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In the News

Home Office: Stay sober enough to know & see what you are drinking - Drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), including rapes in which drugs are mixed with alcohol, is a significant problem according to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and in its new report - Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault - the Council makes several recommendations to help tackle date rape, including:

  • the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) should enhance evidence gathering, so that the Forensic Science Service can test for date rape drugs
  • the Department of Health should ensure hospitals have early evidence kits to allow for similar tests
  • the Government should seek advice on whether the Sexual Offences Act should be strengthened
  • drug facilitated sexual assault should be part of the British Crime Survey & be recorded by police, and
  • schools & other educational establishments should alert people to take common sense measures, such as ‘minding drinks’, to avoid being a victim

Two drugs - gamma-buterolactone and 1,4-butanediol - are reportedly used in date rape, but are not currently illegal. The Council will report on the potential for classification of these in the near future.

The report also highlights the very significant role played by alcohol, either alone or in combination with other substances, in date rape.

It also provides an assessment of two other reports:

  • Operation Matisse: investigating drug facilitated sexual assault, published by ACPO, and
  • Toxicological findings in cases of alleged drug facilitated sexual assault in the United Kingdom over a three year period, published by the Forensic Science Service

Press release ~ Home Office response press release ~ Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault ~ Home Office - Drugs ~ Know Your Limits! ~ Improving outcomes for victims of sexual violence: A strategic partnership approach ~ Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) ~ Operation Matisse: investigating drug facilitated sexual assault ~ Toxicolog ical findings in cases of alleged drug facilitated sexual assault in the United Kingdom over a three year period ~ Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) plus various guidelines ~ Care & Evidence training package ~ British Association for Sexual Health and HIV ~ Understanding Drugs Pack ~ Sexual Offences Act ~ Without Consent ~ Action plan to implement the recommendations of the HMCPSI/HMIC joint investigation into the investigation and prosecution of cases involving allegations of rape ~ Project Sapphire - Improving rape investigation and victim care ~ Forensic Science Service

DH: If you want a job done to your own satisfaction, do it yourself - In a pioneering approach, the Department of Health has established the Expert Patients Programme as a Community Interest Company (EPP CIC) - the first time a government department has set up a social enterprise organisation.

Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) will be able to commission the EPP CIC to run self-management courses for patients to help them better manage their conditions - and even to train volunteers to run courses in their area. Early findings suggest that through better self-management, A&E attendances have been reduced by over 15% for people who have attended an EPP course.

The programme offers a tool-kit of fundamental techniques that patients can undertake to improve the quality of their life living with a long-term condition.

The course enables patients to:

  • develop their communication skills
  • manage their emotions
  • manage daily activities
  • interact with the healthcare system
  • find health resources
  • plan for the future
  • understand exercising & healthy eating, and
  • manage fatigue, sleep, pain, anger & depression

Bilingual trainers have been recruited to deliver courses in non-English speaking communities and the course material is available in six different languages. Further developmental work is underway to provide adapted courses for parents of children with long-term conditions, children & young people, carers, prisoners and people with mental health problems.
Press release ~ The Expert Patients Programme Community Interest Company (EPP CIC) ~ Expert Patients Programme ~ Long-term health condition links ~ Long-term Medical Conditions Alliance ~ DH - Long term conditions ~ Our health, our care, our say ~ Combined Predictive Model ~ The King's Fund ~ Pat ients at Risk of Re-hospitalisation (PARR) ~ KF: Managing Long-term conditions ~ NHS Networks – Long-term conditions

Cabinet Office: Will Post-implementation reviews get rid of bad regulations? – The government has announced a new Impact Assessment (IA) process intended to ensure that all new regulation is necessary and carried out with minimum burdens. This is expected to improve on the previous Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) with a simpler, more transparent process that will be embedded in the earliest stage of policy making.

The new arrangements will begin from mid-May and all IAs will be available from an online database making them easily available for public scrutiny.

The government claims that Impact Assessments are a key tool for making modern regulation that is proportionate to the issue it is designed to tackle. In some cases RIAs have been very successful at achieving this, but weaknesses in the process have led to inconsistency in its application.

