Monday 11 November 2002

By Clare Jerrom, Shona Main and Alex

Blair sets out tactics for law reform

The prime minister prepared his cabinet yesterday for root and
branch reform of the criminal justice system.

At a three-hour meeting Tony Blair and home secretary David
Blunkett laid out their strategy to garner public support for their

Three bills on reforming the criminal justice system will form
the centrepiece of the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, and take
up much of the next parliamentary session. They will cover court
reform, sentencing and reform of sexual offences legislation.

Source:- The Times Saturday 9 November page 15

GP faces inquiry over banning asylum

A GP who refused to take on more asylum seekers because they
were a drain on his resources is to be investigated by the General
Medical Council.

Dr Vijayaker Abrol could face a disciplinary hearing and the
possibility of a reprimand, suspension, or being struck off.

The doctor put a sign in the window of his surgery in Birmingham
that claimed asylum seekers were rude, impatient and cost too much

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Dr Evan Harris said he
would be contacting the GMC to see if there was an ethical case for
the GP to answer.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 9 November page

Sangatte refugees take over sports hall

A group of asylum seekers occupied a sports hall in Calais
yesterday after they were refused entry to the Sangatte refugee

More refugees were prevented from entering the hall last night
when the mayor Jacky Henin said it could become an “explosive”

Human rights activists helped the 50 migrants enter the sports
hall in retaliation for Tuesday’s closure of the Red Cross
camp to new entrants.

The camp is due to close permanently at the end of Aril.

Source:- The
Independent Saturday 9 November
page 12

Threat to cut child benefit for truants

The government is to warn parents that they face losing child
benefit if their children play truant.

The department for work and pensions has drafted a letter to
send to seven million families who receive the benefit, reminding
them of their legal obligations to ensure their children attend

Source:- The Sunday Times 10 November page 2

Immigrant ‘racket smashed’

A people smuggling ring has been smashed by immigration officers
at Heathrow airport following eight arrests, the officers

The gang is suspected of helping asylum seekers gain illegal
entry to the United States from Britain by providing them with
airline boarding cards, and helping them pass through security, a
spokesperson for the National Crime Squad said.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 10 November page 4

At 22-months-old, toddlers already know their

By the time children can walk, their entire educational future
may already be set in stone

Source:- The Observer Sunday 10 November page 5

Girls are now bigger bullies than boys

The future generation of young women is being blighted by
bullying, which is now far more prevalent in girls, than boys.

A huge rise in ‘girl to girl cruelty’ has been
uncovered by the Young Women’s Christian Association, leading
to a high level of women leaving school with few or no
qualifications and going on to lead disaffected lives.

The YWCA is calling on the government to set up a working party
to look at ways of tackling the effect of school, girl

Source:- The Observer Sunday 10 November page 7

NHS brings in ‘cheats’ to run care for

An American firm hired by health secretary Alan Milburn to
transform the way older people are treated in the NHS has been
fined more than $7 million in the past two years for allegedly
cheating the US government, doctors and patients.

United Healthcare claims that its ‘Evercare’
programme in the US has halved the number of older people being
admitted to hospital by treating them at home or elsewhere in the

Milburn announced last month that he was signing a contract with
United Healthcare for consultancy advice on how to cut costs in the
NHS by keeping older patients out of hospital.

However, The Observer has discovered that United
Healthcare has been forced to pay millions of dollars in fines to
settle charges that it had defrauded from the US government,
doctors and patients.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 10 November page 7

Bid to halt abuse in UK’s brutal youth

The government will be challenged this week to give young
offenders the same protection from abuse as other children in a
landmark court case.

The use of segregation and physical restraint on young prisoners
will be questioned, and the legal move will argue that the
negligent regime in Britain’s youth prison has contributed to
the high number of suicides and self-harm.

The Howard League for Penal Reform will argue in the high court
that the Children Act 1989 should be amended to include children in

Source:- The Observer Sunday 10 November page 13

Disabled face insurance bills as motor wheelchair
accidents rise

The government’s plans to address the growing number of
accidents caused by reckless motorised wheelchair users could see
the introduction of third party insurance for disabled users.

Ministers say they are planning to make insurance compulsory for
the 145,000 people who currently drive electric wheelchairs or
similar vehicles.

No statistics are available on the number of accidents caused by
electric wheelchairs, but in recent years there have been growing
reports of incidents involving users.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph 10 November page 1

Call for changes in child abuse inquiries

A former police chief called for changes in child abuse
investigations to protect those wrongly accused.

The retired deputy chief constable of Nottinghamshire, Tom
Williamson, told the annual conference of the United Campaign
Against False Allegations of Abuse that interviews with those
making the allegations should be tape recorded.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph 10 November page 2

Mental health bill ‘is a threat to rights’,
MPs say

Thousands of people with mental health problems will have their
“dignity and autonomy” violated and their civil rights breached by
the government’s controversial mental health bill.

MPs and peers will warn that mental health professionals will be
forced to become “the guardians of morality” determining the mental
state of individuals on the basis of their own social and moral
viewpoint, in a report to be published tomorrow.

