Monday 9 September 2002

By Clare Jerrom, Nicola Barry and Alex

Vetting team sent in

The home secretary is sending three experts into the Criminal
Records Bureau after the fiasco over vetting school staff.

David Blunkett announced the appointment yesterday and said he
had asked for a report in 10 days. The team will recommend ways of
improving the bureau and ensure the changes take place.

The team will be led by Patrick Carter, a businessman who
founded Britain’s largest care homes company, supported by
John Holden an IT expert and a non-executive director of the
passports and records office, and Ron Skelly, another IT expert who
works for the Office of Government Commerce.

Source:- The Times Saturday 7 September page

Plight of starving girl ‘was

A child protection nurse expressed concern over a two-year-old
girl who later starved to death at home, but discovered that social
workers were closing the case, a court heard yesterday.

Ann Morgan, nurse at Newham General Hospital in Plaistow, east
London, told the Old Bailey that she raised concerns about Ainlee
Walker’s health and safety at a meeting of social work

She told the court that after she was told the file on the girl
was being closed, she wrote to Sam Agyei, acting manager of Newham
social services, asking him to reconsider his decision. She said
she did not get a response.

Ainlee died 19 months later and her emaciated body had more than
60 injuries on it.

The child’s parents Leanne Labonte and Dennis Henry deny
manslaughter and child cruelty.

The trial continues.

Source:- The Times Saturday 7 September page 9

Drive to stop child crime and truancy

Youth minister John Denham announced a drive yesterday to stop
seven to 13-year-olds slipping into a culture of crime, unwanted
pregnancy, truancy and drug abuse.

Denham admitted the government is worried that the endemic lack
of co-operation by key agencies is leading to children at risk
failing to be detected early enough.

Local plans will be required next year, he said, showing how
local councils, education officers, health service and police will
co-operate to keep track of potential criminals.

Denham explained that those being targeted in the scheme “were
not those already in the care system or young offenders”.

“It has become clear that there are a lot of opportunities for
young people to drop through the system,” he said. “It is quite
possible, for example, for a child to be a real concern at school.
The police may know him because he is doing criminal damage. The
social services may have concern about the family.”

“Yet all three agencies may be co-operating without any idea
that other agency is also concerned,” he added.

Early identification will allow early intervention, he said.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 7 September page 12

Two in five face job vetting in drive to detect

More than 40 per cent of Britain’s adults are to face
vetting in a government drive to prevent dangerous offenders taking
jobs in all areas of society.

The Criminal Records Bureau predicts that in three years it will
be making more than 11 million checks on past offenders, out of a
working age population of 29 million.

The police previously made around one million criminal record
checks a year.

The checks are expected to be backed by publicity campaigns that
will encourage employers to use the bureau to vet their staff.

Source:- The
Independent Saturday 7 September
page 4

Nine-year-old thugs in gun crime boom

Children as young as nine-years-old are joining violent street
gangs and taking part in crimes such as drug dealing, street
robbery and even murder.

New figures show there are now as many as 30,000 gang members
across England and Wales and the numbers are growing rapidly with
both victims and perpetrators becoming younger.

Nearly half of all gang murders committed with firearms now
involve victims under the age of 18.

London, Birmingham and Manchester have the most extreme

Steve Shropshire, expert on gangs and co-author of the new
report that highlights the problem, said: “Young people are being
drawn into the gangs and crews in ever increasing numbers and the
average age of new members is falling dramatically. The gang
culture is now inextricably linked with gun violence.”

Source:- The Observer Sunday 8 September page 5

Tagging children will not protect them, say

Plans to tag children in Britain electronically could result in
increased numbers of children losing their lives and cause major
psychological problems for thousands of others, scientists have

They say the rare tragedies such as those involving Jessica
Chapman and Holly Wells do not justify hi-tech responses, which
only exploit parents’ fears.

The moves to introduce child trackers are gaining momentum as
Wherify Wireless plans to launch the ‘personal locator’ in the
United States this week, and is preparing to sell them in Britain
next year.

Child abuse expert Elizabeth Mapstone said: “Tagging children is
entirely futile. It’s an extreme response that distracts
attention from real dangers.”

Education psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said: “If you fit your
child with one, you are telling him or her that they cannot cope
with the world. That could have a terrible effect in later

Source:- The Observer Sunday 8 September page 14

Security checks for care staff on hold

The deadline for vetting care home staff who look after older
and vulnerable people has been postponed “indefinitely” by the

The move has gained an angry response from campaigners who say
they fear for the safety of patients.

The original deadline of 1 August was postponed by the
department of health because the Criminal Records Bureau was
staking too long to process applications.

Rodney Bickerstaffe, president of the National Pensioners
Convention, said: “They have failed to deliver on demands put
before them. This is simply not good enough, and older people
deserve the guarantees and checks for their own health and safe

Help the Aged also criticised the failings of the CRB, but
insisted such checks should not be relied upon. A spokesperson said
employers need to be vigilant in monitoring staff who may not have
a criminal record but who could be abusers.

Source:- Independent on Sunday 8 September page 13

Caretaker to face murder court tomorrow

The man charged with killing Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman,
Ian Huntley is due to appear in court tomorrow for a preliminary
hearing ahead of a possible murder trial.

Police have prepared a major security operation to transfer
Huntley from Rampton hospital, where he is undergoing a medical
examination, to Peterborough magistrates’ court.

