of murdering James Bulger are still in their secure
units, but could face real danger after their release.

As Jon Venables mother expressed fears that her son would be
killed within four weeks, David Blunkett gave a warning of the
danger of people inciting others to take vigilante action.

As Blunkett appealed for calm, James’ father Ralph Bulger
called for public restraint.

Blunkett cautioned the public and the media against providing
the emotional adrenalin that could lead to attacks on the two

Thompson and Venables, whom the parole board directed could be
released on life licence, are now the responsibility of the
probation service, which will supervise them when they leave local
authority secure accommodation.

Source:- The Times Monday 25 June page 1

Blair alerted over unions

Tony Blair should safeguard workers’ rights and reform
financial rules, before rushing into contracting out large sections
of public services, according to research.

The study from the Institute for Public Policy Research backs a
much wider use of private contractors to run local councils,
hospitals and schools.

It calls for radical reforms to ensure they succeed, and
predicts that unless employees pay and conditions are protected,
there will be a backlash from public sector unions.

Unison has already stated it opposed the privatisation of public

The report adds that safeguards are needed to ensure the staff
transferring from public to private sectors, have their conditions

Source:- The Times Monday 25 June page 2

Charity worker jailed on ‘false’ drugs

A deaf and disabled British charity worker is beginning a
10-year sentence in a remote prison in northern India.

Family and colleagues of the human rights campaigner Ian
Stillman, are to urge Jack Straw to plead his case urgently.

Stillman was arrested last August while travelling in the back
of a taxi. The taxi was stopped at a police road block as he slept
in the back of the vehicle.

He was forced to march to a police station despite discomfort
from his artificial limb, and was interrogated for hours.

He couldn’t lip-read and was forced to sign documents. A
bag containing 20kg of cannabis was produced, and the following day
he was dragged before a magistrate and remanded in a prison 40
miles away.

Judicial experts have condemned the trial as a “shameful

There were no finger prints and the taxi driver and a travelling
companion vouched for Stillman’s innocence.

Source:- The Times Monday 25 June page 7

Home secretary praises cannabis scheme

A ‘softly, softly’ approach to cannabis has been welcomed by
David Blunkett.

The home secretary praised a London scheme that will see people
caught with small amounts of the drug are given a caution, rather
than prosecuted.

Blunkett said he had told officers at Brixton that the plan
fitted in with his intention to target Class A drugs. He said it
made sense to concentrate police resources where they were most
needed, on fighting the spread of heroin and cocaine.

His comments represent a shift in government policy on cannabis,
which has always emphasised the need for a strict ban on the

Source:- The Times Monday 25 June page 8

Secret government report finds racism flourishing in

Half the frontline NHS staff from ethnic minorities, were
victims of racial harassment last year, according to a confidential
government report.

About a third suffered at the hands of their colleagues, whereas
a quarter was from NHS managers. Racial abuse was also dished out
from patients and public, with little done to protect staff.

The study by consultants Lemos and Crane, commissioned by the
department of health, said: “It would be safe to conclude that
racial harassment is still a pervasive phenomenon in the NHS,
largely unrecorded with little action taken to solve the problem,
or give redress to those affected.”

The findings show that racial problems in the NHS, was more
serious than previous surveys suggested.

The report follows a study from the King’s Fund last week,
which described high levels of racial harassment, and bullying of
black and Asian doctors.

Source:- The Guardian Monday 25 June page 1

Recruit refugees as police specials, says Yard

Refugees and asylum seekers should be recruited as police
special constables, according to Britain’s most senior ethnic
minority officer.

Assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur believes that a change in
the law would help boost the number of ethnic minorities in the
Metropolitan police, and help in the fight against racism within
the force.

Ghaffur also suggested recruitment targets for ethnic minority
officers should be set, and admitted that black and Asian officers
often complained to him of racism in the force.

In charge of operational crime strategy and policy for the Met,
Ghaffur thinks that refugees with useful skills could do a range of
civilian police jobs, and has sent proposals of his plans to the
home office.

Source:- The Independent Monday 25 June page

Scottish newspapers

Ministers in child crime row

The Scottish executive has been accused of dithering by
opposition parties for failing to bring forward proposals to raise
the age of criminal responsibility from eight to 12 years because
it fears a public backlash whipped up by the release of James
Bulger’s killers.

It is now feared that the proposal has been shelved altogether
in spite of an announcement by ministers last June that they wanted
to decriminalise the action of Scottish children under age 12 to
keep in line with European law. The proposal was put to the Law
Commission which should have delivered its recommendations in March
this year, but has announced that it will not conclude its
deliberations until the end of the year, if at all. Lawyers and
human rights groups anticipate a number of challenges to the
existing law under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Source:- Scotland on Sunday 24 June page 1

Ruling that 11-year-old is responsible for

A sheriff court has ruled that an 11-year is competent to be
held criminally responsible for his admitted crime of stabbing and
almost killing a girl in Edinburgh. In spite of two psychological
assessments that the boy had a mental age of eight, he will now be
held responsible. However the ruling also confirmed that he should
attend a children’s hearing rather than an adult court.

The victim’s family are angered by this decision seeking
for the boy to be dealt with at the high court in Edinburgh. The
row comes in the same week that the Scottish executive has
announced there will be a lengthy delay in the proposals to raise
the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years.

Source:- The Herald Monday 25 June page 7

Community learning centres set to double

The number of community schools in Scotland which integrate
education, social work, family support and health improvement
services is set to double over the next three years according to an
announcement to be made by Jack McConnell, education minister, at a
conference in Edinburgh today. McConnell will set a target of 800
primary and secondary new community schools by 2004 but will demand
a commitment from local authorities to finance these jointly with
the Scottish executive.

Source The Herald 25/6/01 page 4








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