Monday 6 February 2006

By Clare Jerrom, Simeon Brody, Mithran Samuel, Derren Hayes and Amy Taylor

Prescott forces Blair to dilute education reforms
John Prescott demanded tougher controls over admissions to prevent any return to academic selection as well as a stronger role for local authorities to meet his concerns about the government’s education white paper.
Source:- The Daily Telegraph, Saturday 4 February 2006, page 2

Drive to cut benefit claimants fatally flawed
The government’s drive to cut the number of incapacity benefit claimants was condemned by the Conservatives as “fatally flawed” after it emerged there were only about 170 full-time doctors to examine hundreds of thousands of new claimants each year.
Source:- The Daily Telegraph, Saturday 4 February 2006, page 6

Care home separations may breach human rights
Dozens of councils may be in breach of the Human Rights Act by forcing elderly married couples to live apart.
Help the Aged said it was “not unusual” for authorities to separate couples by ruling that one was eligible for a subsidised place in a care home while the other was not.
Source:- The Daily Telegraph, Saturday 4 February 2006, page 8

Thousands of children struck down by vomiting bug and flu
Thousands of pupils missed school as outbreaks of the winter vomiting virus and flu spread across the country. At least 60 schools in three local authorities have been hit.
Source:- The Times, Saturday 4 February 2006, page 13

Girl told to wash up set house on fire
A 15-year-old girl was so incensed at being told to wash up she burnt her house down.
After finishing the chore she set fire to the sofa, causing £63,500 of damage and endangering the life of neighbours, who had to be rescued.
Source:- The Times, Saturday 4 February 2006, page 27

Teenager found guilty of shooting his cousin
A teenager who shot his cousin with a shotgun after playing a violent video game was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm.
Source:- The Times, Saturday 4 February 2006, page 27

Lifesaver jab for all babies
A vaccine against meningitis should soon be available to every child in Britain.
The Department of Health has backed jabs against pneumococcal meningitis, which kills 50 youngsters a year and leaves hundreds disabled.
Source:- Daily Mail, Saturday 4 February 2006, page 1

230,000 failed asylum seekers have vanished
The Home Office has lost contact with 230,000 failed asylum seekers – 80 per cent of those living in Britain.
Source:- Daily Mail, Saturday 4 February 2006, page 6

CSA will probe absent fathers’ credit card bills
The Child Support Agency will win powers to use credit card bills and mobile phone records to recover cash from absent parents.
The move would require changes to the Data Protection Act.
Source:- Mail on Sunday Sunday 5 February 2006 page 7

Former government science chief: ‘My MMR fears all coming true’
A former Department of Health chief scientific officer has slammed the government for not taking the alleged risks from the MMR vaccine seriously enough.
Dr Peter Fletcher claimed there was increasing evidence the jab caused brain damage in children, but “powerful people” in Britain had staked their reputations on its success.
Source:- Mail on Sunday Sunday 5 February 2006 page 12-13

Over 20,000 children are hooked on heroin
Between 20,000 and 35,000 children under 16 have tried heroin according to a government study.
The study, Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England in 2004, follows the case of an 11-year-old girl in Glasgow, who collapsed at school after smoking the drug.
Source:- Sunday Telegraph Sunday 5 February 2006 pages 1, 8

Self-harmers ‘should get clean blades’
The Royal College of Nursing is to discuss plans to give self-harmers clean blades and advice on the safest places to cut, at a conference in April.
Ian Hulatt, mental health adviser at the RCN, said the proposal was analagous to giving drug addicts clean needles, and was designed to reduce harm.
Source:- Sunday Telegraph Sunday 5 February 2006 pages 10

Smokers face ban on lighting up at home
The Royal College of Nurses is to draw up guidance to protect community nurses, health visitors and midwives from passive smoking on visits to people’s homes.
The guidance will stipulate that people should not smoke for an hour before a visit from a community practitioner.
Source:- The Observer Sunday 5 February 2006 pages 1-2

Discipline to go beyond school gate
Teachers are to win powers to discipline pupils outside the school gate, by using “reasonable force” if necessary.
Schools minister Jacqui Smith will announce the policy on Wednesday.
Source:- The Observer Sunday 5 February 2006 page 12

CSA facing break-up amid new criticisms
The government is to announce a review this week which will consider breaking up the child support agency and transferring most of its functions to private bailiffs or other state agencies.
The review will also examine whether some cases should be treated more seriously than others, and whether all absent parents can realistically be pursued for financial support.
Source:- The Observer Sunday 5 February 2006 page 15

Blair pledges to help voluntary groups compete to run services
The prime minister has called for the removal of remaining barriers to charities providing services, following a meeting with voluntary sector leaders.
He promised an action plan on the issue, after meeting Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations representatives.
Source:- The Financial Times Monday 5 February page 2

Report says a quarter of pupils play truant
Almost a quarter of pupils admit to having played truant, according to a report out today.
The study, by educational equipment company Smart Technologies, follows last month’s report by the public accounts committee that claimed the government had squandered £885 million on tackling the problem.
Source:- The Guardian Monday 5 February page 11

Under-age sex: GPs must tell the police
Doctors and nurses will be forced to tell the police about young girls who are having sex under strict new guidelines.
The Home Office, Department for Education and Skills and police believe the move will help protect vulnerable youngsters.
Source:- Daily Mail  Monday 6 February page 1

Absent parents may face CSA checks on credit cards and tax
Credit card bills and tax records of absent parents could be investigated under plans to overhaul the Child Support Agency.
CSA investigators will be able to trawl through credit references and tax details to recover cash from absent parents.
Source:- Daily Mail  Monday 6 February page 19

