A summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

Including Saturday and Sunday.

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.

Foster care girl wins fight to go to

Wrexham Council reversed its decision preventing a teenage girl
in foster care from taking a place at a private school.

Suzanne Turley will begin the next term in September at
Gordonstoun school in Scotland.

Turley was originally denied the place at the school, attended
by the Prince of Wales, even though her parents, foster parents and
grandparents were in favour. Her grandparents agreed to cover
£20,000 of the £38,000 costs.

Turley complained that social workers steadfastly resisted her
switch from Yale, a sixth form college to Gordonstoun.

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales Peter Clarke
intervened last week, before Turley, who was in care due to
“difficulties” with her parents, was invited to the council’s
headquarters to hear its decision.

She said: “I am very disappointed that it had to come to this in
the first place. The way they have treated me is disgraceful. I am
just grateful they have finally listened to my views.”

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 July page 5

Blair loyalist quits with parting shot at public-sector

Clive Soley announced on Friday he is to stand down as chairman
of the parliamentary Labour party and fired a shot at the prime
minister over the increased private sector involvement with public

Blair loyalist Soley said the proposals would not work if they
demoralised the staff working in public services.

He admitted Labour MPs were worried over the plans and urged the
prime minister to spell out his intention.

Soley said: “We need to be acutely aware of the morale of people
working in the public sector. We have to carry them with us. We
must not repeat the mistake of our first term, when our criticism
of teachers meant they did not support some of the changes.”

Source:- The Independent Saturday 7 July page 1

Lilley calls for cannabis to be available in

Former Tory deputy leader Peter Lilley re-opened the cannabis
argument on Friday as he called for the drug to be sold in
government-licensed outlets.

His comments prompted speculation that the Tories might be the
first political party to call for the decriminalisation of soft

A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed the position had not
changed and pointed out the dangers of cannabis.

The former secretary of state for social security said: “What we
have actually is the perverse situation that by making cannabis
illegal it is only available through illegal sources, which are the
same channels that handle hard drugs. So we are forcing cannabis
users into the arms of hard drug pushers.”

Source:- The Independent Saturday 7 July page

Charity saves last refuge in UK for young

The last remaining London refuge for runaway children has been
able to reopen thanks to a £630,000 grant from the Children in
Need charity.

A refuge in Leeds, the last remaining open hostel in the country
outside London, was forced to close last year, followed by closure
of the 12-bed London Refuge, managed and run by St
Christopher’s Fellowship and the NSPCC.

There are 273 children who hit the streets everyday. Those under
16 cannot stay in hostels and are not entitled to housing benefit.
Regulations prevent homelessness organisations taking in children,
while statutory agencies are unwilling to take responsibility
unless they are running from care or are subject to protection

Penny Dean, head of the Children’s Society, said: “Every
refuge outside London has closed because they are so expensive to
run. London has over 30 boroughs to contribute, but that’s
not an option elsewhere. We need a national strategy. There is no
other way.”

Source:- The Observer Sunday 8 July page 9

Police end war on cannabis smuggling

The hunt for cannabis dealers and smugglers is to be abandoned
as the government relaxes its policy on drugs, and has told law
enforcement officers to concentrate on hard drugs instead.

Under the new strategy, large-scale cannabis seizures will only
take place as a by product of investigations into Class A

Last week a project began in Brixton, south-west London, whereby
people caught in possession of cannabis were cautioned and
prosecuted was abandoned.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 8 July page 1

Cannabis poll reveals demand for

A significant number of British voters want cannabis to be
legalised, according to a study.

The survey, by NOP shows that almost half the people in Britain
are in favour of legalising it, or have no strong view on the

Fifty one per cent still oppose legalisation and of this figure
most are in the over 55s bracket.

The figures are in stark contrast to 1996, when 66 per cent of
people opposed legalisation of the drug.

Source:- The Independent Sunday 8 July page

Child benefit to keep pace with inflation

Children will be placed at the centre of Labour’s second
term in power, as Gordon Brown has announced that child benefit
will be increased each year in line with inflation.

The Chancellor’s pledge will be at the centre of the
cross-government review aimed at ensuring children “do not fall
through the net”.

The Whitehall wide policy unit will now research what needs to
be done to help poor children, pregnant teenagers and youngsters
who turn to crime.

Source:- The Independent Sunday 8 July page

Union launches drive to block health

A nationwide poster campaign will continue the ongoing war
between the prime minister and trade unions over the proposed
private sector involvement with public services.

The posters will show companies waiting to take up contracts as
“fat cats” aiming to cream off profits at the expense of the
patients and tax payer.

The campaign, lee by the GMB union and headed by John Edmonds,
will be funded by £250,000 from its usual £650,000 annual
contribution to Labour.

A campaign against a sitting Labour government has not been
witnessed since 1978-9 during the ‘winter of discontent’.

Source:- The Sunday Times 8 July page 12

Criminals may get ‘part-time’ jail

Prisoners are to be allowed home with their family, go out with
friends and work during the day under radical plans being
considered by ministers to create “part-time jails”.

