A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom and Reg McKay.

Archbishop quits after row over paedophile

The Archbishop of Cardiff has left his position as head of the
Roman Catholic Church in Wales amid rumours that he has been

It is thought the Vatican disapproved of his handling of two
paedophile priests and believed it was unacceptable.

The Most Rev John Aloysius Ward temporarily left his post after
a BBC programme ‘Panorama’ revealed that he had
breached the church’s guidelines designed to protect children
from abuse. The archbishop is said to have ordained Father Joe
Jordan in 1998 knowing that he had been recently acquitted for
assaulting a young boy.

In a statement yesterday he said that a meeting with the Pope
had “come to the conclusion that my present good health could
quickly return to incapacity”.

He added: “I offered my resignation to Pope John Paul II and
immediately felt at peace.”

Priests within his diocese believe he is trying to “save

Source:- The Times Saturday 27 October page 15

Immigrants get citizenship classes

Immigrants who become British citizens will face “lessons in UK
life” under plans being prepared by the home secretary.

David Blunkett is also considering providing English lessons in
a bid to boost their opportunities of education and employment.

The proposals would apply to the 60,000 people a year who apply
for British citizenship.

Blunkett said that citizenship had already been introduced in
schools, and it was now time to consider helping new immigrants to
integrate into society.

Source:- The Times Saturday 27 October page 16

Social workers call strike

Social workers in Kirklees, west Yorkshire, have been called to
strike by public service union Unison, threatening to withdraw
emergency protection for children at risk.

The row is about a £900 pay increment, which staff say
should be back-dated to 1999.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 27 October page 12

Police officer wins depression payout

A police officer, who became depressed when working in a child
protection team, won a payout of £135,236 on Friday.

Fiona Rowntree suffered a breakdown in February 1996 and a
severe relapse in December 1997.

Her counsel Frank Burton QC told Mr Justice Nelson that she felt
thrown in at the deep end when she joined the child protection unit
in Croydon in June 1992. She claimed she did not receive proper
supervision, and suffered the consequences of under staffing.

The Metropolitan police is considering an appeal.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 27 October page 13

Unmarried couples should have right to adopt, says

Co-habiting couples should be given the same right to adopt as
married couples, an adoption group said on Friday.

The move, which would help gay partners to adopt, has so far
been rejected for fear of a public backlash. But a growing number
of MPs are backing the British Agencies for Adoption and

Currently only one person from a couple who live together is
legally allowed to adopt, even though social workers have to be
convinced both partners are in a long-term stable union

MPs are expected to voice support for the change in law on
Monday when the government’s Adoption and Children Bill
receives its second reading.

Source:- The Independent Saturday 27 October
page 2

Go soft on young criminals

Thousands of young criminals could walk away from courts with no
punishment under new guidelines.

JPs in youth courts dealing with under 17s are being told to
treat crimes such as vandalism or shoplifting as offences of

The sentencing guidelines say they should “often” attract only a
conditional discharge.

The move was immediately condemned by victims support groups,
who said such crimes are often highly damaging and costly for their

Source:- Daily Mail Saturday 27 October page 1


All he wanted was to love and be loved. Instead, he was beaten
to death by the couple adopting him. But, in truth, he was also the
victim of a system more concerned with political correctness and
union rights than the life of a defenceless child.

Source:- Daily Mail Saturday 27 October page 12 and

Thousands face ‘asylum camps’

Thousands of asylum seekers are to be detained in reception
centres as part of a government announcement on the ‘phased
withdrawal’ of the controversial voucher system.

In a u-turn on asylum policy, David Blunkett will announce that
the only way the voucher system can be dropped is by increasing the
number of reception and detention centres.

Pressure groups will welcome the end of the voucher policy,
which they say stigmatises refugees, but concerns were raised last
night over the rapid extension of ‘asylum camps’ for

Sally Price of Refugee Action said: “Humane reception centres
have to be better than the existing system. The concern is that
reception centres can easily turn into detention centres.

