Wednesday 26 February 2003

By Clare Jerrom, Nicola Barry and Alex

Emergency deal to build new jails as police cells

Two new prisons are to be built under a £200 million
package to tackle the acute overcrowding in jails.

Officials from the home office, 10 Downing Street and the
Treasury were to meet this morning to discuss extra cash for
tackling the overcrowded prison population, but the deal was agreed
last night.

Prisoners are currently being held in police cells as the prison
system is so congested and long term estimates suggest figures
could reach 110,000 in six years, an increase from the current
population of 76,144.

Home secretary David Blunkett wants to use the money to create
two new jails holding up to 850 prisoners each, build new wings at
existing prisons and erect more purpose built blocks in

Source:- The Times Wednesday 26 February page 1

Minister bans asylum seekers from surgery

Asylum seekers have been banned from attending a labour
minister’s surgery because he believes they are clogging up
the system.

Transport minister John Spellar has said he will only see
registered voters. The MP for Warley in the West Midlands said: “It
is quite clear. I am more than prepared to see and deal with the
problems of anyone who is on the electoral register.

“That way I know they are proper constituents and deserve any
help I can offer them,” he said.

The move has been condemned by fellow MPs as well as refugee

Source:- The Guardian Wednesday 26 February page 2

UN agency criticises Blunkett on cannabis

David Blunkett has been accused of “sending the wrong signal” to
the world in relaxing Britain’s cannabis laws, by a United
Nations drugs control agency.

The International Narcotics Control Board said it was
“concerned” about the home secretary’s decision to downgrade
the drug from Class B to Class C so that possession would not be an
arrestable offence.

The board predicted that the policy would damage health and
increase cannabis supplies.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Wednesday 22 February page

Fall in reconviction rate for the young

The home office announced yesterday that the likelihood of a
young offender returning to crime has fallen by nearly a

The government attributed the 22.5 per cent drop in the
reconviction rate – to 25 per cent – to the issuing of
final warnings to young offenders.

Under this scheme juveniles who commit a low or medium level
offence are given a reprimand. If they commit a second offence they
receive a final warning and are referred to drug rehabilitation or
anger management courses. A third offence results in criminal

Home office minister Hilary Benn said yesterday’s figures
prove “early intervention can help prevent re-offending”.

But shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin said the figures did not
tell the full story and compared them to the “absurdly high”
reconviction rate of 75 per cent for people leaving young
offenders’ institutions.

Source:- The
Independent Wednesday 26 February
page 4

Guardian Society

Cash for questions

Calls mount for independent review of social care funding

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 26 February page

Out of isolation

Rural communities are often reluctant to seek mental health
help. Mike George reports on projects trying to change this

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 26 February page

Lifting ban set to end

Care providers should follow HSE guidance, judge rules

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 26 February page

Ringing the changes

Charity bid to raise £1m through premium rate phone

Source:- Guardian Society Wednesday 26 February page

Scottish newspapers

Babysitter gave child “a wee shake”

A babysitter accused of murder swore on her children’s
lives that she never shook a baby to death, a court heard

However, Tina McLeod admitted to police she had given
one-year-old Alexander “a wee shake” because she feared he had
stopped breathing.

The high court in Edinburgh heard the council-registered
childminder vehemently deny she injured the toddler, while a
post-mortem examination suggested he was shaken to death. McLeod
denies murdering baby Alexander on July 26 2001.

The trial continues.

Source:- The Herald Wednesday 26 February page 7

Why Victoria should have been sent home

The parents of Victoria Climbie are to sue the police, three
councils and two hospital trusts. According to the couple’s
solicitor, they expect to gain “substantial damages”.

While acknowledging their grief and anger, columnist Carol
Sarler, believes that if Victoria Climbie’s parents had acted
differently, their child might still be alive.

Source:- Daily Express Wednesday 26 February page

Send us the immigrants

Jack McConnell yesterday threw open Scotland’s doors to
skilled immigrants in a bid to avert the nation’s looming
population crisis.

Asylum seekers and other immigrants with skills such as medical
qualifications will be encouraged to settle north of the

Source:- Daily Mail Wednesday 26 February pages 1 and

Rough sleeping figures ‘fantasy’, claims

Figures released yesterday by the Scottish executive showing the
number of people sleeping rough had fallen by more than 14 per cent
were dismissed by opposition politicians as “total fantasy”.

According to a Scottish executive report, a total of 404 people
slept rough at least once, over a two-week period in October 2002,
compared with 471 people during the same period a year earlier.

The SNP has accused the government of manipulating the figures
by moving rough sleepers into B&B accommodation rather than
giving them permanent homes.

Source:- The Herald Wednesday 26 February page 6

Welsh newspapers

Children in care at risk of drowning in sea of red

Key recommendations of the Waterhouse inquiry into abuse in
children’s homes in Wales have still not been acted upon
according to a new report from the Children’s Commissioner
for Wales Peter Clarke.

The report called Telling Concerns, highlights problems with
complaints procedures for vulnerable children who are looked after
by local authorities.

Source:- Western Mail Wednesday 26 February page 2

Ministers ‘cheating injured

The government was last night accused of cheating former miners
out of statutory benefits by adopting double standards to assess
industrial injuries.

Thousands of miners with ‘vibration white finger’ in
Wales have been denied disability benefits because the department
for work and pensions does not recognise that they are suffering
from an industrial disease.

Source:- Western Mail Wednesday 26 February page 4

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