Tuesday 27 August 2002

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

Blind call for right to sue travel firms

The Royal National Institute for the Blind is seeking to change
the law to allow blind and partially sighted people to sue bus and
train companies for any injuries sustained when using public

Poor facilities and inadequate protection means hundreds of
thousands of people with sight problems rarely venture far from
their homes, the charity claims today in a report,
‘Travellers’ Tales’.

Two million blind and partially sighted people are prevented
from bringing claims of discrimination when they set foot on a bus
or train due to loopholes in the Disability Discrimination Act.

Companies are required to provide information about services in
a useable format before their journey, but the obligation largely
ceases once the journey begins.

Steve Winyard, RNIB’s head of public policy, said: “Many
blind and partially sighted people feel it is only a matter of time
before somebody dies as the result of an accident when

“Many fear journeys to such an extent they never go out alone
and those that do travel alone find the experience extremely
difficult,” he added.

Source:- The Times Tuesday 27 August page 6

Police need to ‘rebuild trust’ to fight

The police need to stop chasing targets and concentrate on
rebuilding community relations, otherwise crime in Britain will
continue to increase, according to a senior officer yesterday.

Sir Edward Crew, chief constable of the West Midlands, said that
an obsession with response times had taken priority over community

“Unless the police have a strong presence in communities and are
known and respected, then crime will undoubtedly rise in the long
term because we won’t have the local intelligence which comes
from individual officers being trusted,” he said.

Source:- The Times Tuesday 27 August page 8

Clearer poverty definition

A more accurate definition of poverty is needed, a leading
thinktank warns today, otherwise the government’s ambitious
plan to eradicate child poverty in a generation “is bound to

The Social Market Foundation accuses ministers of “fighting
poverty blind” because they do not know who is poor in modern
Britain. SMF proposes a better model for measuring poverty and
deprivation, and warns it is likely to show that single parent
families are getting a raw deal.

Analyst Tom Startup writes: “If the government has no settled
and adequate measure of poverty, then it cannot reliably assess how
its policies are contributing to reducing poverty.”

He calls for a cross party consensus on an “official headline”
definition of the problem as a long-term contribution to tackling

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 27 August page 2

Prisoners’ sit-down protest

An eight-hour long sit down protest by 52 prisoners took place
yesterday at Pentoville prison, north London, against staff
shortages, which have resulted in most of them being confined to
their cells for most of the day.

Prison officials were planning to forcibly remove the inmates
from the yard where they exercise if they did not end their protest
by nightfall, a prison service spokesperson said. But negotiators
coaxed them back inside at 6.45pm.

The spokesperson added that because of staff shortages on some
days prisoners had only spent meal times and a one-hour exercise
period out of their cells against the normal eight hours.

She added that the prison is mounting a recruitment drive.

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 27 August page 6

Disability access rules set for new

The government will provide measures to improve access and
enjoyment of public and commercial buildings today in a bid to
placate disability campaigners.

“Tough new rules” from John Prescott’s office will seek to
ensure that new buildings, both public and private, have ramps for
wheelchairs, automatic doors, clearer signs and better audio
instructions and advice.

Disability groups have been disappointed with the Labour
government despite the Disability Discrimination Act passed in
2000. Hopes that gaps in the act would be filled by legislation to
introduce “enforceable civil rights” for the disabled have been
thwarted. There will be no early bill.

Ministers are keen that no excessive costs are imposed on local
authorities or firms, but the latest extension to the 2,000
building regulations applies the new rules to existing buildings
when they are altered.

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 27 August page 8

Can they deliver on child-care?

£1.5 billion to give each child a fair start in life

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 27 August page 10-11

Paedophiles to be given ‘minders’ on

Convicted paedophiles are to be offered volunteer “minders” on
their release from prison in a bid to prevent them from

A home office backed pilot project is to begin in Hampshire,
which saw the worst anti-paedophile riots two years ago when mobs
attacked the homes of suspected sex offenders living on the
Paulsgrove estate in Portsmouth.

Teams of between four and six volunteers will be asked to
“adopt” some of the 713 men on the male sex offenders’
register in the country to reduce their feeling of isolation once
they are released from prison.

The scheme will be rolled out nationally if successful, and will
be run by the Hampton Trust, a Southampton-based charity committed
to assisting the rehabilitation of offenders.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Tuesday 27 August page 8

Acute beds ‘crisis’ hits mental

Thousands of acute beds for people with mental health problems
have been lost to cuts in the past six years leaving people whose
condition worsens suddenly nowhere to go, the Liberal Democrats
claimed yesterday.

The party said that 3,426 beds in NHS hospitals in England had
been closed since 1996-7. This amounts to nine per cent of the

The figures given to the party in response to a parliamentary
question also show that the bed occupancy rates have risen to 87.4
per cent.

Health spokesperson Dr Evan Harris said: “Mentally ill people
who cannot get treatment tend to get worse. They are vulnerable and
need to be assessed properly and this can be a complex

“The mentally ill, despite government spin about their National
Service Framework (a set of standards for mental health) and
alleged extra funding are facing a double whammy of cuts to
community care budgets and cuts to hospital beds,” he added.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Tuesday 27 August page 8

Refugee doctors ‘denied jobs in

Up to 1,500 refugee doctors are being denied jobs in the
National Health Service because of red tape, the British Medical
Association said.

Officials say few have secured NHS posts and more should be done
to help medically qualified asylum seekers.

The BMA and the Refugee Council established a list of refugee
doctors last year.

Source:- The Independent Tuesday 27 August page 6

Scottish newspapers

Youth courts may deal with children of 14

The Scottish executive is considering bringing 14-year-olds
under the jurisdiction of its recently proposed youth courts. 

Initially the executive said that youth courts would be piloted
in Hamilton and Airdrie to deal with 16 and 17-year-old young
offenders with the exceptional possibility of dealing with
15-year-olds. Now it is expected that the extension to 14-year-olds
will be included in the Labour Party manifesto for next
year’s Scottish parliamentary elections.

Source:- The Herald Tuesday 27 August page 6

Round-the-clock NHS care should be given time to bed

Scotland’s first 24-hour round-the-clock NHS service
should be allowed time to bed-in according to Malcolm Chisholm,
minister for health, speaking at the launch of the service in
Aberdeen yesterday.

Chisholm said the Scottish executive had watched similar
developments in England then gone on to develop a more integrated
service. However, he warned that the call centre, staffed by 60
nurses, will have teething problems and should be allowed to settle
before being judged.

Source:- The Herald Tuesday 27 August page 10

Welsh newspapers

Kilshaws still hope to adopt their ‘internet

The couple at the centre of last year’s “internet babies”
row believe that may still be able to adopt American twins
following an offer from two sympathetic lawyers to fight their case
for free.

Judith and Alan Kilshaw were forced to give up the baby girls
last year after a legal action brought against them by Flintshire
council. At the time the couple were unable to appeal against the
decision, but now they say a barrister and solicitor have come
forward and are willing to fight the case in the high court for no

Judith Kilshaw said that there were two reasons to take the case
to appeal, one was to clear her name and the other was to ensure
that social services across Britain would not be able to threaten
other adoptive parents with the legal bills the Kilshaw’s had
been ordered to pay.

Source:- Western Mail Tuesday 27 August page 3

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