A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

Including headlines from Saturday and Sunday.

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

Asylum seekers invade rail yard

A French terminal of the Channel Tunnel was invaded by asylum
seekers this weekend, which caused freight services to Britain to
be suspended.

Restrictions were imposed by French rail authorities, after
cancelling services on Thursday night when security guards rounded
up more than 200 asylum seekers at the yard at Frethun near

SNCF announced it would refuse to accept any British bound
trains into the yard until the backlog of 17 trains had been

The French rail operator will only allow four or five trains a
night through the tunnel because of a lack of security at the

British company EWS which operates the trains, said it is losing
£500,000 a week due to cancelled services because of

Source:- The Times Saturday 9 March page 2

Teenage muggers who thought they were

A gang of teenage muggers, who thought they were untouchable,
were jailed yesterday after being caught on police

The “Wood Green Mob” of up to 10 youths aged between 12 and 19,
would surround victims before robbing them in a four month-long
campaign. Crime in north London fell by a third when members of the
gang were taken off the streets.

Victims were robbed of mobile phones and money and kicked,
punched or stabbed.

The gang carried out at least 17 robberies before being caught,
and police finally caught them using surveillance.

Two gang members aged 12 and 13 were both given a supervision
orders for two years.

Source:- The Times Saturday 9 March page 4

Another rise in hospital waiting lists

The number of people waiting to go into hospitals in England
rose for the second consecutive month.

Between the end of December and the end of January, the number
of people waiting for more than a year fell by 1,800 to 29,600.

But latest official statistics show that the total number of
people waiting for admission to hospitals stood at 1,058,100 at the
end of January compared with1,050,200 at the end of December.

Over the year the number of people waiting rose by 1.8 per cent
or 19,200.

The Tories brandished the statistics as Labour’s
“mismanagement” of the NHS.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 9 March page 8

Teenage bail breaker gives justice the slip

A teenager gave probation officers the slip when they took her
to a restaurant just 20 minutes after she was released by the court
against the wishes of the police.

The 16-year-old girl was appearing at a special sitting of the
juvenile court accused of robbery and breaching bail conditions.
Magistrates placed her in the care of social services, whose staff
took her to a McDonalds restaurant on the way to a care home.

She has been on the run ever since and police are convinced she
will commit more crimes unless she is caught soon.

Police who have had dealings with the girl call her an
“outrageous criminal”.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 9 March page 8

Cannabis is now just a signature away from legitimacy
(Over to you Mr Blunkett)

An official panel of drug advisors will tell David Blunkett to
downgrade cannabis from Class B to a Class C drug. If accepted, the
change, which would enable users to smoke cannabis in the street
without fear of arrest, would be the first relaxation of drug laws
in Britain for 30 years.

Yesterday, in a separate initiative, the Liberal Democrats
became the first political party to vote for the full legalisation
of cannabis. They called for an end to prison sentences for those
caught in possession of other drugs, and called for Ecstasy to be
downgraded from a Class A drug to a Class B.

A source close to the home secretary said he was now “minded” to
downgrade cannabis. The advisory committee is considered the
authoritative voice on drugs classifications, and it is unlikely
Blunkett would ignore the advice.

Source:- The Independent Sunday 10 March page

One in four youths carries a knife in school or on the

Half of all teenagers have committed a crime by the age of 15,
and one in four is armed, according to a survey of juvenile crime
in Britain.

Boys as young as 11 walk the streets and go to school carrying
knives or other offensive weapons, according to the Joseph Rowntree

A senior police officer said that children had an “increased
propensity to use violence” while a senior department of health
adviser said teenage boys were now a major public health risk.

The report called ‘Youth At Risk?’ also revealed
that one in five 14-year-olds admitted attacking someone “intending
to hurt them seriously” while 10 per cent had committed at least
one burglary.

Source:- The Independent Sunday 10 March page

Refugees halted

The number of immigrants prevented from entering Britain
illegally last year by France nearly tripled.

French police said 88,000 were turned back or arrested, up from
25,000 in the previous year.

Source:- Sunday Times 11 March page 32

2 to 1 private tuition for sex offence

A teenage sex offender is to be assigned two teachers to help
him with his private education because he is considered a danger to
other children.

The boy will be placed in a specialist boarding school by
Barnsley council, and he will receive two to one tuition and care
from teachers, psychiatrists and care workers. The move is likely
to cost £140,000 a year.

Two more boys convicted of criminal offences are expected to
receive similar treatment at a cost of £100,000 each when they
are released from custody in the next few months.

Residents with disabled or special needs children are furious,
claiming they have received little or no help from the council.

Leslie Cook, who has a seven-year-old daughter Emma with
Down’s Syndrome said: “It is ridiculous that these young
criminals are having this sort of money spent on them. I
can’t get a penny for Emma at our local primary school. This
seems to be rewarding kids for crime.”

Source:- The Mail on Sunday 10 March page 43

Home Office didn’t know who was at riot inferno
refugee centre

Bedfordshire police’s investigation into the incident at
Yarl’s Wood immigration unit had been severely compromised
because the authorities repeatedly failed to produce an accurate
list of who was detained there, a senior police officer has

Bedfordshire chief constable Paul Hancock also revealed that
some of the detainees at Yarl’s Wood had been responsible for
starting fires at other asylum centres, but the offences were not
recorded on file held by the immigration service or Group 4, which
runs the centre.

Hancock revealed the serious security flaws in a letter to home
office minister John Denham. He warns of the ‘potentially
significant public policy issues’ that had emerged during the
police investigation, which would have a ‘potential impact on
other similar detention centres.’

