A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom.

Asylum seekers will be given ID cards

A £350 million overhaul of the government’s asylum
policy will include identity cards to be issued to all asylum
seekers, David Blunkett announced yesterday.

Ministers are also considering paying cash to applicants via
electronic money transfers which will replace the voucher

The home secretary is to build four accommodation centres to
hold 3,000 asylum applicants while their cases are heard. If they
prove successful, further centres will be built nationally to hold
an estimated 30,000 asylum seekers.

New immigrants will be held in induction centres for several
days, and all asylum seekers are to report in regularly to a
network of centres around the country.

To tackle the backlog of 50,000 appeal cases, a further 70
courts will be provided plus an extra 114 immigration

In a statement to the Commons, Blunkett said: “The message at
home and abroad must be crystal clear, but tough – sending a
signal to people throughout the world that the United Kingdom is
not a soft touch.”

Source:- The Times Tuesday 30 October page 1

Scepticism greets new policies on asylum

The government’s changes in asylum policy were met with
scepticism from refugee groups yesterday, which said it was too
early to tell whether the plans would solve all the problems.

There was general backing for the decision to scrap the voucher

Nick Hardwick, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said:
“It’s excellent news that these humiliating and demeaning
vouchers are going. However, we have concerns with the proposed
smart card system.”

“We would be concerned if they become cards which asylum seekers
have to show to prove they are entitled to services – it
would be very unwelcome if school secretaries and doctors’
receptionists suddenly start deciding who does and doesn’t
get access to their services,” he added.

Alistair Mackenzie of Asylum Aid said he welcomed the abolition
of the voucher scheme but wanted to see the details of plans for
accommodation centres before deciding if they would improve the

David Blunkett plans to publish a white paper within weeks,
followed by legislation in this session of parliament.

Source:- The Times Tuesday 30 October page 2

Police action curbs refugee pickpockets

Pick pocketing offences on the London Underground have halved as
a result of a police operation against three families of asylum

The number of commuters pickpocketed on the tube was 5,035 up to
September, compared with 10,626 in 1999-2000.

British Transport police said the number of offences rose after
an influx of asylum seekers in 1999, including many children from
eastern Europe.

The ‘pickpocketing squad’ appointed a further 40 officers to
concentrate on a small number of individuals thought to be behind
organised pickpocketing.

Three families in particular were found to be responsible. The
child pickpockets were taken into care.

Source:- The Times Tuesday 30 October page 10

JPs back overhaul of prostitution law

Magistrates backed an overhaul of laws on prostitution

The annual meeting of their association called on the government
to conduct a review of how to tackle soliciting after hearing of
the waste of time and police resources caused by prostitutes.

London magistrate Roger Farrington said: “Because soliciting is
not imprisonable, JPs have little choice but to fine a prostitute
who appears before them, and don’t have the option of
community service.”

Courts may impose a fine of £50, but when the women can
earn several hundreds of pounds a week it does not act as a

Farrington said one option was to be more punitive, and another
was to move towards licensed brothels.

Source:- The Times Tuesday 30 October page 12

Jail threat for illegal adoptions

Couples who adopt abroad without clearance from a British
adoption agency first, will face up to a year in prison, under
tougher laws, ministers said yesterday.

Adopted parents must be vetted in the UK before bringing a child
back from countries that have adoption procedures that are
recognised here, the Commons was told.

The law changes follow the case of Judith and Alan Kilshaw, who
failed in an attempt to adopt American twin girls over the internet
for £8,200.

Stiffer penalties will be introduced under the Adoption and
Children Bill for those who flout adoption laws at home and

Health secretary Alan Milburn said: “Adoption is a service for
children, not for profit.”

“It should happen in the interests of the child, not as a
commercial transaction,” he added.

Source:- The Times Tuesday 30 October page 12

Fathers picket judges over child access

Bands of unhappy divorced and separated fathers are picketing
the homes of a number of judges, demanding equal rights for both

President of the high court’s family division Dame
Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, senior judge at Cardiff county court Philip
Price and leading appeal court judge Sir Matthew Thorpe are among
those being targeted.

The picketers are predominantly divorced and separated parents
who accuse family courts of failing to deliver on a main principle
of the Children Act – that both parents should continue to
play a part in their children’s lives when the adult’s
relationship has broken down.

Proposals going to the lord chancellor next year are expected to
recommend community service orders for mother who unreasonably
refuse contact and parenting classes for couples unable to

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 30 October page 13

Jail all men who beat women, says top judge

Men who hit women should be given immediate custodial sentences,
according to one of the country’s most senior female judges

Valerie Pearlman said the time had arrived to stop making
excuses for crimes of domestic violence.

She told the annual conference of magistrates in London: “The
best way of dealing with it is an immediate custodial sentence. It
may have an impact on the family, but it seems to me this is the
only way to bring home to the defendants what they have done.”

Magistrates were told that 25 per cent of violent crime was
domestic violence, but only one in three attacks resulting in
injury was reported.

Home office statistics reveal that on average victims are
assaulted 35 times before they find help.

Source:- The Independent Tuesday 30 October
page 1

Best councils to get new powers as ‘public-service

Britain’s best performing councils will have the powers to
take over their poorly performing counterparts under plans
announced by the government yesterday.

Stephen Byers, secretary of state for transport, local
government and the regions, confirmed the moves as he announced a
wide-ranging review of the ‘best-value’ regime for
local authorities.

The review would refer to plans to allow high performing
councils to take on new work from fellow councils and private
firms. Present legislation prevents councils from undertaking any
work other than their own, but ministers feel it is imperative to
reward best practice.

Source:- The Independent Tuesday 30 October
page 2

Nearly half of London’s children in

Half of the capital’s youngsters are excluded from
benefits, according to a report.

Forty-three per cent of children in London live in poverty, a
higher proportion than in any other part of the country, says The
State of London’s Children report published yesterday.

London’s children suffer higher rates of ill health,
accidents and infant deaths as a result of poverty. School
exclusions are more common and academic performance is lower in
London, with child abuse more frequent.

The report from the Office of Children’s Rights
Commissioner for London says: “London remains a capital divided,
with huge variations in wealth which impact directly on its 1.65
million children.”

Source:- The Independent Tuesday 30 October
page 11

Scottish newspapers

New group to fight child abuse in sport

A new unit to tackle the problem of children being abused in
sport, has been launched in England copying a similar scheme in

The UK Child Protection in Sport Unit will offer advice to
sports clubs on how best to protect children who play sports. The
new unit will be based at the NSPCC’s national training centre in
Leicester, and is part of the charity’s Full Stop campaign.

In Scotland, Children 1st worked with sportscotland
and other agencies in producing the Safe and Secure Action Plan to
address the problem of abuse in sport after several high profile

Source:- The Herald Tuesday 30 October 2001





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