A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

Barnardo’s sued for £400m by former child

Children’s charity Barnardo’s is being sued for
£400 million by a man who was separated from his family, aged
14, and sent to live in Canada by the charity in a scheme to
populate far flung countries of the Commonwealth.

Under the child migrant scheme, Harold Vennell, aged 86, was
shipped from Essex to Ontario in 1932 after being sent to a
Barnardo’s children’s home at the age of six by his
destitute mother.

He was forced to work an 18-hour day at an Ontario farm where he
claims he was abused by the farmer and his wife.

Vennell, who now lives in Windsor, Ontario, has launched legal
action with other former child migrants.

The suit, filed with the Ontario superior court of justice says
the charity failed in its duty of care in a “systematic and
perverse way”.

A total of 100,000 British children were sent abroad under the
child migrant scheme between 1850 and 1967.

Source:- The Times Wednesday 19 June page 4

Blair promises to drag courts into the 21st

The prime minister promised an overhaul of the courts and
sentencing yesterday, saying offenders will do compulsory work as
part of non-custodial sentences.

Tony Blair also announced that ministers were progressing with
plans to remove child benefit from parents who allow their children
to play truant.

Blair said next month’s white paper on crime and
sentencing would place greater focus on the criminal than the
victim of crime.

“The days of believing the whole issue is simply around how we
give better protection to defendants have changed,” he said.

Blair told a conference on criminal justice and order that the
government aimed to bring the criminal justice system from the
19th century into the 21st century.

Source:- The Times Wednesday 19 June page 4

Father hanged himself ‘over threat of truancy

A man, who feared he would face having to pay a fine for letting
his son play truant, has committed suicide.

Kevin Hope was found hanged from a tree after being reported
missing by his girlfriend.

An inquest was told yesterday that Hope from Hampshire had told
a friend, Kevin Birt, that he might be liable for the government
penalty of £2,000 under its drive against truancy. His
12-year-old son Jason has a poor attendance record at school.

Source:- The Times Wednesday 19 June page 8

Care homes for the elderly ‘face £1bn

An annual shortfall of £1 billion in the fees paid to care
homes by councils means homes for older people are heading for a
financial meltdown, according to new research.

Councils are paying care homes between £75 and £85 per
person per week less than it costs them to provide an “efficient
and high quality service”, according to the Joseph Rowntree
Foundation research.

The study’s author William Laing of Laing and Buisson said
many of the 250,000 older people in care homes were coming under
increasing pressure to “top up” their fees, even though their local
authority was supposed to be funding the total cost of the

Laing said the continued under-funding of the sector could lead
to more home closures, adding to the problems of bed blocking in
the NHS as older people ready to leave hospitals cannot be

Source:- The Times Wednesday 19 June page 14

Violence feared at asylum centres

The government’s proposals to hold asylum seekers in rural
accommodation centres could lead to vandalism and violence in
village communities, the former home secretary Kenneth Clarke has

As Clarke strongly criticised the idea, his views were echoed by
residents of the Nottinghamshire village of Newton, one of the
three proposed sites for the new centres.

Clarke said he believed violence would spill over from the camps
and could lead to clashes with local youths.

Source:- The Times Wednesday 19 June page 14

Yarl’s Wood report proposes surprise checks by

The inquiry into the riot and fire at the Yarl’s Wood
detention centre near Bedford has said independent inspectors
should conduct unscheduled checks on immigration detention centres
in the UK.

The inquiry, overseen by Bedfordshire council, calls on the home
office to set up an independent inspectorate to oversee detention
centres and introduce a star rating system so that each
centre’s performance could be compared.

It also asks the government to help fight a £90 million
insurance claim being made against the police for the riot, which
could increase council tax bills in the county by up to

Source:- The Times Wednesday 19 June page 14

Childminders more trusted than relatives, survey

Mothers are more confident about the quality of care by placing
their children with a childminder than with a relative, nursery or
nanny, according to a report from a childcare specialist.

The first results of a five-year survey of 1,200 families cast
doubt on the government’s plan to promote nurseries at the
expense of childminders, author Penelope Leach says.

The survey asked mothers when their babies were three-months-old
what they thought would be the ideal childcare if money were no
object. Nearly half said they wanted to look after the child or
alternatively leave the baby with grandparents, nanny or

But when the child reached nine-months-old, childminding became
the preferred alternative if they could not continue to look after
the child.

Researchers found 80.4 per cent of mothers using child minders
said the relationship was good, compared with 76.2 per cent using
grandparents, 75 per cent using nannies and 71.9 per cent using a

Source:- The Guardian Wednesday 19 June page 5

Truancy sweeps catches 12,000

More than 12,000 young people were found playing truant last
month after a series of truancy sweeps by police and education
authorities, and more than half were found with a parent.

