A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.

Youth prison is England’s most

A young offenders institution, which has set a record for
assaults, has become the most violent jail in England and Wales,
according to a survey.

Castington Young Offenders’ Institution in Northumbria had
222 recorded assaults in 2000-2001 for an average prison population
of 239. The survey by the Prison Reform Trust found the prison had
a 92.9 per cent assault rate.

A Prison Service spokesperson said people were only held there
for a short time, making it difficult to solve problems with the
offenders, and many of the assaults were likely to be minor.

Staff were trying to discover the cause of the rise.

Source:- The Times Thursday 2 August page 2

Few find any merit in youth curfew

A political row broke out yesterday about whether curfew schemes
for children under 16 will prove any more effective than they did
for those under 10.

No local authority applied the powers designed to keep children
off the streets at night when the government first launched the
scheme in September 1998.

The extended scheme, which came into effect yesterday, enables
police the power to apply for a curfew order as well as the local

Home office minister Beverley Hughes said she thought the scheme
would prove useful as police and local authorities could take a
child in breach of a curfew home to a safe place.

But opposition politicians and penal reformers were more

Chris Stanley, of the National Association for the Care and
Resettlement of Offenders, said the powers were popular with no-one
and difficult to enforce.

“They will apply to any child living in the area, not just those
who are causing trouble. Enforcement could prove to be a nightmare,
with tension and conflict between young people and the police
increasing, not diminishing, as a result,” he said.

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 2 August page 11

Imprisonment tale was invention of runaway

The boy who claimed to have been kept as a prisoner in a north
London flat for eight years, was in fact a runaway with a fertile
imagination, it emerged yesterday.

The boy was not kidnapped or physically abused. He comes from
the north of England, where he has a family. It is thought he ran
away from home four months ago.

Police issued a picture of the boy yesterday, who was found
wandering in a distressed state and crying near Tower Bridge in
east London in March.

The youth is believed to be 13 and told social workers, his
foster family and police he had been kept a prisoner since he was

Social services and police refused to elaborate on how the boy
came to be in care in London for four months, or whether his
parents had been in contact

His identity will remain confidential.

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 2 August page 6

Landlords who neglect houses may lose

Landlords who shirk their duty to maintain properties face
losing tenants’ housing benefit, under proposals from Stephen

The environment secretary will argue the abolition of unfit
housing must be central to the government’s drive against
child poverty. He will announce figures that show 2.4 million
children live in substandard properties.

Byers, who is determined to make housing a second term issue for
Labour, will promise to take 300,000 children out of substandard
property by 2004.

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 2 August page 5

Scottish newspapers

Childminder charged with murder

A registered childminder, Tina McLeod, appeared at Edinburgh
sheriff court yesterday, and was formally charged with the murder
of a one-year-old child in her care.

The baby, Alexander Graham, died at the Royal Hospital for Sick
Children, Edinburgh, on Friday night having been admitted earlier
in the day suffering from serious injuries to his head and

McLeod made no plea or declaration and was released on bail with
various conditions including that she is not allowed unsupervised
access to any child under the age of 10 years.

Source:- The Scotsman Thursday 2 August page 6

Juror claims child witnesses were abused by the

A juror in the abandoned trial of six men accused of child abuse
last night took the unprecedented step of speaking out to demand
legal reform on the treatment of child witnesses.

Christopher Garner waived his right to anonymity to condemn the
treatment of the children by the system. He said: “I feel these
children have undergone ritual abuse from the very system that
should put these matters straight. It has shown how the current
legal system is criminally behind the times.

“It is the legal system that should be on trial,” he said. The
trial was abandoned after an eight-year-old boy was found medically
unfit to continue giving evidence regarding the alleged sex abuse
of him and his 11-year-old sister.

Source:- The Scotsman Thursday 2 August page






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