HO: New Home Office unit demands respect – Using terminology the Special Air Service would be proud of, the Home Secretary John Reid launched the new national 'Respect Squad', a ten-strong elite unit of trouble-shooters which can be called in to tackle incidents of persistent anti-social behaviour which are causing misery to local communities up and down the country.
The squad’s personnel will be drawn from experienced frontline police and local authorities and have been tasked by the Government's Respect Task Force to accelerate action where police and local authorities need extra support, or where severe cases are going unchecked.
The squad can be called upon by local authorities, Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships, police chiefs, councillors and MPs to help provide swift resolution to challenging problems, where other channels of action appear to have been exhausted.
The team will be appointed to investigate a case and make recommendations for progress to the Crime Disorder Reduction Partnership chair.
A copy of the squad's assessment will be made available to the public, keeping them informed on progress and reinforcing residents' power to demand action.
Press release ~ Respect Squad ~ Respect ~ Respect Action Plan ~ MORI poll Respect results ~ Home Office Anti-social behaviour ~ Together ~ No 10 Respect website ~ PM targets "eradication of anti-social behaviour" ~ Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships ~ Anti-social behaviour toolkit ~ Anti-social behaviour in housing - CAB ~ Anti-social behaviour - Directgov
DCLG: Power to the people - Ruth Kelly has signalled a policy move in which she claims to give more power to the people in local government reform; ensuring residents are involved in shaping local policies.
Speaking at the launch of the first annual review of the Government's action plan Together We Can, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Ruth Kelly praised schemes working to give residents more control over their communities and promised to build on this approach in the Local Government White Paper.
Together We Can sets out a 65-point action plan to improve the way people engage with local and central government.
Twelve Government departments are taking part in the Together We Can plan in the hope to make more opportunities for people to influence policies on citizenship, democracy, health, regeneration, safety and justice.
Press release ~ Together We Can ~ Together We Can annual review ~ Civil renewal ~ Local Government ~ cimereduction.org.uk ~ Your Neighbourhood: Getting involved and having your say - DCLG ~ Getting involved in local government – National Youth Agency ~ Involving young people in local authority decision-making – Joseph Roundtree Foundation ~ Respect
CEOP: The hunted become the hunters - Children and young people, the very targets of child sex abuse, are being asked to step forward to help make a very real impact on this area of criminality.
The UK's first dedicated organisation focused on child sex abuse - the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre - is asking for volunteers aged between 11 - 16 years to work with them in reaching out to children and young people with vital safety first messages.
Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of the CEOP Centre, takes up the theme:
"Fundamental to our work is raising awareness of the dangers amongst children and young people and to CEOP Youth Panel to take the necessary safety steps so that they can enjoy the benefits with the freedom they deserve."
Helen Penn, CEOP's lead education co-ordinator explaining the role of the new CEOP Youth Panel, added:
"Peer to peer communications is vital.
How can we design awareness tools and know that we are talking the same language as the school playground, the same terminology as young people use when they are online, or indeed covering the areas that they are using day-in-day-out.
We can't and we shouldn't even try. That is why we are asking young people from across the
Press release ~ Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre ~ ThinkuKnow ~Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) ~ NSPCC inform ~ Child Protection Policing - Home Office ~ Child Protection on the Internet – Home Office ~ Virtual Global Taskforce
Audit Commission: Will better data lead to safer streets? - With crime reduction hot on the political agenda, it is hoped that an audit on the accuracy of the recording of crime figures will provide the police with reliable and timely information to help them target resources effectively and put victims and witnesses first.
Crime Recording 2005, a collaboration between the Audit Commission and Wales Audit Office, looks at how well the 43 police forces and authorities in England and Wales record crime data and compares their performance over the last three years.
It finds that most forces and authorities meet the crime recording standards and all but two have adequate management arrangements in place to maintain and improve compliance.
The Commission found that 35 (82%) police forces and authorities met the minimum crime recording requirement of 90% compliance with the standards to achieve a "good" or "excellent" rating - this compares to 24 (56%) in 2004 and 12 (28%) in the first year of reviews.
However two forces were rated as 'poor' for their management arrangements, a small number have deteriorated or failed to improve since the last review and five forces rely on expensive and time consuming data checking techniques rather than getting the crime recorded right first time.