There will be an increased emphasis on post-implementation review and the new Impact Assessment will be more transparent to stakeholders and policy-makers
Press release ~ Gove rnment's response to the consultation on RIAs ~ Guidance for the new Impact Assessment ~ Better Regulation Executive – Reviewing Regulation ~ Better Regulation Commission ~ The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act ~ Regulation - Less is More. Reducing Burdens, Improving Outcomes ~ Hampton Review ~ Imple menting Hampton: from enforcement to compliance ~ Davidson Review ~ Rogers Review of Local Authority Regulatory Priorities ~ BRC report: Risk, Responsibility and Regulation - whose risk is it anyway?

CEOP: They don’t just think it, they know they are good - The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has scooped gold, silver and bronze awards at the prestigious International Video and Communication Awards (IVCA).

The videos, produced for the 'ThinkuKnow' internet safety campaign by Straker Films, powerfully depict child victims of online grooming with the message ‘have fun, stay in control, know how to report’.

Among the honours received by the videos at the IVCA ceremony in London on 30 March 2007 were Best Public Charity and Public Welfare Film, Best Education Film, Best Editing and Best Corporate Image for Making Every Child Matter.

The 'ThinkuKnow' campaign was launched in September 2006 and the interactive presentation is being delivered in schools by over 1,000 police officers, teachers and child protection teams. Over 500,000 schoolchildren across the UK have received 'Thinkuknow' so far and the campaign is on target to reach one million children by the end of the school year.
Press release ~ Think U Know ~ International Video and Communication Awards (IVCA) ~ CEOP ~ CEOP Most Wanted

CLG: Tenants can now sleep easier when contemplating a move - From last week, tenants who pay a deposit to a landlord will have enhanced protection under the new Government authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDPS), which will apply to all assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales where a deposit is taken. There are 3 schemes available for use:

  • The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS)
  • Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (TDSL)
  • The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

Recent Government surveys found that 17% of tenants felt that all or part of their deposit had been withheld unfairly.

Tenants will be able to check to see whether their landlord has protected their deposit in one of the schemes and, if they haven't done so within 14 days, the tenant can apply to the courts, who can direct the landlord/agent to pay three times the deposit back to the tenant. Each scheme will also include a free, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service.
Press release ~ Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDPS) ~ National Landlords Association ~ The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) ~ Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (TDSL) ~ The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) ~ National Federation of Residential Landlords (NFRL) ~ Residential Property Tribunal Service ~ Frequently asked questions for TDP

For the latest Industry News please click HERE

General News

LR: House buyers & sellers across England and Wales are now able to view their ‘chain’ electronically following the launch of Land Registry's new Chain Matrix system as a prototype in Bristol, Fareham and Portsmouth.

Chain Matrix is a dedicated website which tracks the progress of a chain of residential property transactions starting with the issue of contracts through to exchange and completion. The system will enable users to log on and see exactly where they are in the chain and if there are any problems.
Press release ~ Chain Matrix ~ Land Registry Direct

DCA: For the first time, 18 year-olds will be able to stand as candidates in the May local elections in England and Welsh Assembly elections.

The new age for candidates was introduced in the Electoral Administration (2006) Act. Section 17 of the Act reduces the age of candidacy from 21 to 18, for those seeking election to the House of Commons, local authorities, election as Mayor or Assembly member of the Greater London Authority.

There are 15 days left to register to vote in the May local elections.
Press release ~ DCA – Elections ~ Democracy Coalition for Children & Young People ~ People and Politics Day ~ Electoral Administration (2006) Act ~ The Electoral Commission ~ Youth Matters: Next Steps ~ Youth voting network ~ Post-16 citizenship website ~ Do Politics website ~ The Citizenship Foundation ~ UK Youth Parliament ~ Y-Vote mock elections ~ Hansard Society

Defra: A total of £7m has been awarded to fund a range of international projects through the Darwin Initiative in 2007/08. Darwin projects support people in developing countries to conserve their wealth of natural habitats & ecosystems, whilst at the same time ensuring their livelihoods benefit from the sustainable use of biodiversity.

The initiative is funded by Defra and draws on the wealth of biodiversity expertise in the UK to work with local partners in host countries to protect & enhance their biodiversity. Since its launch in 1992 it has committed over £53m to over 450 projects in over 100 countries and has helped to provide training to over 35,000 people.