“We can only hope that decisions on asylum claims will become
genuinely faster and fairer as the government promised,” Price

Whitehall officials insist that if the government replaced the
voucher system with cash benefits, Britain would become a magnet
for asylum seekers.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 28 October page 5

Sports coaches ‘abusing

Hundreds of young athletes have been subjected to abuse and
bullying by coaches meant to groom them for stardom.

Research to be published on Monday will give parents fresh
concerns that paedophiles deliberately target children’s
sport. Children’s charity the NSPCC has learned that sports
such as swimming and football are investigating up to 50 complaints
of abuse by their coaches at any one time.

During 2000 and up to April this year, eight sports received 179
complaints of often criminal mistreatment by coaches. The Football
Association reported the highest number with 70.

Steve Boocock, director of the NSPCC’s new child
protection sports unit, said: “I think these totals significantly
underestimate the real extent of the problem.”

Source:- The Observer Sunday 28 October page 13

NSPCC closures will ‘put children at

The NSPCC is planning a series of closures in its child
protection units despite repeatedly calling for more caution to be
taken against abuse, and recording £9 million surplus earlier
this month.

Staff have been told of closures of 16 child protection schemes
in areas such as Cornwall and Cumbria. The move comes in the wake
of huge public anxiety surrounding the safety of vulnerable
children prompted by recent court hearings relating to the deaths
of Victoria Climbie and Lauren Wright.

Staff at the children’s charity are furious about the
planned closures.

Steve Anslow, general secretary of the British Union of Social
Work Employees, said last night: “People are very angry and
depressed. They are extremely worried that child protection is
going to be damaged. It will have an effect, no doubt about it.

“In some of these areas where these projects operate, the
services they provide are really the only ones of that nature being
provided in that area,” he added.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph Sunday 28 October page

Prisoners take off tags and go on run

Seventy seven prisoners, many guilty of violent offences, have
removed their home-curfew tags and gone on the run.

The missing men, were sent to prison for offences from
shoplifting to assault and were released having served a third of
their sentence on the condition they wore electronic tagging
devices, reported to police stations and observed a nightly

Oliver Letwin, shadow home secretary, said the fact that 77
people had gone on the run signified the scheme had failed.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph Sunday 28 October page

I begged the social workers to let me save my grandson
from the couple who killed him

The grandfather of the four-year-old boy, who died at the hands
of his adoptive parents, has revealed how he pleaded with social
workers to let him look after the boy.

James Sweeney, who had already taken in one grandchild by his
daughter’s previous marriage, tried desperately to prevent
John Smith being put up for adoption by Brighton and Hove social
services, who placed the boy on the at-risk register. Sweeney was
refused due to his age of 71 years.

John endured appalling injuries at the hands of Simon and
Michelle McWilliam for six months before one of them beat him to
death at their home in Fishergate, West Sussex.

Sweeney and his family are now calling for a change in law to
create a new offence of causing death through cruelty or neglect,
which would carry a maximum sentence of 14 years.

The McWilliams were jailed for eight years for child cruelty,
but they could not be charged with a more serious offence because
it could not be proven which one of them inflicted the

Source:- The Mail on Sunday Sunday 28 October page

Refugee voucher system is scrapped

The controversial asylum voucher scheme, which costs £15
million a year in administration, will be gradually phased out, the
home secretary will announce today.

David Blunkett will reveal an overhaul of the policy, which will
mean an expansion of the number of reception centres for asylum
seekers located around the country. The centres will provide food,
healthcare and legal help.

An American style green card system will be introduced to allow
thousands of workers to enter Britain each year

Blunkett’s statement will mark a reversal of the voucher
and dispersal policy introduced by Jack Straw.

Source:- The Times Monday 29 October page 13

Prince to give youths a £20 night out

Teenagers in one of the poorest areas in Britain will receive
leisure vouchers to the tune of £20 in a scheme to be launched
by the Prince of Wales tomorrow.

Prince Charles is concerned that young people in remote rural
areas have low job prospects and little social activity.

Around 300 children in St Dennis, Cornwall, are thought to be
entitled to the vouchers, which will be handed out next spring.