Patients to be ordered not to smoke at home
Patients will be told not to smoke during visits from health and other professionals under new guidelines drawn up by the Royal College of Nursing.
Source:- Daily Mail  Monday 6 February page 25

30,000 kid druggies on heroin
Around 30,000 children are addicted to heroin, according to a government study.
The number of under-15-year-olds using the drug is much higher than previously thought.
Source:- Daily Mirror  Monday 6 February page 5

Gatwick sex slave scandal
At least one woman a week arrives at Gatwick airport to be sold as a sex slave, according to a police investigation.
Source:- Daily Mirror  Monday 6 February page 16

Carers in debt trap
Millions of carers are being plunged into debt as they work almost 70 hours a week to look after relatives, a survey by ITV News has found.
Source:- Daily Mirror  Monday 6 February page 23

Mentoring for young offenders ‘an £11m failure’
Mentoring projects for young offenders have proved to be a multi million pound failure, a government study has found.
Half the schemes finished early according to an evaluation of the government study carried out for the Youth Justice Board.
Source:- The Times  Monday 6 February page 4

Secret toll of eating disorders
More than half of teenagers with eating disorder wait more than six months before telling anyone about their illness, according to a study by the Eating Disorders Association.
Source:- The Times  Monday 6 February page 8

Scottish news

Equal pay deal ‘could cost £55m’
Aberdeen Council, which is facing strike action over a long-running equal pay dispute, could be forced to cut frontline services or send council tax rates soaring to meet the claim, after it emerged it could cost up to £55 million.
Gordon Edwards, director of resource management, has warned the executive that the authority will face a stark choice in meeting the “unimaginable” cost – cutting services or increasing the council tax to unacceptable levels.
Council assets may also have to be sold off on the open market to help meet the mammoth wage bill.
Last month, trade union leaders took the first step towards a ballot on industrial action after the breakdown of talks on claims for bonus payments by 500 catering, cleaning, clerical and care workers employed by the city.
Source:- The Scotsman, Saturday 4th February

Revealed: McConnell’s ‘flawed’ youth crime policy
The Scottish executive’s high- profile drive against youth offending is doomed to fail and will actually increase the number of teenage tearaways on the streets, claim researchers.
An Edinburgh University study claims that at every level of the juvenile justice network – from the police to the children’s hearing system – youngsters are being failed by the structures that are in place to break patterns of offending.
The academics claim that key targets to reduce youth offending by 10 per cent by this year are “unachievable” and that young offenders become targeted by police inciting them to go on to commit more offences.
Source:- Herald on Sunday, Sunday 5th February

Scotland’s drugs shame: young children injected heroin
At least four 11-year-olds in Scotland were found to be injecting heroin last year and many more under-16s across the country received treatment for addiction, according to official statistics.
In four of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas – Glasgow, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and Aberdeen – specialists dealt with 11-year-old intravenous heroin users, according to the 2005 Scottish Misuse of Drugs Database.
In a further 24 local authority areas, children under 16 were found to be injecting the drug.
Source:- The Herald Monday 6th February

We will cap council tax increases, ministers tell town halls
Ministers warned Scotland’s 32 local authorities they would step in to cap huge council tax rises amid threats that the average household bill will soar by £150 next year.
In a further escalation of hostilities between councils and the Scottish executive, finance minister Tom McCabe said the executive would not stand by and allow inflation- busting increases in their bills for 2007-8.
The warning over council tax bills came from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities who claimed internal estimates from Scotland’s town halls showed that rises of between 13-15 per cent were in prospect for 2007-8.
Source: The Scotsman Monday 6th February

Gas bills set to soar another 25 per cent
Increases of 25 per cent in gas bills could cost lives, according to older people’s campaigners.
British Gas are expected to notify their 11 million customers of the increase by the end of this month.
Age Concern director-general Gordon Lishman warned that higher bills could lead to more deaths among the elderly.
He said: “It’s a national scandal that a growing number of older people are dying from the cold each winter.”
Source:- Daily Record, Monday 6th February

Scotland urged to resettle refugees
Scotland is being asked to help resettle refugees as the government steps up efforts to meet its commitment to a partnership struck between the UK government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Not one Scottish local authority has responded to the Gateway Protection Programme which has resettled thousands of refugees in Canada, Norway, Denmark and the US in the past two years.
Under the programme, the UK promised to resettle a maximum of 500 refugees each year but to date only 255 people have arrived, and they have been accommodated in English local authorities.
Source:- The Herald Monday 6th February

Welsh news

Two schools introduce agony text line
Worried pupils at two comprehensive schools are able to send text messages in order to get advice under a new scheme.
The Cerys project is being run at Bryngwyn school in Llanelli and Queen Elizabeth High School, Camarthen.
Source:- Western Mail Saturday 4 February 2006

GPs out of hours service a success
New arrangements for the doctors’ out of hours service in Carmarthenshire are some of the best in Wales according to new figures.
The latest statistics show that 89 per cent of callers had their calls answered in less than 30 seconds.
Source:- Western Mail Saturday 4 February 2006

Kids playing Russian roulette
Hallucinogenic substances are being brought over the counter in Wales, it has emerged.
A 14-year-old Wales on Sunday investigator brought the legal substances from a shop in Cardiff. The herbs produce effects similar to illegal drugs such as LSD.
Source:- Wales on Sunday Sunday 6 February 2006

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