A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom, David Callaghan and Alex Dobson.

Truants’ mother freed from jail

The woman jailed for permitting her children to play truant was
freed yesterday after a judge upheld her appeal against the length
of sentence.

The first person to be jailed for the offence, Patricia Amos,
had her sentence reduced from 60 days to 28 days. She was allowed
to leave Holloway prison last night after Judge Peter Crawford said
that she only needed to serve half the new term.

Amos was originally jailed 13 days ago by Banbury magistrates
for allowing her daughters Emma and Jackie to play truant from

Source:- The Times Thursday 23 May page 3

Internet dating costs mother custody of

The court of appeal has ruled that a mother of two children from
Hertfordshire should lose custody, against the advice of a social
worker, because she uses the internet to arrange dates with

The mother, who cannot be named, could set up home with a man
she hardly knows uprooting the two children aged three and four,
the judges decided. They awarded the father custody, confirming a
county court decision in February.

The judges heard that the mother would still be able to have
“abundant” contact with her two children even though they were with
their father, who would be helped by his mother to care for

Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 23 May page 1

Daughter in fight for sperm donor secrets

A woman conceived by sperm from an anonymous donor told the high
court about her “intense grief and loss” at not knowing anything
about her genetic father and his family.

Joanna Rose from Brisbane said in a statement that she had
suffered a profound sense of social, emotional and spiritual
“incompleteness” from not being able to find out any details about
the man.

Her statement was read at the beginning of a landmark action
aimed at helping donor offspring obtain information about their
biological parents.

Rose and a six-year-old from York, who cannot be named for legal
reasons, are asking the court to order the setting up of a
voluntary contact register to help thousands of donor offspring
find their parents.

Source:- The Times Thursday 23 May page 4

Antenatal care worst in South

Mothers in London and the south east receive the worst
preparation for the birth of their child than anywhere else in the
country, according to new research.

More than 80 per cent of mothers in the region said they had
never been shown how to make a bottle either in hospital or
antenatal class.

According to a survey by SMA Nutrition of 500 mothers with
children aged between six months and two years in the south east,
they are left unprepared for mothering skills by the classes they

Source:- The Times Thursday 23 May page 4

The ‘class from hell’ terrorising a primary

The headteacher of a primary school in Walker,
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, has excluded 12 pupils aged between eight and
11 for violence and racism.

Eight of the children came from one class, a so-called ‘class
from hell’. One pupil, aged 11, was excluded for punching a

The move has drawn widespread support from teachers’

New figures released today are expected to show a rise in the
number of pupils excluded from school.

Source:- The Independent Thursday 23 May page 3

Blunkett warned over ‘softly softly’ approach on

A senior police officer has warned home secretary David Blunkett
that a liberal approach to cannabis possession by school children
in Lambeth will lead to more children using the drug.

Deputy assistant commissioner Mike Fuller said drug pushers and
users were attracted to the borough because they knew there was a
soft approach.

Blunkett is expected to change the classification of cannabis
possession from a class B drug to class C, which means it is a
non-arrestable offence.

Source:- The Independent Thursday 23 May page 5

UK must take migrants to shut Sangatte

Britain should accept up to 1,300 illegal immigrants from the
Sangatte refugee centre near Calais, if the centre is to be shut,
France is demanding.

The idea of hundreds of young men being able to enter Britain in
this way is bound to spark controversy, and shadow home secretary
Oliver Letwin described it as the ‘politics of the mad house’, but
ministers consider it worthwhile to see Sangatte shut.

A Whitehall source said last night: “We cannot rule out a
proportion of the refugees coming here.”

The government is also considering measures such as using
warships to intercept ships trafficking people through the
Mediterranean and RAF transport plans to repatriate those denied
asylum in Britain.

The proposals have been pout forward by Downing Street policy
adviser Olivia McCleod after Tony Blair called for radical ideas to
tackle the problem of asylum seekers in Britain.

Source:- The Times Thursday 23 May page 1

NHS Trusts ‘strangled by bureaucracy’

The head of an NHS Trust warned yesterday that bureaucracy was
stifling progress in the health service and making it ‘almost
impossible’ to improve patient services.

Sue Page, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare Trust, said
the trust would bid to become one of the first “foundation
hospitals” – the new type of public hospitals announced by health
secretary Alan Milburn yesterday.

Milburn named Northumbria as one of four high performing NHS
Trusts that would be candidates to gain foundation status next year
and escape ministerial control.

Page said she was eager to gain foundation status to get away
from NHS bureaucracy.

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 23 May page 10

Scottish newspapers

Smacking plans ‘do not go far enough’

Proposals to ban smacking children under three-years-old do not
go far enough, according to children’s charities and human rights
activists yesterday.

They claimed the plans should include all children regardless of
age, and added that parents could be taught to understand that
striking a child is wrong.

Representatives from Barnardo’s, Save The Children, Children
First and the Scottish Human Rights Centre told the parliament’s
justice 2 committee that the smacking of all children should be
outlawed regardless of age.

Source:- The Herald Thursday 23 May 2002

Half-price plan to beat bed blocking

The bed-blocking crisis in Edinburgh could be solved at half the
estimated cost, according to a private nursing home group last

Lothian NHS Board says four 60-bed care homes are needed at a
cost of £20 million. It is looking at using old wards, hotel
and army and student accommodation as stop gap measures to solve
the immediate problems in hospitals.

But private group Highfield, which runs 33 homes with 1,900 beds
in Scotland, said that if land was provided it could have the new
homes up and running within a year of planning consent at the cost
of £10 million a year.

Managing director Martin Joyce said: “We would be more than
happy to build and run the homes for a fraction of the cost.”

The health board welcomed the move, and said it hopes to discuss
the proposals.

Source:- The Herald Thursday 23 May 2002

Welsh newspapers

Heroin kills one a month in the Rhondda

A page feature looking at the escalating problem of drug abuse
in the south Wales valleys.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant has responded to the home affairs select
committee calls for lighter sentencing and downgrading of Ecstasy
from class A to class B.

He describes the effect on local communities in his constituency
and says that proposals to change drug laws are misguided, and he
points to the need for a special valleys drug co-coordinator to be
appointed to bring separate drug agencies together.

Bryant also highlights the lack of residential rehabilitation
services in the Rhondda and the critical lack of local services
that would help addicts to kick their habit.

Source:- Welsh Daily Mirror Thursday May 23 page 6

Disaffection to be tackled by experts

An expert panel has been set up to tackle the problems of
truancy in Welsh schools.

According to figures from the Welsh schools inspection body,
Estyn, 3,000 pupils are absent from school on any given day in the
principality without good reason.

Education minister Jane Davidson has asked a panel of experts to
prepare a report on ways of tackling disaffection among pupils,
which will be completed before the start of the new school

Source:- Western Mail Thursday 23 May page 2

Warning over investigation into gypsies and

The Welsh assembly review into the problems facing gypsies and
travellers in Wales could run into difficulties because the groups
involved feel they have been ‘over researched’.

The assembly has launched a year-long probe focusing on issues
like health and education, but experts have warned that gypsies and
travellers may boycott the meetings held to explore these

The committee of assembly members who will visit sites across
Wales have been warned that they must handle their information
gathering sessions sensitively.

Source:- Western Mail Thursday 23 May page 8








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