Press release ~ Crime Recording 2005 ~ National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) ~ Home Office Counting Rules ~ Crime Statistics for England and Wales ~ British Crime Survey ~ Crimereduction ~ Crime Reduction Initiatives
DfES: School discipline 'heading' in the right direction - A mixed review of the disciplinary system in schools has been published by the DfES, which states that whilst the number of pupils excluded from schools has gone down, it is nonetheless alarming to note that 44% of all exclusions were due to violent behaviour towards teachers and fellow pupils.
The DfES report shows permanent exclusions fell by 4% to 9,440 in 2004/05, down from 9,880 in 2003/04.
The Government is using the figures to promote their claim that Headteachers are tackling misbehaviour and continuing to permanently exclude pupils where their behaviour warrants it.
Schools Minister Jim Knight said:
"The message to the minority is clear - schools can and will act robustly.
Today's figures also nail the false notion that many Heads are unwilling to exclude or that any exclusion they make will be overturned on appeal. Today's figures show that continues to be nonsense with a reduction for the third year in a row in the number of pupils reinstated on appeal, now down to just 110 pupils.”
Boys accounted for the vast majority of the exclusions, and pupils aged between 13 and 14 years old accounted for 46% of all exclusions.
Press release ~ Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusions from Schools and Exclusion Appeals in England 2004/05 ~ The Education and Inspections Bill 2006 ~ Association of School and College Leaders ~ National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers ~ Violence reduction in schools - Teachernet ~ Ofsted
DCLG: Although it
may not come as a major surprise to the average citizen, the main findings of
the 2005 Citizenship Survey suggests that the vast majority of people in
The survey suggests that interaction between different communities is key too building cohesion and reducing racial prejudice and that people living in ethnically diverse areas were also more positive and feel that ethnic differences are respected.
Importantly, when compared with results from 2001, people from minority ethnic groups now feel they would be less likely to be discriminated against by many public bodies, including the police.
However this survey raises challenges too with half of white people responding to the survey feeling that racial prejudice has got worse over the last five years and more people also think religious prejudice has increased.
Press release ~ 2005 Citizenship Survey ~ Crime and Cohesive Communities (uses data from the Citizenship Survey) ~ Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society - Government's race equality and cohesion strategy ~ National Statistics' classification of Ethnic groups ~ Commission for Racial Equality ~ Ethnic diversity, neighbourhoods and housing - Joseph Roundtree Foundation ~ Ethnic Diversity in the UK
DfES: A Government report into the links between child abuse and 'possession' and 'witchcraft' has been published alongside an announcement that action will be stepped up to tackle the phenomenon.
The report provides a review of cases already known to the relevant authorities and looks at the extent of the problem. The report states 'the number of cases of child abuse linked to accusations of "possession" and "witchcraft" are small compared to the total number of children abused each year' but that the nature of the cases is disturbing.
In response, a comprehensive cross-agency strategy has been put in place to speed-up the identification of cases by local agencies and to deal with the perpetrators, as well as to help prevent cases happening in the first place.
Press release ~ Report: Child Abuse Linked to Accusations of “Possession” and “Witchcraft” (LF 812kb) ~ Government response to report ~ Local Safeguarding Children Boards ~ Churches Child Protection Advisory Service ~ Report: Child Protection in a Faith Environment – Muslim Parliament of GB ~ Working Together to Safeguard Children ~ London Child Protection Committee ~ NSPCC
DH: In an announcement that perhaps might not be so warmly greeted by the England football fans who have been watching the World Cup, a new independent charitable Trust aimed at positively changing the UK's drinking culture and tackling alcohol-related harm has been given the go-ahead by the Government
The 'Drinkaware Trust' will be voluntarily funded by the alcohol industry and will be operational later this year, bringing together industry, charities, lobby groups, medical professionals and experts in the field to address alcohol misuse across and promote sensible drinking across the UK.
Work by the Trust will include educational campaigns to promote sensible drinking among the general public, project aid for local and national initiatives, and the running and evaluation of pilot programmes to tackle alcohol related harm.
Press release ~ Drinkaware Trust ~ Drinkaware ~ Portman Group ~ Portman Group Code of Practice ~ Alcohol Concern ~ Proof of Age card scheme ~ 'Choosing Health' White Paper ~ Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy ~ Small change, big difference
Scottish Executive: The Scottish Executive has announced a total under-spend of £235 million on a public sector budget of £26.5 billion (a saving of 0.9%)
The Executive spent £171 million less than the budget approved by the Parliament in the Spring budget revision, while arms-length bodies such as Health Boards and Scottish Water spent £64 million less than their approved budgets.