The DI seeks to assist countries rich in biodiversity but less rich in resources in meeting their commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Press release ~ Darwin Initiative (DI) ~ Defra - UN Convention on Biological Diversity ~ Convention on Biological Diversity ~ DI Ninth Annual report

MoD: Defence Minister Lord Drayson has launched a new organisation, called Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) that will equip & support our armed forces for operations, as part of the Defence Acquisition Change Programme (DACP) reforms.

These changes, which work in support of the Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS), are claimed to be improving the way UK Forces are equipped, sustained & supported. This reform will create one single organisation that is responsible for equipment throughout its life, from design, through delivery to disposal.

DE&S will manage a budget of £16bn, comprising some 43% of the defence budget and employ around 29,000 people across the UK and abroad.
Press release
~ Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) ~ Defence Acquisition Change Programme (DACP) ~ Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) ~ Acquisition Operating Framework (AOF)

Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly has published a ‘new’ action plan to ‘step-up work with Muslim communities to isolate, prevent and defeat violent extremism’.

New proposals in Preventing Violent Extremism - Winning hearts and minds include:

  • strengthening governance in mosques to make them less susceptible to takeover by minority groups
  • extending provision of citizenship education, and
  • measures to support communities strengthen Muslim and theological leadership to better connect with young British Muslims

A new independent study into radicalisation in local communities by Muslim academic Tufyal Choudhury from Durham University was published alongside the action plan. While the report says there are some encouraging signs a new 'British Muslim' identity is forming in reaction & opposition to violent radicalism, it makes clear that the extremist tactics still involve targeting vulnerable young people searching for identity during times of crisis.
Press release ~ Action plan: Preventing Violent Extremism - Winning hearts and minds ~ Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund 2007/2008 - Case studies ~ The Role of Muslim Identity Politics in Radicalisation (a study in progress) ~ The Radical Middle Way ~ Moslem Council of Britain ~ Community Development Foundation ~ Promoting Common Ground Between Muslim and Western Countries and Communities to Tackle Extremist Discourse ~ National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit - NETCU~ Preventing Extremism Together - DCLG ~ Problems and Practical Solutions to Tackle Extremism; and Muslim Youth and Community Issues ~ Promoting good campus relations: dealing with hate crimes and intolerance ~ Community Cohesion: SEVEN STEPS - A Practitioner's Toolkit ~ Commission on Integration and Cohesion

Home Office: The Government has outlined how it will provide further support for victims of sexual violence, through better support facilities and improving the response from the justice system to such crimes, in a new publication, the Cross Government Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Abuse.

The measures set out in the plan are intended to:

  • increase access to support & health services for victims of sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse
  • improve the criminal justice response to sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse, and
  • prevent sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse from occurring wherever possible

Press release ~ Cr oss Government Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Abuse ~ NSPCC: Child maltreatment in the United Kingdom: a study of the prevalence of child childhood sexual abuse and neglect ~ Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) plus various guidelines ~ NSPCC inform - Protecting children from sexual abuse: a guide for parents and carers ~ H ome Office - Protecting you from sexual abuse: booklet about sexual abuse and the law for people with learning disabilities ~ Tackling the Health and Mental Health Effects of Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse ~ National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) ~ Hidden Hurt abuse information and support site

DH: Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has claimed in a new strategy document - 'Maternity Matters' - that the government will guarantee mothers-to-be that the NHS will provide them with a full range of birthing choices - including home births - and a midwife they know and trust to care for them.

The strategy sets out a new national choice guarantee that, by the end of 2009, women will be able to have:

  • choice of how to access maternity care, women will be able to go directly to a midwife or via a doctor
  • choice of type of antenatal care - women will be able to choose between midwifery care or care led by both doctors & midwives
  • choice of place of birth - home births, midwifery unit or with midwives & doctors in hospital
  • choice of place of postnatal care - women will be able to chose how and where to access postnatal care

Press release ~ Maternity matters ~ Royal College of Midwives ~ Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists ~ National Childbirth Trust ~ NPEU - The Birthplace in England Research Programme (Birthplace) ~ Unemployed midwives ~ NICE consultation ~ NICE - Intrapartum care ~ Intrapartum care - National Collaborating Centre for Women's & Children's Health ~ BMA - Intrapartum care.


DfT: The Department for Transport (DfT) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have launched a consultation (closes 29 June 2007) to seek views on options to reform ATOL bonding. The government claims that the reform would be an administrative simplification for tour operators and would not affect passengers.


