Thursday 27 February 2003

By Clare Jerrom, Nicola Barry and Alex

Truancy court a shambles as parents cry off

A new fast track system to punish parents of persistent truants
ended in shambles yesterday.

Eight families representing 10 children were told to attend
Grays magistrates court in Essex, but only four turned up and none
pleaded guilty. Every case was adjourned and in some, magistrates
asked for further information.

Excuses behind the non-attendance ranged from a woman who rang
in sick to a father who was confused by the court dates.

The local education authority which bought the prosecutions
expressed frustration yesterday at the new procedures and said it
would seek to talk with the department for education and skills and
the home office.

Principal education officer at Thurrock council, Sandra
Fletcher, said the whole system needed to be looked at again.

Source:- The Times Thursday 27 February page 4

Poorer pupils get a free ride

Free transport is to be given to children from poor families who
need to travel more than a mile to school under a new pilot

Parents on low incomes tend to choose their closest school
because they cannot afford transport fares and may not have access
to cars.

The social exclusion unit said yesterday that a lack of access
to cheap reliable transport contributed to low educational
achievement, and prevented poorer people generally from benefiting
from public services.

Source:- The Times Thursday 27 February page 4

New prison for the jail capital of Europe

A new prison is to be built near London after an extra £200
million was given to the home secretary by the Treasury this week
to cope with the rising prison population.

England and Wales now imprisons more people than any other
country in western Europe: 139 people per 100,000 of the
population, according to figures yesterday.

A new prison will also be built in the north west of England as
well as the one in London as these two areas face the worst

Source:- The Times Thursday 27 February page 14

Judge backs adoption of IVF mix up twins

A white woman who gave birth to mixed-race twins after an IVF
sperm mix-up is to adopt them jointly with her white husband.

A senior judge ruled yesterday that their black biological
father was their legal father and adoption would make the
twins’ white “social and psychological” father, who has
helped raise them since birth with his wife, their legal father as

The twins were born after a blunder at Leeds general infirmary
assisted conception unit.

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 27 February page 2

MPs attack removal of Roma asylum seekers

The new all-parliamentary group on Roma affairs said yesterday
that attempts to prevent Roma asylum seekers from entering the
country are pointless and wasteful.

Lord Avebury pointed out that they would be able to enter
Britain anyway when their states join the European Union next year,
as he launched a report which details human rights abuses against
Gypsy populations in Hungary, Poland and the Czech and Slovak

Source:- The Guardian Thursday 27 February page 13

Equality council shuts amid sex and race

A race equality council is to close after its chief executive
faces accusations of a string of racial and sexual discrimination

Dr Ezard Emanual and the Wolverhampton Race Equality Council
have been taken to two industrial tribunals and have seven other
cases pending.

The £68,000 annual funding from the Commission for Racial
Equality is being withdrawn, and Wolverhampton council is about to
stop its £102,000 grant. Together they are more than half of
the equality council’s income.

Following an internal city council investigation a report is to
be published next month arguing that the WREC is not offering value
for money, has lost public confidence and must be disbanded.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 27 February page

Scottish newspapers

Phone rewards for children
who help stop crime

Children who give police information
about criminal activities will be rewarded with £10 top-ups
for their mobile phones in a bid to rid their communities of

Detective inspector David Donaldson,
the national co-ordinator of Crimestoppers Scotland, said: “This
campaign encourages people to pass on information and play their
part in making communities safer, so they can go out with their
friends without fear.”

Source:- The Scotsman
Thursday 27th February page 5

Guidance to protect

Children must be the priority of
people who work with alcoholics and drug addicts.

The executive has published new
guidance to seek to protect the 160,000 children neglected by drink
or drug abusing parents, and to help stop the cycle of addiction in

Cathy Jamieson, the minister for
education, said: “Our recent child protection review made it very
clear that we need to take action to stop vulnerable children
falling through gaps in provision.”

Source:- The Scotsman
Thursday 27th February page 8

Welsh newspapers

Care home negligent

A family has been awarded £50,000 compensation after a
resident of a nursing home suffered burns.

Molly Wheeler, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease,
burned her hands in hot water when she gained access to a kitchen
that should have been kept locked.

Westminster Healthcare, which owns the home, Hafan-y-Coed in
Llanelli, admitted negligence.

Source:- Western Mail Thursday 27 February page 1

Care worker loses case over wages

A care worker, who claimed that she was paid just £1.31 an
hour for looking after a sick woman, yesterday failed in a test
case to persuade judges that her wages fell below the national
minimum wage.

Julie Walton worked for the Independent Living Organisation
until November 2000, but complained to the Inland Revenue’s
national minimum wage team that she was not being paid enough.

But her former employers argued that she was only contracted to
carry out certain tasks, and that her hourly rate was £4.60.
The court upheld the employer’s argument and refused leave to

Source:- Western Mail Thursday 27 February page 3

Stressed mums ‘ganging up’ on

Poor parenting skills have been blamed for an upsurge in
self-harm and low self esteem among children, with mothers often
being verbally abusive to their children behind closed doors.

The confidential youth counselling service, Eye to Eye, has now
opened a branch in the Cynon Valley in south Wales to help more
young people deal with the negative feelings that can lead to

The children’s manifesto recently launched by a coalition
of leading children’s charities in the principality is
calling for an all-Wales youth support service.

Source:- Western Mail Thursday 27 February page 5

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