DfT: The Government is to offer £15m of incentives in an effort to persuade parents and children to cycle to school.
The new investment, which doubles the budget for Cycling England and will provide:
· More money for the cycling Links to Schools project, which ties in schools to the wider 10,000 miles of the National Cycling Network reducing need for school children to cycle on busy roads. 70% of the links to schools built by the end of 2005 were off-road.
· Funding to support the new more rigorous cycling proficiency test fit for the 21st century not the 1970s.
· Potentially training a further 100,000 children to a new, tougher standard including on-road training.
DWP: A new independent adviser on child poverty has been appointed to the Department for Work and Pensions, in an effort by the department to make headway on what it calls its number one priority.
Lisa Harker, a former Chair of the influential childcare charity Daycare Trust, will have a number of responsibilities in an effort towards meeting the Government’s ambitious target of eradicating child poverty by 2020.
One of Ms Harker’s first tasks will be to review current practices and make further recommendations ahead of the publication of the Government’s new strategy on the issue, due out later in the year.
Press release ~ John Hutton speech on child poverty as the DWP’s number one priority ~ Report: Child Poverty in the UK 2003-04 ~ DWP response to Child Poverty in the UK 2003-04 report ~ DayCare Trust ~ End Child Poverty ~ Child Poverty Action Group ~ Joseph Rowntree Foundation ~ Barnardos
MoD: The Government has announced funding for the creation of six new state school cadet units, to be set up for three-year pilot periods, with a view to the continued expansion of the cadet forces in future years.
Defence Minister Tom Watson said:
"The focus for all of the cadet units is on bringing adventure and enjoyment to all young people with a view to steering them towards responsible citizenship.
They encourage valuable personal attributes; help to build skills and, using military themes based upon the culture and ethos of the single services, foster confidence, self reliance, initiative, loyalty and a sense of service to others."
The use of terminology such as comradeship, sacrifice and loyalty comes at the same time as the Government attempts to control a spiralling Respect and anti-social behaviour agenda.
DH: People who lack the capacity to consent are to benefit from new safeguards covering both care homes and those being treated in hospital, in circumstances where their need to receive care or treatment amounts to a deprivation of liberty.
The proposals aim to close what has
become known as the 'Bournewood Gap', which
resulted from a 2004 European Court of
Human Rights judgment involving an autistic man who was kept at
Key features of the new proposals include:
· All involved will have to act in the best interests of the person in care and in the least restrictive manner.
· The criteria under which someone can be detained will be strengthened
· An individual's rights will have to be respected and it will be easier to challenge the decision once someone has been detained
· Every person will have someone 'independent' to represent their interests;
Press release ~ Mental Capacity Act 2005 ~ Protecting the vulnerable: the Bournewood consultation - summary of responses ~ Mind ~ European Court of Human Rights ~ National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE)
DCLG: The Government has announced details of funding to help local authorities provide new and refurbished sites for Gypsies and Travellers in their areas, and tackle unauthorised camping.
For 2006/07, the Government has approved £16.75m of investment through the grants for schemes which will provide 134 additional pitches for Gypsies and Travellers and for the refurbishment of 57 sites. Up to £56m will be made available through the Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant between 2006 and 2008 aimed at addressing the current shortfall in provision as well as tackling the problem of unauthorised camping.
The announcement comes after a recent report by the LGA Gypsy and Traveller Group concluded that local authorities must make more appropriate site provision to meet current needs and also highlighted the need for more Government support.
Press release ~ Gypsy Sites Refurbishment Grants 2006, Part 1 ~ Gypsy Sites Refurbishment Grants 2005/06 ~ < FONT color=#0000ff>LGA Gypsy and Traveller Group report ~ Commission for Racial Equality ~ Gypsy & Traveller Law Reform Coalition ~ Travellers’ Times
DH: The Government has announced plans for a new National Service Framework (NSF) to be developed to improve standards of care and increase choice for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
The proposed NSF for COPD patients, those suffering from diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis, would seek to:
· Provide more choice in treatment for patients.
· Reduce inequalities in treatment, which can vary across the country.
· Improve standards of care for patients.
DH: A new
incentive scheme will give NHS ambulance trusts in
The change to response time
requirements was a key recommendation from last year's strategic review of
ambulance services in
It recommended that ambulance trusts must ensure all 'Category A' calls - the most urgent calls - are responded to within eight minutes of being connected to the control room.