The consultation invites responses from stakeholders and other interested parties on two options for change:

  • to continue the current bonding scheme with additional contributions to the back-up fund, the Air Travel Trust Fund (ATTF), or to replace bonding with an approach whereby tour operators would make contributions into a protection fund which meets all ATOL financial protection costs
  • the removal of bonding from 1 April 2008; and instead, tour operators make a flat rate contribution to the ATTF of £1 for each passenger booked on an ATOL holiday. This would cover all refund & repatriation costs arising from the failure of tour operators.

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ~ Air Travel Organisers' Licensing | ATOL


Home Office: The Government has launched a consultation (closes 22 June 2007) that will seek to tighten legislation on computer generated child abuse images. Under current law, while it is an offence to possess indecent photographs & pseudo-photographs of children, it is not currently illegal to possess computer generated images, animation, cartoons, and drawings depicting the sexual abuse of children.


Technology has advanced to the point where photographs of real children being abused can be manipulated into a format that is currently legal to possess.  So it is possible to create a 'fantasy' style record of an actual event of abuse. The Government's preferred option is to create a new offence with a penalty of three years in prison and an unlimited fine.  


During the consultation, careful consideration will be given to the threshold content of the images to ensure that legitimate works of art or items of historical interest are not included.

Press release ~ Cons ultation on Possession of Non-Photographic Visual Depictions of Child Sexual Abuse ~ DH – Sexual Offences ~ Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre ~ CEOP Most Wanted ~ Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) ~ Consultation paper On the possession of extreme pornographic material - summary of responses and next steps ~ Internet Watch Foundation ~ 2006 Half Yearly Report

CLG: The government has unveiled plans to cut planning red tape to make it easier for people to put green technology - like solar panels - on their homes and play their part in tackling climate change.

A consultation (closes 27 June 2007) recommends that people should no longer need to apply for planning permission to put 'microgeneration' devices on their homes, where it is clear there is little or no impact on neighbouring properties. Local authorities will retain the right to restrict planning permission in exceptional circumstances, where the benefit of the technology is clearly questionable and outweighed by its impact on the local environment.
Press release ~ Consultation Paper: Permitted Development Rights for Householder Microgeneration ~ Domestic Installation of Microgeneration Equipment: Final report from a Review of the Permitted Development Regulations ~ DCLG's environment programme ~ Code for Sustainable Homes ~ Micropower Council ~ Green Alliance ~ Energy Savings Trust ~ Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development ~ Sustainable Development Commission ~ Centre for Sustainable Energy ~ DTI Energy Review website ~ Distributed Energy: A call for Evidence ~ Gre enpeace report: Power: An Energy Revolution For The 21st Century (4.6Mb) ~ The World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE)

HSE: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a consultation document (closes 2 July 2007), seeking views on how best to deal with societal risk around non-nuclear major hazard sites. Societal risk in this context is about the number of people, on-site or living or working in the areas around sites, that could be harmed by a single incident occurring at a site.

The risk of major accidents at such sites is very low.  However, because the risk cannot be completely eliminated, the planning system is used to exercise control over new development around them.  HSE's role in this is to assess the risk levels and, when consulted by planning authorities on planning applications, advise them accordingly.

The Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999 required the operators of such sites to provide information to HSE about the likely potential effects of a major incident.  HSE has used this information to produce initial indications of the level of societal risk around major hazard sites.

Press release ~ Consultation on societal risk around major hazard installations ~ Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999 ~ HSE's role in Land Use Planning

Defra: Proposals for reducing the 109m tones of waste produced by the UK construction industry every year have been published for consultation (closes 9 July 2007). Around 13% of all the solid materials delivered to construction sites goes unused and up to one third ends up in landfill.  Around a third of all fly tipping includes waste from the construction, demolition & excavation sectors.

The consultation proposes to make Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) a legal requirement for all projects in England worth over £250,000.  During construction, the Plans would be updated to record what actually happens to the waste, including the legitimate disposal of materials that cannot be reused or recycled.  This audit trail should reduce the potential for fly-tipping and increase the accountability of contractors.  
Press release ~ Consultation on site waste management plans for the construction industry ~ Site Waste Management Plans guidance 2004 ~ Waste Aware Construction ~ Relevant legislation ~ Watch Your Step campaign

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH: With almost a quarter of the adult population now classified as obese and with the proportion of obese children rising by more than 40% between 1995 and 2004, an obesity toolkit with practical tips & information is being launched to help people fight the flab and improve their health.

