A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

Abused children
database proposed

Social workers, doctors, nurses, police and immigration
staff should share information on a national electronic database, the inquiry
into the death of Victoria Climbie heard on Friday.

The eight-year-old girl from the Ivory Coast may still be
alive, had professionals been able to share information, according to Neil
Garnham QC counsel to the inquiry.

Victoria died in February 2000 following months of abuse
from her great-aunt Marie Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning, who
have both been jailed for life.

Garnham brought attention to a proposal from Howard
Baderman, formerly consultant in charge at the accident and emergency
department at University College hospital, London.

Baderman urged there to be a national register of children
with information provided by GPs, maternity units, school nurses, local
authorities, education, housing and social services.

The inquiry continues.

Source:- The Guardian
Saturday 16 March page 7

More children turn to drugs and drink

There has been a sharp increase in the number of secondary
school children drinking and taking drugs, according to a survey.

The proportion of children aged 11 to 15 saying they had
drunk alcohol in the last week rose from 21 per cent in 1999 to 26 per cent
last year, according to the Department of Health.

More than 50 per cent of 15 year olds drank alcohol at least
once a week and boys were consuming an average of 13.8 units a week –
equivalent to almost seven pints of beer.

In the past month, 12 per cent of pupils had used drugs,
compared with 9 per cent a year ago.

The survey conducted by the National Centre for Social
Research and the National Foundation for Educational Research also found 10 per
cent of pupils aged 11 to 15 were regular smokers.

Source:- The Guardian
Saturday 16 March page 7

Adoption Bill held back by row over unmarried

An argument over the definition of unmarried couples has
caused plans to give gay and cohabiting heterosexual partners the right to
adopt children to be shelved.

No date has been set for the completion of the Adoption
Bill, due to begin its report stage next week.

The government insisted it needed more time to  define “unmarried couples” after a series of
amendments were proposed to its Bill.

Campaigners for reform accused the delay of causing misery
to thousands of children.

Source:- The Times  Saturday 16 March page 14

Teenage gang had repeatedly bullied murdered

A schoolboy who was murdered on a housing estate during an
argument over a football match had been bullied repeatedly by youths with
knives, his family said yesterday.

Relatives of Kayser Oman said he had suffered repeated
assaults at the hands of a teenage gang.

Detectives believe the Somali boy was murdered on his way
home from a youth club after he was surrounded on the Church End Estate,
Harlesden, London by up to nine youths.

Source:- Independent  Saturday 16 March page 4

Thirty young killers to be freed from jail early

Some of Britain’s young killers will be released after their
sentences are cut by the country’s senior judge.

Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf has cut 30 out of the 50
cases of child killers he has reviewed since last May. A further 49 cases could
be considered.

The sentences have been reduced by between one and three
years, and have prompted an angry response from relatives of some of the

Source:- The Sunday
  Sunday 17 March page 1

Revealed: crime spree of the tagged offenders

More than 1,400 new crimes including rape and kidnappings
have been carried out by prisoners freed early on the government’s tagging

Home Office statistics reveal that criminals who would have
otherwise been in jail, have carried out a wave of fresh crimes including four
rapes, three kidnappings and 38 serious woundings, and 223 thefts.

The figures, which cover the period from January 1999 when
the scheme began to the end of December 2001, will be a blow to David Blunkett
who has encouraged prison governors to release more prisoners on tagging to
ease overcrowding.

Source:- The Sunday
  Sunday 17 March page 1

Family wins fight over jail killing

A ruling from the European Court of Justice last week should
transform the way Britain’s criminal justice system treats people with a mental

An eight-year battle by a family has traced errors which led
to Christopher Edwards being placed in a police cell with a paranoid
schizophrenic, Richard Linford, who killed Edwards with such violence he had to
be identified by dental records.

Linford was convicted of manslaughter due to diminished
responsibility, but the hearing refused to look at the failings that led to
Edwards’ death and the case was closed.

But the European Court found the UK guilty of breaching the
Human Rights Convention on four counts, and condemned the police, health
authority and prison service.

Awarding the family with heavy compensation, the judge said
the authorities’ behaviour was probably duplicated across the UK, and demanded

Source:- The Observer  Sunday 17 March page 4

Childcare clubs face
closure in cash crisis

Childcare clubs are under threat of closure, according to a
new study by Kids’ Club Network.

Two thirds of childcare clubs, which look after thousands of
British children, said their funding was under threat and not secure even for
the next 12 months.

Of those with concerns, almost a quarter said they would
have to consider closure if things did not improve.

Kids’ Club Network spokesperson Anne Longfield said: “What
closure means is that parents who are working will have to consider whether
they can carry on – or will have to make arrangements for their kids which are
not what they hoped for.”

Source:- The Observer  Sunday 17 march page 10

Public support
relaxing law on cannabis

Two new studies back the reclassification of cannabis, which
could pressurise the government to rethink the drug laws.

The Police Foundation and the Metropolitan Police are both
expected to reveal overwhelming public support for the relaxed policing of the

Their findings are based on the Lambeth scheme in south
London where police warn cannabis users instead of arresting them.

