A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom.

Violent fathers ‘should still see their

Violent husbands should not automatically be prevented from
seeing their children, according to the most senior family judge in
England and Wales.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the high court family
division, said that domestic violence should be investigated by
courts whenever allegations are made. But violent behaviour alone
was not enough to deny a parent contact with a child.

Campaigners against domestic violence have reacted with dismay
to the comments.

Nicola Harwin, director of Women’s Aid, said abusive
fathers often use contact arrangements with children to continue
the violence in the family.

“What Dame Butler-Sloss said seems reasonable in theory; in
practice, there are insufficient safeguards for children. We know
of eight cases where men convicted of child assault have been
allowed contact with their children; in four it is unsupervised.
There should be no contact unless it can be shown to be safe for
the children,” Harwin said.

Source:- The Times Saturday 10 November page 5

Hospital waits go up – and down

More people were waiting for NHS treatment at the end of
September than the previous year, according to the latest

The number rose by 0.3 per cent to 3,500.

But there was a big fall in the number of those waiting for more
than a year. It fell by 12.7 per cent – 6,400 – between
September 2000 and 2001.

However, the number waiting for over 18 months for treatment
grew larger as there were only two patients in September last year,
but 208 at the end of September this year.

Source:- The Times Saturday 10 November page 9

Blair accused of holding back reform on drugs

Tony Blair has been accused of holding back the reforms on drugs
laws by a former Labour minister.

Tony Banks said on Friday he felt the government was not “going
anywhere near far enough” on decriminalising drug use, adding that
it was probably due to the “reluctance of the prime minister”.

Banks said the home secretary’s move to reduce the penalty
for the personal use of cannabis was a “small and timid step”.

Source:- The Independent Saturday 10 November page

Men’s jails emptied to make way for women

An explosion in the number of female prisoners has meant the
home secretary is being forced to empty men’s prisons to fill
them with women.

David Blunkett acted after prison service head Martin Narey
described the “alarming” increase in women being jailed this

Structural changes will need to be made alongside hundreds of
female officers being drafted in to work in former male prisons.
Double cells will be converted for use by single prisoners and
fitted with a curtain.

The female prison population reached 4,000 this month for the
first time in penal history.

Source:- The Independent Saturday 10 November page

Two boys who burnt homeless man to death will serve at
least seven years in custody

Two teenagers have been convicted of the murder of a tramp after
they set light to him and allowed him to burn to death “for a

George Johnstone suffered drink problems and had been sleeping
on a park bench when Stephen Brookes and John Iveson burnt his
clothes with firelighters. Despite the vagrant’s attempt to
douse the flames with the help of passers by, he suffered severe
burns and died.

Mr Justice Bell took the unusual step of naming the boys as they
were sentenced to serve at least seven years in custody.

Source:- The Independent Saturday 10 November page

New drive to help homeless veterans

Hundreds of homeless former soldiers and airmen are to be helped
through new moves aimed at getting them off the streets.

According to estimates, as many as a quarter of people sleeping
rough across Britain have a background in the forces, and some are
as young as 16.

The ministry of defence will publish guidance aimed at helping
them to adjust to civilian life. The guidance has been produced by
the Ex Service Action Group in conjunction with the
government’s rough sleepers unit.

The initiative will be launched on Monday by the Prince of Wales
at the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation which provides care for around
220 former service men and women.

Source:- The Independent Saturday 11 November page

My brother, the tortured genius

This week Christina was awarded £500,000 for the trauma of
seeing her beloved brother murder their mother. Her story is a
shocking indictment of how Britain is still failing the mentally

Source:- The Daily Mail Saturday 10 November page

Asylum voucher firm set to run women’s

The French company responsible for the asylum voucher system
could win the lucrative government contract to build and run two
private women’s jails.

Prison campaigners have reacted angrily to the news that
Sodexho, which loses the asylum contract next year, is in line to
make millions from the two jails in Peterborough and Ashford in

The Prison Reform Trust said the contracts went against the
government’s strategy for women prisoners published in

There are 4,025 women prisoners, which is 1,000 up on January
figures. The increase is largely thought to be connected with the
drugs trade. Many are serving sentences for non violent crimes, and
often come from socially excluded backgrounds. Nearly half are
dependent on drugs.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 11 November page 12

Why was he released early?