The obesity toolkit is intended to help local multi-agency teams including public health promotion and primary care professionals, and strategic planners in both the NHS and local government.

The launch of the online toolkit comes as thousands of young people are using the new Teen Life Check - a quick online quiz style questionnaire for young people aged 11 - 14, but primarily aimed at 12 and 13 year olds.
Press release ~ Online toolkit: Lightening the Load: tackling overweight and obesity ~ National Heart Forum ~ DH - Obesity ~ Obesity guidance for healthy schools co-ordinators and their partners ~ Measuring childhood obesity: Guidance to primary care trusts ~ Obesity Care Pathway and Your Weight, Your Health ~ Faculty of Public Health ~ Teen Life Check ~ Teenage Health Freak website ~ L8R ~ Need2 Know ~ NICE Obesity guidelines ~ Healthy Schools Programme ~ Local Exercise Action Pilot ~ General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPPAQ) ~ Weight Wise ~ Small change, big difference ~ Forecasting Obesity to 2010' ~ Health Survey for England: Obesity among children under 11

CLG: Technical guidance to help the building industry deliver key improvements to the energy efficiency of new homes has been published by Communities and Local Government. As the Code for Sustainable Homes comes into effect, the manual sets out the requirements for the Code and the process by which a Code assessment is reached.

The Government has set the aim that all new Homes will be zero carbon by 2016 and the Code will be the measure by which this target is assessed. The guidance will explain to Code Assessors, home builders, product manufacturers and consumers in a simple and transparent way how the Code levels can be achieved.
Press release ~ Planning portal - Code for Sustainable Homes ~ DCLG ~ Building a Greener Future ~ BRE: Sustainable communities ~ BRE: Sustainable construction

Acas: Acas has published a new booklet - Flexible working and work-life balance - to help employers & employees understand how flexible working can benefit their workplace. There are around 1.6m employees providing some kind of unpaid care and, from 6 April 2007, there is a new right to request flexible working for those who have caring responsibilities.

The new booklet guides employers & employees through a range of issues on flexible working and includes:

  • a guide to the kinds of flexible working, from flexitime to shift-working, & part-time working to homeworking
  • a step by step guide to developing a flexible working policy
  • the latest legal changes brought in by the Work and Families Act
  • a useful Q&A section to address common concerns about flexible working

Acas will be running a series of special short sessions on flexible working during April and May in England in conjunction with Carers UK and Working Families. For further information visit contact Acas
Press release ~ Flexible working advice booklet ~ Advice leaflet ~ Carers UK ~ Working Families ~ Work and Families Act 2006 ~ Flexible Working Regulations ~ Caring about Carers ~ ~ Caring for someone ~ Working time and time off - BusinessLink

DCA: New guidance aimed at preserving the 70,000-plus war memorials in England & Wales has been published. War Memorials in England and Wales - Guidance for Custodians, produced by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, replaces the code of practice issued by the Home Office in 2002 and explains how grants can be obtained from English Heritage and War Memorials Trust to contribute to conservation & repair bills, as well as paying for additional names and correcting errors.

In Wales, custodians can apply to Cadw, part of the National Assembly, while the DCMS makes grants to charities & faith groups, equivalent to the VAT incurred on construction, renovation & maintenance.

As well as funding, maintenance, identification & ownership of memorials, the guidance covers removal & relocation and access to them.
Press release ~ War Memorials in England and Wales - Guidance for Custodians ~ War Memorials Trust ~ UK National Inventory of War Memorials ~ Cadw ~ Grants for War Memorials - English Heritage

HA: New measures to assess the impact of proposed road schemes on historic landscapes have been agreed by the Highways Agency with English Heritage. The guidance gives the Agency's project managers a new way of surveying, evaluating and assessing the impact of road schemes on historic landscape.