Full implementation of the new
standard is now expected by
DCLG: Women of all ages, experience and backgrounds are getting set to take part in a major nationwide debate to tell Deputy Women's Minister Meg Munn face to face what they want from government.
The debate, entitled ‘Today's Woman - Your say in the Future’ is aimed at allowing women to convey as to what they see are the major challenges now facing the country, what they want from government policy and frontline services and how those service providers can best communicate with them.
The event is currently in
Women not attending the events can join the debate online by visiting the Today's Woman website.
Defra: A Defra
consultation is seeking views on the draft guidance for the new powers that
could help put a swift end to excessive late-night noise from pubs and
clubs. It also aims to
explore the level at which noise becomes a
'disturbance' - closing
The current Noise Act (1996) can only be used to deal with night-time noise from residential buildings (houses, flats etc). From October 2006, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act will be extended to make it an offence for licensed premises to create excessive noise between the hours of 23.00 and 07.00.
Press release ~ Consultation ~ Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act - Defra ~ Noise from Pubs and Clubs: Phase 2 - Defra ~ Noise - Defra ~ UK Noise Association (UKNA) ~ Noise Pollution - DH ~ Noise Act (1996)
consultation setting out options for reform of the Local
Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) has been published - closing
The Government's objective for the LGPS is to safeguard its nature as a good quality, defined benefit, funded scheme, while ensuring that it remains affordable, sustainable and acceptable to taxpayers.
The paper sets out final salary and career-average options which also include increased death in service benefits, cohabitees pensions, and new, two-tier ill health pension provisions.
Reform of the LGPS is required because people are living longer than ever before, accompanied by the significant alteration of working lives, multiple employments and a shift in the LGPS membership base.
consultation has been launched on a new improvement strategy to drive
up standards and performance in Further Education (FE) in the Government’s
drive to make FE the engine of the
Key measures outlined in the strategy include:
· A network of advisers to provide tailored support to colleges and training providers
· New materials and tools to help colleges and training providers assess their own performance
· The Excellence Gateway portal to share best practice
· New professional development programmes for leaders, managers and staff working in FE
· A National Learner Panel to ensure that learners' views are heard.
Press release ~ Consultation ~ Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) ~ Excellence Gateway a portal to share best practice ~ Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) ~ Further Education National Consortium (FENC) ~ Lifelong Learning UK
FCO: It is a subject that has baffled the best political minds and laid a minefield for political parties to manoeuvre through, yet the Government says that it can explain the EU to the average-Joe in just ONE minute.
The one minute guide to the EU has
been launched by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to a
Eurobarometer survey revealing that 85% of
The 1 minute guide is presented as an animated tour of the EU, giving information about EU countries, how the EU works and its impact on our lives.
Press release ~ Tour the EU in a minute ~ Britain in the EU - FCO ~ Guide to the European Union – FCO (LF 1.07Mb) ~ Eurobarometer (can take a while to appear) ~ European Information Network in the UK ~ BBC News ~ European Movement in the UK ~ No Campaign
CIOB: The CIOB has launched a new code of practice book entitled Partnering in the Construction Industry.
With partnering seen as the most effective way of tackling construction projects, the book explains how using partnering can achieve ever higher levels of efficiency and certainty, provides detailed guidance to newcomers and describes how highly developed forms of partnering are developing into strategic collaborative working.
The book is designed to be used flexibly by a variety of readers, with coloured sections, executive summaries, check lists, case studies and research built into the body of the text to enable senior managers to get a quick overview of the guidance provided.
Press release ~ Purchase the book online ~ CIOB ~ Partnering – Construction Industry Council ~ Modernising Construction – NOA report (VLF 1.55Mb) ~ Achieving Excellence in Construction - OGC ~ Royal Institute of British Architects ~ Institution of Civil Engineers ~ Chartered Institute of Housing ~ The Housing Forum ~ Constructing Excellence in the Built Environment
DCLG: The Government has unveiled new measures to increase compliance with building standards and improve the way that local authority and approved building control bodies do business.
A new system of Performance Indicators and updated Performance Standards, developed by the Building Control Performance Standards Advisory Group, gives building control bodies a framework to help improve the quality of the services they offer and will measure their performance on compliance, staff development and customer service.