He twisted her arms until they broke, he tore her stomach open
with his bare hands, he mutilated her face so savagely that she was
unrecognisable. The series of events leading up to the death of
Deborah O’ Sullivan at the hands of Paul Beart, who fooled
prison and probation services into releasing him early.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph Sunday 11 November page

Social service may recruit in Spain to fill

Social workers could be the next professionals after nurses and
doctors from Spain to join Britain’s ailing departments.

Faced with about 2,000 vacancies across the country, local
authorities are looking to Spain after the health service recruited
around 400 Spanish nurses likely to be joined by 80 doctors by the
end of the year.

Local authorities are considering a similar deal with the
Spanish government to attract workers in a bid to overcome a
national vacancy rate in children and family departments of 23 per

Despite the department of health’s £2 million
recruitment campaign to dispel the negative image of social workers
to try and beef up numbers in the profession, some authorities,
including Kent Council, are considering links with Spanish

Source:- The Independent Monday 12 November page 10

Prisoners escape from hospital

Two violent mental health prisoners have escaped from a secure
hospital unit in Bedfordshire and are on the run.

William Scott and Jackie Kerr, who both have a history of
violence, are thought to have climbed through a window at the Luton
and Dunstable hospital on Saturday night.

Scott was jailed for 10 years in 1997 for the manslaughter with
diminished responsibility for killing Denise Palmacci. Kerr was
jailed for five years this year and retained under the Mental
Health Act.

Police have urged people who recognise the pair to contact them,
as they are both a risk to the public, violent and dangerous.

Source:- The Independent Monday 12 November page 8

More independent schools are using drug tests instead of
expulsion, says headmaster

More than half of the country’s top boarding schools randomly
check their pupils for drugs, a head teacher claimed yesterday.

Random tests are increasingly being seen by boarding schools as
a better option than “zero tolerance” and expulsion, according to
Reverend Dr John Barrett, headmaster of the Leys school, in

The on-the-spot tests are carried out on pupils suspected of
drug misuse. They can be allowed back into school after a period of
suspension providing they agree to random testing.

Source:- The Independent Monday 12 November page 8

Ritalin may have ‘long-term side

The drug prescribed to children suffering attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder triggers changes to the brain long after its
calming effects have worn of, according to scientists today.

Researchers believe Ritalin is safe, but that questions remain
about its long term effects.

The drug is prescribed to around 25,000 British children
suffering attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The mild
amphetamine works on the central nervous system as a stimulant and
as well as calming hyperactive youngsters can leave some feeling
depressed, or lethargic.

Dr Joan Baizer, who is due to present a study into the drug,
said: “Our research with gene expression in an animal model
suggests that it has potential for causing long lasting changes in
brain cell structure and function.”

“Children have been given Ritalin for many years, and it is
extremely effective and beneficial, but it’s not quite as
simple as a short-acting drug. We need to look at it more closely,”
she added.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Monday 12 November page 12

Migrants could get amnesty

An inter-departmental working group could discuss an amnesty for
illegal immigrants already living in Britain, David Blunkett said

Such a move could help the exchequer by moving them from the
hidden economy to become taxpayers.

Estimates of the number of illegal immigrants residing in
Britain range from tens of thousands to at least one million.

A home office spokesperson said there were no plans “at this
stage” but added: “It is not something that I would rule out

Source:- The Times Monday 12 November page 2

Scottish newspapers

Tenants given chance to oppose housing

A consultation will be launched today asking Glasgow’s
tenants about the controversial £4 billion plan to transfer
the city’s housing stock to a new landlord.

Glasgow’s 80,000 council tenants are to receive a 56-page
booklet detailing the proposal to transfer all council properties
to the Glasgow Housing Association. They will be invited to submit
their views by Friday 14 December.

Critics of the scheme claim it will mean the end of council
housing in its current form. But supporters argue that if the plan
is endorsed by tenants in a ballot, the city will be freed of its
£900 million housing debt, and there will be more than
£400 million available for new housing.

Source:- The Herald Monday 12 November








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