The government announced it would be keeping up pressure by
ordering further patrols in September, as it published the results
of 900 separate sweeps in 34 English local education

A campaign will also be held at the end of August to warn
parents not to take their children on holiday during term time.

Source:- The Guardian Wednesday 19 June page 9

Ministers ‘pushing disabled off

Ministers were accused of pushing disabled people off benefit
yesterday when figures revealed half the claimants who appealed
over a range of disability allowances won their cases.

Statistics published yesterday showed appeals over incapacity
benefit, attendance allowance and disability allowances all leapt
in the last three months of 2001.

The increase in appeals comes in the three months after the
introduction of work-focused interviews to try to encourage
claimants to seek work.

The medical assessments used to determine whether disabled
people are eligible for benefits has also been criticised by

Source:- Independent Wednesday 19 June page 8

Abduction of children by parents has doubled in seven
years, charity warns

The number of British children being abducted has increased by
107 per cent since 1995, according to figures released

Charity Reunite says the breakdown of national borders and the
ease of foreign travel has made it easier for a parent to take a
child abroad against the wishes of an ex partner.

Child abductions have “risen dramatically” as a result, the
charity’s director, Denise Carter, told the international
child abduction conference in Edinburgh.

She said in Britain alone last year 275 new cases of kidnapping
involving 385 children were reported.

Source:- Independent Wednesday 19 June page 6

Guardian Society

Family fears

Disability charity’s ‘timebomb’ warning

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 19 June page 4

Council sees red

Hull seeks investigation into housing joint venture finances

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 19 June page 4

New heights

A youth inclusion programme in Tyneside, set up to prevent
teenagers slipping into a life of crime, is helping to alter their

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 19 June page

Half-way home

A new scheme that offers intermediate care after hospital is
helping people retain independent lives

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 19 June page

Treating the stigma

Initiative to change A and E staff attitudes to self-harmers

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 19 June page

Scottish newspapers

Smacking ban plans may be reviewed

The controversial plans to ban the smacking of children in
Scotland may be reviewed following a statement by justice minister
Jim Wallace.

After the executive’s announcement to introduce a total
ban on children raised public debate and opposition from some
quarters, Wallace said they would consider lowering the ban for
children aged under three to two-years-old if there is enough

Wallace said he did not have “a monopoly of wisdom” on the
matter. However, such an amendment is unlikely to appease
opposition groups who have argued that the law is unnecessary,
likely to cause families and children unnecessary problems and lead
to ordinary parents being prosecuted unnecessarily. Child welfare
campaign groups continue to seek a total ban on smacking children
of any age.

Source:- The Herald Wednesday 19 June page 1

Welsh newspapers

Cardiff Central cells ‘still cause a

South Wales’ police say that they have addressed the problems in
cells at Cardiff central police station that were criticised in a
recent report.

But they admit that there are still issues to be resolved
following the report by the European commission for the prevention
of inhuman or degrading treatment, which was published in April
this year.

The cells were condemned as ‘dirty’ following a single
inspection visit by commission inspectors.

South Wales’ police authority’s clerk, Alan Fry said that the
report was disappointing and the authority felt that it was unfair
as it was based on just one visit to the custody suites in Cardiff
central police station. He added that the authority fully supported
what the commission was trying to do, but that there was a problem
with Cardiff central that would not be easily resolved as the
building did not lend itself to improvement.

Source:- South Wales Echo Tuesday 18 June page 9

Police deny trawling for sex abuse

Police have mounted a robust defence of their conduct in a
series of children’s homes abuse inquiries following claims that
innocent people have been wrongly convicted.

Senior officers yesterday dismissed suggestions that they relied
on ‘trawling’ to bring innocent care workers before the courts in
an attempt to justify the huge costs of abuse inquiries.

Terence Grange, chief constable of Dyfed-Powys and spokesperson
for the Association of Chief Police Officers on child protection,
told the home affairs select committee that the police did not go
looking for further offences but for witnesses.

Source:- Western Mail Wednesday 19 June page 1 and
feature page 5

Substance abuse guidelines launched today

The Welsh assembly is launching a new circular aimed at
protecting children from the abuse of drink, drugs and other
substances today.

The new guidelines are broader in scope than those drawn up
seven years ago, and cover everything from illegal drugs to
over-the-counter medication, alcohol and cigarettes.

They are aimed not only at schools but also at other youth
organisations in Wales.

Deaths from solvent abuse rose from one case in 1997 to seven in
1999, and more than 40 per cent of children in Wales, aged 15 to 16
say they have tried illegal drugs.

Source:- Western Mail Wednesday 19 June page 3




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