A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

Pope breaks silence on paedophile priests

The worldwide scandal of the sexual abuse of children by
Catholic priests is undermining the moral authority of the Church, according to
Pope John Paul II.

Priests who sexually abused children had succumbed to “the
most grievous form” of evil and made the public suspicious of all Catholic
clergymen, he said.

The Pope’s remarks come days after reports that the Roman
Catholic Church in America has agreed a multi-million dollar payout to victims
of a defrocked priest, who has been jailed for 10 years for sexual molestation.

Source:- Independent  Friday 22 March page 1

‘My brother can’t be left on his own, he’ll talk’

Police were not told about a conversation between a social
worker and one of the brothers accused of murdering Damilola Taylor, because
she felt it should remain confidential.

Anne McMorris said one of the defendants was distressed when
separated from his brother in Feltham young offenders’ institution in March
last year.

She told the Old Bailey that he said: “He can’t be left on
his own, he’ll talk, he’ll talk.”

Asked by Lady Mallalieu QC defending why she only made a
statement 10 days ago, McMorris said she believed her conversation with inmates
were confidential.

She said the boy did not say he was afraid his brother would
talk about the Damilola Taylor murder case, but kept saying he wanted to see
his brother.

The brothers and a 15-year-old boy deny murder, manslaughter
and assault with intent to rob.

The case continues.

Source:- Daily
  Friday 22 March page 6

Instant fines to tackle street crime crisis

A radical initiative to fight “yob culture” is to be piloted
by five police forces.

The forces in England and Wales will issue fixed penalty
notices of £80 and £40 for a range of minor offences including being drunk and

The scheme will be introduced across the West Midlands later
this year. The Metropolitan police will run a pilot programme in Croydon, south
London. Essex, north Wales and the British Transport Police have also signed up
to test the scheme.

Officers will be encouraged to give an £80 ticket to people
causing harassment or distress, whereas £40 fines will be given for offences
such as throwing fireworks or being drunk and disorderly.

Source:- The Guardian  Friday 22 March page 1

Targeting the after school criminals

Police are to be urged to make greater efforts to intervene
against young offenders who commit crimes immediately after school ends, by the
new police standards unit at the home office.

The move, which is designed to tackle youth crime, has been
made following research by the Metropolitan police, which shows a large
proportion of youth crime is committed in the late afternoon as school ends.

In 2000, 30 per cent of offences committed by youths were
between 3pm and 6pm. The most prevalent offences were shoplifting, criminal
damage, possession of cannabis and robbery.

The home office wants to see a greater police presence
outside the gates of problem schools.

Source:- The Guardian  Friday 22 March page 4

Yarl’s Wood blaze witnesses deported

Asylum seekers who could hold potentially embarrassing and
important information about the fire at Yarl’s Wood detention unit have already
been deported, it emerged yesterday.

A group of MPs tabled an early day motion calling for a
moratorium on removals of Yarl’s Wood detainees amid fears the moves could stop
investigators getting to the truth of what happened.

The blaze caused more than £40m damages and 19 detainees
remain unaccounted for.

The home office confirmed that some detainees from Yarl’s
Wood had been deported, but would not say how many.

Source:- The Guardian  Friday 22 March page 10

Man of 37 met sex victim, 13, on the Net

A man has been jailed for three and a half years after he
had sex with a 13-year-old girl he met on the Internet.

Stephen Biggs bragged to his friends about his girlfriend
and showed them topless photographs of her. The girl’s legal guardian, her
grandmother, was told the girl was staying at a girlfriend’s house.

But on a second visit to Biggs home in Cheltenham, the
grandmother became suspicious and the girl was found at Gloucester rail station
on the way to see Biggs.

Caroline Poots for the prosecution at Gloucester crown court
said the girl had admitted she met Biggs in an Internet chat room, and they had
continued to communicate via mobile phones and letters.

Poots said the girl had originally said she was 15, but
revealed her true age prior to any physical meeting between the two.

Source:- The Times  Friday 22 March page 3

‘Svengali’ mother of eight jailed for girl’s kidnap

A woman who orchestrated the abduction of a girl to prevent
her being taken into care by social services was jailed for two years yesterday
by Newcastle crown court.

Child welfare campaigner, Penelope Mellor, was the
‘Svengali’ of a carefully planned conspiracy to spirit the nine-year-old girl
into hiding, the court heard.

She ensured the girl, who cannot be named, and her
grandmother were moved from their home in Wearside, to Ireland, and then to
Scotland, evading the authorities for four weeks.

The girl’s mother had been diagnosed with Munchausen’s
Syndrome by proxy. Social services had taken her son into care and the family
feared the girl would be made the subject of a care order.

Judge Whitburn said Mellor had convinced herself and the
family that the girl would be in danger if she was made a ward of Sunderland
Council social services department.

At an earlier hearing the girl’s mother and grandmother were
jailed for nine months each and the father for six months.

