A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

Including headlines from Saturday and

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

Blunkett to change stowaway fines law

The home secretary announced a change to the law on fixed
penalty “stowaway” fines imposed on lorry drivers, after the court
of appeal confirmed they breached human rights laws.

The 50 lorry drivers and haulage companies who lodged the legal
challenge, could now claim millions of pounds in compensation.

David Blunkett said he would now look at what steps were
necessary including the possible legislative options to ensure that
the civil penalty scheme was compatible with European convention on
human rights.

More than £2.5 million worth of fines have been imposed on
drivers and haulage companies as a result of more than 5,500
immigrants being discovered in their lorries since the scheme was
introduced in April 2000.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 23 February page 6

Family with two children missing

A family have disappeared as their children were to be taken
into care by social services.

Police are searching for Jason Patmore and his partner Tara
Dalton from Colchester, who went missing a week ago with their
children Jason and Sheree.

Source:- The Independent Saturday 23 February
page 4

Fund care for elderly or face backlash, say

Long term care for older people should be made free, or the
government may face a backlash from the baby boomer generation, a
report says.

A poll conducted by the BBC last week found the issue should be
made a top priority for extra spending in the NHS. More people were
prepared to pay more for free long term care for older people than
better cancer treatments or more doctors.

The Institute for Public Policy Research will now back their
case in a report arguing that a person with a heart attack or
receiving cancer treatment gets free care in hospital, while
someone who develops Alzheimer’s must pay thousands of pounds
for nursing home care.

The move coincides with reports that health secretary Alan
Milburn is drawing up plans to give more cash to care homes to end
delayed discharges.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 24 February page 7

Foster parents’ pension blow

The national shortage of foster carers could worsen as a study
has revealed that almost 20,000 carers will face old age without a
state pension.

More than half of 3,000 carers surveyed said they had not been
told they do not receive the same pension credits as other parents,
and should make their own national insurance contributions.

Vicki Swain of the Fostering Network, who conducted the
research, said: “It means that people who have given up years of
their lives to look after children are reaching retirement, only to
find they receive little or no state pension.”

Labour MP James Purnell said he was “deeply concerned” by the
problem, and would ask ministers how they can address the

Source:- The Observer Sunday 24 February page 12

Medics bid to end cycle of violence in abused

A dramatic new technique to prevent abused children becoming
abusive parents has been developed by doctors.

More than a third of children who are beaten or injured as
children go on to inflict similar injuries on their own

But Professor David Wolfe of the University of Western Ontario
will reveal details of a scheme, which has produced a threefold
drop in this violence, at an international conference on domestic
violence to be held in London.

The scheme involves teaching problem children how to relate to
future partners. Participants aged 14 to 16 are given instruction
on seeking social and medical help, and are made to play out
aggressive roles in public and assist in social work projects.

Wolfe believes the crucial part of the scheme is to intervene
before abused children become parents. He carried out a study of
158 adolescents, with half receiving treatment and the others
receiving no help.

“Those who had been helped had far better records of violence
against their partners. There was a threefold reduction,” he

Source:- The Observer Sunday 24 February page 14

NHS send 10,000 to France

More than 10,000 NHS patients could receive treatment in French
hospitals every year, in proposals being drawn up by the French

Health secretary Alan Milburn will be presented with the plans
by French counterpart Bernard Kouchner in London this week.

The plans involve the extension of the pilot scheme under which
small numbers of NHS patients are sent to three private hospitals
in France and Germany.

Source:- The Sunday Times 24 February page 28

Group 4’s insurers sue police for

Bedfordshire police are being sued for £43 million in
damages following the fire at the asylum detention unit.

Insurers for Group 4, which runs Yarl’s Wood centre near
Bedford, has lodged the writ for damages using an obscure act of
parliament from 1886, despite Group 4 being legally responsible for
security at the unit.

Bedfordshire council, police and local MP Alistair Burt accused
the insurance underwriters at Lloyds of “outrageous” behaviour.

The writ was filed after Yarl’s Wood was destroyed in a
fire and riots nine days ago, which led to 25 asylum seekers

Source:- Independent on Sunday 24 February
page 6

Parents who fight are most likely to abuse their

Children who grow up in broken homes, as well as those whose
parents are frequently involved in violent rows, are at the
greatest risk of abuse and neglect, a study has revealed.

The majority of abused children come from families where there
is a history of domestic violence between the adults,
children’s charity NSPCC claims.

Children who grow up in single parents homes, or who experience
family breakdown, are up to six times more likely to be abused than
children from stable homes.

The NSPCC report makes 16 recommendations to improve the system,
the first of which underlines the “strong link” with domestic

It says that professionals working with families where men show
violence towards their wives, should always regard children to be
“at risk” even if there are no signs of abuse.

Source:- Independent on Sunday 24 February
page 7

Crowded jails will release prisoners early

The number of people being sent to prison soared by the
equivalent of the population of a jail every week, it has

More short sentenced and non violent offenders will be released
early under measures to cope with the dramatic rise of 3,130 since
January 11, which has taken the overall population to a record

Other options being considered to ease the pressure are a
greater use of electronic tagging and more doubling up in

Director general of the prison service Martin Narey admitted
jails were under “severe strain.”

Source:- The Times Monday 25 February page 1

Judges told: Think twice before jailing

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf has told judges and
magistrates to consider the huge rise in the female jail population
before they imprison non violent women.

He has urged them not to jail first time offender women
convicted of dishonesty, especially if they have children.

Lord Woolf’s intervention comes as prisons in England and
Wales now hold a record 69,572 inmates, including 4,179 women held
in 17 of the 137 jails in England and Wales.

