Legal aid reforms ‘would limit access to justice for the needy’

Legal aid reforms ‘would limit access to justice for the needy’
The introduction of a market-based system of legal aid, as planned by the government, would limit access to justice for the most vulnerable people, the constitutional affairs select committee will warn today. In a report, the MPs called on the government to delay the reforms and test out its plans for competitive tendering between law firms, as well as criticising the transition from paying firms by the hour to fixed fees.
Source:- The Times, Tuesday 1 May 2007, page 26

Paedophiles could get lighter sentences if victim ‘gave consent’
Men who have sex with children under 13 may receive lighter sentencers if the children consent, even though by law they are deemed unable to do so, the Sentencing Guidelines Council has said. The guidelines say consent would become a factor if the offender, who would be guilty of statutory rape, was also very young but also leave it open to judges to take it into account in the case of older offenders.
Source:- The Daily Mail, Tuesday 1 May 2007, page 18

Migrant numbers ‘wildy underestimated’
Councils in the south east have claimed they have been underfunded due to government underestimates of migrant numbers and have decided to carry out their own censuses to acquire accurate figures.
Source:- The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 1 May 2007, page 10

Children ‘damaged by exam factories’
Children’s self-esteem and long-term development are being damaged by a target-driven school culture, a government education adviser has warned.
Alan Smithers, professor of education at Buckingham University, said schools had been reduced to exam factories and the government’s policies had done quite a lot of harm, despite the extra investment it has put in.
Source:- The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 1 May 2007, page 1

Scottish news
War on drugs ‘is wrong’
A former health minister claimed yesterday that “war on drugs” was the wrong approach to the issue.
Susan Deacon, recently appointed professor of social change at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, and health minister under Donald Dewar, said the tough criminal justice approach to the problem wouldn’t work as well as focusing more on social education and health.
She believes that an election produces an inappropriate bidding war.
Source:- The Herald, Tuesday 1 May 2007 
Family matters: the costly issues for our carers
In Stranraer, the Galloway Childcare Company has just moved into its bright, new, specially designed £500,000 building thanks to funding from the Scottish executive. But it is close to financial disaster.
Gillian Vance, the corporate development manager, carried out her financial review last week and concluded: “Without some form of funding from the local authority, we won’t make it to the end of the financial year.”
This is the reality of Scotland’s piecemeal childcare policy: a gap between intention and reality bridged by a series of temporary measures, shoved into place by a dedicated but desperate workforce.
Source:- The Herald, Tuesday 1 May 2007

Rise in number of children abducted by their parents
A growing number of Scottish children are falling victim to parental abduction, despite an international crackdown.
The rate of international child-abduction cases is rising in Scotland following the growth of family breakdowns and increasing ease of travel, say legal experts.
Professor Kenneth Norrie, the head of Strathclyde’s law school, told The Scotsman “dozens” of cases were emerging in Scottish courts every year – and that the number was rising.
Source-: The Scotsman, Tuesday 1 May 2007

Welsh news

‘Public bodies holding back bad news until after elections’
Some public bodies are delaying the release of bad news until after the assembly elections it was alleged yesterday.
Independent assembly member Trish Law said that the delayed news included a decision over the closure of a number of Remploy factories for disabled workers which would be controversial.
Source:- Western Mail, Tuesday 1 May 2007



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