David Blunkett admitted last week the proposals to send
prisoners back to jail at weekends or over night would “fill people
with dread”, but could lead to a different kind of temporary

The plans would help reduce the pressure on Britain’s
already overcrowded prison system. Ministers also hope they might
be able to cut crime by reducing the numbers that re-offend.

Source:- Sunday Times 8 July page 3

Care homes are starved of funds

Christopher Booker’s notebook on the forced closure of
care homes due to strapped social services budgets.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph 8 July page 12

Blunkett endorses cannabis debate as policy line

David Blunkett called for “an adult, intelligent debate” on the
issue of the legalisation of cannabis.

The home secretary said the government would not change “out of
the blue” its existing policy of opposing the legalisation of
cannabis, but he said he would be interested in a debate taking
place at Downing Street.

Blunkett told Sky News the government would continue to send out
the message to children that drugs should be avoided, but on the
question of soft Class B drugs he admitted: “There is room for an
adult, intelligent debate.”

Source:- The Times Monday 9 July page 2

No takers in plan to privatise Brixton jail

The first attempt to privatise jail has hit problems as there
are no companies coming forwards to bid for Brixton jail.

Martin Narey, director general of the prison service, is
preparing to admit the plan to invite the private sector to manage
the jail has ended in failure.

Bids have to be submitted by July 18 but the four main private
prison companies have shown no interest.

The call for bids was seen as a warning to other failing prisons
that unless standards improve, the private sector would take them
over. But with no private sector interest, such warnings will be
seen by unions as empty threats.

Source:- The Times Monday 9 July page 6

Mentally ill denied new medication

Discrepancy in Britain over the prescribing of drugs for
schizophrenia means that many patients have to live with disturbing
side effects, according to research.

According to the study by the Zito Trust, 5 per cent of patients
in Nottinghamshire receive the latest drugs, while 44 per cent
receive the drug in East Sussex and south-west London.

Older drugs can cause muscle spasms that can become permanent,
the study says.

People with mental health problems will benefit from a new NHS
body, the National Institute for Mental Health in England, to start
today, which will ensure the best care available is provided.

It will ensure all information about the most effective care is
passed on to all mental health service providers in England.

Source:- The Times Monday 9 July page 8

‘Abused’ son sues for mother’s

A man who claims he was abused by his mother from the age of
five will appear in court today to claim a share of her estate.

It is the first attempt by an adult to win a share of a dead
parent’s estate on the ground of the parent causing the child
psychological problems.

Raymond Marks alleges that his mother Marla had full sexual
intercourse with him when he was 13. Marks went on to develop
bulimia and subsequent disabilities.

His mother, who suffered phobias, anxiety neurosis and
depression died in 1999 and left her son nothing.

Marks will make his case at the high court in London today.

Source:- The Guardian Monday 9 July page 7

Scottish newspapers

Police hunt female paedophile

Police in Scotland have stepped up the hunt for a female
paedophile wanted for more than 60 offences across the UK. While
Nottinghamshire police are leading the hunt, the woman is being
linked with a series of assaults on young children in the Lothians
which began in 1992. The woman’s appearance and approach is
strikingly similar in each case. She approaches parents at home
claiming to be a social worker investigating allegations of neglect
or abuse and asks to examine the child. While she has run away on
many occasions when challenged, she is believed to have sexually
assaulted dozens of children many of them under the age of four
years. It is believed she has recently been operating in the
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire areas.

Source:- The Herald Monday 9 July page 3

Free personal care could devastate social work

A senior health manager has warned that the introduction of free
personal care could result in an explosion of demand for services
social work departments in Scotland would find impossible to meet.
Catriona Renfrew, director of commissioning at Greater Glasgow
Health Board, made the warnings in a written response to the care
development group leaked to the media. Renfrew predicts that many
unpaid carers will withdraw their services triggering the explosion
in demand on social work departments.

She also criticises some aspects of the Royal Commission on Long
Term Care for the Elderly as “vague and untested in practice”. She
goes on to predict that the introduction of free personal care as
defined by the royal commission will result in a huge perk for the
elderly middle classes, but do little to benefit the large numbers
of older people currently desperately in need of help. Linda
Dunion, assistant director of Age Concern Scotland, described
Renfrew’s comments as “disappointing”, and said that the
senior manager had “lost sight of the fact that older people
deserve, and are entitled to expect, a decent level of care”.

Source:- The Scotsman Monday 9 July page 7

Prison role for heroin smuggler

Sandra Gregory, previously jailed in Thailand for heroin
smuggling, has been recruited as one of three former offender
advisers on the Scottish prison system – the first time such
a move has been made. Gregory, a former teacher from Aberdeenshire,
served seven years of a 25-year sentence after being released as
part of the King of Thailand’s golden jubilee celebration in
1997. Along with former offenders Harry Conaghan and Chris
Tchaikovsky, who works for children’s charity the Aberlour
Trust, Gregory will provide reports to Clive Fairweather, chief
inspector of prisons in Scotland.

Source:- The Scotsman Monday 9 July page 1






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