Monday 24 February 2003

By Clare Jerrom, Nicola Barry and Alex

Councils face cap to curb huge rise in

Local authority spending could be capped to prevent a damaging
political backlash from huge council tax rises.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott is considering reserve
measures to force authorities to reduce the largest ever tax rises
of up to 10 times the rate of inflation.

Source:- The Times Saturday 22 February page 1

Child abuse payout by council

One of the largest joint legal actions by child abuse victims
has been settled with up to £50,000 in compensation each.

Fifteen people claimed physical, emotional and sexual abuse
while in the care of Sunderland council in the 1960s 1970s and
1980s and had sought civil damages.

The cases were to be heard at Newcastle court, but yesterday the
council agreed to a settlement of around £200,000.

Another 45 cases are waiting to be heard and lawyers hope that
they will also be settled by the council.

Source:- The Times Saturday 22 February page 6

Climbies sue social services

The parents of Victoria Climbie are suing police, hospitals and
social services departments for failing to protect their daughter,
who was murdered by her great aunt.

Writs are being issued against the Metropolitan police, London
boroughs of Haringey, Brent and Ealing and the NHS Trusts for
Central Middlesex and North Middlesex hospitals.

Frances and Berthe Climbie issued a statement yesterday through
their solicitors yesterday that said the memory of their daughter
“requires them to ensure that all relevant authorities accept moral
as well as legal responsibility for the way in which they failed

Lord Laming’s report last month into the ill treatment of
eight-year-old Victoria by her great aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and
her lover Carl Manning revealed repeated failures by social
workers, medical staff and police.

Source:- The Times Saturday 22 February page 10

Equality watchdog blocked

Plans for a single equality body to champion the rights of
disabled, older and gay people, women and ethnic minorities have
been blocked by one of the interest groups concerned.

The Disability Rights Commission rejected the proposed Equality
Commission saying it would be unable to champion all the groups

The commission is proposing instead that there continue to be
separate watchdogs to fight against race, sex and disability
discrimination but under an umbrella organisation to make it easier
for the public to use.

Separate bodies would champion discrimination on the grounds of
age, sexual orientation and religion.

Source:- The Times Saturday 22 February page 13

Free long term nursing care is to be

Guidance on who should be eligible for free long term nursing
care is to be reviewed after criticism that many older people have
been wrongly charged for it.

Health minister Lord Hunt pledged yesterday to act on
recommendations of the health service ombudsman, but said the
government believed the advice was sound.

Ombudsman Ann Abraham found the guidance on the eligibility of
patients for NHS funded care places had been “misinterpreted and
misapplied” by some health authorities.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 22 February page

Paedophile is jailed

A paedophile who lured a 13-year-old girl to have sex with him
after meeting her through an internet chatroom was jailed for six
years yesterday.

Andrew Lay bombarded the girl with emails and text messages,
finally persuading her to skip school to meet him.

Police found Lay had 96 indecent images of the girl. Lay
admitted making indecent images and five sex offences.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 22 February page

Asylum claims rise to 110,000

Around 110,000 asylum seekers entered Britain last year, a 20
per cent rise and the highest ever recorded number, according to
home office statistics.

Figures for the final three months of last year also show the
rate of arrivals is quickening despite laws introduced last
November to stem the flow of asylum seekers into Britain.

Source:- The Sunday Times 23 February page 3

Children’s food ‘turns them into

The first ever clinic to tackle juvenile delinquency by studying
what children eat then treating them with nutritional medicine and
psychotherapy is to open this week.

The ‘Cactus Clinic’ at Teeside University in
Middlesbrough sprang from the work of the late Professor Steve
Baldwin, who died in the Selby rail disaster, and Janice Hill who
runs Overload Network, a charity for children with behavioural

Former officer with West Yorkshire police, Peter Bennett, will
be its consultant.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 23 February page 8

Mental illness hits three in four teens

Three quarters of young people are suffering from a mental
health problem, according to a survey of 1,000 15-21-year-olds
across the country.

While this proportion suffered from a psychological illness such
as depression or schizophrenia, just under half had a relative or
friend who had harmed themselves, and one quarter said they are
worried about the mental health of a young person they know.

In response to the department of health survey, ministers have
launched a campaign aimed at improving the understanding of mental
health issues among young people.

Source:- Independent on Sunday 23 February page 7

New law to trap parents who murder

A loophole that allows parents to escape blame for murdering
their children is to be closed by the introduction of a new charge
of joint homicide.

