Tuesday 8 October 2002

By Clare Jerrom, Nicola Barry and Alex

Blunkett plans to end asylum seekers’ automatic
right to claim benefit

The government’s latest “mini crackdown” on “unfounded”
asylum claims, which will see the reintroduction of a list of safe
countries and an end to the automatic right of asylum seekers to
claim welfare benefit, was given a lukewarm welcome by the Liberal
Democrats and Conservative parties yesterday.

But refugee groups were last night scathing in their criticism
of the plans which are to be implemented through last minute
amendments to the nationality, immigration and asylum bill. It
starts its final stages in the House of Lords tomorrow.

Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson Simon Hughes
welcomed the “long overdue” managed migration schemes, but
criticised the end to automatic benefits for those who failed to
apply for asylum when they first reached Britain or who lied about
who they were and how they got there.

The Refugee Council questioned whether this proposal meant a
return to Conservative legislation that left thousands destitute on
the streets and reliant on soup kitchens.

It also criticised the “white list” of safe countries as failing
to recognise the abuse of the Roma people across eastern Europe,
and would constitute a breach of the refugee convention.

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 8 October page 9

Murder conviction for handicapped man ‘a

A man with learning difficulties, who has served a 16-year
prison sentence for murdering an elderly pools collector, was the
victim of a “miscarriage of justice” the court of appeal was told

Geoffrey Foster made “unreliable” confessions that should never
have been admitted at his trial, and this led him to be jailed for
life, the court was told.

Police recorded that Foster was “subnormal”, but he was given no
support from social services, or legal services until the
10th interview conducted in March 1985. He was only
offered a solicitor after he admitted the killing in his
penultimate interview. A social worker was only present for the
final interview.

Foster’s counsel, Edward Fitzgerald QC said Foster was not
cautioned at the first two interviews.

During evidence at the murder trial of Harold Cheetham, Foster
denied he had killed the 74-year-old but said he had admitted it in
an interview after the police pressurised him.

Foster, from Knutsford claims one police officer “clouted” him
while another had tried to put an electric flex around his

The jury found him guilty and he was given a life sentence.

At the beginning of his appeal in London, Fitzgerald asked three
judges to find that they could not be “sure” that the confession
evidence including that made from the witness box, was

Source:- The
Independent Tuesday 8 October
page 4

Parents told ‘don’t

A £50,000 publicity campaign by the National Family and
Parenting Institute encouraging parents not to shout at their
children, is to be backed by the home office minister Beverley

Source:- The Guardian Tuesday 8 October page 6

Scottish newspapers

Strike by key staff affects service for

Scotland’s largest homeless service was thrown into
disarray yesterday after 70 key staff went on indefinite

The walk-out was the culmination of a long-running dispute
between the workers and Glasgow council over the proposed reform of
its homelessness service.

The strike is expected to lead to a rapid build-up of people in
bed and breakfast accommodation, as the strikers hold the keys to
900 furnished council flats

Source:- The Herald October 8 page 9

Child hearing flaws attacked

The Scottish executive and the children’s hearing system
have been accused of failing to forge adequate policy links in a
formal review of the body that administers juvenile justice.

A report on the Scottish Children’s Reporter
Administration said that despite an increase in referrals and
resource pressures, a core organisation had been established both
sound in structure and process.

Source:- The Herald October 8 page 6

£9m plan to tackle drink and drug

A new strategy has been launched in Glasgow to combat the
significant numbers of teenagers experimenting with alcohol and

The projects will include improving education on drug and drink
abuse in every city school.

Source:- The Scotsman October 8 page 9

Welsh newspapers

Wales is ‘leader for kids’

England has been told to catch up with Wales and appoint a
children’s commissioner.

The call comes in a survey from UNICEF, the body that campaigns
for children, which showed that nine out of 10, English children
wanted a commissioner to look after their wellbeing.

UNICEF’s UK director, David Bull said they were looking at
the work of Welsh commissioner Peter Clarke to see what lessons
could be learnt.

Source:- Welsh Mirror Tuesday 8 October page 11

Warning of increase in suicides

Leading prison reform groups were warning last night that more
suicides were likely in institutions like Bridgend’s Parc
Prison unless the huge numbers entering the prison system were

Seventeen-year-old Ian Powell, who was on remand for motoring
offences, was found hanged in his cell at the prison on Sunday. It
was the ninth suicide death at the private prison in five years,
and the second in a fortnight.

A spokesperson for the Howard League said that Parc prison was
holding many remand prisoners anxious about trial and prison, and
that they were the most vulnerable people in terms of suicide.

But a spokesperson for Securicor, which runs the prison, said
that when tragic events occur there were a series of steps that
were followed, and that prisoners on the same wing and unit would
be offered counselling.

Source:- Western Mail Tuesday 8 October page 5

Nurse shortages ‘hit recovery of

Nursing shortages are so bad that older patients may not get the
care they need to make full recoveries.

Basic nursing care is now at such a premium nationwide, that
older patients may face delays in help with dressing, escorting
them to the toilet or even getting a glass of water.

The Royal College of Nursing blames the problem on staff
shortages on the wards, and in Wales the situation is so acute that
there are almost 1,000 vacancies in nursing, midwifery and health

Robert Taylor, director of Age Concern Cymru, said that older
people had the right to expect high quality treatment, and that
medical and nursing staff needed to understand that many older
people in hospital were very frail – physically or mentally – and
may need extra care and attention to aid their recovery.

Source:- Western Mail Tuesday 8 October page 7

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