Source:- The Times  Friday 22 March page 3

Softer line against cannabis saves 1,300 police

A pilot scheme in south London where people caught in
possession of cannabis are let off with a warning has saved more than 1,300
hours of police time, according to a report published yesterday.

The scheme in Lambeth also won the support of residents, but
police claim similar actions in other boroughs may not work.

The Metropolitan police gave a cautious welcome to the internal
study by Commander Brian Paddick and said more work was needed to consider the
impact for the rest of London.

Source:- The Times  Friday 22 March page 4

Early prison release
essential, says Blunkett

David Blunkett defended proposals to release thousand of
prisoners early yesterday saying emergency measures have to be taken to ease
the overcrowding of prisons.

“If anyone watching, reporting or listening today seriously
believes that a further exponential rise in the prisons population for short
term prison sentences and first time offenders is the way to ensure our safety,
then they are sorely deluded,” the home secretary told a conference in London.

Thousands of prisoners serving sentences between three and
12 months are to be let out of jail two months early and electronically tagged.
The home secretary is also negotiating funding for an emergency building
programme and 3,000 prison cells in prefabricated blocks will be placed in the
grounds of Category C and D jails.

The prison population has risen from 66,000 in January to

Source:- The Times  Friday 22 March page 4

Heritage town is
earmarked for detention centre

A home office proposal to build a £100m high security centre
for 500 failed asylum seekers waiting deportation, has been met with hostility
by residents of a historic market town.

A 15-acre site has been earmarked in the Essex town of Great
Dunmow for a removal centre five miles from Stansted airport.

Town clerk Owen Wilson said : “There is a mixture of fear,
considerable apprehension and not a little anger here. And we only heard about
it second hand. People would be looking out of their bedroom windows into the
site, it’s a close as that.”

Residents and local officials are also concerned about a
repeat incident like that at Yarl’s Wood where detainees burnt down two
accommodation blocks and escaped.

The home office wants the two-storey centre completed by
spring 2003.

Source:- The Times  Friday 22 March page 5

Calais link reopens to trains

France accepted British demands for more police to protect
the terminal near Calais from asylum seekers yesterday.

The Channel Tunnel reopened to good trains following the
move. Trains were stopped from entering the Frethun terminal for almost two
weeks after 200 would-be illegal immigrants broke into the yard, which is run
by French rail operator SNCF.

The French government came under pressure to provide better
security and the number of guards patrolling the site has now quadrupled.

Source:- The Times  Friday 22 March page 14

Care warning

The number of private nursing homes fell for the third year,
according to Department of Health statistics.

Figures show that at the end of March last year, there were
5,700 private nursing homes, hospitals and clinics – a fall of 3 per cent.

Charities have warned the figures could lead to a crisis in
care for older people.

Source:- The Times  Friday 22 March page 14

Scottish and Welsh papers

Peterhead prison to

The Scottish executive has released plans to build three
new, privately funded prisons and close Peterhead and Low Moss over the next
three years. 

Peterhead’s internationally acclaimed sex offenders
treatment unit will be moved, but will remain in the public sector based in
existing prisons. Concern has been expressed by opposition MSPs that moving the
unit will have a detrimental effect because existing staff may be unwilling to

The prisons review will also mean an end to slopping out in
Barlinnie, which will be halved in capacity, and an overall increase of 3,300
prison places.

Source: The Herald
Friday 22 March page 1

No punishment for
death case boy

Elderly groups and politicians spoke out angrily yesterday
as it emerged that a 13-year old boy, blamed by the police for the death of a
91-year old woman, would not face any form of punishment. 

Margaret Farquhar died as a result of fright after a stone,
twice the size of a golf ball, smashed through the window of her sheltered
house in Blairgowrie, Perthshire. The boy – one of a group regularly seen to be
hanging around the sheltered housing complex – was already excluded from school
and subject to a social work supervision order. He was referred to the
children’s panel but denied the allegations.

When the case was called for proof at Perth Sheriff Court it
could not be established beyond reasonable doubt that he had been responsible
therefore no further action was taken. A spokesperson for the Scottish
Children’s Reporter Administration said that a number of witnesses had given
evidence that differed substantially from their original statements making it
impossible to establish responsibility.

Source: The Herald
Friday 22 March page 4

Lack of childcare
forcing women out of the workplace

Urgent action is being called for over the shortage of affordable child care
places in Wales.

Almost half of unemployed Welsh women surveyed cited fears over the cost of
care for their children if they went to work – 13 per cent more than a decade
ago. The findings by think tank Chwarae Teg, have been branded a national
scandal and have prompted calls for urgent action.

Experts fear that if something is not done quickly, the situation will have a
long-term impact on women’s ability to close the pay gap, currently running at
36 per cent. The result could be that women are thrust into poverty as they
miss out on promotions and pension payments to look after their children.

The Welsh assembly has allocated £3.8m for childcare places in 2002-3.
Source: Western Mail Friday 22 March
page 1

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