Latest figures show that three children under 10 are killed or
seriously injured each week.

But almost two thirds of cases of child murder or serious
assault never get to court and of those who do, just 27 per cent
result in a conviction.

Parents can escape justice by covering up for each other, but
home office minister Hilary Benn last week said there was the “need
for the law to be strengthened so that people jointly accused
cannot evade justice by protecting each other”.

He said a number of possibilities were being considered
including changes to procedures in the wake of a child death.

A home office spokesperson said the government would legislate
at the earliest opportunity.

Source:- Independent on Sunday 23 February page 15

8,000 march against asylum centre plan

Around 8,000 people protesting at the home office’s plans
for an asylum accommodation centre demonstrated at Lee-on-Solent in
Hampshire yesterday in a 30-minute long march.

The government wants to turn a former naval airbase into a
centre holding single male asylum seekers.

Source:- The Times Monday 24 February page 2

Drug parents

Around a quarter of young drug users have smoked cannabis with a
parent, according to survey for the rave magazine

Just under five per cent had shared harder drugs with a

Source:- The Times Monday 24 February page 2

Parents face fines for taking pupils on truant

New plans are to be introduced to fine parents who take their
children out of school for holidays or shopping trips without

The size of the on-the-spot fines to be levied by education
authorities, school staff and the police, has not been

They could be approved as early as the summer and enforced soon
after that.

Source:- The Times Monday 24 February page 5

Baby campaign

The NSPCC is to fund an advertising campaign aimed at halting
baby battering as part of its Full Stop campaign.

They show the pressures put on even the most loving parents by
their children can make them snap and lash out.

Source:- The Times Monday 24 February page 10

Beggars feel Dickensian chill

Cambridgshire police launched the operation in November after
complaints by visitors, shoppers and traders that they were being
accosted by aggressive beggars.

Since then eight people have been charged under the Vagrancy Act
of 1824 and a further 64 ordered to move on.

Source:- The Guardian Monday 24 February page 9

Purpose-built hotel for blind

A purpose-built hotel for blind and partially sighted people
opened at Bognor Regis in West Sussex.

The £41 million Russell Hotel is funded by the Guide Dogs
for the Blind Association.

Source:- The Guardian Monday 24 February page 9

Scottish newspapers

Frantic 999 call of childminder accused of baby’s

A jury heard a recording of a desperate 999 call made from a
childminder’s home as a baby in her care lay dying.

Tina McLeod and her son Sean were heard telling an ambulance
controller that one-year-old Alexander Graham had fallen

McLeod is alleged to have repeatedly shaken the boy and struck
his head against a blunt object or surface. The trial at the high
court in Edinburgh is expected to last four weeks.

Source:- Daily Mail Saturday 22 February page 9

Childcare crisis for student parents

Lone parents are struggling to attend college and university
because of chronic childcare shortages, according to a report to be
published tomorrow.

The survey by One Parent Families Scotland reveals there were no
immediate vacancies for nurseries run by Scottish colleges and
universities last year. Waiting lists varied between six months and
a year.

Source:- Sunday Herald 23 February page 5

No holiday truant fine for parents in

Scottish parents who take their children out of school to go on
holiday will not face fines despite moves announced yesterday to
crackdown on families in England.

The executive maintains there are two kinds of absences:
authorised and unauthorised. If a parent notifies the school of a
holiday then that is authorised.

Source:- Daily Express Monday 24 February page 11

Move to let victims confront criminals

Victims of serious crimes should be given the option of coming
face to face with offenders, according to the campaign group

At a major criminal justice conference today, the charity will
call for more resources to be ploughed into adult mediation
services. The conference will hear from psychiatric nurse, Neil
Davidson, who says meeting the four teenage girls who almost killed
him proved to be his salvation.

Source:- The Herald Monday 24 February page 7

Welsh newspapers

Wales urged to follow Guernsey’s success in
cutting teenage smoking

A radical programme aimed at cutting teenage smoking has been
hailed as an overwhelming success.

The initiative on the island of Guernsey has seen the number of
teenage smokers halved since 1997. The programme includes raising
the age limit for buying cigarettes as well as better
anti–smoking education and more smoke free zones.

Plaid Cymru’s shadow health cabinet member Dai Lloyd said
that Wales needed to look at more pro-active ways to discourage
young people from smoking.

Source:- Western Mail Monday 24 February page 8

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