They are obliged to follow this guidance when embarking on new schemes, to ensure that they respect the historic fabric of the landscape through which the road passes. The assessment will need to consider mitigation which may include design measures to minimise changes caused by noise, land take, visual intrusion and vibration.
Press release
~ Assessing the effect of road schemes on historic landscape character (Draft version) ~ Highways Agency - Respecting the Environment ~ English Heritage ~ Landscape Institute ~ Institut e of Field Archaeologists ~ Council for British Archaeology ~ The butterfly handbook: General advice note on mitigating the impacts of roads on butterfly populations~ Highways Agency - A3 Hindhead Improvement ~A3 Hindhead Factsheet ~ Guide to Woodland Creation for Wildlife

Annual Reports

Parole Board: The Parole Board has published its Business Plan for 2007/08, and Corporate Plan for 2007/2010 setting out aims, objectives & targets for the next 3 years. The Plans detail how the Board will manage a transformation of its work & workload as it moves towards a more oral hearing based system.

The introduction of indeterminate public protection sentences, brought in by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, and the impact of a number of important judicial review decisions, will significantly increase the workload of the Board and in particular the number of oral hearings that they hold.

Projected figures suggest that the number of oral hearings for IPP cases will rise from 500 in 2007/08 to 2,150 in 2009/10. Lifer oral hearings will continue to grow, but more slowly from 1,600 in 2007/08 to 1,800 in 2009/10.
Press release ~ Business Plan for 2007/08 ~ Corporate Plan for 2007/2010 ~ Parole Board

General Reports and Other Publications

Defra:  More consideration must be given to the links between climate change and air quality pollutants, according to a new report published by the Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG), which found that:

  • Air quality pollutants, such as particulate matter & ozone, influence climate change, although current international climate change policies do not recognise these impacts.
  • Hot summers like the 2003 heatwave are likely to become the norm by 2040
  • It is essential that the interlinkages between emissions of air quality and climate change pollutants are recognised in assessments of the impacts of policies and developments for industry, transport, housing etc.
  • Most measures that lead to a reduction in demand or an improvement in the efficiency of an activity or product, benefit both air quality and climate change

Press release ~ AQEG - Air quality and climate Change: a UK perspective ~ Defra Air quality groups, panels & fora ~ Air Quality Framework Directive ~ UK National Air Quality Archive ~ European Environment Agency

DTI:  A study which examined how the ‘old’ Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) managed & used science as part of its planning and policy making process, has been published by Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser.

The final report will now be handed to ODPM's successor, Communities and Local Government (CLG) to assist it in its development & use of science.  This report is the fourth in a series looking at how each Government department can continue to improve its use of science.
Press release ~ Science review of DCLG

CLG:  Results of the Fire and Rescue Service performance assessment released by the Audit Commission have been welcomed by the government.  85% of Fire & Rescue Authorities have been assessed as performing strongly or well in the management & use of their financial resources.  All are delivering value for money.

The Audit Commission's report also says that the service has increasingly worked well with partners on community fire safety initiatives.  Good results have been achieved in increasing home fire risk assessments and reducing arson.  They have also contributed effectively to crime reduction and road safety through working with children and young people.
Press release ~ Audit Commission performance assessment ~ DCLG – Fire and Resilience ~ Fire Gateway

Legislation / Legal

DfES: New powers giving teachers' clear & unequivocal authority to discipline badly behaved pupils became law last week. Designed to combat disruptive, bullying or offensive behaviour, they are intended to give teachers a clear statutory right to:

  • restrain, detain & remove unruly pupils
  • confiscate mobile phones that are being used in a malicious or disruptive way and
  • punish pupils for poor behaviour not just in school, but also on the way to and from school

The core principles of the new right to discipline include a legal duty on schools to make provision for measures to tackle all forms of bullying
Press release ~ DfES – Behaviour and Attendance ~ School discipline and exclusions : Directgov ~ Behaviour and discipline - ParentsCentre ~ Improving School Discipline in Scotland ~ Parenting contracts ~ Social & emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) curriculum ~ Teachernet - Behaviour ~ Education and Inspections Act 2006 ~ Ofsted: Improving Behaviour ~ Evaluation of the impact of learning support units ~ DfES: Improving Behaviour in Schools ~ L earning Support Unit (LSU)

HSE: Following extensive consultation with the construction industry, the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007) came in to force on 6 April 2007.

Construction remains one of the highest risk sectors, with over one fatality occurring each week despite the improvements made in recent years. The revised CDM Regulations aim to improve the level of health & safety performance in the construction industry by clarifying the responsibilities of each duty holder and focusing on effective planning and risk management.
Press release ~ Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) ~ Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007) ~ Health and safety in the construction industry

RCPO: Prosecutor charging has been extended to all cases investigated by HM Revenue and Customs from 3rd April 2007 and from that date, Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) prosecutors will decide what & whether criminal charges should be preferred and against whom. Under traditional arrangements, HMRC investigators have taken these decisions.