His first court appearance is due at 10am when prosecutors will
confirm his name and the charges laid against him. Magistrates will
then recommend the case is referred to the crown court for

The hearing comes despite no confirmation from doctors whether
they think Huntely is fit to stand trial.

They have until next Tuesday to decide whether he should be
tried or incarcerated for treatment. If they do not reach a
conclusion, they may apply for a second 28-day period of assessment
at Rampton.

Source:- The Times Monday 9 September page 1

Child killer Mary Bell to seek permanent order hiding

The convicted child killer Mary Bell and her daughter are to go
to the high court next week to seek a permanent order banning the
publication of their identities.

The two-day hearing is due to begin in the family division in
the next two weeks. In April, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss granted
an extension to an earlier order protecting the daughter’s
identity from May to 19 September.

Lawyers for Bell are likely to argue that both she and her
daughter require anonymity because of the risk of attack and
harassment if newspapers were allowed to publish details about

In December 1968, at the age of 11, Bell was convicted of the
manslaughter of two boys, Martin Brown, four, and Brian Howe,
three, on Tyneside. She was sentenced and was released on licence
in 1980.

The original order was granted in 1998 after a tabloid newspaper
tracked Bell down.

Source:- The Guardian Monday 9 September page 2

Parents of boarders ‘accused of being cruel or

Almost nine out of 10 parents, whose children attend boarding
school, have felt obliged to defend themselves against accusations
from other parents who see them as being cruel or uncaring, a
survey suggests.

One family in six says it is frequently criticised for educating
children aged eight to 13 at boarding schools.

The Boarding Schools’ Association, which ran the survey,
said that although the public perception of prep school boarding
still consisted of “strong negative feelings”, the reality had

Most parents of boarders believed they made the decision “to
improve the quality of life for the child”.

Source:- The
Independent Monday 9 September
page 9

We’ll make sure elderly keep their homes say

The Conservative party yesterday pledged to end the
‘scandal’ of older people having to sell their property
to pay for care home places.

Tax breaks and insurance schemes should be introduced to protect
them against the crippling costs, they said. Tax relief could also
be used to help families look after relatives at home.

The party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, said in a report:
“Labour’s nanny state mentality has blighted care homes and
destroyed the quality of life of many elderly people and their
families. They deserve better.”

Source:- Daily Mail Monday 9 September page 15

Scottish newspapers

Children suffer trauma

Children are to be offered counselling to cope with the trauma
of watching their parents divorce.

A Scottish charity is to offer sessions to children in a bid to
stop them going off the rails in later life.

Source:- Scotland On Sunday 8 September page 7

Failure to check volunteers

Dozens of Scottish schools are failing to carry out proper
background checks on volunteers who look after pupils during school
trips, say head teachers.

Source:- Scotland On Sunday 8 September page 4

Mothers separated from babies

Hundreds of mothers with severe post natal depression are being
forced to leave their newborn babies behind to get treatment at
Scotland’s psychiatric units.

Campaigners describe the lack of specialist units in Scotland as
“absolutely appalling”, and demand urgent action from the Scottish

Source:- Scotland On Sunday 8 September page 13

200 young offenders set free

As many as 200 of Scotland’s most persistent young
offenders have been allowed to go free after ministers rejected
pleas from police and councils for more places at secure units.

There are currently only 96 places available in Scotland,
leaving a shortfall of up to 200 places. Children have been sent
home to wait for current occupants to complete sentences.

Children as young as 14 have been placed in prison because of a
shortage of places in secure units.

Source:- The Sunday Times
Scotland 8 September
page 3

Charity threatens legal action against

A charity is threatening to sue villagers who have put up
placards opposing the siting of a young offenders’
institution in their midst.

Capability Scotland plans to sell a mansion in Lanarkshire to
the Airborne Initiative, which specialises in running centres which
are alternatives to prison.

The charity says the protests have been defamatory.

Source:- The Herald Monday 9 September page 6

Parents feel left out by schools

Parents across Scotland have accused schools of failing to
involve them in the education of their children.

Research among ethnic minorities, low income families and remote
communities has led to calls for an independent advice forum to
strengthen links between home and classroom.

Source:- The Herald Monday 9 September page 8

School may face lawsuit over sex attack

One of Scotland’s most exclusive public schools faces a
lawsuit after a 15-year-old pupil was sexually assaulted by two
fellow pupils.

Source:- The Scotsman 9 September page 1

Welsh newspapers

‘Don’t let our parents die

Controversial plans to reorganise health services in Wales could
mean that children may be put at risk, it has been claimed.

Worried parents will be picketing the Welsh assembly on
Wednesday this week to show their concern over plans that will mean
that all specialised paediatric services in south Wales will be
based at the University hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

Hundreds of parents, whose children have neurological problems,
and clinicians, are speaking out against proposals from the
Specialised Health Care Commission for Wales to close the
paediatric nuerosurgery unit at Morrsiston Hospital in Swansea.

They are concerned that moving services will mean that children
with rare and complex conditions are put at risk because they may
not be able to access services quickly in an emergency and that
children could die as a result.

Judith Dodds, whose daughter Rebecca underwent surgery for a
severed spinal cord at 19 months, said that having services based
in Swansea allows the family to live a normal life. Three-year-old
Rebecca whose family live in Neath still requires treatment at the
specialist unit at Morriston Hospital.

Source:- Western Mail Monday 9 September page 1

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