Source:- The Times Monday 25 February page 6

Ministers ‘failing to keep promises on mental

The £300 million government investment into mental health
services has done little to help their reform, it was claimed

Shadow health minister Oliver Heald said ministers were failing
to make good their promises. Parliamentary answers to Heald’s
questions by health minister Jacqui Smith cast doubt on key aims
being met.

Heald said the whole area was being overlooked because there was
no sign of the mental health bill promised in 1999.

Smith’s answers disclose that only 16 of the 50 “early
intervention teams” promised by 2003/4 have been set up, no system
has been set up to monitor how many of the 1,000 graduate health
workers have been employed, and a promise that all prisoners would
leave prison with a care plan by 2004 has been watered down to only
cover half of prisons.

Source:- The Times Monday 25 February page 14

Home office plans to strip asylum seekers of

Government plans will see 22,000 asylum seekers being stripped
of their subsistence benefits.

The home office is preparing to stop weekly payments of
£36.54 unless refugees agree to live in government approved

Immigration minister Lord Rooker has told leading
non-governmental organisations that 19,900 people who elect to live
with friends and relatives, will not be allowed to claim for the

Many asylum seekers reject free housing because it requires them
to leave London.

Refugee support groups said yesterday that the changes would
create poverty in marginal communities.

Chief executive of the Refugee Council Nick Hardwick said the
move contradicted pledges by the government to tackle social
exclusion and integrate marginal communities.

Source:- The Independent Monday 25 February page 1

Ferry firm catches 7,000 illegal immigrants

A ferry company revealed it had prevented almost 7,000 stowaways
entering Britain.

P&O Stena Line said that since it introduced compulsory
vehicle checks in Calais 14 months ago, it has found 6,820 illegal

In the past two weeks 300 people had been found hiding in trucks
and vans.

The searches, which cost P&O Stena £750,000 a year,
were introduced amid increasing concerns about the £2,000 fine
imposed by the government for every stowaway caught aboard its

Source:- Daily Mail Monday 25 February page 37

Scottish newspapers

Victim of Nazareth House kills himself

A man who died after setting himself on fire in a doctor’s
surgery, claimed to have been a victim of child abuse while in the
care of the Sisters of the Poor order of nuns in Nazareth House
children’s home, Aberdeen.

Colin Sutherland suffered 60 per cent burns to his chest and
legs during the incident at his local GPs surgery in Aberdeen last
Wednesday. His family claim he set himself alight because he had
been refused psychiatric services for mental health problems
stemming from his care in Nazareth House. On Friday night, his
family took the decision to switch off his life support

Source:- Scotland on Sunday 24 February page 24

Tagging of children scheme attacked

Parents and teachers’ groups have attacked a scheme to tag
children while attending nurseries.

The Little Cherub system developed by Bo’ness-based
Insight (UK) Ltd has already been installed in six nurseries across
the central belt.

The scheme, which costs £90 per child per month, has been
attacked by Leslie Beber from the Scottish Independent Nurseries
Association as driven by profit. Judith Gillespie, policy
development manager with the Scottish Parent Teacher Council,
described the tagging system as a panic measure.

But the system was defended by Brooks Harvey, a teacher at the
Bellhaven Nursery run by Glasgow council, which installed the
tagging. Brooks said that that parents had responded positively and
added: “We have a secure nursery here with locked doors and a
camera system, but it was felt that tagging would give us extra
peace of mind.”

Source:- The Scotsman Monday 25 February page 6

Welsh newspapers

Frontline managers hit back at Unison’s ‘negative’

Social services in Cardiff do not provide adequate staffing to
protect vulnerable children, according to Unison.

The union has written to all council members in Cardiff,
expressing deep concern about the operation of children’s services
which first came to light after a local TV documentary highlighted
the issue last year.

Unison branch secretary Peter King said that members had written
to him expressing their concern that the issues raised in the
programme had not been resolved.

“There are considerable failings in the looked-after children
services due to insufficient and increasingly inappropriate
placements, which can only lead to psychological and emotional
harm,” he added.

A council spokesperson said: “The need to address the level of
funding for children’s services, especially in the light of the of
an increasing number of children entering the public care system,
is well recognised by this council. There is no disagreement,
either with Unison or frontline staff. It is disappointing that the
council receives only negative comments from Unison”.

Source:- South Wales Echo Friday 22 February page

Primary school pupils taking cannabis

The scale of the drug problem in Wales is now so huge that even
primary school children are using cannabis.

Agencies that deal with drug addiction in the principality are
increasingly concerned about drug use among younger children, and
the Welsh assembly is currently revising guidelines which will
include advice for teachers and youth workers on how to deal with
drug-related incidents.

Children’s Commissioner for Wales Peter Clarke is making drug
dependency among the young, a target issue. A spokesperson for the
commissioner said: “Mr Clarke intends to look at the problem from a
number of different angles, firstly looking at how it is happening,
why young people feel under pressure from peers and others to
experiment with illegal substances and what services are in place
to help youngsters break free from drugs.”

Source:- Western Mail Monday 25 February page 3

Nursing homes push for higher fees

Nursing homes in Wales are under threat because running costs
are higher than the amount they receive to care for some of the
most vulnerable people in society.

The warning has come from the Registered Nursing Home
Association after two councils were issued with a pay-up ultimatum.
The current dispute over fees between 21 nursing home owners in
Swansea and 18 in Newport and their respective councils, has
culminated in owners issuing a 90-day notice of their intention to
raise fees to what they describe as an ‘economic level’.

Both groups of owners have said that it is no longer possible
for them to provide high quality care to social services funded
patients in return for what they call ‘bargain basement’ fees.

Source:- Western Mail Monday 25 February page 5







More from Community Care

Comments are closed.