RCPO prosecutors already make the charging decisions in cases of drug importation and money laundering investigated by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) cases. They also provide advice at the earliest stages of large scale, long-term HMRC operations, such as MTIC fraud; these arrangements will stay the same.

However RCPO will now also provide Duty Prosecutors to give charging advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the year, on the full range of HMRC cases.
Press release ~ Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office ~ Guidance on charging ~ Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

UKIPO: A pilot scheme launched on 1 April 2007 means that European patent applications made through the Utilisation Pilot Project will be processed more quickly. This will result in Extended European Search Reports (EESR) being issued between 3-6 months from the date of request.

The scheme will be open to all applicants wishing to file a European patent application claiming priority from a searched application. The aim of the pilot is to assess the benefit to be gained by the European Patent Office (EPO) in having access to work already undertaken by national patent offices and the 12 month project is also being trialed by the Austrian, Danish and German patent offices.

Press release ~ Utilisation Pilot Project ~ UK Intellectual Property Office ~ European Patent Office (EPO)

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC:  The Charity Commission has published a supplement to guidance on campaigning & political activities by charities.  Responding to concerns that some charities may be unnecessarily cautious when considering campaigning activities, the Charity Commission has published answers to common questions from charities uncertain about what political & campaigning activity the law allows.

In the Q & A, the Commission advises charities on how they can follow the example of successful campaigns like the Make Poverty History coalition and the RSPCA's controversial campaign on fox hunting and use their unique position in society to fight for change.

Ahead of the local and Welsh Assembly elections in May, this advice is being published alongside election guidance, which sets out the do's and don'ts for charities in the run up to the elections.
Press release ~ Ca mpaigning and political activities by charities - some questions and answers ~ Chariti es and elections ~ CC9: Political Activities and Campaigning by Charities (2004)

CC:  A dedicated unit to work with & support faith charities, strengthening their governance & accountability, is to be established by the Charity Commission with £600,000 a year funding provided by Communities and Local Government, as part of its newly announced Preventing Violent Extremism - winning hearts and minds strategy.

The new Faith and Social Cohesion Unit will provide support & advice to faith groups through outreach work, capacity building & training, publications & guidance.  The unit aims to:

  • improve the Commission's & society's understanding of faith charities
  • engage with faith communities to identify & support organisations that could be but are not currently registered with the Commission
  • assist faith charities to improve their standards of governance & accountability and thereby increase their effectiveness, and
  • work collaboratively to achieve & promote well run and effectively regulated faith charities

There are over 23,000 faith charities on the Central Register of Charities, including those established specifically to advance a particular faith, as well as charities whose faith or religious belief is the motivation for the charitable activity undertaken.  The Unit will initially work primarily with Muslim charities & communities; work with other faith communities will follow at a later stage.
Press release ~ Preventing Violent Extremism - winning hearts and minds strategy ~ Centra l Register of Charities

Business and Other Briefings

DTI:  The Takeover Panel's regulatory activities have been placed on a statutory framework from last week, when the second phase of the Companies Act 2006 came into effect.  Part 28 of the Act gives the Takeover Panel the power to make statutory rules, while keeping the right to determine its own constitutional & operational framework.  Previously the rules on takeovers were set out in the Takeover Code, which historically had no statutory basis.

Also from last week, company directors will no longer have to disclose their age if they are over 70.  The prohibition on directors dealing in share options will also be removed and for non-quoted companies, directors & their families will no longer be required to disclose their share dealings.

In addition, the right to set up & register a business as a Community Interest Company will be extended to .
Press release ~ Takeover Panel ~ DTI - Companies Act 2006 ~ EU Takeovers Directive ~ Takeover Code ~ Community Interest Company

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 33/07
This Brief gives details of an article concerning Seafarers’ Earnings Deduction – New information requirement for tax returns for the year ended 5 April 2007 onwards.

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 32/07
This Brief gives details of an article concerning New Means of Transport: Revised Form VAT 411.

Editorial Content Statement

WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases. 

Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.

For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.

Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL) or even very, very large (VVL) and may take some time to download, even with a broadband link.  Readers are encouraged to be patient.

While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.

WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external websites

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