Members of the parliamentary human rights committee will call on
health minister Jacqui Smith to rewrite sections of the Mental
Health Bill claiming that it breaches existing human rights

Source:- Independent on Sunday 10 November page 6

Government to close consent loophole in child rape

Legislation to be introduced this week will prevent men accused
of child rape from escaping punishment by arguing that the act was

The plans, to be announced in the Queen’s speech, will
make the rape of a child a specific statutory offence, carrying up
to life imprisonment.

Under a loophole in the present law, rape suspects can claim
that the child, who can be as young as seven, “led them on”.

Source:- The Times Monday 11 November page 2

New bill to target antisocial actions

A new anti-social behaviour bill is to be at the centre of the
Queen’s speech this week.

Not only will it include measures to dock social security
benefit from parents of truanting children and nuisance tenants, it
will also include measures which will put nuisance tenants on
“probationary tenancies” and parenting orders for those who fail to
tackle their children’s truancy.

Downing Street has also instructed the home office to set up an
antisocial behaviour unit to coordinate activity across

Source:- The Guardian Monday 11 November page 1

Scottish newspapers

Charity allowed paedophile suspects to live at
children’s care home

The chief executive Quarriers has resigned following an
investigation by the Sunday Herald, which revealed that the
children’s charity knowingly rented accommodation within its
community for disabled children to suspected paedophiles.

The resignation of Phil Robinson has outraged the families of
the children and has caused the Scottish Executive ‘serious

One of Quarriers’ tenants, John Porteous, was jailed last week
for eight years for sexually abusing two boys. Robinson knew
Strathclyde Police was investigating Porteous yet allowed him to
continue staying in his rented flat. Another unnamed man is
involved in criminal proceedings for sexual offences. Robinson also
had knowledge of these allegations.

Source:- The Sunday Herald 11 November page 1

Aged nun escapes abuse prosecution

Prosecutors have rendered a nun accused of sexual and physical
abuse at a Scottish children’s home is too infirm to stand

Her alleged victim, Helen Holland is shocked by the Crown Office
decision. She claims that she was sexually assaulted by Sister
Kevin from the age of eight to 11 whilst under her care in Nazareth
House Thirty witnesses were preparing to give evidence in the trial
against Sister Kevin which followed a three-year investigation by
Strathclyde Police.

In 2000, Sister Alphonso of Nazareth House in Aberdeen was found
guilty of cruelty to children. Both institutions are run by the
Order of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth.

Source:- The Scotsman on Sunday 11 November page 3

Welsh newspapers

Parents may be forced to drop damages case

A family wrongly accused of abusing their children may be forced
to scrap their claim for compensation.

The twin seven-month-old boys from South Lanarkshire were
removed from their parents’ care in January 1999. However,
they were returned following a ruling by Sheriff John Stewart that
found the fractures suffered by the twins had been caused by
temporary brittle bone disease. Doctors at the Royal Hospital for
Sick Children in Glasgow were singled out for not having “the
courage of their convictions”.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board has advised the parents that they
must hire and pay for an expert witness who can support their
claims before their application for legal aid can proceed.

The parents have resolved to continue their fight to clear their
names. Paul Reid, the mother’s lawyer, said: “I will be reviewing
matters raised in pursuit of the claims for the loss and suffering
endured and the effects on the children.”

Source:- The Herald Monday 12 November page 4

Hi-tech package to give carers extra

Care staff in Scotland will be able to gain SVQ’s in care
without leaving their home or workplace, thanks a new computerised
training package.

At present, many care staff working in the public and voluntary
sector are denied the opportunity to improve their skills and
qualifications because of night and weekend working. However, a new
CD-Rom, developed by Voluntary Service Aberdeen and Aberdeen
council, will allow them to study either at home or in their

Source:- The Scotsman Monday 12 November page 9

Welsh newspapers

Plaid tackles poll with NHS pledges

The Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, will launch a massive
recruitment drive in the NHS if it wins next year’s Welsh
Assembly elections.

The party plans to fill 1,747 full-time vacancies in the NHS in
Wales as a first step, and to enter talks with health professionals
on measures to recruit and retain staff.

Health is poised to become a major battlefield in the
forthcoming election, and the party has pledged to implement a
four-year plan concentrating on the recruitment and retention of
doctors, nurses and other key health professionals.

Source:- Western Mail Monday 11 November page 1 and

NHS delays spell new anxieties for allergy

People with food allergies are being forced to turn to
unqualified experts because they have to wait up to three years to
be seen under the NHS.

There is still only one clinical immunologist in the whole of
Wales who tests for allergies despite a continuing rise in the
number of people suffering with the problem.

The waiting list is now so long that many sufferers are turning
to help from non-NHS practitioners who claim they can diagnose
allergies using methods other than proven skin and blood tests.

The recommendations from some of these practitioners can result
in allergy sufferers following unhealthy, unbalanced diets and even
suffering psychological damage.

Source:- Western Mail  Monday 11 November page 6

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