Source:- The Mail on Sunday 10 March page 9

Pop Idol breaks hearts by admitting he is

Gay and other unmarried couples will be allowed to adopt
children as the government is set to allow them formally to
register their relationships.

The government changed its thinking on the issue after ministers
agreed with backbench campaigners, that the Adoption Bill, now
making its way through parliament, should be amended to give
unmarried couples the right to adopt.

The bill is intended to improve the system of finding permanent
homes for the 60,000 children living in local authority care or
with foster parents.

Source:- The Sunday Times 10 March page 11

Tax penalties threaten to ruin care homes

The government’s plans to prevent delayed discharge will
be inadvertently scuppered by its own tax laws, according to a care
home owner.

Labour want to solve the problem of older people staying in
hospital beds when they have received treatment, but are not able
to cope in their own homes.

This month, the government announced plans to spend more on
sending patients for short stays in convalescent homes until they
feel able to cope at home.

But care home owners have pointed out that while long term
residential homes pay only residential council tax rates, private
short term homes are viewed as businesses.

Ambleside Bank home in Wigan recently had its council tax
reassessed under rules this year and found its annual bill
increased from £600 to £27,500 for the year 2001/2. Next
year it will increase to £33,000.

Frank Hessey, chairperson of the Lancashire Care Homes
Association, said: “It will be the financial nail in the coffin for
independent care homes already faced with rising costs.”

Last week, health minister Jacqui Smith announced £46
million would be spent in 2002/3 to provide 1,300 extra
“intermediate care” beds in England. A further £20 million
will be spent next year.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Monday 11 March page 6

Number of black people stopped by police rises as
overall total falls

The number of black people stopped and searched by the police
has increased, according to official figures to be released

The police use of stop and search powers fell by a further 17
per cent in the year to April 2001, but the number of black people
stopped increased by 4 per cent. Black people are still seven times
more likely to be stopped.

The home secretary David Blunkett is also expected to announce
details of his police reform plans during a visit to Bristol

Source:- The Guardian Monday 11 March page 11

Children ‘being harmed’ by early

British children have their academic and social prospects
potentially damaged by being forced into formal schooling too
early, a study reveals.

Think tank Politeia urges the government to rethink its policy
of providing free nursery places to all three-year-olds by

The study, co-written by the former chief inspector of schools
Chris Woodhead with Sig Prais, and Caroline St John Brooks said
that Britain was unique in sending children as young as three to
primary school.

Most other countries have a starting age of six, with pre school
beginning at five.

Research has suggested that children exposed to a less academic
environment are more likely to be socially and professionally
successful in later life.

Source:- The Times Monday 11 March page 8

Scottish newspapers

Police urged to investigate Fife Council

The Scottish National Party have publicly demanded that the
police investigate Fife council staff involved in payments to Third
Age, the charity caught up in the rent issue which led to Henry
McLeish’s resignation as first minister.

The council’s inquiry was released to councillors on
Friday and the names of staff were kept anonymous. However, copies
of the full report leaked to the press indicate that
McLeish’s wife, Julie Fulton, a depute director of social
work with Fife council, was responsible for authorising most of the
payments to the charity even after it was known to have ceased to
exist. Other social work staff and Labour Party officials are also
implicated in the report.

Source:- The Herald Saturday 9 March page 4

Ousted prison inspector applies for own job

Clive Fairweather, the outspoken chief inspector of prisons, has
revealed that he has applied for his current post recently
advertised when he was told by the Scottish executive that his
contract was not to be renewed.

Fairweather was told that his contract would not be reviewed
only hours before advertisements for the post appeared in the
media. He is one of 33 applicants. Fairweather has been an
outspoken critic of prison overcrowding, privatised prisons and
jail suicides. His application for the post has been welcomed by
campaigners on behalf of prisoner rights and prison officers’
trade unions.

Source:- Scotland on Sunday 10 March page 10

Bringing paedophilia into the public light

Children’s charities campaign for child poverty and
disability, but still talk of child sex abuse in hushed tones
according to Ann Lindsay, the mother of a boy sexually abused by
his stepfather for 11 years.

A feature on living with an abusive situation and what can be
done to make the public realise that most sex abuse happens in the

Source:- Sunday Herald 10 March page 8

24-hour watch on sex offender

One of the UK’s most dangerous sex offenders, Steven
Beech, is to be guarded by police around the clock at a cost of
£10,000 per week while he is living in Scotland.

Beech was moved from Ipswich to Aberdeen last week after a
public outcry. Beech has more than 100 convictions for various
crimes, and is described by psychiatrists as “extremely likely” to

Source:- The Herald Monday 11 March page 5

Welsh newspapers

Police dossier on John Owen may be kept from

An inquiry by Wales’ children’s commissioner, Peter Clarke, into
an alleged paedophile may become mired in a legal wrangle.

The investigation, due to begin on March 25, will look at the
case of former teacher, John Owen, who was to face criminal charges
last year over the alleged sexual abuse of pupils at a school in
South Wales. Owen killed himself just before the court case.

The commissioner has written to South Wales police asking that
officers reveal the results of their investigation into the case,
but police say that it is not clear whether they will be able to
release a dossier that contains detailed statements by each of
Owen’s alleged victims.

A spokesperson for South Wales police said that because the
evidence had not been presented in court, legal experts would have
to decide whether the information could be given to the

Source:- Western Mail Monday 11 March page 1







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