Ideas put forward by the teenagers aged 14 to 15 include surfing
and life saving courses, canoeing, buying music and disco equipment
and organising a trip for disabled young people.

Source:- The Times Monday 29 October page 13

New law may boost rights for fathers

Divorced and separated mothers who deny their former partners
access to the children, could face community service orders and
fines under plans to go to the lord chancellor next year.

Estranged parents in conflict may also have to attend parenting
classes and anger management courses to co-operate over child

The recommendations are expected to come from the Children Act
sub-committee of lord chancellor’s family law advisory

Source:- The Guardian Monday 29 October page 1

Blunkett under pressure to ease law on

The home secretary is facing mounting pressure to relax the law
on ecstasy following his proposals to reform the cannabis laws.

The government’s advisory council on misuse of drugs is
following up new evidence that suggests ecstasy is not as harmful
as heroin or cocaine, and could be downgraded to a Class B drug,
which would halve the maximum sentence for possession to three

David Blunkett, who received backing from foreign secretary Jack
Straw yesterday, for his proposed reforms of the cannabis laws,
strongly opposes changing ecstasy from its Class A status: “He
believes it is a highly dangerous drug that should remain a Class A
drug. He has no intention of changing that,” said a home office

Source:- The Guardian Monday 29 October page 13

MPs debate curbs on adoption of overseas

Measures to punish people who adopt children from abroad without
first gaining approval, will be discussed by MPs today.

The Adoption and Children Bill will receive its second reading
in the House of Commons. It will be a criminal offence to adopt
overseas and bring the child back to Britain without prior vetting
from an adoption agency, under the Bill.

People breaking the law could face a 12-month prison sentence or
an unlimited fine.

The tough stance follows the case of Judith and Alan Kilshaw who
bought twins from Californian adoption broker over the

The couple adopted twin girls after paying £8,000 and
public outcry over the couple’s behaviour prompted the
government to tighten the law on overseas adoption.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Monday 29 October page 12

Magistrates call for prostitution to be legalised in
overhaul of sex laws

Prostitution should be legalised in a radical reform of
Britain’s sex laws, London magistrates will urge today.

They will tell the lord chancellor that the court system has
become clogged with cases involving prostitutes involved in vicious
circles of soliciting, fines and prison.

The magistrates behind the proposals are angry that while
hundreds of prostitutes are fined every week for soliciting, very
few pimps are brought to court.

Christine Field, one of the magistrates heading the move, said:
“We now need a different focus to end the curb crawling, and target
the pimps and try to go along with the model in the Netherlands
where they have clean houses for prostitutes.”

Source:- The Independent Monday 29 October
page 1

Scottish newspapers

New strategy to help “born to fail”

Scottish executive ministers will this week announce new plans
to help children who are “born to fail”, and who may be unknown to
care services.

The move comes after the death of three-year-old Kennedy
McFarlane, who was killed by her mother’s boyfriend in
Dumfries in May last year. An internal inquiry found that a range
of health and social care staff had ignored warning signals, and
the Scottish executive commissioned a national review on how to
avoid a repetition.

The review’s twelve recommendations will call for more
integrated services, and children’s services to be treated as
a single service as pioneered by some authorities such as Stirling
Council. The report is expected to be published on Tuesday.

Source:- Sunday Herald 28 October

Couple’s 20-year reign of abuse

Detectives believe that couple, Neil and Hannah McNeil, are
responsible for one of Scotland’s worst child abuse

The McNeils were found guilty of sexually abusing five children
over 20 years, filming their abuse and selling the films worldwide.
Found guilty at Glasgow Court – sitting on a Saturday for the
first time since the 1920s – the McNeils denied the offences
saying the victims had fabricated the charges in order to claim
criminal injuries compensation.

Neil McNeil was found guilty of eight charges of gross sexual
abuse of children, while Hannah McNeil was convicted of four
charges including having sexual relations with an underage male
victim. The McNeils will be sentenced next month.

Source:- The Scotsman Monday 29 October









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