Press release ~ Building Control Performance Standards - Planning Portal ~ DCLG Building Regulations ~ DCLG Memorandum ~ Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors ~ Construction Industry Council ~ Local Authority Building Control ~ Local Government Association ~ Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill ~ Federation of Master Builders
HO: Home Office Minister Tony McNulty has challenged police and practitioners to take a more robust and unremitting approach to tackling anti-social behaviour by making maximum use of the dispersal powers available to them.
Mr McNulty urged police to use new guidance on reclaiming public space, using dispersal powers to remove anti-social groups and taking children home.
The publication of the guidelines follows the recent Court of Appeal decision to uphold a vital piece of legislation designed to reduce anti-social behaviour.
Press release ~ Dispersal Powers Guidance ~ Respect ~ Home Office anti-social behaviour ~ Together ~ No 10 Respect website ~ Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships ~ Anti-social behaviour toolkit ~ Anti-social behaviour - Directgov
Defra: The Drinking
Water Inspectorate's annual report shows a further rise in the quality of
The Drinking Water Inspectorate was
formed in 1990 and acts as the independent regulator of the quality and safety
of drinking water supplied by the water companies in
FO: The Foreign Office has launched a new human rights handbook, ‘Medical Investigation and Documentation of Torture’, designed to advise doctors and health workers on how to examine and treat torture victims, and how to document the injuries so that their evidence can be used to prosecute the perpetrators.
The 106-page book is intended to raise awareness of the use of torture and the wounds, both physical and psychological, that it leaves on its victims.
The distinction between torture and ill-treatment is explored, as are the ethical considerations facing health professionals dealing with victims of state torture, while the absolute prohibition of torture under international law is detailed.
Press release ~ UEHRC publications ~ University of Essex's Human Rights Centre (UEHRC) ~ FCO Torture website ~ UNHCHR Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture ~ Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture ~ Association for the Prevention of Torture ~ Council of Europe: Prevention of Torture ~ UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Torture and Inhuman Treatment
HSE: A report by
the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) concludes that
The report is in response to a request from the Energy Minister for an expert report to the Government's energy review on health and safety issues associated with a range of energy developments, and on the potential role of pre-licensing assessments of nuclear reactor designs should the Government decide to look further into new nuclear electricity generation.
The report covers:
· Gas storage
· Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
· Some renewable sources (wind, wave, tidal and biomass)
· Distributed generation, including hydrogen; nuclear power
· Clean coal technology
Press release ~ HSE Energy Review report ~ DTI Energy Review ~ Gas storage ~ Carbon capture and storage (CCS) ~ Wind ~ Wave ~ Tidal ~ Biomass ~ Hydrogen ~ Nuclear power ~ Clean coal technology ~ DTI Energy Projects ~ Centre for Sustainable Energy ~ The Carbon Trust
Healthcare Commission: The Healthcare Commission has called for action to improve neglected services for people suffering from chronic lung conditions; a call which comes at the same time as the Department for Health launches a new National Service Framework on the condition.
The Commission’s Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) study concludes that more accurate diagnosis and a more structured approach to care for COPD would improve the quality of life for people suffering from COPD as well as be more financially effective for the NHS.
Department of Transport has published National Statistics on road casualties in
The statistics relate to personal injury accidents on public roads that are reported to the police. Key figures include:
Press release ~ Road casualties in Great Britain: main results: 2005 data ~ Report: Under-reporting of road casualties: Phase 1 ~ Report: Road accidents casualties: comparison - STATS19 and Hospital Episode Statistics ~ Think! ~ Brake ~ Hedgehogs (child road safety campaign)
Defra: The UK's proposal for the next period (Phase II) of the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) has been announced, aiming to provide business with additional certainty on the contribution it needs to make to help tackle climate change.
Under the scheme, installations that emit less carbon dioxide than their allocation are able to sell allowances on the newly established carbon market to installations which need to buy allowances to cover extra emissions.
The Government has also announced the creation of a new joint Defra/DTI Environmental Transformation Fund that will provide a boost to investment in renewable energies and other green technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
Press release ~ National Plan Phase II ~
HMRC: Business Brief 07/06
1. VAT: New reduced rates for supplies of contraceptive products and welfare advice and information
2. VAT - End of litigation in IDT Card Services Ireland Limited (IDT)
3. VAT - Exemption for the Management of Authorised Collective Investment Schemes
DTI: The Government has announced that two new Enterprise Capital Funds (ECFs) are to be created to help innovative SMEs get the finance they need to grow.
The two ECFs announced today are:
The Dawn Capital
million) - will invest throughout the
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