Both surveys, carried out by Mori, are a closely guarded
secret, but it is thought that as many as four out of five people are “broadly”
supportive of the initiative.

The Met Commissioner Sir John Stevens is expected to reveal
the findings of a Scotland Yard survey into the Lambeth experiment on Thursday.
He will not roll out the Lambeth programme, but wait for the home secretary’s
decision whether to downgrade cannabis to a class C drug.

Source:- Independent  Sunday 18 March page 8

Lawyers ‘turning
children into career criminals’

Defence lawyers for children should be scrapped, according
to the government’s youth crime tsar, amid fears that coaching by solicitors is
leading young people to become career criminals.

Youth Justice Board chairperson Lord Warner said lawyers
were treating offenders as young as 10 as if they were adult clients, advising
them to plead not guilty, despite evidence to the contrary.

Solicitors too often act against the best interests of
children aged between 10 and 16, he said.

He also warned of an emerging gang culture in Britain and
said the peak age of offending had risen from 16 to 23 in 10 years.

Yesterday home secretary David Blunkett said there was an
“almost exponential” increase in 11 to 15 year olds getting involved in street
robbery and mobile phone thefts.

The home secretary said street crime in Britain soared by 26
per cent last year and in London it rose by 40 per cent in January.

Source:- Independent  Monday 18 March page 1

Blunkett switches 5,000 police to fight robberies

The government will bring forward a campaign against
muggers, handbag snatchers and car jackers in a bid to tackle spiralling street

Five thousand officers in 10 police forces are to be
switched from usual duties to tackle street crime after the home secretary
admitted some people in urban areas felt it was not safe to walk the streets.

The campaign will involve the recruitment of more foster
parents to look after juvenile suspects and an increase in prison places.

The initiative is to be launched in April, three months
ahead of schedule, amid growing government concern about the rise in street

Source:- The
Monday 18 March page 8

and Welsh papers

Housing stock
transfer shifts Labour’s welfare approach

A feature on the Scottish executive and Glasgow Council’s
support for the proposed transfer of the local authority’s 80,000 houses to the
independent Glasgow Housing Association. 
Does the move mark an end to the Labour Party’s traditional ideology of
good homes for all provided by the state?

Source: Sunday Herald  Sunday 17 March page 16

Has painkiller purge
sparked increase in teenage hangings?

The number of teenage suicides in Scotland is increasing
dramatically. The number of suicides among young men in Scotland is one of the
highest in Europe and the highest by far in the UK. 

A feature examines the question of whether making it more
difficult to obtain basic painkillers has resulted in the high increase of
teenage women opting to kill themselves by hanging – a method traditionally
avoided by females. Hanging is a more effective method – has this contributed
to the greater number of mortalities from suicide attempts?

Source: Scotland on
Sunday 17 March page 11

Children of HIV
parents suffer in silence

There are an increasing number of children with HIV parents
in Scotland who suffer in silence due to stigma according to new research by
Children in Scotland and Edinburgh University. 

The reasons for the increase include the rise in
heterosexual infection and those infected living longer. It is estimated that
the number of HIV cases in Scotland has grown by an average of 163 people each
year since 1990. The report found that local authority and health services had
reduced support funding to families with an HIV member. 

The authors recommend that all health boards carry out an
audit to identify the numbers of young people either using their services or
accompanying their children to services. Children in Scotland called on
training to agencies such as school staff to provide better support for
children of HIV parents.

Source: The Herald Monday
18 March page 7

Children who are hard
to take

Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman who have
adopted children, seem to have increased the demand to adopt within the general

However, applicants still want babies and infants while it
is older children who are in the vast majority. A feature on the experience of
applying to adopt and the children who need families.

Source:The Herald  Monday 18 March page 12          

Crime and drug
project aims to make communities safer

A new project based in North Wales is aiming to reduce crime
by cutting down on the number of people who have drug and alcohol problems.

The Dawn Project, to be launched next month, will offer a
range of services that will help people back into work or education and will
offer advice on health, suitable housing and life skills.

The aim of the project is to prevent alcohol and drug
related harm and anti-social behaviour so that individuals and communities can
maximise their social health and economic potential.

What makes the project so unique is that all the services
are brought together under one roof. Project manager of Cais – the main
voluntary sector provider of drug and alcohol services in North
Wales and one of the main partners in the project, said that now all the
leading agencies would be able to work together.

"Dawn will provide a rapid response service – within 24
hours of contact a client can sit face to face with people from these services,
as they will all be in one place," he said.

The Dawn Project will be based in Colwyn Bay in North Wales.

Source: Western Mail
Monday 18 March page 5

Elderly care on the

An international conference on the care of older people will
be held at the University of Swansea later this week.

Speakers from across Europe as well as from the Welsh
assembly and organisations within Wales will discuss the challenges that lie
ahead for providers of services for older people.

Recently the problem of bed-blocking by elderly patients in
the NHS in Wales has come into sharp focus and the conference is also being
held at a time when major financial changes in the sector are about to come
into force. Delegates are also to discuss how assessments for nursing care are
carried out.

Source: Western Mail
Monday 18 March page 5

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