A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

‘Series of errors’ behind child abuse

Lauren Wright’s local health authority has been criticised
for failing to safeguard her from years of violent physical abuse
at home, in an independent report into the death of the

The health professionals made a series of errors in their
treatment and diagnosis of Lauren. A consultant paediatrician has
been ordered to undergo extra training in child protection.

Lauren, from Welney, Norfolk, died in May 2000 after a blow to
her stomach caused her digestive system to collapse. A post mortem
found the girl weighed slightly over two stone and had more than 60
bruises on her body.

Her stepmother Tracey Wright and father Craig, were jailed in
October last year after being convicted of manslaughter and wilful

The inquiry, commissioned by Norfolk health authority, detailed
a catalogue of errors by NHS staff and social workers.

The heads of social services, education and health authorities
have already accepted Lauren’s death exposed serious
professional shortcomings.

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 28 March page 11

Blunkett pleads poverty case

David Blunkett has stepped up his campaign to get more cash to
tackle poverty by claiming Gordon Brown’s Treasury team have
none of his own experiences of growing up on a poor estate.

“Very few, if any, Treasury officials know anything about areas
of disadvantage. Certainly they have never lived on estates like
the one on which I was brought up,” the home secretary said.

Speaking this week at a Whitehall seminar, Blunkett urged local
and central government to start transferring assets like parks and
community centres to local communities to help them build “social
capital”. He also reaffirmed the case for the child trust fund,
which is intended to give “baby bond” cash to newborns.

Source:- The Guardian Wednesday 28 March page 2

Court refuses public inquiry into prison

The court of appeal overturned a ruling from a lower court
ordering the home secretary to hold a public inquiry into the
“systematic failures” which led to the murder of an Asian youth in
his cell.

Zahid Mubarek was battered to death at Feltham young
offenders’ institution in March 2000 by cellmate Robert
Stewart, a violent racist.

Mr Justice Hooper had found that the right to life under the
European convention on human rights required the home office to
carry out an independent investigation into the death of the
19-year-old who was serving a three-month sentence for petty theft.
He said the inquiry must be carried out in public.

But yesterday Lord Woolf, Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice
Dyson ruled that a public inquiry was not necessary.

The appeal judges said it had been established that the prison
service was at fault, an inquiry into this had been held and the
family were invited to be involved, the cause of death had been
established by Stewart’s conviction for murder, and there was
no basis for prosecuting any member of the prison service.

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 28 March page 13

‘£50 an hour’ beggars

On the streets of Cambridge, beggars are “earning” more than
£50 per hour, police said yesterday.

Most of the money was spent on drink and drugs, the police said,
who have just carried out an operation targeting aggressive begging
in the city.

Inspector Jarman who headed the operation said: “Anyone who
gives to people on the street has got to realise that it’s to
support drink and drug habits.”

Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 28 March page 10

Psychopath puts jail staff at risk

A psychopath has been watched round the clock by three prison
officers for the past seven months because no place can be found
for him in a top security psychiatric hospital.

Yesterday Judge Richard Gibbs said that the lack of beds in
secure hospitals for patients with mental health problems was
“verging on a scandal”.

Speaking at Bristol crown court, he said: “It is outrageous that
the system cannot deal with a case of this nature. After seven
months we are no further forward in dealing with a person who has
committed such an appalling crime. It is a situation which is
frankly intolerable.”

Daniel House was convicted of attempted murder last year and has
been held in Bristol prison since the conviction. But he is
considered a danger to staff and other inmates, and has told prison
doctors he dreams of committing murder.

Source:- The Times Thursday 28 March page 7

Boy, 11, in court

An 11-year-old boy, who is tagged and under a night curfew,
appeared in Cardiff crown court to admit stealing a car, after
being blamed for stealing hundreds of cars.

The prosecution said little could be done until the boy reached
age 12 in May, the age of criminality.

Source:- The Times Thursday 28 March page 10

Court threat to France as tunnel still

If France continues to block the Channel Tunnel for British
goods trains, the European Commission will take it to the European
court of Justice.

France could be forced to compensate the 22 British companies
that have lost more than £15 million since the French
partially closed the tunnel in November because of invasions by
asylum seekers.

Single Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein has written to the
French government to say it is infringing the Treaty of Rome, which
guarantees free movement of people and goods within the EU.

He set a deadline of June for the tunnel to be reopened, if not,
the commission would begin legal action, which would result in
France being taken to the European court in Luxembourg.

But the inadequacy of security measures was exposed yesterday
when more than 150 asylum seekers raided a goods yard near Calais.
They evaded the handful of police on duty, and climbed through
holes in the fence before occupying a train carrying cars bound for

Source:- The Times Thursday 28 March page 10

Parents of unruly schoolchildren face £1,000

Parents of unruly children will face fines of up to £1,000
under laws announced by the education secretary yesterday.

Parenting orders will be extended to cover children who have
been suspended or excluded from school. The orders, currently only
available when pupils commit a criminal offence, compel parents of
unruly children to attend classes on “child rearing” skills; fines
are imposed if they refuse to do so.

Estelle Morris said action was needed to stem a rise of
indiscipline in schools.

Source:- The Times Thursday 28 March page 12

Scottish newspapers

Mixed reaction to smacking ban

The Scottish executive’s plan to proceed with a total ban
on smacking any child under three or any child of any age with an
implement, has met with mixed reactions from child care
organisations and opposition groups.

The proposals were released yesterday as part of the Criminal
Justice (Scotland) Bill. Other planks of the bill include lifelong
restriction orders to control serious violent and sex offenders;
increased use of electronic tagging; longer sentences for child
pornography offences; increased protection for the victims of
stalking; and improved criminal records checks for those working
with children and vulnerable adults.

Source:- The Herald Thursday 28 March page 1

Fourfold rise in methadone in Grampian

The number of drug addicts using methadone in Grampian has
almost quadrupled in the past four years according to the Scottish

The number of dispensed items of methadone rose from
approximately 70,000 in 1996/97 to more than 270,000 in 2000/01
– twice the national increase.

Source:- The Herald Thursday 28 March page 8

Welsh newspapers

Whistle Blower’s £20,000 Overtime

The social worker whose dismissal sparked strike action in
Cardiff paid himself more than £20,000 in overtime in one

Cardiff council says that Charles Faber, who led the emergency
duty team in the city, failed to follow ‘appropriate procedures’
when authorising his own overtime claims.

The council denies allegations by Faber’s union, Unison, that he
was sacked because he blew the whistle on shortcomings in
children’s services. His dismissal led to a one-day strike, held
yesterday, that disrupted council services across the city.

Unison maintain that Faber was not involved in ‘corruption and
fraud’, and that the decision to sack him for inadequate management
systems was far too extreme.

Source:- South Wales Echo Wednesday March 27 page 1 and

Respite centre to stay open and be run by

A respite centre that provides a service for physically disabled
people across South Wales has been taken over by national
disability charity, John Grooms.

The centre, Danycraig in Bridgend, will provide places for
around 30 disabled people aged between 18 and 75.

Reverend Michael Shaw, executive director of the charity, said
that respite care was a crucial component in the range of services
provided for disabled people who live in the community. He added
that the service provided a safety net for social services and
health authorities when personal circumstances suddenly change.

Source:- Western Mail Thursday March 28 page 8



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